Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
September 9, 2000 - Issue 18

Native American Excels in Road and Mountain Cycling
by Kim Brown Tulsa World Staff Writer

Winning is as easy as riding a bike for William Quillman.

The 17-year-old earned 16th place in La Tour de l'Abitibi in Quebec four weeks ago along with his five other team members.

As one of only five teams in the United States to participate in this international race, Quillman's team was proud to even be a part of "the biggest junior race in North America."

The World Cup event had teams from countries all around the world such as Holland, France, Japan, Mexico and Canada, he said.

For two months, he trained for the eight-day race in which he rode in two events per day.

"I rode about 700 miles total," Quillman said.

The home-schooled Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee student is one of but a few Native Americans to participate in road cycling and mountain bicycle racing.

"There are not too many Native Americans around in cycling," Quillman said.

"I've only seen one since I've been in it."

And for the past two years, Quillman has seen many faces at the races. In both road cycling and mountain biking categories, he races throughout the year. He also travels with the Tulsa Wheelmen, a team of riders who travel to race together.

He recently placed second in the Junior Olympics mountain bike races in Russell, Ark., and he took the state title last month in his age category for road and mountain biking.

He also said he placed 63rd in the national championship out of 170 riders.

Each year Quillman participates in the local Turkey Mountain race in October and is now preparing for the Tour of Kansas City, a road race in Missouri and another in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Though he began in mountain biking, Quillman said he has actually had more official success with road racing.

"I'll hopefully turn pro in mountain biking," he said. "Road racing I just picked up on the side but I've gone farther with road racing."

The major difference between the two forms of the sport is obviously the course. In road racing, cyclists must go specific distances, while mountain biking entails a struggle with terrain: climbing, downhill riding and creek crossing.

For both sports there can also be the challenge of regulations. Quillman said particularly in international races, Americans are not favored to win simply because of restrictions on gears.

"For the U.S. national team, here, you can use any kind of gear, but in other countries -- all other countries -- there are restrictions for juniors," Quillman said. "France and Italy are the two biggest cycling countries. They have unions for juniors and Americans don't do well."

For example, junior cyclists from other countries continuously train for races using the regulated gears, while Americans do not.

Nevertheless, for La Tour de l'Abitibi, Quillman proved himself in the international scene. To qualify for the invite-only event, he had to travel to Lubbock, Texas, for the South-central region qualifications. Officials timed each rider for the events and added their total times to pick the fastest six. Quillman placed third on the team.

When asked which race was his favorite, he responded with La Tour de l'Abitibi.

"There were so many riders and the distance of the race," he said.

La Tour de l'Abitibi

About Mountain Biking



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