Shrewsbury cyclist rides to the top for a JAM Grant
Photo above by Katie Busick
Patrick Collins of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts jumped into cyclocross two years ago following a year of racing on the road. He was a natural at cross and immediately landed on the podium in 2014, winning the Riverfront Cross of Hartford, his third cross race ever.
Collins, 21, started riding a bicycle when he was a junior in high school.
“I was overweight and I wanted to get in shape,” he said. “I took my dad’s road bike out one day and reached speeds that were exhilarating. I got serious about it, bought my own bike and did group rides that were really hard for me. I got dropped at first but got stronger and knew I wanted to take it to the next level and start racing.”
Collins is the winner of the JAM Fund Grant. He is one of thirteen cyclists who will receive financial or equipment assistance from the JAM Fund to support racing cyclocross and help offset the cost of the sport.
“If it’s money, I’m going to use it on the expensive UCI race fees,” he said. “If it’s equipment, I’m looking to get another bike so that I can have one in the pit. Last year I didn’t have a pit bike and that proved to be tough in a couple of races where I had a mechanical. I’m hoping this year to have a pit bike.”
Last fall, Collins upgraded to Cat 1, raced 23 cross events, scored ten podium finishes, and earned the title of Best All-Around Rider at the New England Cyclocross Series.
Collins is proving he is certainly a rider to watch after winning the pro 1/2 Ken Harrod Memorial Road Race in June and Plainville Spring Crit in April.
“My results have been good,” he said. “I’m really passionate about the sport and dedicated to my training. I’m consistent and race from March on the road until December in cross.”
Collins is senior at Clark University in Worcester. He is studying geography and economics and hopes to continue onto grad school.
“I applied to Clark’s fifth-year master’s program in environmental science so I can do something about climate change,” he said. “That’s what I’m really interested in.”
There is no cycling team at Clark, so Collins is mostly on his own; however, he receives support from his team Minuteman Road Club.
“My club is very supportive of me and helps me out with race reimbursements,” he said. “One of the members gave me his cross bike back in 2014, when I was looking for a bike but couldn’t afford a new one, and that’s the only bike I’ve ever raced on. I still have that bike now. Another member gave me tubular wheel sets to use that I gave back at the end of the season.”
Collins is working 40 hours a week during summer to save money for the upcoming race season.
“I have a full-time job this summer at Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations,” he said. “I work as an intern in the town’s electric department with engineers doing GPS of all the electrical infrastructure and GIS data entry.”
Once school resumes in the fall, Collins will focus strictly on his homework and cyclocross.
“I like that cyclocross is mainly up to the individual to do well,” he said. “You need good technical skills and good power. There’s no hiding in cross and it rewards the complete cyclist. I also like the community of cyclocross. It’s a great group of people that you can see every weekend.”
Collins discovered JAM Fund three years ago while watching Bay State Cyclocross in Sterling.
“I hadn’t seen cross racing until then,” he said. “I watched the elite races and saw the JAM racers place in top ten and do really well. Last year, I applied online. I was looking to get on the team, but the grant is great.”
Collins will receive his JAM Fund Grant at the July 16 Grand Fundo, a one-day ride through scenic Western Massachusetts. The event is the non-profit organization’s biggest fundraiser and includes a post-ride barbecue and raffle for some really nice prizes, including a bicycle owned by four-time U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers. All the proceeds benefit the JAM Fund and go directly to supporting the riders. The public is invited to register for the Grand Fundo, get raffle tickets or just attend the barbecue and awards ceremony by going online to bikereg.com.