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Cycling Team Kicks into Gear

Back in 2004, a Deerfield sports team suddenly disappeared from the New England Prep School Federation races.

After a five-year hiatus, Tom Burrow ’10, who cycles over the summer, suggested to science teacher Rick Calhoun the possibility of reviving the cycling team. Mr. Calhoun, a former cycling competitor, readily took to the idea. Both Burrow and Mr. Calhoun were surprised, but very pleased with the interest shown in the idea.

“I’m impressed,” Burrow said, “because I thought it was just me and West Hubbard ’10, but Michael Bell ’09 decided to join, and Bjorn Ahbel ’09 bought a bike.” The team quickly became a solid ten-member group, three of whom are girls.

Once the team decided on a uniform, things smoothly kicked into gear. Under Mr. Calhoun’s tutelage, the team learned the basics of cycling and soon was routinely going on 20-30 mile rides.Cyclists in training

Deerfield cyclers already have proved they can be competitive. In their first two races, Burrow placed first and Nat Posever ’09, who just began competing this year, placed second. In the B-division of New England Cycling the team competes against cyclers from schools including Phillips Academy Exeter, Holderness, and Kimball-Union.

Such successes, the whole team would agree, have been marked by cautious, but strategic riding. Team members try to allow their best racer to draft off another teammate, enabling him to save a significant amount of energy for the final sprint to the finish line. But cycling is a game of inches; any contact with another racer’s wheel can cause a dangerous crash.

Because of the recent success in the B-division, the team decided to move up to the A-division. “We’re all excited to see how we’ll match up,” said Ahbel.

Unfortunately, at their first A-Division race Bell and his partner Burrow took a bad fall and the two could not finish. However, falls are a common occurrence and the Deerfield cyclers can expect to continue to challenge themselves in the A-division for the next three races, as well as competing in the New England Championships.

The addition of the cycling team to Deerfield presents a new opportunity and adds variety to the activities offered. Mr. Calhoun hopes to create a strong cycling program that can be sustained for many years to come.