Interview: Aric Harelandby Corey Coogan
September 18, 2007
Aric Hareland was Minnesota Cycling Federation's Cyclocross Rider of the Year in 2006. Equally well-versed on the road, Hareland was the 2006 Masters 30+ Champion at Superweek and finished third there in 2007.
A North Dakota native, Hareland began his endurance sports career competing in running at the high school and collegiate levels.
Hareland, who has a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology, is an instructor at both The Firm-Minneapolis and The Fix. He is well-known for his yoga instruction from a cyclist's perspective.
- Where are you originally from? What sports did you do as a junior?
As a junior, I didn’t race bikes at all. I was into bikes, rode a bit, but wasn’t very aware of races. I ran cross country, track and was a swimmer in high school then got an athletic scholarship to run in college.
- When did you begin riding?
I did a little bit of BMX when I was a little kid until I got my first road bike when I was 12. It was a red Trek 330. Right after I got this bike, I did a bicentennial bike ride across North Dakota with a group of about 100. 5 days and 365 miles and I rode everyday and the complete distance. When I was 13, I did my first crit: The Fargo Downtown Crit—I was lapped once on a 10-lap race.
- It appears that you once ran track for Valley City State and then rode for North Dakota State. How did your collegiate racing affect your athletic development?
Running in High school and college really helped me develop as an athlete. Running gave me that mental edge that taught me how to suffer. In college I ran mostly the steeplechase along with some other middle distance races. This makes cyclocross actually quite simple because the barriers are only 16 inches compared to 36 inches in the steeplechase.
- Rumor has it, you once did a long-distance ride across much or all of the country. Tell us about this experience.
I could go on and on about this. In 1999 between my Junior and Senior year in college, I took my Bianchi touring bike and hopped on an Amtrak out to Seattle, WA. Leaving from Seattle at 9:30am, I rode up the coast and then started across the country. I rode through Washington, Idaho, Northern Montana and took a pit stop for 2 days in my hometown of Fargo. This first part of the trek only took me 3 weeks. From Fargo, I zigzagged through Minnesota, then I took one day to ride across Wisconsin (Somerset to Ironwood), crossed the UP of Michigan and up into Canada north of the Great Lakes, came back down to Niagara Falls across Northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and I ended up in a hostel in Bar Harbor, ME.
Total Trip: 4500 miles and it took me two months.
I never paid for a campsite. Instead I slept in my bivy tent in small city parks, under bridges and a few times in bars (don’t ask)—oh and also at the Stillwater Fire Department (They make great pancakes there).
- I'm told that you work for TheFix and teach yoga. What classes do you teach there? How is yoga valuable for cyclists?
I teach one class a week on Sundays at The Fix during the winter months. I also teach Spin and Yoga at The Firm over on Glenwood Avenue.
Yoga is incredibly valuable for cyclist. In cycling, the core of your movement comes from the hips. If your hips are weak, then your upper body has to work harder and this can eventually cause back strain.
Also think about one of the main muscles at work during biking: a cyclist’s quads tend to become overdeveloped. To compensate for this, your hamstrings shorten and can become incredibly weak.
I often hear from cyclists that they do not do yoga because they are not flexible. The best way to improve in any sport is to increase your flexibility and your concentration.
- Your name can be found in results sheets across all disciplines: road, track, CX, and even occasionally MTB. What is your favorite and why?
That’s a pretty tough question.
In road racing, there is nothing better than a fast technical crit. There is always action and it seems like your heart rate never falls below 170. I’ve raced at Superweek the last two years in a row and I can never get enough of the crits, especially when you throw in some 180 degree turns.
Cyclocross is the same way—they start out extremely fast and they seem like they never slow down. In the last few years, I have always looked forward to riding my bike in September mostly because of the weather, but also because I am able to jump on my cyclocross bike.
- You are the defending champion of the Minnesota Cycling Federation Cyclocross Rider of the Year. What are your CX plans for the fall? What are some of your favorite CX races?
My plan for the 2007 CX season is to be the 2007 cyclocross rider of the year (ha, ha). It would be nice to repeat, but there are a lot of races and some good young cross racers out there. I will mostly be racing once a weekend but I may double up on both Saturday and Sunday a few times. I also plan on racing Jingle Cross in Iowa and I will also be heading down to Cross Nationals this year.
Favorite cross races: Without a doubt, I would have to say Basset Creek (state cross) is top notch. Also Hudson, Taylors Falls and Boom Island have great venues. There is no bad race out there, every course I’ve done I have walked away with a smile on my face whether I have won or lost.
- What advice would you give to someone with either a road or mountain bike background who is eager to try CX for the first time?
Don’t be too serious about it at first, otherwise you are going to set yourself up for disaster. Burn out is an easy thing, especially when there are 14 races on the cyclocross calendar. I would start out and do a few of the closer to metro races as you can (Boom island, Powderhorn, Blaine, Ham Lake and Basset Creek). The Wednesday night series as Boom Island is also pretty fun and I know that The Hub does a training ride on Tuesday nights if you can make that.
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About the author...
Corey Coogan is the author of One Week in March: A Manual for Prospective Collegiate Nordic Skiers (3rd Edition Anticipated Publication Date: November, 2007). As an elite skier, she competes for Alpina/ONE WAY/Rottefella/Madshus and MN Nordic Project. In the last year, she has fallen in love with the challenge of mountain biking and cyclocross and begun racing for Gopher Wheelmen and Ridley Factory Team.