Biking is one of the most popular activities out there and comes with a slew of health benefits, including stress relief, better cardiovascular health, and an improved state of mind. It is also an activity that can be made all the more enjoyable with others, especially a close friend or significant other. For RIT students, there’s one place to go to find biking partners: the RIT cycling club.
|Sean Trimby, fourth year Mechanical Engineering Technology major, and Max Hauteniemi, second year Photojournalism major, clean the chain and gears of a bike during the RIT Cycling Club tune-up and maintenance drive, Thursday, September 29th, 2011.
The club consists of a group of students who are, as quoted by their website, “brought together by the love of pedaling [their] (mostly) two-wheeled machines around.” They regularly ride in a variety of groups that are open to anyone and range from hard, fast runs to slow and relaxing tours. During Week Four, I met up with the club, just as it was doing it’s bike maintenance fundraiser for students by the Tiger statue.
Fourth year Industrial Design major Dan Ipp, the vice president of the club gave me the rundown on what the club is and does. “We race around. We race mountain bikes in the fall, do cyclo-cross racing at the end of the fall and in the winter … and in the spring we do road biking,” he explained. The team races all over the northeast as part of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, which includes schools such as Dartmouth, MIT, and Boston College. Recreational rides are often held in the spring, and this March will mark the club’s fifth birthday.
I also spoke to fifth year Mechanical Engineering major and president of the cycling club Peter Hagerty, who had a lot to say about the maintenance that his club has to offer. “A lot of kids brought their bikes to school under-prepared, with flat tires or rusted chains. This gives them a good opportunity to get their bike in working condition. It’s a great price compared to the bike shops around Rochester and it’s really convenient [that] we’re on campus for them.”
The price for a general tune-up $20 plus parts, but the club also offered to do individual maintenance — $5 for brakes, and $7 for a flat tire.
Hagerty also acknowledged plans to have the maintenance become available to students on a regular basis. The group is working with Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper, senior vice president for Student Affairs and some other people in the RIT community on creating more maintenance programs. “We want to be more consistent and provide a greater depth of maintenance as well.” Hagerty added, “Our long-term goal is to have a permanent on-campus location.”
Despite the uncertainty of their future plans, Hagerty is still focused on the three upcoming seasons for the year, and foresees many people coming to join the club. He has seen many ride in the past, and says that there will always be more. “[The number] changes a lot throughout the season, but overall, throughout the entire school year we have about 100 different people racing or doing different things in the club,” he said. “We have lots of different levels of involvement in the club too … some people are interested just in things like the bike maintenance part of it or group rides around campus or just racing.”
When Meghan Castagno, a fourth year Psychology major, came to pick up her bike at the end of the maintenance event, she described herself as a ‘leisure rider’ saying she heard about what the club was doing from her friends, who cycle more often than she does. She said she had noticed that every year the club had done bike maintenance, but never had a bike before. That changed when she got one this year and it broke. “I was walking by and saw that they fixed bikes for a great price, so I brought my bike in… [and] I’m so glad I did.”
When asked if she thought that the RIT campus was bike-friendly, she replied: “No. I transferred here from [the University of California at Davis], which has the [largest] number of bikes per capita in California… And that school was bike-friendly. They had paths, pump stations, and bike racks. RIT improved with the bike [path], but it could still be a lot better.”
With the ambition of the cycling club and the members they’ve acquired RIT may yet become a more bike-friendly campus. Until that happens the RIT cycling club is a smart activity for those who get bored easily and want to engage in a fulfilling activity.
For more information on the cycling club, including upcoming events and how to get involved, visit http://ritcycling.com