Thanks to Andrew Singson, our faculty adviser and Professor in the Waksman Institute and Department of Genetics, for doing this Q&A!
College is a great place to take up a new sport. Cycling is a club sport at Rutgers and open to all students. Members of the club can test their athleticism in competition and experience the camaraderie of a team. I discovered bike racing in college and thirty years later I serve as the Faculty Adviser for the Rutgers Cycling Team.
The Rutgers University Cycling Team supports all disciplines of competitive cycling. The current emphasis is on road racing and cyclocross (a kind of off-road steeple chase on bikes). The RU cyclists have had success with a recent string of six consecutive Division 1 Eastern Conference championships in cyclocross. Members of the team have also competed in track and mountain bike events. Our student athletes often get fit for competition with local training rides, charity rides, and tours. This makes the sport particularly visible as these athletes are moving billboards sporting the big “R” and the logos of team sponsors.
Students purchase the majority of their own equipment and run the operations of the team. Rutgers Cycling has been funded in part by Rutgers Club Sports, the promotion of races, and local sponsors. Despite these generous supporters, it is still a challenge to cover the cost of travel, entry fees, and equipment.
I was very excited to receive a call from the Rutgers Foundation with news of an alumni donor. The donor was former Rutgers Football Quarterback and Safety, Sam Mudie. Sam graduated from Rutgers in 1962 with a BSME and then got an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. During his time with Rutgers Football, Sam led the nation in pass return yards. Further, he led the Scarlet Knights in total offense and scoring and was named the undefeated ’61 squad’s MVP. He was drafted and spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He subsequently worked at IBM before taking a new career direction in Los Angeles where he owned Swensen’s Ice Cream stores in Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West LA. Sam married a graduate of the Rutgers University Camden Law School, Patty Glaser.
Recently I had the honor of joining Sam for a bike ride near the scenic coast of Southern California. Below is a short Q&A compiled from our ride and correspondence:
Rutgers Cycling: How did you get into cycling?
Sam Mudie: I took up cycling at age 40 after my left knee finally quit working. This was after five years of running 10Ks and half marathons. I look forward to riding my bike every day when I awaken.
RC: What are your favorite places to ride a bike in addition to around the cost of Southern California?
SM: Our mountain home in Hilton Creek, California is at 7000 feet elevation! The roads are devoid of vehicular traffic and is a mecca for road riding. For three years I was involved in organizing the Whiskey Creek Stage Race in Mammoth Lakes. I am also a founding member of the Sierra Cycling Foundation, a bicycling advocacy group.
RC: Did you compete in cycling?
SM: I competed for one year and quickly decided that race organizing was the better choice.
RC note: The Whiskey Creek Stage race is a multiday race like the Tour de France but not as long. The professional race was once won by Olympic Gold Medalist Alexi Grewal with overall time of 9 hours 10 minutes and 32 seconds. This is a grueling event for anyone.
RC: Do other members of your family enjoy bike riding?
SM: My two grandsons, John Cole (12 years old) and Drake Samuel (9 years old) are both cyclists.
RC: What led you to supporting the Rutgers Cycling Team?
SM: Riding around Southern California I would see cyclists from UCLA or USC out training. I corresponded with the Rutgers Foundation about donating to the RU team.
RC: What other sports have you supported?
SM: I have made donations to Crew, Fencing, Swimming and Lacrosse.
RC: Why have you chosen to support these smaller sports?
SM: These sports do not receive the same level of university investment as the major revenue producing sports. The student athletes are just as committed to these sports. In a way sports like cycling are more accessible to the entire student body. They are also sports that you can enjoy through your own participation even after college.
RC: Rutgers Cycling would like to thank you for your financial support and your thoughts.
SM: I’m a pretty low profile guy but maybe by showing my support it might encourage other alumni to financially support cycling and try it out for themselves.
If you would like to donate to Rutgers Cycling, please contact the Rutgers Foundation and request funds be directed to Rutgers Cycling, a Rutgers Sport Club.
Here’s Ben’s race report from last weekend. Enjoy!
This past weekend (11/9) Elias and I drove down to Willingboro, NJ for Mill Creek CX. Former Rutgers riders, Brandon and Benny met us there. It was a nice day for November. With the weather in the mid 50s and minimal wind it was a far cry from Crossnado the previous weekend, which was cold, cold, cold. The course was situated in a park that was essentially an open grass field. It was also totally flat with the exception of a giant hill that the riders hit from four different directions throughout the course. The last time up featured a grueling climb followed by steep off-camber descent that challenged the riders all day. It was cool to see how racers approached it and the varied levels of success they had (We all styled it). The design of the course was fantastic, despite its relative flatness, except for the big hill. It goes to show that a good ‘cross course can be set up many places with a little imagination and ingenuity. Elias and I both agreed it was our favorite course of the season. I raced in the Cat 5 race with Benny and Brandon. Surprisingly, there weren’t that many people registered to race despite the good weather and great course. That being said, I started in the second row in a field of 25 riders or so, and with a strong start I found myself sitting in seventh through part of the first lap. I eventually backed off to save some energy and ended up getting lapped by Benny who dominated the Cat 5 field and finished well before the person in second.
HPCX was a two-day race (UCI C2 both days!) for the first time this year. It’s a lot different setting up for a two-day race – in years past, we’ve spent Saturday afternoon setting up for a Sunday race, but with racing starting on Saturday morning setup has to be done by Friday night – no mean feat when much of the labor force has classes all day and the sun sets by 7pm. But, with some work Thursday, some work Friday, and final touches Saturday morning, we got everything ready to go. Having the race earlier this year helped – fewer leaves to rake!
HPCX is often the first cyclocross experience for new team members. Ben did his first ‘cross race at HPCX, and has continued his season at Marty Cross and Crossnado.
We stepped up our podium game this year with Christine Frandsen’s awesome backdrop design.
Day 1 of HPCX was Chris’s second ‘cross race ever, and Day 2 was his third. He’s continued his season with Marty Cross, and was all set to race CXMeur and Crossnado but was stopped by an injury.
I was happy with my results for the weekend.
Jesse did his first ‘cross race on Saturday of HPCX and had a good time.
All in all, a successful weekend of racing. It was a great event for the team working together and getting excited about cyclocross. I’m looking forward to next year – we’re aiming for an even bigger and better event. I think we learned a lot from this first year of a full weekend, and we’re in a good position to keep growing the event.
Thanks to Efinger Sporting Goods for their support of the race, and to everyone from Rutgers, Hermes, the UCI, and USA Cycling for making the race possible!
Cyclocross season has finally arrived and is in full motion! Last weekend Elias and I drove down to Wilmington, DE for Granogue CX, the infamous race that’s set on the DuPont estate. I raced in the Women 3/4 race but wasn’t feeling so hot so I dropped out of the race early. On the other hand, Elias placed 24th in the competitive Mens 2/3/4 race. Well done! Besides horrible traffic on the return, it was an overall beautiful day.
Here’s an interview with Rutgers graduate student and Rutgers Cycling member Paul Frandsen. I’m hoping this, and subsequent interviews, serves as a more in-depth version of our “Meet the Team” page. I’d give a longer introduction, but Paul can say it best himself.
When and how did you become interested in cycling? What’s your athletic history?
I have been involved in athletics for my whole life. I started with the same sports that many US kids do: soccer, basketball, and tee ball. My friends and I cruised around on bikes all of the time, but aside from racing each other down the neighborhood streets, I never did any racing growing up. As I got a little bit older I transitioned from soccer to football (during the fall) and from baseball to tennis (during the spring/summer). I played football, basketball, and tennis throughout high school. Following high school, I didn’t have as much time or motivation to keep in shape since I was no longer participating in organized athletic events. I started to gain weight and I began to experience some health problems. In an attempt to lose weight and improve my health, I started running. I trained for and ran a marathon, then quickly became tired of running. I started mountain biking to stay in shape and soon I took my enthusiasm for the bike to the road.
What brought you to Rutgers?
I came to Rutgers to do a PhD in the Department of Entomology. I am about to start my 5th and (maybe? hopefully?) final year.
How did you join the team?
When I arrived during the fall of 2010, I had just spent the summer riding my road bike a lot and I was excited to meet other people who were into bikes. When I got here, I looked up the team website and stalked the mailing list for a few months before I finally mustered enough confidence to show up to a team meeting. This was during the beginning of the spring semester. It was dumb that I was so nervous about coming out and riding with the team–everybody was really nice and I recognized that all types of riders are welcomed (hint: if you’re a new rider and are stalking the website or the mailing list…come out. It’s awesome.). A couple of weeks after the first meeting that I attended, we put on our race and I did my first road race.
What are you doing in Germany, and what is it like riding there?
I am in Germany as a short term research fellow through the German Academic Exchange. I’m working on developing some molecular evolution software with the folks at the Alexander Koenig Museum in Bonn, Germany. The riding is really great. Bonn is situated in the Rhine River valley, which has a biking trail that runs the length of the river, from its headwaters in Switzerland all the way through the Netherlands where it empties into the North Sea. The valley is flanked by some really nice hills that make for good climbing up to castles and cool old towns. While I’ve been here, I have also been lucky to travel around Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, which all have their own characteristics that make riding really fun. I guess I would say that my favorite ride since I’ve been in Europe was doing some of the climbs in the Vosges in France a few hours before the pros rode the same roads during stage 9 of this year’s Tour de France.
How are you feeling about cyclocross season?
I’m excited! I don’t really have any expectations for what my results might be, but I’m hoping to show up to a bunch of races with decent fitness. Cyclocross in the northeast is so unique and fun–I am just going to try to enjoy it while turning myself inside out during races.
What other interests do you have?
I have a lot of hobbies. I still like all of the sports that I participated in when I was younger. I enjoy spending time in the outdoors hiking, climbing, camping, and collecting insects. I really love to travel and I have spent time collecting insects in places like Mongolia, far east Russia, the Swiss Alps, and Guyana. As often as I can, I like to do these things with my wife, Christine.
What’s your favorite ride or race?
The times that I have the most fun on the bicycle are when I am using it as a tool for discovery. I love exploring while I am on my bike and I have ridden in a lot of cool places. If I had to nail down a favorite ride, I guess I would say that it is a route in Utah called the “Alpine Loop”. The road winds up through Provo Canyon, then ascends ~3,000 feet up past the Sundance ski resort (of Sundance Film Festival fame) through groves of aspen trees and, finally, descends down through American Fork canyon. The Tour of Utah has ridden through there a few times. Utah mountains are hard to beat, in my opinion.
Last weekend, very-recent Rutgers alumnus Benny, less-recent Rutgers alumnus Carl, and I went to the Giro del Cielo race in northwest NJ. We saw medium-recent Rutgers alumnus Marcos there. I wish I had more photos, but having everybody racing in the same category makes it tricky. Anyway, here’s one of Benny getting ready to eat a can of tuna between the time trial and the crit.
Only the finest in race nutrition for our athletes.
The Giro del Cielo consists of three stages; Saturday held the time trial up Sunrise Mountain Road and the crit at the Sussex County Fairgrounds, and Sunday brought the road race. Since there was plenty of time between the time trial and the Cat 4/5 crit, we spent a few hours watching the other fields at the crit. The weather was beautiful, and the fairgrounds were a nice place to sit and spectate. None of us had really great results, but it was good training and a nice way to spend a weekend.
Here are some of the winners of last Saturday’s Watermelon Crit, holding their prizes. I wanted to get a photo of every winner, but I had to go drive the pace minivan. If you’ve got photos of victors with their spoils, send ‘em in – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll add them.
The race went very well – no crashes, some exciting pineapple primes, and a brutally windy false flat after the second turn. The weather was great, and spectating was fun. Next year will be the Watermelon Crit’s Sweet Sixteen, with another round of exciting racing and fruit prizes – and perhaps a special coming-of-age celebration.
Co-hosted by the Highland Park Hermes and Rutgers Cycling, the annual Watermelon Criterium will be held Saturday, May 31 on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University. Details and registration can be found here.
Prizes include watermelons and other delightful fruit, and the course is pleasant for spectating. The race is only a few miles from the New Brunswick train station.