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Did You Know?

A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Meet a racer: Seth Meyer

Seth Meyer’s legs have always been moving, as has his mind; and he’s always tried to be different. He grew up running in rural Minnesota and playing chess, cribbage, or gin whenever he wasn’t on his feet. So it seems only natural that by the time he was 15 he was an Academic Decathlete who ran marathons for fun.

Seth learned upon getting to college at Northwestern that concentrating so much on a specific distance was a bit of a curse. The body adapts: the distance, the pain become boring and familiar; the improvements are minuscule. And if your time isn’t sub-2.30 at that point, there’s no real future in marathons. Seth’s studies, however, were a constant source of dynamism, becoming much more serious. Physically he craved a change to complement his academics and keep that symbiosis a part of his life.

“I think cycling brought a lot of new things together for me,” Seth says. His knowledge of cycling today goes far deeper than just Lance Armstrong, but he recalls the 7-time Tour de France champion trying to explain cycling to Americans as chess while marathoning with a little NASCAR thrown in. “I remember reading that in one of his books and thinking that this sounded perfect to me!”

The collegiate cycling scene was the perfect setup for a young man, already in peak physical condition, to take up riding competitively. During the season, each race day on the weekend offered an A, B, and C event: a criterium, a road race, and sometimes a time trial. It’s up to the rider to decide whether they just want to have a fun time and race recreationally in the Cs, or train harder and hone their skills in the Bs in the hopes of moving up to competing against future (and current) pros in the As.

Seth’s active mind took to the cerebral sport immediately. He first knew he should get serious when in only his 6th race, he bridged to a break of two Cat 1s and 2 pros, not that he even knew what a Cat 1 was. Yes, he was dropped soon after, but this demonstrated to him that he was on the right track. In what other sport can such a rookie make the correct tactical move and find himself among seasoned performers?

The constant variation from race to race provided stimulation and motivation Seth needed. Each race day is an emotional rollercoaster. You can bridge to that break, be unable to recover from the effort, and your opponents sense your weakness and attack you ruthlessly, leaving you behind. But in a longer race, you could reel them back in as part of the pack, and exact sweet revenge in the sprint. “It's the kind of thing that makes me think I'll be riding a lot longer than I was running!”

Seth spent much of 2008 on the National Racing Circuit (NRC) and realized that racing with success against the pros would demand much more physically – robbing him of that precious balance he craved – than he was willing to give. So he has carved out a niche for the time being as grad student and Cat 1 cyclist.

Seth is currently at UIC studying 19th Century German poetry, finding his head often lost in Romantic Era analysis, disconnected from reality for hours, even days at time. Cycling brings him back to Earth, reminding him that, without hard work, achieving anything of substance is impossible. “It unapologetically exposes my failure or lack of preparation if either exists.”

Hard work indeed. After joining XXX Racing-AthletiCo for the 2009 season, Seth crashed hard in a March collegiate race, breaking several ribs. The injury is notoriously slow to heal, and Seth spent the better part of the summer either barely hanging on to the very competitive Midwestern Pro/1/2 fields, or being outright shelled off the back. He never let his frustration get the better of him, however, and kept competing throughout the season, enjoying his racing for what it was.

This past September at the Illinois State Championship road race – the Tour of Oak Brook – Seth found himself in an early break of five that grew the gap and stayed away. Digging as deep as he always has up the final, mile-long climb, he finished third overall, mere wheel-lengths behind the winner; but as the first Illinois resident across the line, the coveted state champion jersey was his. A more poetically just ending than could be found in any book.

“Everything just came together beautifully….what a time for it to happen!”