Beer Bike 2023 welcomes more races, a new record
The 2023 Beer Bike races took place Saturday, with all three races — alumni, women’s and men’s — divided up into two heats. The times from both heats will be compared by the RPC to determine the final results after penalties for each team are calculated. According to campus-wide Beer Bike coordinator Anne Wang, results are expected to be released later in the week, likely on Friday.
Nayna Nambiar, the other campus-wide Beer Bike coordinators, wrote in a statement to the Thresher that coordinators will have a discussion with their staff advisor to finalize details, including taking into account the penalties, before announcing the results.
“We understand that everyone is waiting for results, but we want to be able to give the most accurate and fair results putting everything into consideration,” Nambiar, a Hanszen College sophomore, said. “We would like to be able to talk to staff about it before we make a final call.”
All three races were divided into two heats this year, in response to safety concerns. Though there were no major crashes this year, minor injuries still occurred for some teams. McMurtry College had two injuries during the women’s race, including one during warm-ups, while Wiess College’s final biker crashed upon re-entering the pit in the women’s race. During the men’s race, the fifth biker from Brown College wiped out due to the wheels falling off his bike.
With the divisions into heats, there was more down time in between races. In particular, there was half-hour-plus delay between the second alumni heat and the first heat of the women’s race. Wang wrote in a statement to the Thresher that despite delays, all races concluded by 3 p.m.
“We already started a bit late with check-in and breathalyzing finished a little later than expected,” Wang, a Lovett College sophomore, said. “Once all teams transitioned and moved their materials onto the track, we also had to do a final double check of judges as well as take inventory of materials outside/inside the track to make sure that everything was squared away before we started again.”
One of the notable events that happened during this year’s race was Dani Knobloch, a Hanszen senior, tied the women’s track record with a time of 1:19. The only other woman to share this record is Rabea Tzentos (Jones ’19), according to Knobloch.
Knobloch said that the record means a lot to her, given her history with Beer Bike and this being her final year at Rice.
“I’m honestly elated,” Knobloch wrote in an email to the Thresher. “I knew I only had a few more weeks to try and nab a record time before graduation. To be able to PR and share the title for fastest women’s time is such an amazing treat.”
Knobloch said that the switch to a two-heat format detracts from the spectator experience.
“I also think it’s a better experience for the spectators, who for the most part are only really interested in their own college’s performance and don’t really want to be [at] the track for four-plus hours,” Knobloch said.
Knobloch added that she believes the heat system can work if transitions between races “drastically improve,” but would prefer a return to a single-race format with other safety changes.
“[I] would prefer a return to the one-heat format with some minor changes for safety such as making a change to the event’s insurance, expanding the track, moving fencing and getting rid of the hay bales, and increased practices and infrastructure surrounding that leading up to Beer Bike,” Knobloch said.
During the alumni race, Martel’s one biker, Amanda Suarez biked all eight laps. Martel was not the only incomplete alumni team, with several other colleges having incomplete rosters with more than one biker biking twice. Suarez said that, after watching a Duncan alum bike alone last year, the prospect didn’t seem as daunting.
“This year, it just so happened that all of our other potential alumni bikers were unable to safely bike. I don’t blame them for that at all,” Suarez said, “Ashton Duke, (Duncan ’19) at last year’s race, ended up biking solo. I figured if he could do it, I could do it.”
[This story was updated on 4/5/2023 at 9:46 a.m. to correct Knobloch’s record time, it was 1:19, not 1:20.]
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