At a time when most of us are still pulling bedcovers over our heads, the athletes who ride for RISD Cycling – the school’s first and only varsity sports team – are greeting the morning sun from the road. On most weekdays, the small pack of riders sets out before dawn to train on roads that take them far from campus. The arduous exercise challenges both their lung capacity and mental stamina.
“We usually bike over 40 miles before we go to class,” notes Jules Goguely 15 ID, captain of the team. “That’s a lot of terrain to cover.”
Recently, the team has been training for this weekend’s Rhode Race – an Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) event – which, for the first time, is being held in downtown Providence. Brown and RISD are co-sponsoring the race, which invites more than 200 riders from 57 colleges to race a one-mile route that passes by Market Square and Memorial Park. “To host a race like this means a lot in the cycling community,” Goguely says. “It’s going to put RISD on the map, which is incredibly exciting for us.”
The team has been hard at work preparing for their home race day. Almost every weekend in March and April, they competed in timed road races at schools across the Northeast. Last weekend RISD Cycling competed in a criterium at the US Military Academy at West Point. The week before, the team trekked to Pennsylvania to race at Shippensburg University. “It’s nice to pack up our gear, jump in a van and go on an adventure,” notes Goguely. “We get to meet new friends and talk about one of our biggest passions.”
As the only art school team competing at this level, RISD Cycling has established itself as a respected force in the racing world. That respect is partially due to Evan Murphy 11 FD, a phenomenal cyclist who founded the team in 2011. The very first season, the furniture designer won several races, which qualified him for the Collegiate Road Nationals. Since then Murphy has continued his cycling career and last month he took second place in the Red Hook Crit, a multi-legged road race for elite athletes that takes place in Brooklyn, NY and Milan, Italy.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’ve had some great leaders show us the way,” notes Goguely. “Because of their guidance, the team has done extremely well.”
Teammate Michael McDermott MFA 15 GD admits to having had his fair share of adrenaline. Last week the graduate student reached close to 60 mph while competing in a time trial. “I didn’t even look at my speedometer – but I knew I was flying,’ he says. “I would have skidded for miles if something happened to knock me down.”
Some of the dangers - potholes, wet roads, impatient drivers – are nearly impossible to avoid, especially during training rides. “Sometimes the drivers aren’t the nicest,” notes Karan Mugdal 13 ID. “I've been yelled at and had trash thrown at me.”
To reduce the risk of road rage and other injuries, the cyclists zip up in protective uniforms. And in true RISD fashion, the gear is chic. The team’s bright pink and black logo can be easily spotted from afar – even when the cyclists are surrounded by hundreds of competitors.
But the design is also meant to convey the team’s sense of humor. “We have a tramp stamp that reads ‘art school’ on the back of our shorts,” notes Alec Babala 14 ID with a smile. “It’s so that when we blow past riders, they can’t help but see that RISD just took the lead.”
Cyclo-cross enthusiasts David Kessler 18 ID, Lizzie Wright 18 ID and Marcus Peabody MFA 19 GD devote most weekends to bicycle racing.
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