Beer Bike coasts to a sunny finish
Under sunny skies, Houston weather allowed for a traditional Beer Bike for the first time in three years.
Two years ago, Beer Bike was rained out and postponed. Last year, strong winds caused numerous crashes and turned the bike race into a running race. This year, however, all three races on Saturday, March 31, finished with only minor crashes and mild injuries.
In the alumni race, first place went to Will Rice College, second place to Brown College and third place to the Graduate Student Association. In the women's race, first place went to Will Rice, second place to Duncan College and third place to McMurtry College. In the men's race, the GSA took first place, Will Rice took second and McMurtry took third.
Students may have noticed that the races seemed to go by more quickly than in previous years. According to Beer Bike Campus-Wide Coordinator Philip Tarpley, race coordinators tried to make races run more quickly. They purposely scheduled the races only 15 minutes apart so that students would not have to wait as long for the next race, Tarpley said.
Tarpley, a Brown senior, said he thought the day was very successful and had heard positive feedback from the colleges about the new format of the parade and track setup.
"We were looking for a format that is sustainable and acceptable to the students and one that the administration isn't going to pick a fight with in the years to come," Tarpley said.
Martel College senior Duffy Elmer said he was surprised to find that he enjoyed the two-stop parade format.
"It's more exciting to have a couple huge bursts of water-ballooning than a longer, continuous parade," Elmer said.
Elmer also said he preferred the new college areas at the track to the bleachers from previous years.
"Martel went with hay bales and large umbrellas, which were definitely more comfortable than the bleachers," Elmer said. "The ability to have a keg at the track was a great way to keep the party going, too."
Tarpley said he was pleased by the safety record during Beer Bike. According to Rice Emergency Medical Services Director Lisa Basgall, REMS tended to about 40 people during Beer Bike this year, for calls relating to eye and ear injuries, sprained ankles, cuts and scrapes, and alcohol intoxication. This number of calls is down from last year but up from 2010, Basgall said.
Basgall added that she was grateful for the caregiver support system.
"Having caregivers ready to respond definitely helped in getting people home safely," Basgall said. "[I give] thanks to all of the colleges who were set up and the individual volunteers who participated by stepping up to help their fellow students."
Tarpley said much of the day's success was also due to the area coordinators' efforts.
Tarpley said that with the recent passing of the increase of the Beer Bike blanket tax, students can expect some improvements next year.
"We can look at getting mini bleachers and tents for all of the colleges," Tarpley said.
In addition, Tarpley said to expect one large technological improvement at the race next year. In the current system, 60 judges work to time and record the races.
"It's accurate, but there's a lot of paperwork, and it takes a lot of time," Tarpley said.
Next year, a group of Rice students will be creating an electronic timing system, similar to ones used in marathons, as part of a senior design project, Tarpley noted.
He said that the senior design team, which already has funding for the project, will meet with campus-wide coordinators this year to determine needs. Tarpley said he is excited about having a student-built system for timing that will streamline the judging process.
Rice University Police Department Captain Clemente Rodriguez said he thought this Beer Bike was well-run with no major incidents. The only problem that RUPD faced was noise complaints from nearby residents during the early-morning activities (see story, ricethresher.org).
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