Cycling team honors Schindler at last meet

Dillon Kelly rides the course during the Austin mountain biking team’s final race this year. It was the first year for the team in Austin, but they kicked off with a bang. -- Photo provided

Dillon Kelly rides the course during the Austin mountain biking team’s final race this year. It was the first year for the team in Austin, but they kicked off with a bang. — Photo provided

It’s pretty clear that Richard ‘Dick’ Schindler will be missed by much of the community in Austin, but his legacy will live on with the Austin Cycling Team.

Schindler, who passed away at the age of 72 a few weeks ago, was the team director of the cycling team and helped get the squad started. The team paid homage to him in its last meet of the season a few weeks ago in River Falls.

Austin’s cycling team wore red and green ribbons to honor Schindler and they also wore arm warmers that read ‘Look ahead’ on one side and ‘In memory of Dr Schindler’ on the other side. The red on the ribbons was for Austin High School and the green was for Pacelli High School as the team is a club team.

Jacob Venenga, William Kahle, Slava Kritzer, Anastasia Mitchell and Whitney Walkup trying to stay warm during the season’s final meet.

Jacob Venenga, William Kahle, Slava Kritzer, Anastasia Mitchell and Whitney Walkup trying to stay warm during the season’s final meet.

The biggest way they honored Schindler was how the Austin team raced.

“The kids really loved him and they do miss him,” Austin head coach Spencer Salmon said. “We had one kid who hadn’t finish a race all year finish in that race because he wanted to do it for Dr. Schindler. That race was the hardest course we raced in all year.”

Schindler would’ve been proud of how his team battled just one week after he had passed away. Austin’s cycling team is in its first year of existence and it finished the season in 30th place out of 34 teams in its division, but the squad has served its purpose for giving non-traditional athletes a team to compete on.

“We gained a lot of experience this season and we learned a lot,” Salmon said. “Hopefully we’ll have much more fun next year.”

The Austin cycling team received some good news recently as well. The team learned that it will host its first meet next season on Sept. 20.

There currently isn’t a trail in Austin, but there will be one built next year. The cycling team will be able to use the trail to train, as well as host meets.

Venenga heads down the course during the final race.

Venenga heads down the course during the final race.

“That’s going to be huge for us,” Salmon said.

The cycling team, which includes boys and girls in middle school and high school, competes in races that range from three to 20 miles.

Schindler’s impact also spread into the Minnesota Cycling League, even though he had only worked with it for a short time. Salmon said the league showed a couple of photos of Schindler to pay tribute to him at the end of the year awards ceremony.

“You meet Dick and you feel like you’ve known him forever. That’s just the effect he had,” Salmon said. “I think the league was shocked by what happened with him.”

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