May 17, 2010
Renee DeGross Valdes, 404-413-1353
Growing up, Oscar Clark used to hang out at a local bike shop in hopes the owner would give him a job. He wasn't old enough to work at the time, but he was passionate about cycling.
The owner of the store eventually gave him a job and the people Clark met inspired him to pursue the cycling circuit. Now, as a rising GSU senior, Clark is out racing for the university's cycling team and has racked up a pair of collegiate national titles.
Academically speaking, he's also tracking other cycles - those of the economy.
Off the pavement, he is studying international economics and modern languages in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
"I've always been into riding my bike," Clark said. "But it's hard. You have to train every day and usually riding three to five hours a day. I try to schedule my classes so I can do them, then come home and ride."
Clark's big break came last fall when he was tapped to ride for the Mountain Khakis, as part of the professional cycling circuit. Spending some weeks putting about 400 miles on his various bikes, Clark often rides in the North Georgia mountains near Blairsville or Dahlonega. He also takes "relaxing" rides locally to Piedmont Park.
Clark got into cycling at the age of 10. Hanging out and eventually working at Outback Bikes in Little Five Points during high school connected him to a network of cyclists. He began racing as part of the Fulton Flyers Cycling Club, which helps develop and coach younger cyclists.
Now he gives back to the younger cycling community by coaching at the Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point, Ga. as part of a city-sponsored, free after school program where any child can ride or learn how - bikes and helmets provided.
"It gives students something to do after school that's active and healthy, and helps them stay out of trouble," Clark said. "Kids come out two times a week and we have classes for them. We teach them how to ride on the track."
Earlier this year, USA Cycling awarded Clark a $1,500 Joshua Kuck Memorial Scholarship based on his work with cycling safety, advocacy and education.
While the economic climate seems unclear, Clark has his sights set on riding it out on his bike. He is hoping to continue racing professionally, even after he finishes his degree next year.
"My end goal is to be able to do this professionally," Clark said. "But I'm pretty realistic. I don't expect to go to the Olympics or race in the Tour de France. But I want to make a living riding my bike."