True Natures Found

umd students biking
October 6, 2016

Under the protective canvas of the woods, Bulldogs are breaking from balance, relaxing into their ride, and kicking away at their comfort zone.

Only his second time on a mountain bike found Alec Kadlec flying down the switchbacks of Michigan’s Copper Mountain. Somehow, he’d fast-forwarded from recreational road cyclist to adrenaline hungry mountain biker in two rides– which is not the usual timeline.

The way Alec, who’s majoring in mechanical engineering, describes it, UMD’s Cycling Club empowered him with enough grit to give it a go. “It was pretty overwhelming and hard to keep up, but they really pushed me to improve quickly. I feel like I’m a better cyclist because of that,” Alec says as he gestures to the crew waiting for an enduro ride in Hartley Nature Center. 

About a dozen Bulldogs don the spandex Cycling Club jerseys each year. It’s one of 22 Sport Clubs offered at UMD. Beyond recreation, Sport Clubs are a deliberate connector. 

For senior Shawn Buesgens, these connections evolved into enduring friendships. “Those first couple weeks of my freshman year were a little more difficult for me to meet people and make friends, and the club definitely helped,” he remembers.  

Shawn’s in good company. More than 800 Bulldogs participate in UMD’s Sport Clubs, and 100 of those athletes compete in more than one sport. 

Sophomore Julie Bray takes this trend into trifecta territory. She’s a member of the Cycling, Ultimate Frisbee, and Nordic Ski clubs. “Thank God for Sport Clubs because that’s where all my friends are,” she says. “All of them.”

Not surprising, it was Duluth’s abundance of outdoor activities that drew Julie to UMD. And she’s discovered that they’re great for relieving the stress of her double major in English and teaching communication arts and literature. “You don’t have time to think of anything else, except what you’re doing on the trail. And then you get back and you’re so tired you can’t think of anything stressful or negative.”

No negativity’s in sight during the Bulldogs’ Hartley ride, only a shared need to be unleashed.