WhirlyBird Cross: Mud, Guts and Community Service

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On September 25, Guy’s Racing Club presents round 5 of the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series with the return of The WhirlyBird Cross.  Located on the Huntington Valley campus of Bryn Athyn College, this challenging and spectator-friendly course brings world class racing to suburban Philadelphia and serves as a model for community service and competition.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Competition may be the heart of every ‘cross race, but without the skeleton of service, a race couldn’t stand.  People with regular jobs and families put aside their time to create an event for fellow enthusiasts to enjoy.   It doesn’t just happen on race day with course set up, tear down, registration, parking, course marshalling, and dozens of other details — it involves months of preparation to produce a successful race.

There’s something special about the WhirlyBird ‘Cross, beyond the heated bathrooms, shower facilities, convenient parking, and unusual name.  The legion of Guy’s Racing Club volunteers collaborate with Bryn Athyn College (BAC) members of College CARE, a student-run service organization, to deliver a terrific day of racing and service.

Service on tap

Why would college students sacrifice their day helping cyclists put on a race? CARE VP Hanna David says, “It’s crazy and we have fun doing it with about 30 other college students at the bike race.

Perhaps Bryn Athyn’s dry campus allows for folks to focus on community, rather than keg, service.  Not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course — many races provide both.   Service on tap for the 2011 race includes a bike parts drive to assist Bryn Athyn’s students with their “Yellow Bike” share program that promotes a healthy, environmentally friendly mode of transport around the 130-acre campus.

Bryn Athyn’s mission inspires students to serve their community in meaningful ways, and the volunteer hours that go into organizing a cyclocross race of Whirly Bird’s magnitude provide an object lesson in volunteerism.

Guy’s team member and dedicated service soldier Rolf Windh asserts, “Both the club and sponsor Guy’s Bicycles are pleased to promote the ties between the racing community and the larger cycling community. The college’s bike-share program was a logical inspiration and convergence point for collaboration among us all. The race and the club are entirely volunteer-run, and so the connection with the college’s service emphasis is natural.”

CARE faculty liaison, Laura Nash, articulates why the club is empowering, useful, and a part of the college’s mission — “because developing a student’s value system and personal growth comes through being of service to others, no matter what way they do it.  In serving others during their college experience, students may  discover who they are, and who they might want to want to become.”

It is clear to see how  the BAC students working together for the Whirlybird Race as part of a team, creates subtle changes within them and benefits the racers.

Women’s pre-race clinic

Team CF elite racer Kristin Gavin will donate her time and talent during a free novice women’s clinic at 8:00am.   Gavin will lead novice women crossers around the course and help them with specific skills like dismounting, remounting, cornering, shifting and starting tactics. No cross bike? Team CF will provide a limited number of demo bikes that attendees can reserve by visiting the race registration page at Bikereg.

When not competing, Gavin runs Gearing Up, a non-profit whose mission is to provide women in transition from drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, and/or homelessness with the skills, equipment, and guidance to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth.

Great racing

Of course when racers get to the starting line, camaraderie dissolves, even at the WhirlyBird.   Race Director Trevor Williams promises, “Classic Mid-Atlantic cyclocross.  The course offers racers varied terrain, great flow and little room for recovery.  It’s also a great spectating course.”

So true.  Even the rare downhill sections with their gnarly roots, ruts, and sudden turns require steadfast attention.  Spectators and racers love the course’s infamous spiral section that ushers competitors from a straightaway into a concentric circle that M.C. Escher must have designed.

Professionals and amateurs alike will vie for cash and prizes throughout the day.  The under 10 crowd can compete in the Lil’ Belgians Race.  Perhaps there will be a “yellow bike” race? Anything is possible at a cross race.

A shared mission

It is clear to see how the BAC students working together for the Whirlybird Race as part of a team, creates subtle changes within them and benefits the racers.  Club members who have worked to produce a race experience subtle changes as well.

CARE faculty liaison, Laura Nash, articulates why the club is empowering, useful, and a part of the college’s mission — “Developing a student’s value system and personal growth comes through being of service to others, no matter what way they do it.  In serving others during their college experience, students may discover who they are, and who they might want to want to become.”

Come enjoy the spirit of service and competition in Bryn Athyn on Sunday, September 25 at the Whirly Bird ‘Cross race.  It promises to be an inspirational day for the whole family.

 

 

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