Budding cyclist Eric Young doubles as an aspiring science teacher. He envisions both life in the classroom and on the track, which speaks to his love for a sport he embraced just a few years ago.
“Cycling is kind of a niche thing, but there are a lot of people that do it,” Young said. “I know there’ll be all kinds of races I can do after college and my whole life.”
Young quickly picked up on cycling in 2007 after traveling from Geneva to Bloomington, Ind., to attend Indiana University. The former Vikings multisport athlete made friends with a group that competed in one of the campus’ crown jewels, the Little 500 bike race that channels the Indianapolis 500 and attracts tens of thousands of spectators each spring.
A senior biology and neuroscience major, Young is taking a break from training before regrouping for his third and final “Little 5” in the winter. He certainly earned some time off after helping Indiana place fifth in last month’s USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships in Indianapolis.
Young also earned individual accolades at the event, winning titles in two personal categories en route to taking the “omnium” award given to the top individual performer. He won the points race and survived the field in match sprints while also finishing third in the 1-kilometer time trial.
A couple fifth-place finishes – “nothing too crazy,” in Young’s words – were in the offing last weekend, when Young traveled to Carson, Calif., for the Elite Nationals. Coming up next year, once the Little 5 comes and goes, he’ll take part in May’s collegiate road course nationals and several regional races.
“I want to take some time away to ride my bike before I get into teaching full-time,” Young said.
Joining that profession will differ dramatically from Young’s approach to many track races. At Elite Nationals, he encountered for the first time a 250-meter track with 45-degree banking on the turns.
“That’s pretty steep,” Young said. “You get going fast and see what happens.”
With teaching, Young knows what he’s getting. His father teaches sixth grade at Rotolo Middle School while his mom is a kindergarten instructor at Harrison Street Elementary in Geneva.
For now, Young is unsure whether he wants to join them in Chicagoland to start. He plans to weigh his options entering his final months of school.
Either way, though, Young knows science will be there – just like cycling.
“I definitely see myself riding for a very long time,” he said.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.