Dean Zeffer, a member of the Lehigh Mountain Biking team, turns a corner during the National Racing Finals in North Carolina on Oct. 25, 2014. (c/o Lynette Seminara)

Lehigh’s cycling club races to the finish in North Carolina

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The Lehigh cycling club is more than just a group of students who love to bike. The club trains to be a competitive threat in intercollegiate competitions.

Three members of the club represented Lehigh at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships at Beech Mountain. Club president Dean Zeffer, ’16, competed in cross country biking, and his teammates Andrew Reslewic, ’14, and Leonard Ancuta, ’14, competed in downhill biking.

Zeffer placed 14th in the men’s division II with a time of 2:06.31. Reslewic placed 18th in the Oct. 24 round of division II downhill with a time of 2:34.272, and Ancuta nabbed 15th in the Oct. 25 round of division II downhill with a time of 2:28.235.

The cycling club includes both mountain bikers and road racers. The team is split depending on the season, with mountain biking in the fall and road racing in the spring. Only mountain bikers competed in the championships last weekend.

The three competing members were all A-level racers. A-level is the highest competing level.

But the team doesn’t just compete against other schools. The racers noted a healthy spirit of competition among the team members themselves.

“The thing I’m looking forward to the most is beating Lenny (Ancuta),” Reslewic said jokingly when preparing for the championships. “We’re much more competitive within the team than with other people.”

Ancuta has been an avid racer since he was 10, and he has been racing around the Lehigh Valley since he was a first-year. He has only been a part of the cycling club for two years, however.

For Ancuta, the most exciting thing about the championships was being able to “go to a big race with a lot of fans and race people I’ve never raced against who come from all over the country.”

Even though the club specializes in different types of competitive cycling, the group works together and acts like any other sports team.

“You’re still all wearing Lehigh’s name and you’re all trying to do the best you can,” said Zeffer, who has been on the team for the last three years. “You’re all trying to get better and doing something that you love and there’s something really cool about that that brings about all sorts of comradery.”

The team has been a club off and on since the mid 90s, focusing not only on racing but also on bringing together those who are passionate about cycling.

“Its hard to find a group of people to ride with,” Zeffer said. “So just getting together to ride with other kids your age and being able to do something that you all enjoy is a pretty neat thing.”

The club tries to bring the individual members together into a cohesive and ever-improving team.

“Definitely the biggest thing is camaraderie,” said Matthew Buell ’16, who first started mountain biking this September. “The camaraderie on the team really pushes you to be better, try new things and overcome stuff that you’re scared of. It definitely helps us push each other.”

Last weekend’s race had much higher stakes than any other race that the team has participated in so far. Lehigh’s cycling club has competed in races against other schools in the area, such as Drexel University, and has traveled to compete at universities such as Northeastern University and Clarkson University in upstate New York. However, the mountain bike national championships provided Lehigh’s cycling club with a chance to battle it out against some of the highest-ranking collegiate races in the country.

For Zeffer, last weekend’s race allowed him an opportunity to test his own skills and to see where he placed among the best collegiate mountain bikers in the nation.

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