Alumni cyclists place in bike race

UTD alumnus Sean Spiesman (right)whooshes in a photo. He competed in both the mountain bike and road races. Photo courtesy of Sean Spiesman.

Two former UTD cycling team members used past training to place high in a local tournament.

UTD alumni Flora Yan and Sean Spiesman competed in the Cedar Hill Race Festival on Feb. 3-4. Both graduates said their time at UTD played a role in their passion for the sport; during their time as Comets, they raced and trained as members of the cycling team.

Spiesman and Yan placed high in their respective races at the Festival. Spiesman, who competed in the men’s mountain bike race and men’s road race, placed third and 11th, respectively.

“This weekend’s results were pretty good for me,” Spiesman said. “I didn’t have many expectations because I haven’t competed since graduating. It was pretty cold and extremely windy, so it was very difficult.”

Yan said she was excited to go out for her first race of the season in the women’s P12 event. On a 2-mile course, with elements such as a hairpin loop and a steep climb, she placed third after two cyclists from Austin. She plans to compete at the four-day Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville with her team next.

Yan began biking in high school and served as the president of the cycling team her sophomore and junior year. Now as a second-year medical student at UT Southwestern, she’s raced for organizations such as Dallas Racing, Fearless Femme and Papa John’s.

“I really enjoyed bringing people into the sport and club, riding with the group every week, leading spin classes and traveling with everyone to training camp and to races,” Yan said. “My most favorite memory is from a fall 2015 training camp in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was just riding with my friends, spending the whole day on the bike.”

Spiesman began biking during high school in downtown Austin and continued biking at UTD, especially during his senior year. Although his training background was mainly in mountain biking, he raced exclusively on the road with UTD’s team and attended their yearly training camp.

“My favorite memory with UTD cycling took place on our training trip to Arkansas sometime around Thanksgiving my senior year,” Spiesman said. “We all bonded because it was so cold and such a group effort for everybody to make it through.”

Yan said biking is different from any sport she’s ever done because it is so dynamic, and it brings great joy to her life.

“The intricacies and nuances of where you are in the pack, versus how the course can affect the race, versus what strengths are present within the group of riders at the moment — these all play a role in shaping how a race turns out,” Yan said. “I love how bike racing can be very cerebral, but also so exciting. Plus, the culture behind bike racing, the racers themselves — every time I go to a race I feel like I’m going to some sort of reunion.”

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