Take a Bike
Campus is an ideal place to pedal
“Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.” Two students work to adjust a headset on a shaky mountain bike in the Bike Co-op in the Student Union. With its grease-splotched linoleum, box labeled “weird tubes,” tool-bedecked pegboard, and tire smell, the Bike Co-op has been a campus mainstay since 1977. The workshop will be as busy as ever this year, because UMass Amherst people know that two wheels will take you far and fast around this sprawling campus.
The surrounding Pioneer Valley also offers “amazing road biking in every direction” and “some of the best mountain biking trails anywhere,” says Joe Clemenzi ’10, past president of the UMBRC (UMass Bicycle Racing Club). UMBRC racers compete in collegiate road and mountain bike races and stage the annual Orchard Assault race on 3.4 miles of campus trails every spring. Last year the group won the Sports Club of the Year award for its growth of dedicated riders of all levels and successful fundraising.
Area cyclists also enjoy the advantages of bike lanes on many roads, the 11-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail, and buses with bike racks. The campus sustainability office is currently pushing its way through the logistics and economics of a student-initiated bike share program to allow students to borrow refurbished bikes freshly painted maroon.
Campus bike cop Robert Waskiewicz logs 25 to 30 miles daily on a black aluminum Trek mountain bike with rear suspension and invincible Kevlar tires. He has seen the campus become increasingly bike-friendly in the 10 years he’s patrolled on two wheels. It would be even better, he says, if everyone would wear helmets and lock up. Above all, “Bicycle Bob” has two words for campus cyclists and the walkers who stray in their paths: “Pay attention,” he advises, before he powers away, hopping a curb.