Men and women from colleges across the state, including seven members of the ACU Cycling Club, will compete in the first-ever, ACU-organized cycling race in Abilene: the Tour of Abilene. The race will take place 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, beginning on campus.
Dillon Fowler, freshman business and marketing major from Keller and president of the ACU Cycling Club, created the Tour of Abilene event and hopes to compete alongside his ACU teammates.
The first race in the tour is called the Criterium race, which Fowler said is a fast-pace race, and it will take place around campus.
The race will start on Campus Court by the Library and Mabee Hall parking lot, said Fowler. The race will continue and take a right at Ambler Avenue, then a right onto Judge Ely and then another right onto EN 16th st.
“If the wind is right and Abilene is blowing full wind, there may be a section – if it’s on Ely or if it’s on Campus Court – of going 35 to 40 miles an hour,” he said.
Only half of the street of each of these locations will be blocked off, allowing oncoming traffic to pass. However, students should expect several changes to parking and traffic around campus.
The Sunday race in the tour is a road race around Lake Fort Phantom, starting at Johnson Park on the north side of the lake.
Colleges represented by students in the Tour of Abilene cycling event include University of Texas in Austin, Texas Tech, A&M, Oklahoma State, University of Oklahoma, Louisiana State, University of Arkansas, Corpus Christi A&M, West Texas A&M, Midwestern State, The University of Texas at Dallas and Baylor University.
Right now, 60-70 people are registered to compete, but Fowler said he hopes about 100 people will be able to participate.
“One of our biggest rivals is Baylor,” Fowler said. “Baylor has more than 10 riders coming.”
Cyclists from each of these schools will stay in University Park Apartments and eat at The Bean during their stay in Abilene.
“Hopefully, we will have a lot of spectators,” Fowler said. “And that’s our main goal – to show ACU that they have a cycling team because all of the students don’t know about it. It’s really exciting to tell people about it.”
Kayli Denson, freshman advertising and public relations major from Abilene and secretary of the ACU Cycling Club, said, “Not only ACU, but maybe the community as a whole just to let them know there’s an ACU cycling team and to let them know that we are here.”
“I think they are pretty amazing athletes,” Denson said.
A well-developed collegiate cycling team could also be a new incentive for incoming students to attend ACU.
“One of my main goals for ACU cycling is…to develop a bigger cycling community, not just at ACU but in Abilene in general,” Fowler said.
The ACU cycling team has local support from Bike Town, The Whitten Inn, Lawrence Hall, Mad Coffee, Specialized Bikes, The Racing Post, Top Gun Velo and Scratch Labs.
Students’ Association also helped fund the race, with its contribution totaling $3,050.
“We love it, it’s awesome to have their support on our side,” Fowler said.
The money from SA will go toward funding the race.
“Police officers is about one third of it. We have official fees for people who officiate it and permit fees and other fees we had to pay to shut off roads,” Fowler said.
Fowler said he hopes this race and races to come will help ACU Cycling make a name for themselves on each course they compete.
“If people are afraid of us when we go to nationals, that’s our main goal, is to be like guess what, we are ACU and you better watch out,” Fowler said.