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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Getting to campus isn’t a race to the finish line

    Turki Allugman/Arizona Daily Wildcat Bcyclist maneuver around a car near Second Street Garage on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.

    “I am one cocky asshole when it comes to me biking, especially if I am on one of my commuter bikes. I always try to drop as many people as I can on my way to school or work.” These are the words of Calvin Chumbley, an avid cyclist and a junior studying Spanish. “I always get irritated when some fatty, mountain bike commuter, busted-ass beach cruiser, wannabe bad-boy fixed-gear rider tries to pass me when I’ve been waiting at a red light that turns green.”

    Commuter racing is when a cyclist rides as fast as he or she can during a daily commute to see how many riders he or she can pass before arriving at a destination.

    Like Calvin, I too am a hypocrite when it comes to this daily race. I absolutely hate getting passed, but I love the feeling of flying by a “busted-ass beach cruiser” on my road bike. If I find it so annoying, why would I then take part in that very same activity? I began to wonder what makes the commuter racer tick. Who are they and what are they trying prove? So, I asked the cyclists themselves.

    As I have said, I find it incredibly annoying when I am challenged to race on my way to school. I asked Sam Gross, a UA sophomore and professional mountain bike rider, how he felt about it.
    “I’ve actually never been challenged to a race on my way to school,” he said. Then he jokingly added, “The rippling thighs and tan lines probably scare them off.”

    Even as a professional, Gross isn’t opposed to the idea of unsanctioned racing. He says he has taken a shot at “The Gauntlet,” a race from Old Main to Cherry Street across the UA Mall. “It must be done on a fixed gear with no brakes at 11:50 a.m. on a weekday.”

    He says he has a lot of fun doing it and that the throngs of people make a great obstacle course. When asked if he thinks this proves who is the fastest he said, “Probably not, just who is the ballsiest and is willing to run the most stop signs.”

    However, not everyone enjoys this element of danger. When I asked Brianna Addotta, a geography junior, how she felt about the commuter racing scene. “It’s only annoying in tight or highly populated areas,” she said. “Pedestrians don’t watch where they’re going and someone is bound to get hurt. But on bike paths and side streets it’s fun. I usually win.”

    “It’s fun to ride as fast as possible in any situation — get those thighs burning,” she said when asked why it’s so fun.

    Some people use the race as a way to beat the tedium of a daily routine.

    “I personally enjoy racing people when trying to get to and from class,” said Kimberly Niccolai, a UA student and member of Tri-Cats. It makes the day more interesting.” She said she enjoys her rides home so much because “It’s like, you’re coming back from class stressed out, and racing someone home is a great way to release that stress.”

    So next time you give into the urge to pass a cyclist riding at the speed of a tortoise in front of you, don’t feel bad. Riders of all skill levels take part in the world’s biggest unofficial race. It boils down to the fact that people love to challenge themselves and those around them, and if it makes your day more enjoyable, I say go for it.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Hayden @Spicy_Reptiles.

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