U-CUP's only college mountain biker

Shanan Kinsella went from being a bike mechanic to mechanical engineering

Shanan Kinsella, a third year mechanical engineering design student at George Brown College (GBC) is climbing, speeding and racing his way to the top.

Kinsella is a motivated and well-prepared mountain biker who competed in the Ontario University Mountain Bike Race Council (OUMRC), associated with the Ontario Cycling Association. While mountain biking is not considered a varsity or intramural sport, the OUMRC promotes mountain biking as something enjoyable and for fun.

The idea behind the OUMRC is to race and live out your passions with those who share the common interest of biking. The races put on by OUMRC are referred to as the U-CUP.

“I found out about U-CUP because a co-worker of mine at Sweet Pete’s bike shop was an alumni at GBC in the design program. U-CUP sounded like something fun and interesting to do and so that’s something I started,” said Kinsella.

Having been biking for the past four seasons and being interested in becoming more involved in the GBC community, Kinsella emailed Ed Marks, manager of athletics, who he says was very helpful in meeting him, explaining U-CUP, and getting him started.

Kinsella has raced in two out of four of the U-CUP races due to signing up in the latter part of the season.

Placing 29th and timed in 1:22:56 seconds, Kinsella finished his first race in Albion Hills Conservation Area.

“Not bad considering it was my first race,” he said. “I had a few technical difficulties. Thought my last lap was my best.”

Kinsella is the only college student being represented in this season’s U-CUP.

“I’ve raced against a lot of people from (the main teams) University of Toronto and Queens University,” said Kinsella. “There were also people from Guelph and a few other universities.”

That did not stop him from competing again at Ganaraska Forest in Port Hope.

The second and final race of the season resulted in Kinsella placing in 22nd, beating a few people who had finished before him during his first race; his total time was 1:17:03 seconds.

Shanan Kinsella is the only college student competing in the U-CUP mountain bike races this season. Photo: Michael Nguyen/The Dialog

Shanan Kinsella is the only college student competing in the U-CUP mountain bike races this season.
Photo: Michael Nguyen/The Dialog

It was an amazing race for Kinsella, considering that he had found his passion for mountain biking three years ago.

“Last summer I was living in Victoria (British Columbia) working at a bike shop. They had an extra mountain bike there I could borrow and I started using it regularly,” said Kinsella. “The mountain bike trails there are really great and it inspired me to keep going. I started liking it a lot.”

“I’ve been in the bike industry for awhile, I spent four seasons as a bike mechanic,” said Kinsella. “A part of doing that inspired an interest for mechanics in general and I wanted to develop that further, and expand my knowledge there, which led me to GBC for mechanical engineering.”

He’s begun to heighten his connections by talking to bicycle engineering firms in Toronto, and says that there’s a good chance there will be job positions open once he’s done.

When put into the industry full time, Kinsella is prepared to incorporate his knowledge into the innovation of bikes.

“I would like to incorporate modern technology into bicycles,” said Kinsella. “I think from experience, riding and racing, having a general passion for bikes, and being a mechanic, there are different perspectives that I have that are valuable to bring into the design process.”

After graduating this coming April, Kinsella has plans to see the world by bike.

Heading out to Europe with a touring bike, “it’ll be a bit different from a mountain bike, but I’ll be biking with a tent with me so that I can ride between cities and towns, camp and see the world by bike.”

He wants others to understand the work put on behind the scenes, and says that passion and dedication are the most important things relating to biking or mechanical engineering.

“Anything you want to pursue, you just have to like what you’re doing and do it a lot to be good at that,” said Kinsella. “I just try to keep in mind the things I like and just stick to them, and that’s how to follow your dreams, by passion and dedication and putting time into things, and you’ll get back what you put in.”

With files from David Grossman


U-CUP's only college mountain biker