For Kevin Buechler, 22, a Cal State Fullerton kinesiology major, bicycling is not just a sport: it’s a way of life.
It’s been that way, he recalls, since he was 6 years old when he would go mountain biking with his dad.
Now, as he prepares for graduation, Buechler prepares to leave an organization that he helped bring back and pushed to success on many levels: the CSUF Cycling Team..
If anyone has a passion for cycling, it’s Buechler. Not only does he work at a cycling store in addition to being president of the cycling team, but he also advises on bicycle policies on campus and regularly cycles to and from school. Buechler said his passion for cycling comes from the feeling it gives him.
“You’re kind of in a little cocoon in your car, and when you’re on a bicycle you get the fresh air, the scenery that you don’t get in a car; especially if you race, it’s really exciting to race,” Buechler said.
Growing up, Buechler was involved in many sports, including soccer, baseball and football, but, he admits, cycling always held a special place in his heart.
The idea for restarting the cycling team came to Buechler after a bad motorcycling accident that broke his collarbone. While the injury took a year to recover, Buechler said it helped him in unexpected ways, “I may not be physically as strong,” he said, “but mentally (I am).”
When he recovered, Buechler began competing in bicycle races and decided that he wanted to compete for his school. Previously, a cycling team had existed at CSUF, but as Buechler found out, it was more for recreation than competition. So he decided to start from scratch.
Bryan Humburg, 24, met Buechler at the beginning of the year. Humburg had some experience in cycling and was also looking to start a cycling team on campus, until he found out Buechler had already started one. “He surely did a lot of legwork,” Humburg said.
Buechler spent the summer preparing for the team’s recommencement in the fall, according to Humburg. He did the paperwork, began making contacts and took care of many of the specifics.
“I think he’s a really good leader, he really has that drive to do well … he sets really high goals, he does a really good job of trying to get there,” Humburg said.
One goal was to get the membership for the cycling team to 25 consistent members by the end of the year. The team made it to 18, which Humburg admitted was excellent for the first year. The Facebook group that Buechler began in the summer also shot up in likes from a couple dozen to 200 by the end of the year.
“He does a really good job of keeping in touch with all the people we need to keep in touch with,” Humburg said.
Buechler best represented his team when he took first place at a competition in Fresno, Calif.
James Goonewardena, 22, a political science major and treasurer of the cycling team, competed alongside Buechler until the end of his win.
“He wanted [this win] for a long time,” Goonewardena said.
Goonewardena admitted that he helped Buechler get to his goal, since he had come so close to first in previous races.
“I went to the front and then rode till I couldn’t ride anymore,” Goonewardena said. “He took it to first place.”
After that race, Goonewardena said Buechler gained a reputation among other teams since he had won by a large margin. “People would say, ‘Watch out for him,’” joked Goonewardena.
Buechler’s work ethic is something that his peers have grown to admire.
“He’s really dedicated (as an athlete),” said Humburg, who spent time before winter break training for the next season. When both students came back from winter vacation, Humburg said he noticed a significant improvement in Buechler. “He did a lot of work, it was really impressive,” Humburg said.
Buechler’s dedication and leadership has become an inspiration for other athletes on his team.
“As a cyclist he’s one of the faster people in the club,” Humburg said. “He’s really dedicated to the club … he’s always there trying to get people motivated … he’s all over the place and he does a really good job of it.”
Goonewardena said Buechler’s effect on people is something that isn’t seen every day.
“I think it’s great, we have meetings weekly, no one says anything unless he’s there … he’s really busy with school (and) work … the fact that he’s still able to win the men’s C category is impressive … definitely an overachiever,” Goonewardena said.
As graduation approaches, Buechler reflects on everything he’s learned as a leader for the cycling team, including organizing meetings, races, training, rides and events. Seeing the excitement in his team when any of the members place in a race was something particularly wonderful for him as well. Buechler said he hopes that the cycling team can give back to high school teams in the future since he wished his high school had had a cycling team at the time.
Buechler hopes to help cyclists through his work in biomechanics in the future.