Dartmouth Cycling Looks Good
Robert Frost explains it allDartmouth College is north and west of the center of New Hampshire by an hour so, and that hour makes all the difference when it comes to the weather. But the compensation is the terrain. The college is in Hanover on the Connecticut River and so a long valley runs north – south to offer one set of challenges to the cycling club; the Green Mountains in Vermont and the White Mountains in New Hampshire are both nearby. So, says Matt Nichols, the club president, “the opportunities are definitely worth the frigid weather and remote location. We are blessed with some of the best road and trail riding anywhere. The dirt roads of the Upper Valley are a thing of beauty as they snake up crazy steep grades past stone walls and waterfalls. Read any Robert Frost poem and you’ll get the idea!"
Location, location, location might be a cliché, and, surely, there’s more to a Dartmouth education than the great outdoors, but “Dartmouth tends to attract outdoorsy students,” says Nichols, “and that includes cyclists, because of its location and culture. Our team website also prompts prospective students with a passion for cycling to contact us. The cycling team here has been a deciding factor for some applicants. We also sweep up skiers, rowers, and even basketball players who are looking for a new athletic outlet.
“Like most collegiate teams, we have more men than women, but our women often race better than our men! All it takes is a core group of a few dedicated women to create a welcoming environment that mentors new racers.”
Dartmouth College Cycling Club photos are posted at the club’s Picasa page.
It helps, too, that “our Club Sports director is used to dealing with a variety of non-NCAA sports, such as rugby and figure skating,” but Nichols is aware that “cycling is unique in that requires so much investment in personal equipment and a lot of individually structured training hours,” so the impetus rests as much with the individual members as with the college and club administrators.
Nichols also notes that “we have been very happy with the collegiate cycling infrastructure. The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference under Joe Kopena and Ian Sullivan is a great place to race bikes at any ability level. Where else but collegiate cycling can you do a spectacular road race for $15 and fight for the glory of your school?
"Maybe non-collegiate race promoters should take note of how we run safe, fun races with affordable entry fees."
As for younger riders, Nichols suggests that “If you are lucky enough to live in NorCal, race mountain bikes in the high school league. You'll get real fast. Otherwise, join a club team, hang out with racers who are older and faster than you, and learn their secrets. When you’re touring colleges, arrange to meet the president of the cycling team there (and have your parents buy him or her dinner).
As a parting thought, Nichols either offers some trash talking or a well-founded observation. Time will tell: “Dartmouth is returning to the glory days, so watch out! We had a stellar season last year, a bunch of folks are racing mountain this fall, and we’ve got probably our strongest freshman class ever in terms of prior experience, enthusiasm, and talent.
"Obviously, we want the Ivy Cup back from Harvard, and we know we’re good-looking enough to do what it takes.
"Mostly we’re just thrilled to see a lot of awesome people racing bikes. We couldn’t do it without the hard work of our team leaders, the support of Dartmouth Club Sports, and the generosity of our sponsors, especially Giant Bicycles and The Bike Hub in Norwich, VT."
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