Herby spins the wheels
He chooses cycling for his sport.
Photo by Stephanie Gross
Christoph Herby realizes his first name is a little unusual.
He was “Chris” two years ago, sharing a name with 15 other kids in his high school class. But his decision to use a less common nickname for “Christopher” is indicative of his desire to stand out from the rest of the herd. In the world of sports, for instance, Herby doesn’t follow much football or basketball. His passion is for a sport alien to most Americans: cycling.
Herby, a 19-year-old rising second-year, is a top rider on the Virginia cycling team, which competes as a club team at the University. He won the 17-18 division of the Virginia State Cycling Championships last year and has his sights set this season on qualifying for the collegiate national championships.
Herby’s plan to follow fellow Americans such as Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong on the European pro cycling circuit would be a homecoming of sorts. He was raised by American parents in Switzerland until moving to the United States at age 9.
“I earned a lot of respect for cycling by being there, because you’re more aware of it in a culture that supports the sport,” said Herby, who now lives in Salem, Va.
He began competing in high school and joined a regional cycling team when he studied in Switzerland for seven months of his junior year. Herby quickly discovered the junior competitions he had won in the United States didn’t much prepare him for European cycling.
“Europe was amazing,” he said. “The level was so much higher. Here, I would go into a junior [race] pretty confident that I could at least match up with anyone out there. In Europe, I was just hanging on to do what I could.”
Herby visited Switzerland for spring break this year. The trip was not a full-fledged vacation, though.
“The bike came with me,” he said.