HSC professors turn their love of HSC into the HSC Cycling Club

Monday, June 24, 2024

HSC Cycling Club (Picture 1)For Dr. Nicole Phillips, assistant professor, microbiology, immunology and genetics, in The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s School of Biomedical Sciences, it all started six years ago with a Peloton in her living room. After hearing about her friend’s Peloton for a few months, she finally decided it was time to see what the hype was all about. Phillips spent three years riding her Peloton before she got the itch to take her love of cycling to “real life” as she calls it.

“One of my best friends who also had a Peloton, mentioned that she started riding in the ‘real world’ recreationally,” Phillips said. “She encouraged me to attend a few group rides with her. Before I knew it, I was hooked.”

It’s now been three years since Phillips first clipped into a road bike and she has found a community she never knew existed. “I developed a small group of friends who all cycle together. We do local fun rides and races, including cyclocross (a mix of mountain biking and road cycling), road cycling and gravel events,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t until after joining this community that I started to notice how many people at HSC have bike racks on their cars, and I saw the potential to expand my cycling network at work. I also had a desire to rekindle the collegiality I experienced as a student at HSC.”

Prior to forming the cycling club, Dr. Harlan Jones, a colleague in the MIG department, had minimal experience cycling. After hearing Phillips talk about her love for her Peloton, Jones followed in her footsteps and got a Peloton of his own. It wasn’t long after that she convinced him to get a road bike too. The next thing Jones knew, he was helping her start the HSC Cycling Club.  About a year ago, Phillips and Jones posted to the Daily News to recruit fellow cyclists to join them on a ride. There is now a group of six to 12 who consistently meet to ride together, inclusive of friends and family of HSC staff, faculty, and students. The club is currently open to aspiring and accomplished cyclists of all levels.

HSC Cycling Club (Picture 2)“I’ve always been physically active,” Jones said. “At the club’s inception, we thought this would be a good way to promote community at HSC. Thus far, its’s been great to network and get to know people on campus who I might not have met otherwise.”

In the past year, the group has consistently met at least once a week. One faculty member, who joined the group hadn’t ridden his bike in 20 years, started riding again thanks to the HSC Cycling Club.

When Phillips first decided she wanted to start this club, she just wanted to find a community of people who shared her love for cycling. Now, she sees potential for the group to grow and start representing HSC at cycling events around DFW.

“I’d love for HSC to have a greater presence at these events,” Phillips said. “We are working on HSC branded kits, but there are other opportunities too, like sponsoring a rest stop or having a booth to showcase HSC — that would be amazing.”

For Jones, he hopes to use the cycling club to live out HSC’s mission to “create solutions for a healthier community.” He believes there are many local populations that HSC can reach who might not have access to cycling as a means of improving health through lifestyle. There are areas of Fort Worth that aren’t available to ride in, Jones explains.

HSC Cycling Club (Picture 3)“If we can identify those areas maybe we can support efforts for outreach and infrastructure development to make those areas rideable and cycling more approachable,” Jones said. “Imagine how many people we could reach in our community if we could contribute in that way.”

Both Phillips and Jones said the impacts cycling can have on one’s whole health are substantial – especially when it comes to the mental and physical aspects of health. For Phillips, cycling is an outlet that allows her to completely unplug from whatever is going on in her life and enjoy being outside doing something she loves. Whether it’s dodging traffic, or flying down a hill at 40 mph, there isn’t time to think about the negatives from the day, Phillips says.

Jones also highlighted the importance of interprofessional engagement through the cycling club.

“You get to learn a lot about coworkers from different schools or departments,” Jones said. “For me, learning about their research or the classes they teach is a great reminder that we operate as a unit at HSC. Something about that highlights our shared experiences and really takes the stress away.”

If you’re interested in joining the HSC Cycling Club, please contact Dr. Nicole Phillips at Nicole.phillips@unthsc.edu.


From HSC Newsroom - Community by Libby Maness