Colgate Experiences a Surge of Bike Riding

Meaghan Haire

Whether they are parked outside the O’Connor Campus Center (the Coop), speeding down Broad Street, or simply sitting in storage in your dorm, it is undeniable that there has been an increase in bicycles around Colgate. Biking has become a more popular activity on campus over the past year. Could it be due to the Colgate University Cycling Club? Should it be attributed to the hype over Lance Armstrong? Or is it something else about Colgate that beckons bike riders to its streets? The Colgate University Cycling Club, which has been somewhat behind the scenes for a few years now, just got off to a new and more competitive start this last year. With senior Jamie Simchik as its President and Founder, and senior Eric Battaglioli as its Vice President, the club is doing very well. According to Simchik, the team consists of about 10 members, and two advisors, who are Erik Moore and Deb Bordelon. The Cycling Club races mountain bikes in the fall, and road races in the spring. During the spring (from the end of March to the end of April), the club travels to races almost every weekend. The club is in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC), and competes against cyclists from schools ranging from the Ivies to Bucknell to SUNY Cortland. However, sophomores Andrew Krulewitz and Will Hilsman both agree that Army is Colgate’s biggest rival in the conference. Last year at the Mercyhurst race, Krulewitz had a win, which was a big success for the club. The club practices everyday, and during the winter they stay in shape by hosting their own spin classes. The club is off to a great start. Later this month, there will be an even larger number of cyclists on campus when the club holds the Colgate Fall Classic on the 23rd. To begin, the Classic will have a time trial from the Colgate entrance sign at the bottom of the hill to the cemetery at the top of College Drive and above Stillman Hall. It should be about a one mile race, and then those that qualify will race on a 12 mile loop throughout Hamilton and Madison. While this race is going on, the club also has organized a 0.7 mile loop downtown for the children of Hamilton. “It will be very informal, but a fun activity for the kids in town,” says Simchik. Along with practicing and building up their club, the Colgate Cycling Club is trying to recruit more members. However, the Colgate Cycling Club is definitely not the only group biking around campus. Sophomore Sarah Eddy said she was “too intimidated by racing competitively,” but bikes three to four times a week around campus. Eddy thinks that Central New York is a great place to bike. “We go to school in the land of 20 mile loops,” Eddy said. “Road racing is the perfect pace for on campus, because you get a chance to observe the scenery and explore around this area.” Cycling is a great activity and way to “decompress” for people who, like her, “hate the gym.” For people new to the biking scene at Colgate, Eddy suggests “heading out either way on 12B and just branching off on side roads, and there are great rolling hills everywhere.” Her one word of advice, however, is to “be cautious of the dairy farm dogs. They can be big and scary.” Sophomore Lisa Marchi, who describes herself as a casual bike rider, has found the activity helpful for exercise and as a means of transportation. Marchi started bike riding in third grade, when she would take her bike to school with her every morning. At Colgate, however, Marchi is “planning on riding downtown… to enjoy the scenery while exercising.” Marchi agrees that within the past year there has been a great increase of bikes on campus. “The past year I’ve begun to really take interest, there is sort of this biking community out there, and I’m working my way into it,” Marchi said. Marchi’s favorite area to bike around campus is “through the streets with the cute houses, past the Colgate golf course.” There are many areas around Colgate to explore while riding. Hilsman suggests the “Madison loop, which is about 25 miles, or the trip to Hamilton College” that the cycling club takes via Skyline, which is about 60 miles. “[The increase of bikes on campus] can’t be the weather…it could be due to an increased awareness about health and exercise, because what better way is there to get in shape than ride through the beautiful hills of Hamilton, NY?” said Marchi. It is not just students who have caught on to the bicycling trend. Scott Truett and Dan Sepello co-own and co-founded the bicycling store in town, Adventure Bike & Boards. The two opened their first store in November, 2003 at 23 Lebanon, but were so successful that they soon moved to their current location at 2 Broad Street on August 15, 2005. “About 90 percent of sales are non-student, but the student business is definitely growing,” Truett said. Truett jokes that he would credit the recent increase in bikes on campus to his store, but in all seriousness he believes that “it’s the diversity of terrain in Central New York, the great loops, and the great trail riding” that has led to more interest in cycling in the area. The store is a great haven for Colgate bicyclists. Truett and Sepello offer maintenance, parts, uniforms, shipping, and maps for great places to bike in the area. The two are also incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, so would be great resources for anyone who is interested in learning more about biking. Whatever the reason for the increase of bikes on campus, one thing is definitely clear. There are few nicer or more scenic places to explore by bike than our beautiful campus or the surrounding Central New York region, and with Colgate’s active student body, bicycles will only continue to grow in popularity.