On a cloudy and mild Sunday morning Marisol Rios and her father, Micheal G. Rios, prepare for a 14-mile bike ride on the southside of San Antonio. Marisol cautions riders to fill up their water bottles because it will be a few miles before a water break.
Other riders begin to show up to the Bike World starting point. Coach Rios fits the riders for the appropriately sized bikes and they strap on their helmets. The leader gives a quick overview of safety and laws. The route starts at Bike World on SE Military Dr. and continues through Mission Road and ends at Don Martin’s Coffee Co. on South Presa.
Riders then hop on their bikes and begin the inaugural leisure ride of Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s Cycling Club.
The club meets every Thursday for on-campus social rides from 5:30 p.m to 7 p.m. If students cannot attend an evening ride on campus, leisure off campus rides are held every Sunday at Bike World on SE Military from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Rides are guided by Bike World but members of the Texas A&M Cycling Club are led by coach Rios. This ride is free and open to anyone who wants to experience cycling, the city of San Antonio, and socializing.
The idea of a cycling club was proposed by Marisol Rios, a first-year communication student, and senior Scott Andreu in the spring of 2018. After Rios discovered at student orientation that Texas A&M-San Antonio did not have a team she relentlessly addressed Student Activities.
Simultaneously, the athletics director contacted Andreu who was also interested in a creating a cycling team and informed him that another student, Rios, also wanted to start a club. The two united and started the first cycling club on campus.
Today the newly added Cycling Club offers another fitness opportunity that students can engage in on and off campus.
Cycling times begin in the evenings at 5:30 p.m. to avoid any type of student or motor vehicle traffic. Rios, team captain, coordinated with the University Police Department to create a schedule that does not impose on heavy traffic times. The main goal of any ride is to stay safe and obey the laws. The team follows the same rules and restrictions as a person who is driving a car.
University Police Sergeant Gerardo Duran of the Field Operations Division offered tips to riders during their first on-campus ride on Sept. 27. He advised riders that lights are necessary for evening rides. He encouraged riders to look up the city ordinance guidelines to learn how motor vehiclist, pedestrians and cyclist can better share the road.
The club has a tight-knit family oriented feel. The father-daughter duo even lost weight as a result of taking up cycling. Marisol said that she has lost about 50 pounds since she first began cycling. Her father, the team’s coach, lost nearly 150 pounds.
The club is supportive of newcomers and constant words of encouragement are cheered throughout the rides. Members say they are always looking out for one another and taking the ‘no man left behind’ policy very seriously.
“I was asked to be a coach as a support person. I enjoy the sport and that’s the reason I’m here is to help anybody who wants to get into it for any reason whether it’s socializing, exercising, just to meet other folks, or to be more competitive. I’m here to help support you all,” Rios said.
Talks of a possible loaner program are in the works. The program would provide students who do not have access to a bike or do not want to spend a ton of money on an extracurricular activity. The program would also offer bike repairs when needed and other items necessary to safely and properly cycle. As of now, coach Rios provides bikes and equipment from his personal collection.
“Any student knowing that would realize, okay, there is a resource to help you out, Michael has his inventory of extra bikes, that’ll influence a lot of students to join,” said English junior, Oscar Cantu.
Students of all levels can join whether they consider themselves beginner, intermediate or expert. Student Activities categorizes the club as a recreational-based organization but members have future plans for the club to become an official college sport.
President Rios said the club is a long way from being NCAA-recognized but hopes one day the club can become one. For now, the club is mostly a chance to engage students involvement at the campus.
“I’d like to see is more of a bike culture at the school where a lot of people want to go out and have fun rides and enjoy themselves, but at the same time maybe cultivate people who are looking to have that part of college life…if those people want a sport in their college career they have the availability to participate in a college sport and compete,” said vice president Scott Andru.
“I want to meet new people, I feel like being part of the club will give me pride towards the school,” said Jorge Aguilar, psychology sophomore.