Ryan Chartrand

The Cal Poly Wheelmen club cycling team has had a successful year, finishing fourth in conference, sending several riders to nationals and having two riders win awards for individual achievement.

The Wheelmen compete against about a dozen other teams in their conference, including Davis and Stanford, who have both won national titles in recent years.

“We are competing very well with those teams, which shows the strength of our team,” said sophomore Sean Gasiorek, one of the top riders on the team.

Gasiorek is a part of the ‘A’ category within the Wheelmen, which consists of the top riders on the team. Of the six or seven riders in this group, Gasiorek said that the majority are graduating this year, meaning that the team will have to build up some of its other members to fill those spots.

“Next year will be a rebuilding year and we will try to bring up some of the riders to train a lot harder in the fall and prepare for the season,” Gasiorek said.

Gasiorek said that this season went particularly well because two of the Wheelmen took home the “omnium” award within the conference. This award goes to the rider with the most individual points for the season in each category. Jared Barrilleaux and Rob Scheffer, in the respective ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories, both won.

Each race the Wheelmen compete in is scored both for individual riders, and then for the team as a whole. Each rider who does well helps boost the team’s score, so Barrilleaux and Scheffler’s scores helped the team.

“Throughout the season we worked really well together to help Jared get the omnium,” Gasiorek said. “At the beginning of the season we weren’t sure who was our strongest rider, but he won the very first race of the season and showed he was one of the strongest in the conference.”

The Wheelmen also had four men and one woman go on to nationals this season. The woman, Jenna Kowalski, is a relative newcomer to racing, Gasiorek said.

“Jenna just started on road bikes,” Gasiorek said. “She has been racing mountain bikes for awhile but did a great job of stepping up.”

He also said that because the women’s side of the Wheelmen is so small, this achievement was even more amazing as Kowalski didn’t have many teammates to help her in races.

Freshman Blake Anton, another ‘A’ rider, agreed that the women’s team is the weakness for the Wheelmen. There are simply so few women that it makes it hard for them to compete against other schools in that area.

One thing the Wheelmen are doing as a group is to foster female riders with an off-shoot group called Wheelwomen. It is meant to organize and encourage women to join the team and race. They hold women-only rides and teach them the mechanics of road racing, and have social functions.

“Our season went well overall considering how many people we had show up to races,” Anton said.

Anton pointed out that while the Wheelmen have a large membership, not everyone is interested in the racing aspect.

“The Wheelmen aren’t as serious as they seem,” Anton said. “We are a fun, social experience as well with people everywhere from beginners to really serious racers.”

Gasiorek echoed this sentiment, adding that the Wheelmen welcome anyone who is interested in bikes to join or come to one of their meetings.

“The team has a wide range of people focused on different things,” Gasiorek said. “Some focus on the season, some just show up to be with people who love bikes as much as they do.”

Both Anton and Gasiorek said that next year will be a year to build up some of their less experienced riders and give them a chance to shine. Neither one said they could pick a favorite yet, but said that their off-season training from now until the start of road season in the winter will give everyone an opportunity to show what they have to offer.

The Wheelmen hold meetings Wednesdays in the Clyde P. Fisher Science building room 286 at 8 p.m. They will also be starting to fix bicycles on Thursdays during UU hour. They will set up in front of the Rec Center and do all the maintenance they can for the cost of $5.

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