Cyclists’ special appreciation for the surrounding area
“Riding in a car as a passenger is pretty passive,” Susie Hufstader ’12 said. Instead, Hufstader, a native of Storrs, Conn., has spent a lot of time exploring the area around campus by bike.
“Also, I don’t have a car, so biking is my only mode of transportation,” Hufstader admitted, but she’s come to appreciate the surrounding area in a way many students have not, if only because “on a bike, you’re going slower, so you notice more.”
At lot of the time, students on the Hill stick to campus, and they think that if they want beautiful scenery they have to drive to Sugarloaf or to the coast, Hufstader explained, “but there are some really cool spots really close to Colby.”
Hufstader is a member of the College’s cycling team, so she has plenty of teammates to adventure with through the back roads of Maine. One time, Hufstader and Lauren Tracey ’11 found themselves about 20 miles from campus and seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but when they saw a sign for a lookout up a little dirt road they decided to check it out, “and the next thing we knew, we were looking out over the Belgrade Lakes,” Hufstader said.
Another time, on a ride with Cosme Del Rosario-Bell ’12, the two stopped for hot dogs at a bright blue hut they’d ridden by many times before. “The hot dogs were pretty average,” Hufstader said, “but normally we ride with a lot of vegetarians, so when Cosme and I went it was our only chance to get one without being judged.”
Rosario-Bell grew up in New York City, and moving to Maine introduced him to a new side of his favorite sport (there are plenty of hot dog stands where he’s from).
“I really like riding my bike in the city, but it’s a whole different game,” Rosario-Bell said, explaining that riding in the city is more about picking through cars and beating traffic. Biking around Waterville, “the enjoyment doesn’t come from overcoming congestion,” he said. “It’s about challenging yourself and your body.”
That being said, one of Rosario-Bell’s impressions of the surrounding area is that it’s “really hilly—I don’t think a lot of people realize this,” he said. “But it’s also really beautiful,” he said, citing “lakes, hills, trees, barns, silos, cows,” and other things don’t exist in crowded city streets of Manhattan.
Rosario-Bell didn’t waste any time transitioning to rural riding, however, as he in fact biked to campus in the fall of his first year. “My first introduction to Colby was on a bike,” Rosario-Bell said, and he completed the ride from New York City to Waterville with his mother in about two weeks.
His first night after arriving on the Hill, Rosario-Bell rode his bike to visit a friend from home who worked at a camp over in Oakland, and on the way back he stopped at Mathieu’s Cycle and Fitness on Main Street in Oakland to ask about the best route back.
The workers at the shop told him to take Route 137, and “riding up Rice Rips Road it was pitch black, and I could just see Colby lit up in the distance,” Rosario-Bell said. He wasn’t sure if he’d taken the right turn, but he looked to Miller Clock Tower as a landmark and made it back safe and sound.
Taylor Merk-Wynne, who works at Mathieu’s Cycle and Fitness, grew up in Waterville, and enjoys riding around the old New England area because “there are so many back roads that I’m still finding new routes,” he said.
Merk-Wynne went to school out in Colorado, and spent some time living in Oregon, and he said that “there aren’t as many riding options out West,” where the roads are more direct links between towns. As far as biking around campus, “my only complaint is that there’s only a six-to seven-month riding season,” Merk-Wynne said.