David Novak has already accomplished plenty as a collegiate cyclist.
Of course, at the top of the list for the Lindsey Wilson College junior is the national championship he won on the track last fall.
“I’ve been striving for that ever since I started racing,” Novak said of his victory in the individual pursuit at nationals in September.
But the Stars and Stripes jersey from that victory is far from the only award the 20-year-old from Tunkhannock has pulled in since arriving on the school’s Columbia, Ky., campus.
He also finished second in the road race at nationals in 2012, and has been piling up fine finishes already this year.
But to hear his coach talk, it’s only the beginning for Novak.
“He’s an animal,” Lindsey Wilson cycling coach Andrew Parson. “His strength and pain threshold are just unbelievable.
“Sometimes his tactics aren’t always the best, but once he catches his tactics …”
Novak has a couple of second-place finishes in criteriums, and third- and fourth-place finishes in road races for the Raiders already this season.
Most recently, he finished second in the Case Cycling Criterium in Cleveland last weekend. He also won a criterium in Cleveland while racing in a non-collegiate event.
“I feel really stronger on the bike and the results are coming,” Novak said.
The team has the next couple of weeks off before competing in road races at the University of Notre Dame the weekend of April 12. That event is followed by another set of road races in Indianapolis the weekend of April 19, and regionals are set for Purdue University the weekend of April 26.
Then comes a golden opportunity for Novak to shine, according to Parson, at the USA Cycling National Championship in Richmond, Va., May 2-4.
“I think he is a threat to win any race he enters at nationals,” Parsons said.
Novak is unlikely to compete in the individual time trial in Richmond, according to his coach, leaving him the criterium and road race to shoot for another Stars & Stripes jersey.
While Novak feels good about his chances in both races, he knows pulling off a victory in either is a difficult task.
“There’s a lot of good competition and anyone can win,” he said. “I at least want to podium in both races.”
In addition to a couple of top-three finishes at nationals, Novak also hopes to draw the attention of some pro teams.
Because cycling is not an NCAA-sanctioned sport, he would be able to ride with a professional team and still compete with Lindsey Wilson.
Parson said that Novak has already draw interest from some track teams. Novak said he would like to able to compete professionally in both track and road events.
“I love the road and I love the track,” he said.
Lukas look strong
Novak isn’t the only area cyclist to be making a mark at Lindsey Wilson.
Luke Lukas, a 19-year-old from Cortdale, is a freshman for the Raiders and has complied some impressive finishes himself.
“Luke has got a whole lot better since he’s been here,” Parson said. “Everything he does is about cycling.
“If he’s not going to class or racing, he’s eating right. He’s always thinking about cycling.”
Lukas has finished three times in the top 20 for the Raiders, including a fourth-place finish at the Philly Phyler event on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
He also has a host of top-20 finishes in non-collegiate events, including a victory in a road race in Greenville, S.C., last month.
“He’s looking really strong,” Novak said of his younger teammate. “I think he’s going to be one to watch.”
Let the rides begin
Around Town Bicycles in Wilkes-Barre began its popular Saturday morning ride.
This Saturday’s ride will start at 8:30 a.m. The following weeks will begin at 8 a.m.
The rides will start out as 20 to 25 miles of mostly flat road. Mileage and intensity will increase through the season, so it’s a great way to work yourself into prime shape.
A road bike is recommended.
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If you have an upcoming ride, recenlty competed in a race or just have a good cycling story to tell, email me at email@example.com or give me a call at 570-829-7164.