The first Saturday of spring break found the RISD Cycling team sitting in the sun in Pennsylvania. We warmed up by beating MIT at cards, then we got on our bikes and headed for Black Moshannon Hill for the Road Race. A rolling start followed by a ripping, twisting descent at speeds above 80kph was the perfect way to get the heart pounding. Then it was time for the hill itself: twenty minutes of leg-searing pain got you to the top of the steepest section, and another five miles of rollers squeezed anything left from your lungs, legs, arms, and mind; before depositing you at the finish line. One lap down. Lizzie, Dani, Brian and I had two of these to complete, and by the end of our various races we were all beyond tired, dehydrated, and hungry. Lizzie secured second place in the women’s B field, and Dani finished 5th in the A’s, hanging on to her yellow series leader’s jersey. There were two real heroes of the day though: Firstly Phillip, who raced his first ever bike race, and showed pure class on an old steel Trek with downtube shifters, and a Brown t-shirt pinned tight for increased aerodynamics. This is what collegiate cycling is all about: showing up, having a go on whatever damn bike you happen to have, and doing it all with endless enthusiasm.
Top prize goes to David though because…he won the top prize! After three laps up Black-Mo he was still neck-and-neck with a Delaware rider, but he had just enough left in his legs to take the sprint, and with it victory in the men’s A race. It was a seriously impressive ride, and it bodes well for the rest of the season. An evening of refuelling: ice cream and noodles. Then a morning of bagels and puppies and coffee jitters (thank you Kyle for hosting us!) and it was time to race again. Saturday was a change of venue: a crit (no, not a crit; a crit) held at Penn State fraternity central. The course went something like this: Start by Delta Sigma, turn left at Alpha Capa, turn left at Epsilon Epsilon Epsilon, turn left at Zeta Beta Zeta, turn right at Lambda Sigma Omega, turn left at Theta Pi Gamma, finish back where you started. Repeat, repeat, repeat thirty more times. That’s a lot of sharp turns for each sixty seconds of bike racing, and that’s a lot of hungover young men who had to be persuaded not to walk across the race course after a hard night of drinking. Dani won the women’s elite crit, scooping up the green sprinter’s jersey. David attacked at the front of his race and finished safely in the bunch, Lizzie put in another good ride to confirm an upgrade to the A field, and once again Phillip had the only steel bike on the course. It was a weekend of firsts, in more ways than one. We have some impressive bike riders at our little art school, and some good friends up the hill at the university. I’m glad I finally succumbed to peer pressure and hung road wheels on my cyclocross bike for a race on tarmac, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I hope some of you will join me!