Cyclists invade the Grinnell campus—fix bikes, compete in races

Professor Robert Lewis, Anders Ahlberg '10, and Joey Wendell '11 represent Bike Club with pride and style. - Sophie Fajardo

Professor Robert Lewis, Anders Ahlberg '10, and Joey Wendell '11 represent Bike Club with pride and style. - Sophie Fajardo

When the Grinnell College cycling club was created last year, it barely had its wheels. “We started the club to get people who enjoy riding bikes to ride together,” said Ahlberg.

Since then the club has evolved to encompass many more aspects.“The goals of the cycling club I think are sort of twofold,” said Rob Lewis, History and cycling club participant. “One is to basically promote awareness of cycling on campus at sort of all levels, and the other is to sort of offer a chance for students who want to get a little more seriously involved in the sport of competitive cycling, sort of help them get started racing.”

Earlier this year, the cycling club presented an initiative for a campus bike shop which the student body passed. The bike shop aims to provide bike care education and bike repair for students, free of charge. This year, SGA allocated $1485.50 to cycling club to support the bicycle shop and to help the team attend two races. As the weather gets nice, the club plans too set up shop in front of the JRC. “People can bring in their bike and we’ll do minor repairs for them, sort of help the bikes run more smoothly,” said Joey Wendel ’11, who participates the club.

In addition to the bike shop the group has focused on getting more community involvement through group rides. “We have fun rides on the weekends, especially when it’s nicer out, like early fall and spring,” Wendel said. “If anyone wants to ride, everyone has access to the Plans, where they can post if they’re doing a ride, or they can send an e-mail to the whole group.”

Aside from the casual group rides, the club also gets involved with more competitive cycling. “We are going to do sort of skills clinics later on in the spring,” Lewis said. Last summer, members of the club strengthened Grinnell’s statewide image by participating in Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI. According to Wendel, the Grinnell team was well received by other races at the annual competition. “People liked us on RAGBRAI,” he said.

The club team races in the North Central Collegiate Cycling Conference, which organizes races in various locations during the spring. The team hopes this season to attend its first race at University of Nebraska at Lincoln on April 18th.

Aside from competing in more events, the team hopes to expand and grow on campus. “I think an answer in the future is hopefully sort of growing the presence of cycling on this campus,” Lewis said. “Whether it means getting more people to go out and ride recreationally, encouraging them to ride so that later in life so they will bike-commute, or whether it’s turning it into a more competitive [club], cycling is a fantastic sport, it’s addictive.”