Published: April 18, 2016
Emily Schaldach

Emily Schaldach’s college experience is not quite what she expected. She is on a tight schedule, trains hard and goes to bed early. And she is taking calculus.

“College is a lot of work,” she said. “It’s just as important to balance that with something you’re doing, something you can really get into.”

For Schaldach that something is cycling. As a competitive racer for the CU-Boulder Cycling Team and Ridebiker Alliance, Schaldach spends time on her bike every single day.

“If I don’t have time to go out and bike, to let my thoughts go, to yell at the cows and be outside, I get too stressed,” she said. “I’ve learned about the importance of taking time every single day for my brain to relax.”

When Schaldach, a sophomore, gets done training, it’s back to the books to keep working toward her major in environmental studies.

“I had an image of what college was going to be like with friends and parties, but I really like spending time alone on the trail,” she said. “The hardest part was accepting that this is how I want to do things. I’m happy with it.”

Schaldach began racing in middle school in Durango, Colorado, her hometown, through a program called Durango DEVO. Now, after nearly eight years in racing, she is more excited than ever to find ways to use cycling to give back to her community.

“Cycling is the perfect platform to do something with an impact,” she said.

This summer, Schaldach plans to host donation-based cycling clinics for women and children in Durango, with all proceeds going to World Bicycle Relief in sub-Saharan Africa. She discovered World Bicycle Relief after studying women’s education in sub-Saharan Africa in a Presidents Leadership Class at CU-Boulder.

“Many women are not educated because of the logistics of getting to school,” said Schaldach. “I started to think about the cost of a single tire [for my bike] and how many people I know who could help.”

World Bicycle Relief, which provides bikes for students, entrepreneurs and health care workers, seemed a natural fit to integrate Schaldach’s passions for social justice, women’s education and cycling.

“School offers so many opportunities,” she said. “Meet as many people as you can, build connections and find something outside of the classroom that gets you energized. Tap into that and you can make a big impact.”

Follow Emily Schaldach’s blog for the latest cycling updates and to learn more about her project to support World Bicycle Relief.

Photos courtesy of Brian Hodes, VeloImages.