Hayley Bates ’18 Rides into Cycling Spotlight
While many CC students wrapped up final papers and projects at the end of Block 8, Hayley Bates ’18 was not only managing her academic course load, but she was also preparing—physically and mentally—for her steepest competition of the season: representing the CC Cycling team at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.
Bates says she was pleased with her 14th-place finish in the national field May 13-15 in North Carolina. She finished second just a few weeks before in the regional championship, and says despite illness and some crashes in front of her on the race course, she’s happy with the experience.
“It was a bigger field with a lot of really experienced racers,” says Bates of the national competition. “I’m only 19, so one of the younger ones. I’ve still got plenty of time and plenty of chances. There’s a lot of learning in racing, especially when you get to a higher level; it’s more strategy.”
Bates is a double major in international political economy and romance languages, with aspirations to go on to law school to study international law. She’s from Long Beach, California, and has family in Colorado. She grew up visiting the state, skiing and mountain biking in the high country. Both her parents are accomplished cyclists, too. Bates says she was exposed to the sport at a young age, and they’ll have the chance to ride together this summer.
But even with summer’s arrival, Bates gets little in the way of an off-season. For the first time, she has a coach and they’re now working to target races for the coming year. She’ll compete in some non-collegiate races during the summer, working on moving up from “Category 1” to the “Pro” classification. “I love it enough to do what it takes if I have what it takes,” she says of what motivates her to keep training and racing year round. “But, I’m ready to go home to California and ride with my friends there and my parents.”
Bates will be back in Colorado in August, racing the Leadville 100-mile mountain bike race, her second time taking on the grueling, highly competitive course. “This year I’m focused on what time I can get,” she says. “As for an ultimate goal, for cycling, I’m working my way through the rankings, focusing on improving, and racing collegiately. Right now, I’m just trying to see where my momentum takes me.”
It’s not just momentum, but dedication and talent that are carrying Bates in such a challenging and competitive sport. Like many student-athletes, she has to stay on top of her coursework while traveling and competing, and communicates often with professors about expectations and scheduling.
“When I came into school this year, I spent the first weekend on campus, and didn’t spend another weekend on campus until Halloween weekend,” Bates says of the challenging schedule. “It’s a lot of communication with teachers; in between races our team members are studying as opposed to hanging out. During the week, I’m up super early in the morning to fit in training, racing, school, and work.”
But unlike many other student-athletes, Bates is also coordinating the logistical details of her team’s competitions. CC’s cycling team is small: six racers in each discipline (mountain and road) competing regularly. Bates, currently one of the youngest on the team, is the manager. “I’m the driver, the hotel-booker, I get them there, get a place to stay, manage all of that,” she says. “We needed someone who wanted to race and who wanted to organize, so I just decided to make it happen.”
Not only did Bates make it happen, she stormed onto the scene her sophomore year, racing at the front of the pack in nearly every competition. She placed in the top ten at the mountain biking nationals, and took second in the road conference championships. The cycling team travels all over the state for six weeks each season: March-May is road cycling, September-October is mountain biking. Bates says she’ll also incorporate the cyclo-cross season into her racing plan, which she’ll pick up from about November-January. Bates says fortunately, her house on campus has a basement.
“In January and February, I hook up the bike to the indoor trainer, and train in the basement at 6 a.m. So far, no one has complained about any noise that early. I do a lot of training in the mornings; if class and work allow, I’ll ride outside. But, it’s a lot of (indoor) trainer time, you’re that much stronger when you get outside, getting yourself to where you need to be.”
Bates will be back for mountain biking season in the fall, so keep an eye out for opportunities to cheer on her, and the rest of CC’s cycling team when the 2016-17 academic year begins.