Harvard Pedals Bloom in Beanpot Cycling Race

Bikers place fifth in local competition

More competitors and spectators turned out than ever before for the Boston Beanpot Classic cycling race last weekend, in which members of the Harvard University Cycling Association (HUCA) placed fifth overall.

The Beanpot Classic is sponsored by eight colleges in the Boston area, including Harvard, and gives bicyclists a chance to compete in three different events over the course of one weekend.

More than 400 riders descended upon the city from points all over the Northeast—the list includes students from 36 schools, all of whom are members of the Eastern College Cycling Conference (ECCC).

HUCA—a club sport whose membership spans the undergraduate and graduate schools—sent about 35 competitors last weekend.

The Beanpot Classic marks one of the most important weekends in the ECCC spring season.

It began early Saturday morning with Boston University hosting the time trial in Grafton, Mass. Teams of three to four cyclists on the 7.6 mile course were vying for the best time on the clock.

Although the Dartmouth team won the race with a score of 267 points, Harvard earned fourth place, only 43 points behind the leader and more than 100 points before fifth-ranked West Point.

HUCA member Sophia K. McKinley said that this style of race was well-suited to Harvard’s team.

“Our strategy was to focus on the team event,” said McKinley, who did not participate last weekend, but raced in the Beanpot last year.

“We have a lot of evenly distributed talent, and this event lets us use that to its full potential. It’s hard, but you finish and you feel really good about it. I think we feel really proud about the fact that it’s so torturous.”

Later that afternoon, riders faced up to 72 miles of hilly terrain in the Harvard University road race, testing both their stamina and strategy. Harvard’s team placed thirteenth overall in this event.

On Sunday, the cyclists had to race laps in the Tufts Campus Criterium, According to McKinley, this is the most technically difficult course in the Northeast, with six 90-degree corners, a fast descent, and a relatively short but steep climb.

Racing 35 and 45 laps respectively, the Men’s and Women’s A-teams completed as many as 300 turns, and the team placed fourth.

Team member Jay I. Ku ’05, who races professionally, was the first member of the Harvard Men’s A-team to cross the line at the Criterium, placing 17th in his class.

However the majority of those who raced last weekend were not seasoned riders but novices. The number of beginning racers was so large, in fact, that the Men’s D-class had to be split in order to fit everyone onto the course, according to McKinley.

Food and music intermingled with the intensity and anticipation of the competitions throughout the weekend.

The ECCC anticipates and encourages a similar crowd to attend this weekend’s competition at the US Maritime Academy at Westpoint and the upcoming Eastern Collegiate Cycling Championship to be hosted by the University of New Hampshire from April 30 to May 1.