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From Big Wheels to the Big Leagues

Berg Frosh’s



David Wiswell ’06 has difficulty remembering a time when he didn’t own a bicycle.

Hailing from Weston, Conn., the 18-year-old Muhlenberg freshman says he was attracted to bikes from a very young age. Now that he is a nationally ranked cyclist, David’s childhood passion has landed him a spot among the best athletes that have ever traversed the halls of Muhlenberg and a potential place on the U.S. Olympic team.

On a brisk, cool fall afternoon I was given the opportunity to meet with David to discuss the long but successful path that has brought him from being an average New England youngster to a nationally recognized cyclist.

This, it seems, is another one of those cases in which the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Having been a top amateur cyclist in the 1960s and 1970s, David’s father introduced him to biking at a very early age.

“Everybody rides bikes when they’re little,” says Wiswell. “I started that way and followed my father’s guidance.”

David discarded his training wheels at age five and continued curiously exploring his newfound interest. Soon, cycling became a way of life, and at age 10 David witnessed his first-ever mountain biking race. “That was the spark that I needed,” says David. And thus began the making of a legend.

Cycling competition can be divided into two types: road racing and track racing, with the latter being David’s area of expertise. In track racing, the competitors gather on a running track called a velodrome for what David refers to as “fast, short, explosive racing.”

David actually participates in three types of track racing competitions. The one-kilometer time trial consists of only one cyclist competing against the clock from a standing start for three runs. The fastest time wins and the average trial is usually 1.8 minutes or below. In the match sprint competition two riders compete head to head for a total of three laps. Whoever crosses the finish line first at the end of the third lap is the victor. Finally, the Keirin is a seven-lap event with multiple cyclists being pulled behind a motorcycle for the first four laps. They are then released from the vehicles and sprint the last three laps.

Having competed in track races in Florida, Texas, California, Oregon, and throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic states, David hopes to take part in competitions in both Europe and Cuba in the next year. His ultimate goal is to compete in the Summer Olympics either in Athens in 2004, or in Beijing
in 2008.

And, it certainly seems that David has the drive and determination to make his Olympic dreams a reality.

“I try to put the bike down when the season’s over, but I just can’t. I’ll go back out riding and it’s the best feeling in the world,” he says. “There’s no better feeling than riding a bike.”

While David has long dreamed of being an Olympian, he realized early in his junior year of high school that he would soon have to shift his focus to finding a college that would suit him both academically and athletically.

The first thing he knew was that he needed to be close to both his coach and a track. Having spent his summers training in nearby Wescosville, it seemed natural for David to focus his attention on the colleges in the Lehigh Valley. During a visit to Muhlenberg, David noticed the flexible attitude of the admissions officers and was happy to see that they were excited at the prospect of him continuing his cycling career while in college.

“They were willing to work with me on cycling,” says David. As a result, he applied and was accepted early decision.
Now halfway through his first year at Muhlenberg, David is very much satisfied with the combination of academics and athletics that he has been able to pursue.

“I usually do two workouts a day, one before and one after classes,” says David. If classes start later in the day he will usually do an early morning workout, go to class, study for one hour after classes, and then ride his bike to the track for a two-and-a-half hour workout. Once the workout is completed David rides back to campus and spends the rest of the evening doing schoolwork or socializing in the residence halls.

When asked what type of advice he would offer to other Muhlenberg students wishing to excel at a sport, David says that every athlete, no matter how good, should focus on academics before trying to launch a professional athletic career.

The most important thing to remember, says David, is that “the likelihood of anyone being an athletic superstar is very slim, and so getting an education is very important.”


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