Cyclist, 31, adjusts to college life

Photo+Courtesy+of+Evan+Blankenship%0AEvan+Blankenship+competes+in+a+cycling+race.+He+chose+to+pursue+his+education+and+love+of+cycling+over+the+stable+job+that+he+held%2C+with+the+support+of+his+loving+wife.

Photo Courtesy of Evan Blankenship Evan Blankenship competes in a cycling race. He chose to pursue his education and love of cycling over the stable job that he held, with the support of his loving wife.

Walker Van Wey | Reporter
March 23rd, 2016; 1:00p.m.

Photo Courtesy of Evan Blankenship
Evan Blankenship competes in a cycling race. He chose to pursue his education and love of cycling over the stable job that he held, with the support of his loving wife.

After nearly a decade of working a job with a dream salary and benefits to die for, the thought of going back to college is something that many may not consider.

For Evan Blankenship, the mind clearing hobby of cycling and the unconditional support of his wife, Anina, have bridged the gap perfectly from daydreaming railroad employee to non-traditional college athlete.

Evan Blankenship is a 31-year-old exercise science major and member of the LU cycling team. About 12 years ago he was returning from a 12-month tour in Iraq.

Evan’s parents and the parents of a military woman named Anina worked together and threw a conjoined welcome home party. The two had never met and weren’t looking for a military romance.

“I wasn’t really going for a military girl,” Blankenship said. “She wasn’t interested in military guys anymore either.”

As fate had it, the two began dating and shortly after, they got married. Blankenship got an associate’s degree and began working for the railroad. He embraced the above-average pay but never quite felt it was the job for him.

“Even guys I used to work with were like, ‘Go back to school, finish up’,” Blankenship said.

Years of stressful debate followed about whether to make the return to school.

“It got to the point of, either, ‘deal with it, this is life, or make something happen’,” Blankenship said of his job. “This isn’t where I want to be in 60 years.”

To blow off steam, Blankenship started competing in triathlons. Although Anina stood by as though he was a gold medal winner, his results were less than ideal.

Photo courtesy of Evan Blankenship
Evan and wife Anina pose for a picture after a race.

“I was terrible; I was like a rock out there,” he said.

One day a family friend recommended cycling, and the hobby stuck.

“My wife showed instant talent,” he said. “And I guess I showed some too.”

The two became even closer through their newfound love for cycling. Yearly vacations have a new purpose. Free time is spent on cycling events and competitions.

Anina isn’t limited to the supportive wife role. She is also a very strong competitor.

“Nobody complains about having her ride with them, that’s for sure. If she’s there, she’s there to throw down,” Blankenship said.

As the years have passed and new challenges and journeys have come up along the way, the two are still as close as ever before. The two still snack on brownies and coffee before races and try and make it out to eat once a week.

These days, Blankenship can be found at home doing homework while receiving antagonizing texts from his friends such as, “Oh, hey, how’s homework?”

He laughs off the comments, knowing that through the jokes, they are also supportive of his collegiate life.

It is unclear at this point what is next for Blankenship. It is clear, though, that Anina will remain his biggest supporter.