March 29 at 12:15 a.m.: This article has been updated to reflect the official results.
On a blustery day on the track behind Rice Stadium, Rice students and alumni celebrated Beer Bike by watching Jones College win two out of the day’s three races. Jones captured first in the women’s race and the alumni race, but the Graduate Student Association finished first in the men’s and race to prevent Jones’ first-ever sweep. Jones also finished third in the men’s race. GSA’s finished first in the alumni race on the track, but it was later disqualified because one graduate student biker competed in both the men’s and alumni races.
This was only the second time Jones had ever won two races in the same year. The other time came in 2015, when Jones won both the men’s and women’s races.
According to Will Rice College senior bike captain Matthew Weatherman, this year’s Beer Bike was especially thrilling.
“It was definitely the best race I’ve watched in my four years,” Weatherman said. “Any of the races, men’s, women’s or alumni — it was just so fun to watch.”
2018 marked the ninth time in the past 10 Beer Bikes in which only Jones, Will Rice or GSA won races. Martel College won both the men’s and women’s Beer Runs of 2016. The top three finishers on the track in all three races this year were Jones, GSA and Will Rice, in some order. However, after the disqualification of GSA from the alumni race, Brown College finished third in that race.
The day kicked off with the alumni race. GSA finished comfortably ahead of Jones in second and Will Rice in third. According to Young, the team’s strong performance was surprising even to him.
“In all the [four] years I’ve been here I don’t recall GSA dominating so much from the beginning like they did in the alumni race,” Young said.
However, the result did not stand. GSA was disqualified from the race for using an ineligible team member, biker Stephen Wolff, who competed in both the alumni race and the men’s race. He said he biked in both because he graduated with a master’s degree from Rice and is currently pursuing a doctorate. The Rice Program Council’s Beer Bike rules allow GSA bikers to compete on both a college alumni team and a GSA men’s or women’s team, but they prohibit a GSA biker from appearing on multiple GSA teams. An excerpt from the rulebook lays out this stipulation.
“Graduate students may participate only for the Graduate Student Association (GSA) team in the men’s and women’s races,” the rule states. “This rule does not prohibit them from participating in the Alumni race for a college from which they graduated.”
Instead, Jones took first in the race with a time of 17:05.84, nearly 31 seconds ahead of second place Will Rice. Jones’ first-place finish ended Will Rice’s streak of six straight victories in alumni bike races, though the graduate students won the Beer Run alumni race of 2016. It was only the third time Will Rice has not won the alumni race in the past 21 runnings.
Jones followed its victory in the alumni race by finishing first in the women’s race. The win was their third women’s race victory in the past five years. After falling to the middle of the pack after its first two riders, Jones rallied to take the lead by the fourth rider, sophomore Allie Gonzalez, and never relinquished first place.
Junior bike captain Rabea Tzenetos said she was overjoyed to bring another Beer Bike victory to Jones.
“Crossing the finish line I was just like, fuck yeah, we did it,” Tzenetos said. “It was a lot of fun.”
According to Tzenetos and her co-captain, sophomore Kelly Turner, the team went in with the goal of being safe and enjoying themselves. Jones did not have a set practice schedule throughout the year, which Turner said made its victory even more impressive.
“It wasn’t a competitive environment at all on the girls’ side,” Turner said. “And then they all just performed during the race. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of our girls [set personal records].”
Will Rice, which was picked by Beer Bike captains to win the women’s race, finished third. Junior bike captain Katie Lobodzinski said the team used a new strategy, putting its faster bikers last because they were less experienced. Lobodzinski said she was happy with her team’s performance but wished Will Rice could have placed better.
“We always want to finish higher,” Lobodzinski said. “But I’m really proud of the way everyone raced.”
Only 11 teams raced in the women’s race because McMurtry College and Sid Richardson College raced as a unified team. Both colleges failed to come up with the 10 bikers necessary to fill a lineup and decided to combine forces. McMurtry junior biker Chelsea Morin said combining teams was a fun way for both colleges to enjoy Beer Bike even though the ‘McSid’ team was automatically disqualified.
“I was a little upset that McMurtry wasn’t going to have a girl’s team especially because we were going to have a guy’s team and even an alum[ni] team,” Morin said. “I thought that didn’t exactly look great. Personally, I wanted to do it so McMurtry had a team in general and also so that McMurtry and Sid had a team to cheer for during the races.”
Jones is planning to celebrate this year’s win by printing championship t-shirts and hanging a banner in its commons. According to Tzenetos, the banner will be particularly special.
“It’s nice that we’re going to have a banner in the commons because we can come back to Jones after we graduate and be like, ‘That was us,’” Tzenetos said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
The GSA pulled away late in the men’s race to place first ahead of second place Will Rice. Jones followed the top-two finishers in third. According to Young, the GSA’s performance was a complete team effort.
“It’s a relay race, so you have to have a full team,” Young said. “You can have the fastest guy out there, but if you have nine other slow guys, you can’t do it. We really couldn’t do it without any one individual.”
Early on, five teams pulled away from the pack — GSA, Will Rice, Jones, Hanszen College and Martel. Though GSA co-captain Colin Noe took an early lead on the first leg, no team was able to sustain a clear advantage. The colleges jockeyed for the lead, which Will Rice bike captain David Cai said led to a thrilling race.
“I was jumping, I was screaming on the back end of the track through the first five riders,” Cai said. “At one point, when Carey [Wang] a little foolishly overtook the guy he was drafting in the first or second lap of his leg, I was jumping up and down and screaming my head off and I thought, ‘I should probably save some energy for my race.’”
On the sixth biker, Martel took the lead and held it throughout the seventh leg. On the eighth rider, however, other teams closed the gap. Will Rice and GSA overtook Martel, and Hanszen caught up as well. Hanszen’s biker then attempted to pass Martel’s and both competitors fell, dropping them out of contention. Martel bike captain Colin Losey said the collision was an unfortunate accident.
“We saw the Hanszen biker trying to pass on the inside and then merge in, and it looked like his pedal or back tire clipped the front tire of our rider and they both went down,” Losey said. “I don’t think wind was a factor in that crash.”
After the crash, Will Rice took the lead. But the GSA remained within striking distance. On the ninth leg, Young overtook the Will Rice rider and vaulted the GSA into first place for good. Young said he worked hard to make sure Will Rice would not make a comeback.
“We were in second place when I went out,” Young said. “I could see [the Will Rice rider]. It was kind of nice to have somebody to chase down. I caught him about one and a half laps in and then I really turned it on and tried to make sure he had no chance of catching back up.”
GSA men’s bike captain Pierce Young said he could not have asked for a better Beer Bike.
“Beer Bike is fun no matter who wins,” Young said. “But I’ve gotta say, it’s a little bit more fun to see your own teams winning.”
*Rule violation regarding biker eligibility
**Failed to provide the required 3 female bikers
*Violation in regards to race participation
*Final time adjusted (58 sec) to account for delay between announcement of Martel and Hanszen alternates