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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA pro cyclist Dietrich races for love of sport

    Mike Dietrich fell in love for the first time in his early childhood. However, his love affair was not with a girl but with his bike.

    The Arizona senior’s love for riding didn’t start like a usual kid with training wheels and his dad; his started on his friend’s sister’s old, rusted bike with a banana seat. At the ripe age of 4, he jumped on the bike without any help and never looked back.

    It’s been 20 years, and Dietrich, 24, splits time between professional riding and the classroom.

    “”I get to travel all over the world to race,”” Dietrich said. “”All the expenses are paid from the flight to the hotel room, and on top of that, they are paying me to be there.””

    As a professional rider, Dietrich receives all sorts of benefits for doing what he loves.

    He said that there is nothing better then getting paid for doing something you have a passion for.

    Dietrich was able to participate in the Tour of California in February.

    “”That was an exciting time for me,”” Dietrich said. “”It was my first pro race and there were 1.6 million spectators along with eight teams that participate in the Tour De France.””

    One of the major benefits of riding for a professional team is all the bikes and equipment are paid for.

    “”I get the opportunity to ride a $6,000 bike,”” he said. “”I also get a massage after every race and there are eight employees that help us with our needs.””

    One of Dietrich’s good friends, fellow cyclist and former roommate Kyle Volavico, understands the difficulties of being a pro roadie and what Dietrich has accomplished.

    “”He has great discipline,”” Volavico said. “”He has the strong drive to do well, and this team is giving him good exposure.””

    Joining the tour

    When he started school at Arizona, Dietrich, a finance major, immediately joined the Arizona club cycling team with thoughts of turning pro.

    “”At first pro crossed my mind,”” he said. “”I wanted to be a pro, but it seemed too hard and farfetched at first.””

    Dietrich didn’t let that get him down.

    “”I did every big race I could do in the summer to race against the pros,”” he said. “”I tried to train as smart as I could, ride big hours in the winter and go hard in the spring.””

    Dietrich found his time to shine as an amateur rider, winning the Rider of the Month award for The Ride magazine and taking first place in various events, such as a stage of the Tour of Ohio and the Marblehead Circuit Race in Massachusetts.

    “”I really enjoyed the stage win of the Tour of Ohio,”” Dietrich said. “”It was cool because I got to wear the leader’s jersey and it was all eyes on me.””

    After two years of hard work and racing as an amateur at pro levels, Dietrich got his opportunity for a pro career.

    After hearing about his options from the Arizona club cycling team, he took the initiative and marketed himself to various professional teams and received interest from five, eventually signing with the Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada team.

    “”I sent my resume to all the good pro teams and made some phone calls and got interest from five teams,”” he said. “”Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada gave me the best offer and also was the best team. They would get into the big races like Tour of California and the Tour of Georgia, as well as having some really good pros I could learn from.””

    Josh Kadis, the marketing manager for team Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada, said the team was impressed with Dietrich’s past performance and ability.

    “”Mike had been riding for a well-regarded amateur cycling team for the last couple of years,”” Kadis said. “”He was racing against some pro riders and his times were noticed by the team.””

    A childhood passion

    Even as a child, Dietrich had a great passion for riding, although there was no team to compete on or any cycling clubs he could be a part of.

    Still infatuated with sports, Dietrich played ice hockey and soccer because there was a lack of cycling options available when he was a kid.

    As he continued to his first year of college at Massachusetts Bay Community College, he continued to play hockey but never forgot about his love for cycling.

    Dietrich would find himself riding to hockey practice 20 miles away in 15-degree weather for entertainment.

    At the end of his hockey career, Dietrich heard about one of the top three amateur teams in the United States, Fiordifrutta Wheelworks. Shortly thereafter, he gave all of his efforts to take his cycling passion to the next level.

    After he joined, the team sent the racers to Tucson for a team camp and Dietrich fell in love with the UA and its riding potential.

    “”I fell in love with the warm weather,”” he said. “”The camp was in the spring, and I transferred in as soon as I could.””

    The love of racing

    While Dietrich has finished first in a couple of small races and finished second in a local race around Colossal Cave, he hopes to work his way up to the top of racing.

    Still, while it’s easy to get lost in the rankings, Dietrich hasn’t forgotten about the love he has for the sport.

    “”I want to pursue cycling as long as I keep loving it, I keep improving and I can pay my bills from it,”” he said.

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