Brendan Rhim Rides His Way Through a Busy Season
Norwich native Brendan Rhim has a busy season ahead of him.
Now in his second year cycling with the Holowesko-Citadel racing team, Brendan
is taking time off of his undergraduate studies to focus on his racing career.
Brendan started bike racing when he was a student at Hanover High School. He rode his bike to school every day, and joined a Tuesday night racing group in Claremont, New Hampshire. “I was instantly hooked,” he says. He joined the cycling team at the Killington Mountain School, which is a designated USA Cycling Center of Excellence. He trained with the Killington Mountain School team while attending Hanover High School, and raced both in the juniors (high school) category and in the collegiate league. Brendan explains, “There are so few racing teams in New England for 18 and under, you join the team even if you aren’t attending the school because it’s the only team that’s near you.”
When he was looking at colleges, Brendan chose Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. The surrounding area is known as one of the best locations for riding in the country because of its great weather, bicycle-friendly culture, and its proximity to incredible mountain roads. Furman University is known for its collegiate cycling team. In addition, the Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team being based in Greenville makes it an ideal location for Brendan to pursue his studies as well as his racing career.
He ultimately signed a contract with Holowesko-Citadel, which is considered a semi-professional racing team. The team is focused on road bicycle racing and was developed by former professional racing cyclist George Hincapie. According to their website, the focus of the Holowesko-Citadel team is to develop young riders into top professional cyclists, and to continue the growth of the sport by supporting cycling’s next generation.
Now a junior at Furman, Brendan took the spring semester off from school to race. While the collegiate races are regional, Brendan’s time with the Holowekso-Citadel team takes him from coast to coast and abroad. He plans to add on an extra year at Furman so that he can finish college while also being able to fully commit himself to cycling during race season. “Taking the semester off of school makes it easier to train, eat right, sleep right, and not have to miss extended periods of class,” Brendan explains. “It’s been pretty difficult taking a full course load and racing.”
During the early season in February and March, Brendan attended a training camp with his Holowesko-Citadel teammates. The team gathered from all over the country and focused on putting in slower and longer rides, together as a group. After the initial training camp, the riders measure their rides on a week-to-week basis in hours, not miles. Brendan spends 15-25 hours a week of training on the bike. He spends his other training time working on stability and core exercises in the weight room, which adds up to about 30 hours of training per week. He is also focused on nutrition and rest. Brendan says, “When I’m on my own, it’s more independent, but when I’m with the team, the structure is to have the riders do as little as possible and just focus on the ride. My bike is taken care of by a mechanic, water bottles ready, food laid out, I get a massage. It’s kind of like a vacation when I go for a race! I get taken care of. It’s a bit of a shock to the system when you go home and have to make your own food!”
Brendan says being on tour and traveling around with his teammates is ultimately a lot of fun. “It’s always better to be at races, even if you’re getting your butt kicked, because you get to be doing all the good stuff, too.”
The racing season runs from March until September and there’s typically a race every weekend. The team has a roster of 12 cyclists, but sometimes the race can only take 6 or 8 riders. Some weekends, Brendan is at home resting or training, and some weekends he’s out on tour and then someone else cycles into the roster. The team travels across the United States, as well as to Europe for races.
Although Brendan enjoys being on the road and having a break from school to train and race, he’s also invested in finishing school at the same time as his peers. He is a health science major, and wants to study to become a chiropractor, though he may put grad school on hold for a year after his finishes his studies at Furman. Brendan only has three semesters left to finish his degree. “I have a life outside of cycling. I’m trying to get as much school done as quickly as possible,” he says.
At age 21, Brendan is the youngest rider on his team right now. He says his good results this year are a reflection of taking the time to train and prepare for the season, and focus exclusively on cycling. He wants to work his way from the third tier of professional cycling into the second tier and then into the first, but that progression depends on how well he’s riding and how much he can focus on his sport. Brendan’s goal is to be on a top-tier team in the next four years. “Whether I spend the next three years on this same team, or move up to a tier 2 team – either one is possible,” Brendan says. “It’s been a bit of a wild ride. I had a serious injury two summers ago and that held me back a little bit, but I’m fully recovered now.”
Looking at the season ahead, Brendan and his teammates are headed to races from Oregon to Philadelphia, Canada to Tennessee. In June, they will take on the USA Pro Championships Road Race. Wherever Brendan winds up, one thing is for certain--he’s going to get there fast.