Road Racer Reilly: Mountain Brook Student Competes for Team USA
(Action photos courtesy Sherri Oberding)
Tuesday, March 21, 2023 – Reilly Oberding is like most Mountain Brook students. The 17-year-old loves spending time with his friends outside of class, loves a good meal from Chick-Fil-A, and being a down-to-earth teenager. However, unlike his peers, Reilly doesn’t attend school from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. five days a week. Since 9th grade, he has been a virtual student taking classes online and coming into the Mountain Brook Schools’ Alternative Learning Center (ALC) for a few hours a week to complete in-person coursework and assignments. Why? Because his wheels are spinning in a different direction.
Oberding is one of five members of the USA National Junior Road Cycling Team. This month, he’s traveling overseas to compete for a month in Europe as a cyclist representing our nation. He will compete on the biggest stages for amateurs and have the opportunity to witness the best of the best professionals in events like the Paris-Roubaix.
“My goal is to be out there one day,” Oberding said. “I have been on a bike since I was two and racing since I was three years old. My end goal is to be a professional cyclist.”
And he’s well on his way.
Reilly has loved cycling all his life. He raced BMX (bicycle motocross) from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade before picking up mountain biking at the end of his elementary school years. Adding to his mountain biking experience, Reilly hopped on a road bike in early middle school and fell in love. He started with local races, then moved to regional competition before leading the pack nationally as a road cyclist. In 2021, Oberding was asked to join the EF Education-ONTO team as one of its nine members. This development team is a feeder program for EF Pro Cycling, an international cycling team.
As far as academics go, Reilly will continue his classes online while he is abroad. Susan Logan works at the ALC with Oberding and says his passion for cycling is evident and he always prioritizes his responsibilities in order to achieve his dream. She said when Reilly was invited to the qualifying races for the chance to be on the U.S. team, he began doubling up on each week's work and even spent many weekend hours working with Logan to get ahead on coursework.
“His commitment to excellence in school makes me understand how he is so successful in cycling,” Logan said. “The flexibility through our school district’s virtual learning program allows him to do what he loves on a bike and accomplish what he needs to accomplish in his studies. He has been talking about this opportunity for months to travel internationally because it’s something he has done before.”
In 2022, Reilly traveled the world, competing in Ireland for a week and Belgium for two weeks, and even spent time in South Korea during the fall. In all countries, he competed as a road cyclist. He still mountain bikes frequently but seems to have found his calling competitively as a road cyclist. And as most athletes do, Reilly has overcome some adversity.
“In December 2021, I had a skateboarding accident with enough damage to keep me off my bike until late April,” Oberding said. “I learned a lot about myself at that time and it only made me more hungry to have success, which I was able to do in Ireland and Belgium.”
He said his mom took away his skateboard after the injury, and aside from that, he has full support from his parents and family as he pursues his professional dream.
Reilly said the best part of cycling is the community. As a sixth grader, he went on trail rides with fellow bikers much older than him, and now, with so much experience, he has the opportunity to reach out and help guide those with less experience.
“The cycling community is like no other, and I learned that in sixth grade,” Oberding said. “They took me in and now my fellow riders along with my teammates in EF are like family to me.”
Before he leaves, Reilly said he will have to have one final Chick-Fil-A sandwich stateside.
For more information on Mountain Brook Schools, visit www.mtnbrook.k12.al.us or follow @mtnbrookschools on social media.