The ride of a lifetime, Michael Colleran

For some, it can be difficult to get outside and enjoy recreational activities. But, Kirkwood Community College Psychology Professor Michael Colleran has been riding bikes since he was a kid and has now turned it into a passion.  

Growing up outside of Philadelphia, Colleran lived in a wooded area with lots of trails and continued to ride throughout his teenage years. 

He started getting into the racing aspect after graduating from undergrad. 

“I started hearing about these mountain bike races and since I was always riding the trails I thought I’d check it out,” recalled Colleran. “Then I realized to be fast in those races you have to train a certain way, you can’t just be a casual rider.” 

Since then, he has moved to Iowa City with his family and has taken up both gravel racing and mountain bike racing. Both styles are popular around the area and have a growing community. 

After racing for a few years, he started to win in his age division and decided to keep bumping up a level. Colleran said he started to find a community with the other racers. 

“Everything felt professional but at the same time grass roots and it was kind of easy to find a way into it. I started getting to know people and that’s what made the difference, seeing the same people at these races and starting to become friendly with them. To me, even though we were racing, I had matured in my athletic approach and so I felt like if they weren’t there it would just be me riding the trails again,” he said.  

Training for these races takes a lot of practice and skill. Colleran said he rides with a group but trains solo. 

“The prep for me usually involves going out on rides where I pretend I’m racing like everything is completely realistic. I aim to train a certain number of hours per week as well as strength training,” he said. 

“Clear nutrition and mental health is a huge part of this,” he added. “Probably the biggest thing that’s helped is riding with this group out of College Green Park. This group has been gathering there for about four decades now. It’s filled with all sorts of levels of bikers and I really found a beacon with them.” 

Colleran said, “It took me three years to finish a ride with the group but they’ve always been really supportive and it felt good to at least start a ride with them.” 

Colleran was on the podium multiple times in 2023. Although those were big achievements, he recognized that volunteering and finding this community might be his biggest one yet.  

“During COVID, I got tons of volunteer hours working on the trails and really became connected with that volunteer core. To me that’s a huge achievement, really getting to know those people and is arguably what makes me keep doing it. The podium happens but getting to feel a part of the community is more important in my opinion,” he said. 

As of now, Colleran has already committed to racing again this year and will aim to continue as long as it’s enjoyable and healthy for him. 

He said all these years of riding bikes and racing has been extremely beneficial to him and continues to be a huge part of his life.  

Categories: Feature