Cycling course offers meditation, competition outlets

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The DePauw: Students in professor Kent Menzel’s class watch a peregrine falcon soar at speeds of 180 mph.

These students aren’t bird-watchers – they’re cyclists in the winter term course Science of Cycling. Menzel had started class that day with a nature video to emphasize the falcon’s athleticism.

According to him, both cycling and flying demand natural form and technique. The Science of Cycling class consists of workouts and exercises that develop these skills.

DePauw racing team member and sophomore Aaron Fioritto said he’s learned “breathing, body control, relaxation, and recovery” from his mentor and professor. Students have also skipped in rhythm, worked on posture, and practiced fluid pedal strokes on the bike.

Menzel said he believes the course’s benefits also extend into other classrooms: “How would you rather go into a midterm exam? Nervous, tense, everything out of alignment, or steady, aware, and calm – everything lined up to get the knowledge you have out onto paper?” Menzel said.

Freshman Arthur Small agreed that “it develops work ethic and a sense of accomplishment.”

The class rides indoors on stationary bikes equipped with resistance trainers. After lessons on technique, the cyclists mount their bikes and ride for 1-2 hours. Students either listen to music, watch videos of old Tour de France races, or pedal to training videos during class.

Many of the students will compete in DePauw’s annual Little 5 bike race.

“It’s been the incubator for Little 5 champions and great riders,” Menzel said.

Professional cyclists Phil Mann ’06 and Phil Mooney ’07 are two graduates of the course, which addresses both the theory and practice of cycling.

“The modern athlete is very out of touch with their body because we’re out there so much, on computer screens, iPhones, and living artificially through Facebook,” Menzel said.

Menzel suggests aspiring riders “spend more time on the bike” until they find a good body rhythm.

Freshman Carson White described the sensation as “feeling connected – heart and bike.”

Small said it felt like “there’s nothing else in the world going on except you on that bike, spinning.”

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