Beer Bike is one of the most anticipated days of the year, with Rice students across campus participating in Beer Bike festivities. Somewhat surprisingly, however, the Beer Bike races themselves suffer from low turnout every year. By the time students have woken up early, walked around campus visiting different colleges and thrown water balloons at their rivals, few have the energy to make the trek to the tracks.
The solution is simple: Switch the water balloon fight and the races. Begin the races after a cheer battle, then hold the water balloon fight after the races are done.
Beer Bike is fun until it’s not. Many are faced with a decision after the water balloon fight: make the long, wet, muddy walk to Greenbriar Lot for the races or go back, shower, and inevitably pass out despite all intentions (or not) to go to the races. By switching the order of events, students wouldn’t have to make this decision. On that note, there are at least 220 bikers across campus who wouldn’t have to miss the water balloon fight like they currently do. Other important Beer Bike traditions, such as the float parade, could easily be moved earlier in the morning before the races.
The truth is that Beer Bike, for most, is more about drinking and the water balloon fight than the races. Instead of taking away from the water balloon fight, the switch would make the races more prominent. Beer Bike can, and should, be about all three main events.
It’s understandable that RPC hasn’t flipped the schedule in the past. Changes to tradition can be unpopular, and students would be unlikely to forgive a poor Beer Bike experience. However, under the current scheduling, students disregard the “bike” in “Beer Bike” and the work that bikers, chuggers, pit crews and campus-wide coordinators put into the races.
With the races coming directly after early morning festivities, students will transfer the excitement they currently have for the water balloon fight onto the races, while the fight will serve as a way for students to cool down afterwards. Winning colleges can use the water balloon fight as a celebration, and losing colleges can direct their frustrations at more appropriate channels such as Will Rice and Jones. With the promise of the water balloon fight, students will be more likely to stay for all the races.
The change seems simple, and maybe deceptively so, yet it has the potential to greatly improve Beer Bike for everybody. Next step: Hosting the water balloon fight in Rice Stadium. President Leebron can watch from the stands.