Ride On: Three GCU Staffers Take Cycling Seriously
By Jennifer Willis
Everyone has their own way of getting away from the daily grind. Some relax by listening to music. Others may lose themselves in a movie or hit the gym.
For a trio of GCU staffers, they hit the road — or sometimes trails — on their bikes. As you will see, we’re not talking about the occasional jaunt around the neighborhood.
The three are Dr. Brian McGuire, executive director for the Office of Institutional Research; Head Athletic Trainer Geordie Hackett; and Enrollment Counselor Lance Hinderleider. They’re competitive cyclists, and two of the three have major events coming up.
On Saturday, McGuire will participate in the Los Angeles Wheelmen Grand Tour, a 200- mile, one-day ride with an elevation climb of about 5,000 feet. He will start in Malibu, Calif., and ride along the coast toward Santa Barbara. He’s using the ride as a stepping stone for his ultimate goal, the 200-mile Death Valley Double Century, which has a 9,000-foot elevation gain and is held in October.
“I’ve never done a Double Century before,” McGuire says.
Also on Saturday, Hackett will ride in the Williams Warp, an MBAA Series Championship race in Williams, Ariz. It’s the final race in a series of eight, and if he can improve his state ranking to third, he will qualify for the national championship event.McGuire isn’t sure what made him decide to start riding. All he knows is that once he started, there was no stopping. When he’s not at work crunching numbers for GCU, he can be found riding the streets and canals on his bike.
He usually rides between 30 and 50 miles a day by himself on weekdays. He does it, he says, because he likes the feel of the wind, seeing the sights and the escape it brings.
“I believe that physical fitness is related to mental health,” he says. “We need to work on the total package, being physically, mentally and spiritually fit. Riding allows me time to think and to understand my place in life and what I can do to help.”
On the weekends, McGuire will ride between 50 and 100 miles with a group out of north Phoenix. The cyclists ride in two lines, with the leaders looping out and to the back when they get tired, allowing the next in line to take over.
“Riding in a team or club is nice because we help each other,” McGuire says. “The others give you encouragement and you can ride faster because there is better aerodynamics. We can bike farther in the same amount of time.”
Hackett is a mountain biker who played soccer in college and on an amateur team throughout graduate school. During a summer break, he decided to cross-train by biking. He got tired of riding along the canals by his house, so he moved into the mountains.
Within a month, he was competing in races.
“My wife worked with a guy at the Humane Society who was a mountain biker,” Hackett says. “She put me in touch with him and he became my mentor. My hobby became my new sport, and now it’s like an addiction for me. ”
Hackett races with Missing Link Racing, which participates in the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona, an advocacy group dedicated to racing ,riding, and trail building and maintenance throughout the state.
Hackett’s team is currently ranked seventh in the state, and he is ranked fourth individually. With a family and a full-time job, he isn’t able to train as hard as he would like.
That’s where his athletic training and certifications come into play. Using his knowledge of the body, he’s able to maximize the training he does, for optimum results.
“It helps me show the students that I practice what I preach,” Hackett says. “I’m not just having them do something just to do it. I’m having them do it because I’ve done it and it works.”
Hinderleider has been riding a bike in some form since he was 13, when his father bought him his first ten-speed.
At first, cycling was simply transportation for him. While attending at Arizona State University, he would ride from Tempe and to his parents’ house in north Phoenix. After graduation, he rode much less until a friend sold him a used road bike.
He was hooked. He joined the Arizona Bike Club and started riding with the club every weekend. Eventually, he bought a new bike.
“Of course I had to play with my new toy, as boys love to do, and I was on my bike as much as time would allow me,” Hinderleider says. “It is a rush to me — and a great way to stay in shape.”
The three men have formed an unofficial GCU cycling club, participating in rides together such as the MS 150, a two-day, 150-mile ride to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Tour de Cure, which benefits the American Diabetes Association.
McGuire says there are other cyclists among the faculty and staff at GCU, and the goal is to get something official started.
“Thinking of the GCU mission, it would be awesome to get faculty and staff involved at an athletic level,” Hackett says. “To participate in rides that support a cause while at the same time representing GCU would be really cool.”
“It would be a great way to get to meet new friends with similar interests,” Hinderleider adds. “We are always talking about ways to help, whether it is for work or recreation. This would be a great way to show GCU cares.”
Hinderleider leaves on Thursday for Alaska. Although he won’t be part of an organized event, he’ll be visiting his brother — also a mountain biker.
“This is basically a vacation that will involve some epic terrain that I can’t wait to ride,” he says. “We plan on riding every day we can, up until the time I leave on the 30th.”
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.