Lest the old traditions fail…
Courtesy of Dan Dimancescu ’64, Michael Roy ’80, Chris DeFrancis ’89, Cosmo Catalano ’04, Amy Wallace ’04, Isaiah Berg ’11, Matt Nichols ’13, and countless others who have been a part of the history of Dartmouth Cycling.
With so much going on and coming up, it’s worth taking a look back for a moment. Traditions are a big part of the Dartmouth culture: they connect successive generations, inspire and motivate us, and create a sense of community. As we aim even higher as a team, we would be remiss to forget where we’ve come from.
Cycling is a beautiful sport, and Dartmouth students have been able to share their passion for competition since the 1960s. While the times were very different, with limited collegiate competition, steel bikes, wool clothing, and helmets clearly optional. Things that haven’t changed: the racing was fast, and the pain just as real when the hammer dropped.
Our most recent research suggests the first Dartmouth Bicycle Club was founded in 1961-2 by Dan Dimancescu ’64, who led UConn to an Intercollegiate National Title in 1961, before transferring to Dartmouth.
Below are images from a race that Dartmouth hosted in 1963, running along the Connecticut on a course very similar to Dartmouth’s L’Enfer du Nord road race of recent years. Dan Dimancescu ’64 won the final sprint against Princeton’s John Allis and Oscar Swan, in a race that included teams from Dartmouth, Princeton, Williams, and UConn among others.
Starting off along the river
Start of Thetford Hill (after covered bridge)
Thetford Hill Lead Group: John Allis (Princeton), Dan Dimancescu (Dartmouth), Oscar Swann (Princeton), Warren Markey (University of Connecticut)
Left to Right: John Allis (Princeton), Dan Dimancescu (Dartmouth), Warren Markey (University of Connecticut)
The turn at Orford
The usual suspects
Final Sprint on the Green: Dimancescu, Swann, Allis
The lead group
- Spring 1977 – Dartmouth Cycling Team reforms. Wins Ivy Championship. Tom Officer ’74 is Ivy Champ.
- Spring 1978 – Dartmouth Cycling wins Ivies again. Tom Officer repeats as Ivy champ.
- Spring 1979 – Dartmouth hosts Ivy/Eastern championship race. Wins Ivy race; finishes second in Eastern Championship, just one point back. Doug Bangs Dartmouth ’80 is Ivy Champ.
- Spring 1980 – Dartmouth wins Ivy and Eastern Championships. Dave May Dartmouth ’80 is Ivy Champ.
- Spring 1981 – Dartmouth hosts Ivy/Eastern Championship, again wins Ivy Championship. Betsy Frazier (Dartmouth exchange student) is woman’s champ.
Michael Roy ’80 recounts his experience with the team below:
“I was a member of class of 1980. My freshman trip to Moosilauke in August 1976 was one of the first freshmen bike trips. Chris Harris ’80 was on my trip. We were both interested in racing, but were pretty green– no experience at all in USCF events, just “citizens” races. One of our trip leaders, whose name I forget, was a Cat 1. One thing led to another and we had a team in the spring of 1977. Officially, the team was a part of the bicycling club which in turn was part of Cabins and Trails. As far as we knew then, Dartmouth had not had a cycling team prior to that.
We were very fortunate to have at Dartmouth a national class cyclist, Tom Officer ’74. Tom had returned to Dartmouth after taking extensive time off to pursue competitive cycling in U.S. and Europe, and was one of the top U.S. amateurs of his era, twice finishing second in the US championship road race (1974 and 1975), and having raced in the major amateur races in Europe, including two world championship races on U.S. team. Tom was very encouraging to even the most novice cyclists on the team, and was our de facto team leader/captain/coach.”
1977 Ivy Champs
“The 1977 Eastern/Ivy championship race was hosted by U Penn. We entered the race having done just 2-3 other races, if I recall correctly. Tom Officer lost the sprint to a rider from West Point to finish second in the A race (his only “loss” in a college event). I don’t recall the rider’s name, but he was one of the top amateur U.S. riders for a time after that. Chris Harris and I finished in the bunch in the B race.
In 1978, the Ivy championship was hosted by Yale, and we won our second Ivy Championship in a row. Tom Officer won the Ivy A race, his final college race.
One memorable thing about the ’78 race was the dinner the night before, when the parents of Chris Bryan put the entire team up at their house in New Canaan, CT, and served a feast of garlic spaghetti and chicken. Every time I eat garlic spaghetti I think of that dinner.
1979 – Dartmouth Hosts Eastern/Ivy Championship Race; Second in East; Ivy Threepeat
The championship race was at Dartmouth in 1979. It began and ended in front of College Hall. Chris Bryan, who did not compete after ’78, did a bang-up job organizing the race. (Chris’s father, who had prepared our pre-race dinner in 1978, traveled to Dartmouth to do it again.) The course was a 19-mile loop north along the river, back around across the hills through Etna, then down into the eastern side of Hanover, into the center of town and up to the Green. Three of our four A riders had graduated, including Tom Officer, but we finished better than ever — first in the Ivy League, and second in the Eastern Colleges, only one point behind the winner. Dave May and I were on the A team and were the team co-captains. The other A riders were Doug Bangs ’80 and Tim Kelley ’79, both nordic skiers. Doug was the first finisher for Dartmouth, winning the Ivy League title. Dave and I finished with a small group — I think I captured 13th place — with Tim Kelley ahead of us. Dave and I used some team tactics, trying to beat out the strongest rider in our chase group for the 12th place spot, to no avail. (The race was so close that had either of us gotten that spot, the team would have won the Eastern title.) There was a big bunch sprint for the B race, and it took some time to sort out the placings, which left some teams grumbling. Jesse Pelton ’80 had a high finish in the B race, as did Chris Harris.”
1980 – ECCC Title, and Ivies once more
“In 1980 the title race was at Princeton. The A team was the same, except that I moved to the B team because we had a freshman, Gray Mercer (a downhill skier), who was just plain better than me. I crashed and didn’t finish the B race, but it didn’t matter to the team’s great outcome. Dave May won the Ivy League title, and Dartmouth won not just the Ivy title but the Eastern title as well, for the first time.”
1981 – Ivy Fivepeat
“Cycling was a club sport with loose rules for eligibility, and from 1979-1981 we had a top female rider who attended Dartmouth as a transfer student every spring and she pretty much cleaned up in every race. Her name was Betsy Frazier. I don’t recall whether she won a championship before 1981, but in that year, having graduated, I got to see Betsy win the women’s race with a long solo breakaway as I drove the lead car (Doug Bangs’ VW beetle) for the race. The race was at Dartmouth, began and ended on the Green, and each 10-mile lap went up Balch Hill (5X – A race; 3X – B race; 2 X – women’s race).
Dave May (who served as race director), Doug Bangs and Gray Mercer rode again in the 1981 race. Doug was way off form and way off the back. I can’t remember how Dave did, but he didn’t repeat top honors as in 1980. Other riders in 1981 included Ed Biddle, Tim Costello, Stuart Craig, Dan Gilman, Peter Goebels, Dave Kahler, Jeff Lamb, Brett LeCompte, Don Skantze (another nordic skier), Doug Thayer, Mike Vitiek, Carlotta Brelsford, and Viva Hadigg.
The race in May 1981 was the last time I saw Doug Bangs. Sadly, Doug died in 1984 in a fishing accident in Alaska.”
“Our bikes were made of steel; our clothing, wool. Toe clips and straps held our feet to the pedals, and we were limited to 12 speed, non-indexed downtube shifters.
Training rides began at a set time in front of College Hall daily, usually at 2:00 p.m. (On occasion we barely made the close of Thayer Dining Hall at 7.) Most rides were 2-4 hours long. We mostly rode north on 10, then crossed the river at some point, and then either rode south on 5 or rode further west and then south on other roads (e.g., through Fairlee, Strafford, South Royalton, Sharon, etc.).
Other routes included the “Mount Cube” route (north to Orford, then east and south over and around Mount Cube, then south to Canaan). My personal favorite rides were those around South Royalton, especially over Mount Chelsea, or around Lake Fairlee, because these routes were scenic and hilly. Training rides included lots of pace lines (I remember that these were killers, and that if it rained we pretty much just got in a rotating pace line and went as fast as possible to get it over with), and sprints at certain road signs (e.g., Orford town line). We sometimes had over 15 people riding together.
One race I remember fondly was a cyclocross race that was hosted by Tom Officer on his farm after he’d graduated, so probably fall 1978. (He kept in touch and trained with us throughout my time at Dartmouth.) Tom obtained USCF sanctioning for this race, the “Tour de Manure,” an apt title. It wasn’t a college race, though it was a mostly Dartmouth affair. It was the most fun race I ever entered, probably for the uniqueness of it (the only race where I had to dismount and climb over a stone wall, and in fact the only cyclocross race I had ever seen). This was back before mountain bikes were invented.
All of my former teammates whom I am in contact with still ride, though few race. One who has returned to racing in masters races is Tom Officer, who is also a team sponsor of the Richard Sachs Team. http://www.richardsachs.com/articles/cybc0405press.html (Interestingly, if you look closely at Doug Bangs’ bike in the Alumni Magazine cover shown above you’ll see it’s a Richard Sachs. I think he might have bought it from Tom.) Tim Kelley does some mountain bike races, though he primarily does nordic ski races, such as the Susitna 100 race in Alaska. http://www.fasterskier.com/training.php?id=917 Some of us are now bicycle commuters. Here’s my article from the Daily Peloton website about how I went from “cyclist” to bike commuter: http://www.dailypeloton.com/michaelroy.asp . These days my favorite rides are on my Green Gear Family Tandem with my eight-year old son. Chris Harris also commutes, and he also cheered the Dartmouth cycling team on in the spring 2004 race in Medford/Sommerville, Mass.
Thanks for reading, and keep riding bikes fast.” – Michael Roy ’80
The Tuesday night points race at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH has been going on for longer than any current Dartmouth student can remember. The race has been a regular part of many Dartmouth cyclists’ training diet, to the extent that it has entered the realm of myth and legend in some cases. A certain national champion of yore is claimed to have ridden to the race from Hanover, stopping on the way to climb Mt. Ascutney, then proceeding to lap the field by himself before riding home. I don’t doubt it. I guess we all just need to harden up.
Nelson “Nellie” Aldrich has been organizing the weekly race since its inception. He is a very nice guy and a veritable treasure trove of knowledge about the Upper Valley cycling scene over the past decades. He is also very supportive of collegiate riders and always wants to know how the Dartmouth team is doing. If you do Claremont, please say hi and thank him for putting on the race. Earlier this summer, he shared some correspondence between him, Christopher DeFrancis ’89, and Amy Wallace ’04 that contains a “little description of what things were like in the old days.” Here are a few excerpts. It’s worth noting how far collegiate cycling and the Dartmouth team have come in terms of organization, funding, and recognition. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the grit these guys had 20+ years ago; they didn’t let a shoestring budget stop them from riding their bikes fast.
“We used the ski team vans (a bunch of us were nordic skiers) to get to races, piling bikes up in the ski boxes.”
“I think I only had two [jerseys], so I washed them a lot in order to train in the valley in them every day.”
“We trained along the same routes I’m sure you use…Moosilauke and back was about the longest training ride I can remember…One summer we motor paced up and back Route 10 using Pat’s old Subaru hatchback with the hatch open and Phil driving. That was insane! [ed. note: don’t try this at home] We were regulars at the Claremont points race every Tuesday.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. We are thankful for those who have come before us and been such examples of excellence, both on and off of the road. We hope to recognize as a team the achievements of Dartmouth cyclists like Chris Bailey ’89, arguably the most successful cyclist to graduate from Dartmouth. He went on to ride for the ADR-Coors Light Team in the late ’80s and raced at the Giro d’Italia.
The ’90s and 2000s
Dartmouth cycling again reached a spot of national prominence during the late 90’s, led by legendary cyclist Robbie Dapice ‘00. Sweeping the individual events at the 1999 national championships, Dapice also dragged the men’s team time trial to a Stars and Stripes jersey. However, as Dartmouth had only started admitting women 27 years earlier, there was a lack of female cyclists to propel the team to the team title, falling short to perennial powerhouse Army.
Two years later in 2001, the tides had turned, and it was Kate Sherwin ’01 who was leading the charge with two 2nd place finishes in the road race and criterium. While gold would have been nice, taking that honor was former Dartmouth grad and Olympian Sarah Konrad ’89. Sherwin would later go on to spend several years racing as a professional. Once again, though, Dartmouth fell just short of the team championship. That would change in 2002 as the team secured its first (?) national team championship on the all-around strength of the team. The team followed up in 2003 with a second national championship, including a victory in the women’s TTT by Amy Wallace ’04, Kristina Eaton ’04, and Chrissy May ’05. Even more importantly, that year marked the return of the Ivy Cup to Dartmouth. This victory highlighted the growth the team had experienced in recent years, taking a giant team of up to 30 riders to races each weekend throughout the spring season. Todd Yezefski ’04, winner of the match sprint at the 2001 Collegiate National Track Championships, showed that he was a force to be reckoned with on the road as well when he won the season-long ECCC individual title.
The 2003 Squad poses on the Green with the Coveted Ivy Cup.
A rowdy Cycling team clusters around the coveted Ivy Cup (with other assorted trophies in background) while Todd attempts to lure passing insects into his mouth. (back row, l to r: Linden, Brayton Osgood ’03, Dave Morse ’03, Mike Barton Th ’04, Tim Clement ’05, Kristina Eaton ’04, Todd Yezefski ’04, Cosmo Catalano ‘ 04; foreground: Amy Wallace ’04 and Steve Weller ’05.
Thinking that the only thing better than two is three, the team once again repeated as National Champions in 2004, led by the individal victories of Mike Barton TH’04 in the road race and criterium. Not to be outdone by Dapice in 1999, Barton also helped Yezefski, Bing Knight ’05, and Tim Clement ’05 score a W in the men’s TTT. It’s worth noting that Clement overcame great adversity in that race, as two days earlier he fell victim to a reckless rider in the criterium. After several hours delay due to severe thunderstorms, the race was finally started on a wet, dangerous course under near-pitch black skies. Crashing in the final turn on the last lap, Clement was seen running up the finish straight while the crowd cheered, stopping just after the line. Unfortunately, a competitor furiously sprinting for 40th place did not see Clement and plowed into him. Barton also replaced Yezefski, who went on to race professionally for Team Nerac, as ECCC men’s individual season champion.
Tim Clement ’05 just before disaster.
Despite graduating many of its strong riders in 2004, the team placed 2nd at the national championships in 2005. More importantly, however, Dartmouth brought back the infamous Frat Row Criterium to the ECCC season. The course, infamous for the ‘turn-of-death’ at the intersection of Choate and Clement Rds, continues to instill fear in non-Dartmouth cyclists (ed: and some Dartmouth cyclists, too). During the next few years, the team produced several individual national champions including Toby Marzot ’08 and Jen Stebbins ’09. Marzot, along with Eric ’Saunders’ Schildge ’10 both graduated to the professional ranks, joining a growing list of Dartmouth cyclists who were able to take their love of the sport to the top level. The Ivy Cup also returned to Dartmouth in 2007, and it also won a hard fought Easterns Championships in 2008 on its home turf in New Hampshire.
Dartmouth Cycling Team ’09-10
Dartmouth Cycling again experienced a resurgence in the 2000’s. Deep talent from the likes of Mike Barton ’04, Todd Yezefski ’04, and others brought us great success at the national level and contributed to a foundation of team growth and organization that would last for years to come. In recent years, the team has graduated cyclists into the professional ranks (such as Eric Schildge ’10 and Toby Marzot ’09 with Jamis-Sutter Home & Team Mountain Khakis) and riders of all ability levels continue to train and ride on the beautiful open roads of the Upper Valley. Riders like Jen Stebbins ’09 and Rudy Awerbuch ’07 were recognized not only for their success racing at the highest level, but also for welcoming new riders and encouraging their leadership during times of transition.
Dartmouth Cycling Team ’10-11
This year for the team is far from over, but we’ve already had so much to celebrate. We’ve continued to develop the abilities of our returning riders and were so excited to welcome a host of freshman riders into the fold. Riders like Josh Hall ’14, Dan Holmdahl ’14, Devin Chu ’14, and Andrew Samuels ’14 breathed a ton of new life into the team not only with their organizational leadership but also their presence on spring break and at race weekends. Rosalie Lipfert ’13, Elle Anderson ’11, and Ellen Anderson were the core of our women’s team this year and I’m really excited to see what other female riders we can recruit for the team next year. We had the most balanced racing squad in the ECCC this year and consistently earned points in every category for both men and women. We’re very proud of our racing success in ’10-11, but also the things we’ve been able to do as a team. Spring Break Training in Luray, VA was an unforgettable experience and the fulfillment of a deep tradition of the Cycling Team.
Dartmouth Cycling Team ’14-15
DCT continued the recent trends of a very solid road season coupled with solid results in mountain bike and cyclocross seasons. Team leadership included Dani Smith ’15 as president, Max Jentzsch ’15 as treasurer, and David Berg ’16 as vice president. Robert Allaway GR led the mountain bikers to many solid race weekends and produced many top results himself. David Berg headed the cross campaign, broadening our reach and showing promise for the future. The road season was a great time for all, beginning with the annual spring break trip, moved south to Albert’s Inn in South Toe, NC to escape any snow. Highlights of the season included a win for Max Jentzsch in the home crit from a solo break in Men’s B, Leslie Lupien GR’s continued success, and winning the Ivy Cup once again. Berg and Lupien represented the Big Green in Asheville, NC at nationals.
Dartmouth Cycling Team ’15-16
Under the leadership of president David Berg ’16, vice president Ethan Call ’18 and treasurer Patrick Lewis ’16, DCT had a very solid year. In the fall, Robert Allaway GR once again headed the mountain season, qualifying for nationals himself but not attending. Cyclocross was headed by David Berg, with various riders including Leslie Lupien GR and Dani Smith GR participating. Berg and Lupien both had successful season and attended cyclocross nationals at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. The road season began with the annual spring break trip, again to South Toe, NC. The ten days were spent by accumulating what seemed like more climbing than miles, but all had fun. Those who went included Berg, Call, Lewis, Sophie Connor ’18, Sasha Kuzura 3-2 (Grinnell), Jonathan Park ’19, Lexie Lynn ’16, while David’s mother and aunt graciously cooked for us and Matt Nichols ’13 made a guest appearance. The road season was a great success, like usual, marked by relatively solid weather. Team participation reached a high of 28 at the home crit, creating a great team spirit! In addition to the spring breakers, the team received solid participation from Dani Smith GR (W-C), Robert Allaway GR (M-B), Leslie Lupien GR (W-A), Tim Messen ’18 (M-D), Alex Derenchuk ’19 (M-D), Kelly Bach ’16 (W-C), Ben Conley 3-2 (M-C), and Wei-Ting Chen GR (M-C). Many wins and great times were had. Berg, Call and Lupien represented the Big Green at nationals in North Carolina.
Going forward, we hope to develop students and athletes who will not only excel, but develop life-long passion for the sport of cycling and look back warmly on their days riding and racing at dear old Dartmouth.