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Beer bikers required to spend five hours on track for certification

beer-bike-francesca-nemati-web
Francesca Nemati / Thresher

By Viola Hsia     3/19/24 9:35pm

Beer Bike riders are now required to spend at least five hours practicing on the track to get certified to race in Beer Bike, after revisions to the biker and pit crew requirements.

Although biking certifications have existed in previous years, the five hour requirement is a new development from the Rice University Cycling and Triathlon club, campus-wide Beer Bike coordinators Willa Liou and Daniela Covarrubias said in an email to the Thresher. 

Pit crew certifications had existed before COVID, and were reintroduced this year.



Suraj Chandramouli, the RUCT vice president, said they initially planned to mandate 10 hours on the track, but halved the required time after hearing bikers’ concerns about reaching the threshold. According to Chandramouli, the new certifications were the result of making sure bikers would have enough experience on the track, something that wasn’t always guaranteed in years past.

“One of the things that I noticed when I helped run certifications last year was that a lot of the bikers just sort of showed up and [didn’t] really know what they were doing,” Chandramouli, a Hanszen College junior, said. “The hour requirement is sort of a way to ensure that people put in the time necessary to have the very baseline skills to safely participate.”

To get certified last year, bikers only had to show they could clip on and off the bikes, as well as successfully completing a lap, according to Ilina Goyal, a member of Brown College’s women’s bike team.

Nicholas Lindell, a third-year Ph.D. student and captain of the Graduate Student Association’s men bike team, said that, while the new time constraints pose challenges, he appreciates the improved safety.

“We can brief our riders on how to be safe, and how [Chandramouli] thinks we need to be safe as well,” Lindell said, “I’m hoping that that kind of gets implemented in future years as well because it’s better organized than it was in the past.“

Ben Meisburger, a senior at Jones College and captain of their men’s bike team, said that the certifications haven’t posed a recruitment problem at Jones, although that can be largely attributed to the college’s interest in biking.

“How do you get five hours in a week? That’s tough,” Meisburger said. “At the same time, if you haven’t spent five hours biking on a road bike, you probably shouldn’t be bike racing. So overall, I think the certifications are a step in the right direction, but I can see why some colleges would not be a fan of them.”

New pit crew requirements stipulate that each team must perform at least four consecutive catches and throws. This must include two men’s bikers, two women’s bikers and one first-time biker, and they can have no crossing the line violations, according to the Beer Bike committee’s executive liaison Anne Wang. Like the bikers, pit crew members have to sign up for slots to get certified.

Ayaan Riaz, Will Rice College’s pit crew captain, said the new certifications were released rather recently, surprising the pit crew, who didn’t have to undergo a certification process next year.

“We were caught off guard — we did not know certifications were happening for pit until this past Saturday,” Riaz, a sophomore, wrote in a message to the Thresher. “But we have practiced at mock bike, will continue to practice and will simply perform the same for the certification.”

Andrew Kim, Lovett College’s pit crew captain, wrote in an email to the Thresher that he was glad these certifications are now required. However, he also wished the certifications had been released a little earlier.

“I’m very glad they added pit crew certifications this year for the sake of bikers’ safety, especially given past crashes resulting from unsafe launches and catches,” Kim, a junior, said, “That said, I wish the certification process (and other new Beer Bike rules) had been more clearly publicized earlier — as captain, I had no idea it was a new requirement and deadline I had to meet until days before. In any case, the pit crew certifications are a long overdue and appreciated precaution for bikers across campus.”

Brian Bishara, another Lovett pit crew captain, wrote in an email to the Thresher that the certifications are a step in the right direction.

“We are benefiting from having experienced members on the team to help with training the others, and I am more than confident that Lovett’s Beer Bike pit crew will be ready when the time comes to get certified,” Bishara, a junior, wrote. “Ultimately, we should all prioritize each other’s wellbeing and uphold our Culture of Care to ensure that Beer Bike is as fun as possible for everyone.”

Editor’s Note: Ayaan Riaz is the Web editor, and Andrew Kim is a Backpage editor for the Thresher.



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