An early exposure to bikes leads to obsession
When he's not loaded down with work, which common since he's a mechanical engineering student, Ian Bensco spends his time doing what he loves most: cycling and fixing bikes.
Bensco, a junior at Penn State, took to bikes at a very early age and contributes his love to the sport and hobby to the influence of his dad.
“My dad always rode bikes,” Bensco said. “Nothing competitive, we just rode around a lot from when I was five up until now.”
Bensco still enjoys riding around on his bike for leisure and fun, but he has expanded his cycling experience a little further. Bensco is currently on Penn State’s club cycling team.
Last spring the Easter Collegiate Cycling Conference held their championship at Penn State and Bensco took first in his division in the criterium, which is a fast-paced lap race.
“I was able to take first place in the frat row criterium,” said Bensco. “Which was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.”
Not only does Bensco love riding bikes and racing them, he has also become very skilled in fixing and even building them.
“I feel like I know a lot about biking in general,” said Bensco. “I worked at a bike shop, so I know how to fix bikes and build bikes.”
Even though Bensco enjoys fixing and building bikes, his true desire is
riding and racing, and he finds the process rewarding. But it’s not just the ability to compete that’s rewarding, but the pain he puts himself through in doing so.
“I’m a big fan of the pain that comes along with it, especially in a race,” said Bensco with a chuckle. “One of the best things ever is when one of my teammates is in a breakaway and I’m just giving myself to make sure he does well and doesn’t get caught.”
This is a regular occurence on a cycling team, and a lot of strategy goes in to cycling. Cyclists are constantly drafting and changing their positioning to give the strongest rider on the team a chance to win.
One of the more amazing things about Bensco is the fact that he knows his bike better than most of us know the back of our hands. Bensco is obsessed with his bike and takes a great deal of pride in it. “It’s a marvel of engineering, really,” said Bensco. “Inventors, especially in material sciences, have come up with ideas to make bikes lighter and stiffer to be more efficient for racing.”
Bensco went on to explain the construction of his bike in great detail, from the carbon fiber frame to the ultra-light gear design that made his vehicle sound more like the space shuttle than a bicycle.
Bensco has a love, more like an obsession, for cycling that rivals most of the other desires in his life. Even though he generally enjoys riding his bike, the excitement of winning is always nice.
Talking race strategy
Racing isn't just hopping on the bike and seeing if you can finish first. There are tactics and methods to being successful in a race.
Bensco talks strategy and the best ways to be the first accross the line in a cycling event.