One long ride: Austin cycling team enters its 10th year  

Published 2:04 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

The Austin cycling team is about to enter its 10th season on the track and the program, which combines riders from Austin and Pacelli schools, is still rolling strong.

This year’s team has been hard at work throughout the summer by cutting through trees at Schindler’s Way, riding up Skinner’s Hill, and collecting a few scrapes and bumps from the occasional fall.

Kaci Wallin joined the cycling team for the first time this year and she’s already learned that it’s all about letting go of your reservations and putting forth a solid effort.

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“Don’t be scared and try everything,” Wallin said. “You have everything to lose if you don’t and nothing to lose if you do.”

There are approximately 35 riders on this year’s team and they all come from various backgrounds. Some are multi-sport athletes and some use cycling as their only sport. All of the riders are welcoming and supportive of their teammates.

“You have to be generally athletic, but anyone can do it,” said Grant Mareel, who is in his fourth year on the team. “We have different groups of people. Some do it for fun and some do it competitively. It’s really how much you put into the sport. If you just want to have fun with it, we’ll support you, but if you want to push yourself, you’ll have a lot of teammates pushing you to do better.”

Brynlee Olson is a third year rider who has used the sport to compete, while also expanding her social circle. 

“There are new people to meet every year and our coaches are really nice,” Olson said.

Austin will host a race at Schindler’s Way at Wildwood Park on Aug. 26-27. The course was built and is maintained by the coaches and the team itself, which gives the squad a sense of pride.

The meet days are big on the calendar as Austin riders are able to go against the best riders from other towns. For riders like Mareel, it’s a chance to see how far he has come.

“You have to enjoy it,” Mareel said. “You try to push yourself to a different standard each time and you’ll see improvement in the long run. Intentionally focus on something and you’ll go far. You’ve got to love it to be good.”

There are approximately 2,600 student athletes participating in the Minnesota Cycling Association.