Club Sports Update: Cycling Gets in Gear

Annie Norcia

Tight-fitting polyester blend shirts look good on a negligible percent of the population-and that is a generous estimate. Add hot pants to the look-no matter how smooth, supple, or shaven the offender’s legs-and the demographic shrinks significantly. Last Saturday afternoon in downtown Hamilton, where those standing in the aforementioned garb held their heads high, proud to be members of the biking brethren. The Colgate Fall Classic-made up of the Colgate University Hill Climb Time Trial, the Tour de Hamilton Kid’s Race, and the Payne Valley Circuit Road Race -was a great success.

Participants ranged from white-bearded men, graduate students, reminiscent Colgate alumni, and members of the biking student population-growing under the tutelage of the up-and-coming Colgate Cycling Club. To say the cycling club has “grown” is a gross understatement, one which fails to give credit to its hard-working directors- seniors Jamie Simchik and Eric Battaglioli. From regularly scheduled club rides and intermittently scheduled “spinning classes”, the cycling club has become a real presence on campus, recognizable to the town of Hamilton. Local businesses support the team along with active alumni and other financial donors. Most sponsors are emblazoned on the Colgate jerseys.

Simchik started the team, gaining momentum with recruitment meetings and info sessions. A race seemed fitting, and they enlisted the help of Emory Creel-who designed the course and executed a similar feat in the spring of ’04. Battaglioli says the race provided an opportunity to “meet other cyclists in the area and get involved with the surrounding community.”

With the help of their faculty advisors, (Deb Bordelon and Erik Moore) Simchik, Battaglioli and the other officers met with the Hamilton mayor, consulted the town chief of police, and the director of Campus Safety to get approval on road closures. They enlisted volunteers, formatted registration and publicized the event. The day itself was less than sunny-wet roads made for sub-par conditions-but injuries were few. Aside from a few cyclists who got slightly lost-the route was quite scenic. Most were appreciative enough to thank flag wavers there to point them in the correct direction along the route, especially one particular cornfield.

There were four groups of cyclists: Women and Men’s A, B, and C. Groups A and B completed 3 laps around the 12-mile course, while Group C completed 2. The cornfield was surprisingly bustling-the cyclists made their loops quite quickly, utilizing the pack formation in a technique called “drafting.” The purpose behind this, as Simchik explained, is to conserve energy.

“20- 30% of your effort is reduced. The riders ahead break through the wind, so to speak, and those behind take advantage of the suction created,” advisor Simchik remarked.

After a successful time trial with 27 participants and a road race where attendance more than doubled the team hopes to make it an annual event. “It was a great learning experience,” the team captains note, and “we got a lot of feedback on how to make it better.” The devotion exhibited by the team’s founders makes it clear no hill is too strenuous to climb. Except for maybe that one near Chapel Road…