Junior keeps rolling with cycling

Story by Casey Hitchcock

With the wind tearing through his hair, junior Sam Benefield listens to U2’s City of Blinding Light on his iPod, focusing on the rhythmic push of his legs on the pedals. Only a few miles to go.

Cycling isn’t the first thing most people think of when the word “sport” is mentioned, but Benefield is one of the exceptions. In fact, it is the most important one to him. It was one day during his freshman year that he said, “I think I’m going to go ride my bike.”

Since then, he’s become an avid cyclist, starting out riding about 15 miles, and now covering about 50 miles every chance he gets.

“During the school week I don’t get to ride [my bike] much,” Benefield said. “But I do time trials almost every month.”

Benefield joined Edge City Cycling, a local group of cycling athletes, about seven months ago to ride with others who enjoy the same sport. As the youngest in the group, he enjoys riding with others to get in practice time.

“I haven’t had time to properly train for a race,” Benefield said. “But I get in about 100 to 150 miles per week.”

It’s his competitive nature that keeps him pushing forward.

“You’re only as good as the amount of work you put in,” Benefield said. “You’re constantly pushing yourself to go one more mile.”

Benefield usually rides along Sugarhill Road, a great place to work on climbing or going up a steep slope. However, he can ride pretty much anywhere he can find shoulder room with a 5-pound road bike, one specially made for his sport.

“Most cyclists go in groups in order to catch the drafts [wind force from one bike on another] of other riders,” Benefield said. “And for safety.”

By riding the draft of others, Benefield can reduce his efforts by more than 20 percent. Though it’s hard work and a lot of practice, Benefield enjoys being involved in cycling.

“I really like being outside,” Benefield said. “I also wanted to do an endurance sport, and one day I started riding and went farther and farther.”