Parkfield is often known as the “earthquake capital of the world.” But this small Californian town of 37 was rocked by more than an earthquake last weekend when the Cal Poly Wheelmen hosted their annual Parkfield Classic mountain bike race, with more that 300 riders from across the state ready to compete for a first-place trophy.
Cal Poly swept the field taking three of the top places in the men’s A, B and C categories. Adam Mckanny, a biology senior, came in first place in the men’s A category and Corina Bigham, a kinesiology senior, also came in first place for the women’s A category.
“It’s nice to win this event for the team because they put a lot of work into it,” McKannay said. “I have won two out the three years that I have raced Parkfield and every year it has had courses that are challenging for everyone from beginners to professionals.”
Cal Poly’s two-day event drew people from colleges throughout California not only for the racing but the social aspect that often comes along with Parkfield.
Acres of private land were donated to the wheelmen to use as a campground, racing field and home for the annual race.
“Parkfield is probably the most anticipated race in the California Conference,” said Kyle Hugh, director of the Parkfield Classic. “It’s not just about the race, but the atmosphere. It’s about hanging out with friends and spending the night right under the stars for the weekend.”
Along with Cal Poly’s success came disappointment for a number of riders who were injured throughout the weekend.
The first day of racing started with two broken collarbones and a broken wrist, and before noon two riders were flown to the nearest hospital.
The event’s remote location required that the staff take all injuries seriously. Students were flown off the premises due to signs of back or spinal injury, Hugh said. All of the hospitalized riders were released that same day.
“Parkfield was great, as usual, but our weekend was tainted by our friend Ozzy’s injury (a broken collar bone) and his inability to go to nationals next month,” said John Hygelund, a mechanical engineer senior of his friend Osvaldo Olmos, a general engineering senior.
Cal Poly dominated the trails at the Parkfield race and the wheelmen plan to continue their success in this year’s national mountain bike competition in Seven Springs, Pa., Hugh said.
“We’ve won the West Coast Collegiate Conference for the last seven years straight, so as for mountain biking we have dominated the West Coast,” Hugh said. “This year we had a new record number of attendance, which is a good fundraiser for our team and a great way to show off Cal Poly’s success.”
Hugh emphasized the success both expert and beginner riders accomplished over the weekend. McKannay, a professional on the mountain bike national circuit, said that the Cal Poly Wheelmen club gives cyclists of every caliber the opportunity to ride and race.
“The great thing about the Cal Poly Wheelmen is it opens up the sport for not only the professional caliber riders, but for people who haven’t ridden their bikes since they were 8-years-old,” McKannay said. “The organized rides and races the Wheelmen do are meant for all ability levels and anyone on the team is always more than willing to help new riders get into the sport.”
The Cal Poly Wheelmen train on a daily basis. They are preparing for trips around the country to compete in various collegiate and non-collegiate races throughout the year.
Riders such as Hygelund train up to six hours a day in order to prepare, but the physical aspect of pushing their bodies is what they really love about the sport McKannay said.
“I thrive off of riding and I thrive off of the competition. A lot of people don’t understand why we would ride around with our hearts going 200 beats per minute for two hours, but I do it because it is this amazing adrenaline rush,” McKannay said. “And I also just like winning races.”