Club sports at Kutztown University often get looked over as the sanctioned sports at the school get most of the coverage. Even so, publicity doesn’t affect the quality of athletes representing the Golden Bears. Colleen Hayduk, cyclist raised in the borough of Kutztown, is the true definition of a hidden gem. Though her accomplishments are not well boasted, her achievements are great in nature.
Two weeks ago, KU’s cycling club sent a team to the National Champion-Collegiate National Track Championships. Colleen Hayduk was hands down the best competitor there. At the end of the day, Hayduk was crowned champion in the Scratch Race, Points Race and even the Omnium (the overall best cyclist).
Though it was just her second time competing for the KU Cycling Club, she was not a newcomer to the cycling scene. As it turns out, Hayduk has an impressive 22 National Championships.
“Honestly, I only competed in this weekend’s competition for kicks and giggles,” said Hayduk.
Hayduk’s first priority is finishing school to become a teacher in the fall. Second priority is her professional cycling career. Though not as famous as Lance Armstrong, Hayduk has achieved great things for her professional sponsor.
Under Ride Clean representation, Hayduk competes around the world with her four-woman professional team. The team hails from across the country in Arizona, where one of her teammates lives. Her other two teammates are from Australia and New York. Because of this, she is always traveling.
“I’m rarely home in the summer or weekends. I actually lived in Australia for a winter since attending college,” Hayduk explained.
Competing professionally means moving constantly. Ride Clean in particular seem to reach every corner of the country. This summer, for instance, the team had a sponsor in Kansas City where they trained for about a week. When the week ended, they traveled by car to Chicago for a competition the team was in. Immediately after that competition, Ride Clean went to Wisconsin for a 10-day competition. During school is the only time Hayduk remains grounded in one place.
Travel may seem like a problem to most, but Hayduk takes it in stride, enjoying the places she goes. Though a tough question to answer, Hayduk believes Colorado is her favorite place to ride. She loves the beautiful mountains and just the scenery in general. Though she admits to hating hills, the scenery makes it more bearable.
Though Hayduk is now stranded in KU, she isn’t complaining. This break is much needed, as she competes from March until September. Plus, she doesn’t mind riding around this area.
“I love just getting lost, even around here. I get to enjoy my surroundings like people in cars simply cannot. Cars go far too quickly and do not see what I experience,” said Hayduk.
Ride Clean is primarily a road racing team, which is completely different from the track style of racing. Road bikes have multiple gears and hand breaks, they aren’t as built for speed as track bikes are. Track bikes have just one gear and no breaks, quite the transition. Also, track is more for sprinting and getting off to quick scores, whereas, road races are more distance-oriented.
Before racing in Track Nationals, Hayduk had been on the track about four times total. Still, Hayduk has grown up on the track, road was always second when she started way back when she five years old.
“It was a tough adjustment, but I have done this a long time. Though it was difficult, I had no doubt that I could win. It just clicks when you’re constantly training.”
By Frank Lippincott