Twas the night before Beer Bike, when all through the colleges
Every creature was stirring, every team waiting.
The banners were hung in the commons with care,
In the hopes that a victory would soon be theirs.
On May 5, 1957, Rice University began what grew to be one of its most famous traditions Beer Bike. Back then, students had a “chugger” who chugged a can of beer and “bikers” who lapped around the inner loop. Baker college finished first, followed by Will Rice and Weiss. Hanszen was disqualified for taking a “shortcut” (read: cheating). Every year after that, Rice sponsored Beer Bike, a friendly competition between the colleges. Despite past changes and changes to come, Beer Bike will always remain what is was first intended to be: a friendly competition between the colleges; in short, uniquely Rice.
Every residential college and the Graduate Student Association participates in a men’s, women’s and alumni team. While the race still involves chugging a cold one and then biking around a track to beat out competing teams – the frosty mug is now filled to the top with good ‘ole H2O: 24 fluid ounces for men and 12 fluid ounces for women. It is a relay bike race, once the old biker comes in a chugger drinks and flags out the next biker. Each college has designated chuggers, pit crew, and bikers who work together to bring victory home to their college.
The morning of Beer Bike is filled with anticipation and celebration. Each college has their own traditions; Will Rice holds a spirit rousing dance event while Baker chooses to sleep in. At around 10am, the festivities really begin with what is estimated to be the largest annual water balloon fight in the world. I personally filled over 1000 water balloons in the week leading up to Beer Bike (I had blisters all over my fingers but it was well worth it). Intercollegiate riverly runs deep and helps us build bonds between our sister colleges. Beer-Bike is Rice’s most prominent student event, and for younger alumni it serves as an unofficial reunion weekend akin to Homecoming.
The races itself ended in a resounding victory for Will Rice College; this residential college won every single race. Winning every race is known as a “sweep” and Will Rice has done it FIVE times to date: 1983, 1986, 1999, 2009 and 2013. At the end of the races, Will Rice stormed the track to celebrate their victory.
In the end, Beer Bike isn’t about Will Rice or Duncan or Baker. Beer Bike is about glory, pride, unadulterated joy for Rice.
We ran to our bikes, waited for the flags to raise
And away they all flew like the fire of an arrow.
But I heard them cry, ‘how can they bike so fast,
“Happy Beer Bike to all, and to all a good-night!”