For college sophomore Marisa Lobelson, there can be no better Sunday than when she puts on her helmet, gloves and elbow pads and heads to a trail with her mountain bike.
“I love the feeling of being out there; I love the feeling of racing,” said Lobelson, founder and president of SUNY Cortland’s newly organized mountain biking club.
Lobelson of Richfield, Conn., regretted that SUNY Cortland did not have a Division I level cycling club when she chose to enroll in the College’s therapeutic recreation program.
So this past spring, she formed a mountain biking club. The sport club aims to provide students with an opportunity to learn how to ride the rugged kind of bicycle, to participate in mountain biking at different area parks with others and, if individuals desire, to race in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) competitions.
Already the club has traveled to Shindagin Hollow State Forest in Caroline, N.Y., and plans a trip to nearby Greek Peak in Virgil, N.Y. Members take a college van to the parks with their bikes strapped on back. On the trail, the group never separates and takes rest breaks as needed.
“It’s exhilarating,” said Lobelson. “I feel free and school is out of mind when I am riding. It is a great feeling to be a part of a team, but also a great individual feeling.”
Mountain biking — and the even more recent rock-climbing club — are among the 35 recreational sports clubs that the College has to offer, with approximately 1,100 participants.
SUNY Cortland’s Recreational Sports Program seeks to bring greater health and vitality to the entire College community by offering a variety of recreational opportunities, according to Julian Wright, director of recreational sports.
“It’s all about the students,” said Wright, who has been with the College for 24 years. “Recreational sports give students a healthy opportunity. It’s a win for them and a win for the campus.”
Just one facet of the Recreational Sports Program, the sport clubs allow for competition but also fun. Some sport clubs let students continue to play in a sport they enjoy without the demands of competing as athletes at the Division III level.
“Officers of the sport clubs learn practical experience like planning, organizing, budgeting and scheduling,” said Wright, noting that Recreational Sports also offers intramural and open recreation in the new Student Life Center, which has made a big difference in the quality of recreation for many students. Sport clubs have their own schedule and most of them play elsewhere.
|Competitive rock climbing is the College's newest club sport.|
The College’s oldest sport club is men’s rugby, Wright noted.
The newest, rock climbing, offers students the chance to hone their bouldering and rock climbing skills at the indoor rock wall in the Student Life Center. Established this fall, the club plans to participate in outdoor rock climbing trips and hopes to compete someday.
The mountain biking club’s six current members plan to take six recreational trips in the fall and three in the spring. Next year, some club members will practice and compete in the ECCC.
New members can join for $30. Bicycles can be rented through Outdoor Pursuits or students can use their own. Recreational rides are typically on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lobelson said she hopes the mountain bikers will form bonds that will help encourage new members to come out and ride next spring.
“Don’t be intimidated,” said Lobelson. “A lot of people see mountain biking as a scary sport with rocks and dirt, but once you get the hang of it, it really is a fun sport. It is a safe sport and we welcome beginners. Mountain biking encourages a healthy lifestyle — eating healthy and working out.”
For more information on the mountain biking club, contact Lobelson at 203-947-4210. For more information on the rock-climbing club, contact Deryk Artioli. For more information about the Recreational Sports Program, contact Wright at 607-753-5585.
Prepared by public relations intern Jessica McFadden