Brady Beckham doesn’t bike for the fame; his team is hardly noticed. He doesn’t do it for the fortune; he pays for almost all of the expenses out of his own pocket.
The junior competes on the MU cycling team for the same reason his 25 teammates do.
“I just love to ride,” Beckham said.
During a race, all the sacrifices he makes to compete are left at the starting line and he immerses himself in the competition, he said.
Beckham said he enjoys mountain biking because it allows him to get away from work, school and the everyday stresses of college life.
“I surprised two deer on our race in Kentucky,” he said. “Experiences like that really put you in tune with nature.”
Beckham and the rest of the team are not on scholarship, and they pay race registrations and licensing fees themselves.
“On average, I spend about $50 to $70 per race,” Beckham said. “That’s if you’re lucky and don’t break anything.”
In addition to the costs per race, Beckham said equipment expenses for the competitive rider can be pricey.
“I spent about $1,800 on my mountain bike, and I’ve made $400 to $500 worth of upgrades,” he said.
Beckham said the Organization Resource Group, which helps fund club activities, provides the team with gas and lodging money. But some travel expenses are unavoidable.
“I’ve put 3,500 miles on my car in the last month alone,” he said. “I spend about 90 percent of my disposable income on cycling.”
Sophomore Chad Malsy said some of the competition MU faces, such as Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, offer scholarships and are able to recruit some of the best collegiate cyclists. MU cyclists, however, ride for pride.
“Everyone who’s out there is riding for the right reasons: an intense love of the sport,” Malsy said. “The competition against a scholarship team like Lindsey Wilson can be intense, but we try to keep it light-hearted and not get too bent out of shape after a loss.”
Beckham said one way the team has fun on the trail is by giving each other nicknames.
“We call our vice president, Dave Wilson, ‘Angry Dave,’ ’’ he said. “He once hit a little root while riding on a trail and got off his bike, dug it out and javelined it into the woods. As if that wasn’t enough, he ran after it and snapped it in half.”
Having fun isn’t the team’s only objective. It finished fourth in the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference’s cross-country division and qualified for the national tournament, which began Friday in Seven Springs, Pa. Beckham said the trip to nationals is rewarding.
“It lets us know that all our time and resources weren’t spent in vain,” he said.
At nationals, Beckham finished 37th in the short-track race and Malsy finished 17th in dual-slalom Saturday. Malsy will compete in the downhill finals today.
“We are all satisfied with our performances, considering it’s our first trip to nationals,” Beckham said.
The team also competed in dual slalom races during the fall season. These races are head-to-head, downhill and short.
Malsy said the races last 25 to 45 seconds and involve a lot of jumps and turning at high speeds.
“It’s like a sprint compared to a marathon,” Malsy said. “You’re on the bike for 45 seconds, but it is so intense that you’re still exhausted at the end.”
Dual slalom has become more popular at MU this semester because the team opened up a course in August adjacent to the Alpine Tower.
“We’re really lucky to be able to get a dual-slalom course on campus,” Malsy said. “Not many schools get that opportunity, and I think it will help us build the sport and the cycling community as a whole.”
The team held an intercollegiate race at the course Sept. 12 and holds weekly intrasquad races Thursday nights.
Malsy said dual slalom races are exciting, and he encourages even casual fans to watch.
“It’s a true spectator event because you can see the whole race,” he said. “It’s also more competitive because the riders are next to each other, and we duke it out the whole time.”
In the spring, the team will take it to the street when road season begins in March.
Freshman Michael Fooshee is a road racer.
“I like the speed and the ability to ride long distances,” he said. “It’s about strength and stamina. You really have to keep your blood pumping and your oxygen flowing.”
Fooshee has already begun training for the road season and will continue to do so through the winter.
“I think that’s an advantage for road racers,” he said. “We can use trainers inside during the winter while mountain guys are sometimes limited.”