Dear Cyclist:                                                                         

Did you know that Shippensburg University has an active cycling team?

Let me back up a minute… Did you know that there was such a thing as collegiate bicycle racing?

You probably did, but I ask because I raced my bike for several years in high school and I didn’t know. Had I known, it probably would have influenced where I went to college.

So, yeah, there’s collegiate bicycle racing. It’s all sanctioned by USA Cycling (which is the governing body for all amateur and professional cycling in the United States; cycling is not an NCAA sport), the races have USA Cycling officials and promoters abide by USA Cycling rules (if you’ve done some racing before you know what that means, if not, don’t worry about it), but you ride for your school against students from other schools. No one else gets to play. Just students. It’s a lot of fun.

There are separate collegiate race calendars for most disciplines of cycling. The road calendar is in the spring (races every weekend in March and April), and the Collegiate National Road Championship is in early May. The mountain bike and cyclocross calendars are in the fall.

Shippensburg University competes in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC), the largest of 11 regional cycling conferences in the United States. We compete against schools like Penn, Columbia, Vermont, UConn, MIT, Penn State, Millersville, Cornell, Pitt, Rutgers, and on and on.

For more info on collegiate cycling, click here.

Shippensburg University is located in the town of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles southwest of Harrisburg along I-81 and about 30 miles north of Hagerstown, MD. And this area, the Cumberland, Franklin, Perry, Adams Counties area of Pennsylvania, is just about cycling heaven. The valley is crisscrossed with low-traffic rural roads—some roads where you see more horses and buggies than cars. You can head out for a mid-day two-hour ride and maybe only see a dozen cars. It’s wonderful. 

And there is climbing! The valley is about 20-30 miles wide, and on either side there are delightful mountain roads with long gradual climbs and sometimes crazy steep climbs and everything in between. And that’s just the road riding… 

Hop on your mountain bike and you can be on the world famous Michaux State Forest single track just six miles from campus. And there is so much of it. I’ve been riding the trails, fire roads, and double track of Michaux and Tuscarora State Forests for the past seven years and I’m still discovering new trail, still getting lost, and still having way too much fun.

But the terrain isn’t the only reason why this is a great place to be a cyclist. Shippensburg University Cycling receives a good deal of money from the university as well as cash sponsorships from generous local businesses and individuals. We use this money to (1) subsidize the cost of team clothing, (2) reimburse expenses related to racing—race fees, gas, lodging—and (3) to buy team equipment like tools and spare parts (tubes, cables, housing, etc.). Team members also receive generous discounts at local bike shops. We rely on our collective knowledge to do most of our maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about paying shop fix-it fees. And what’s more, we teach you how to do it yourself. It’s an important part of our mission.

Ship Cycling also does just a lot of fun stuff. We have barbecues in the mountains. We play ping-pong and volleyball. We host local mid-week training races. We’ve created our own mid-week nighttime criteriums (we call them the Starlight Circle Races). And we put on two youth bike rodeos a year for elementary school age kids. During the summer, we compete against other local amateur cycling clubs in a series of events we call the South Mountain Summer Smackdown.

So, if you’re already a Ship student, maybe you ride a bit, or maybe you’re interested in getting started, get hooked up with the group.

Or, if you’re still in high school, trying to decide where to go to college, give some consideration to Shippensburg University. It’s a great place to study. A great place to live. And a great place to be a cyclist.

For more information about the university, its academic programs and offerings and everything else you want to know about SU, please visit the university website. To apply online, click here.

For more information about Shippensburg University Cycling, poke around the website and visit our blog.

Or you can email me (Dr. Goates, club adviser/director/coach; nwgoates@ship.edu) or our ’14-’15 club president, Alan Royek (ar4168@ship.edu).

All the best,

Nathan Goates, PhD

Assistant Professor of Management
Shippensburg University
Shippensburg, PA