Here’s an interview with Rutgers graduate student and Rutgers Cycling member Paul Frandsen. I’m hoping this, and subsequent interviews, serves as a more in-depth version of our “Meet the Team” page. I’d give a longer introduction, but Paul can say it best himself.
When and how did you become interested in cycling? What’s your athletic history?
I have been involved in athletics for my whole life. I started with the same sports that many US kids do: soccer, basketball, and tee ball. My friends and I cruised around on bikes all of the time, but aside from racing each other down the neighborhood streets, I never did any racing growing up. As I got a little bit older I transitioned from soccer to football (during the fall) and from baseball to tennis (during the spring/summer). I played football, basketball, and tennis throughout high school. Following high school, I didn’t have as much time or motivation to keep in shape since I was no longer participating in organized athletic events. I started to gain weight and I began to experience some health problems. In an attempt to lose weight and improve my health, I started running. I trained for and ran a marathon, then quickly became tired of running. I started mountain biking to stay in shape and soon I took my enthusiasm for the bike to the road.
What brought you to Rutgers?
I came to Rutgers to do a PhD in the Department of Entomology. I am about to start my 5th and (maybe? hopefully?) final year.
How did you join the team?
When I arrived during the fall of 2010, I had just spent the summer riding my road bike a lot and I was excited to meet other people who were into bikes. When I got here, I looked up the team website and stalked the mailing list for a few months before I finally mustered enough confidence to show up to a team meeting. This was during the beginning of the spring semester. It was dumb that I was so nervous about coming out and riding with the team–everybody was really nice and I recognized that all types of riders are welcomed (hint: if you’re a new rider and are stalking the website or the mailing list…come out. It’s awesome.). A couple of weeks after the first meeting that I attended, we put on our race and I did my first road race.
What are you doing in Germany, and what is it like riding there?
I am in Germany as a short term research fellow through the German Academic Exchange. I’m working on developing some molecular evolution software with the folks at the Alexander Koenig Museum in Bonn, Germany. The riding is really great. Bonn is situated in the Rhine River valley, which has a biking trail that runs the length of the river, from its headwaters in Switzerland all the way through the Netherlands where it empties into the North Sea. The valley is flanked by some really nice hills that make for good climbing up to castles and cool old towns. While I’ve been here, I have also been lucky to travel around Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, which all have their own characteristics that make riding really fun. I guess I would say that my favorite ride since I’ve been in Europe was doing some of the climbs in the Vosges in France a few hours before the pros rode the same roads during stage 9 of this year’s Tour de France.
How are you feeling about cyclocross season?
I’m excited! I don’t really have any expectations for what my results might be, but I’m hoping to show up to a bunch of races with decent fitness. Cyclocross in the northeast is so unique and fun–I am just going to try to enjoy it while turning myself inside out during races.
What other interests do you have?
I have a lot of hobbies. I still like all of the sports that I participated in when I was younger. I enjoy spending time in the outdoors hiking, climbing, camping, and collecting insects. I really love to travel and I have spent time collecting insects in places like Mongolia, far east Russia, the Swiss Alps, and Guyana. As often as I can, I like to do these things with my wife, Christine.
What’s your favorite ride or race?
The times that I have the most fun on the bicycle are when I am using it as a tool for discovery. I love exploring while I am on my bike and I have ridden in a lot of cool places. If I had to nail down a favorite ride, I guess I would say that it is a route in Utah called the “Alpine Loop”. The road winds up through Provo Canyon, then ascends ~3,000 feet up past the Sundance ski resort (of Sundance Film Festival fame) through groves of aspen trees and, finally, descends down through American Fork canyon. The Tour of Utah has ridden through there a few times. Utah mountains are hard to beat, in my opinion.