Live Well: Beer Bike

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So, I've been talking at length for weeks on end about this "Rice alumni event" that I'm attending this weekend, but I have yet to explain to you guys exactly what that "alumni event" is. I promise that it's not because it's boring - rather, it's because it's so hard to truly convey the awesomeness of this event to non-Rice graduates that sometimes it's just easier to gloss over the details with people who didn't go there. However, since I think this event is an integral part of going to Rice, and going to Rice is an integral part of me, I'm going to try to do my absolute best to let you guys know just how amazing it is. Here we go.

Let's start with the name. Beer Bike. Two nouns, no adjectives - I know, it sounds kind of weird. And in many ways, Beer Bike is exactly what it sounds like - beer is consumed, bikes are ridden. But there's so much more to it than that.

Beer Bike happens at the end of what we Rice (former) students like to call Willy Week, a week that celebrates the birthday of the university's founder, William Marsh Rice. While you're a student at Rice, you spend all week having fun campus-wide events and trying to pull pranks on the other residential colleges. And now I need to explain residential colleges. You've read Harry Potter, right? Duh. Well, it's kind of like that. You're assigned to one college when you come in, and you stay in that college for your entire time at Rice - you live there, you eat there, you form a family there (hopefully not literally). And when Willy Week rolls around, you and the rest of your family try to go mess with other families by, say, blasting loud music in their halls at 3AM. So it's like summer camp, except it doesn't end after two weeks and you're all semi-adults.

This is my beautiful friend Tiffany. We were assigned to be roommates freshman year and ended up living together for our entire time in college. We are the perfect pair, and I am devastated that she won't be at Beer Bike this year. Miss you, Tiff!

And then you get to the morning of Beer Bike. The morning everyone has been waiting for. First, you wake up around 6AM and start celebrating with your friends. Music is blasted across campus, and it turns into a 3,000-person dance party. Then, you load up the water balloons.

Wait, water balloons?

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Yes, water balloons. During Willy Week, each college fills thousands upon thousands of water balloons, and we then proceed to spend Beer Bike morning gathering in the quad and throwing them at each other. If you've never been in a campus-wide water balloon fight with tens of thousands of balloons, I highly suggest it!  190_1005751031417_5785_n

Next, we all proceed to the track (see the top picture) for the biking/chugging race. The race works like this: each residential college has three teams - men's, women's, and alumni. Each team has 10 bikers and 10 chuggers (chuggers originally drank beer {thus "Beer Bike'} but now they drink water because it's faster). It's a relay race - the race starts with a chugger chugging, and as soon as they finish their drink the first biker gets to go. When the first biker completes his or her laps, the second chugger starts chugging, and so on. Winning a Beer Bike race is a point of immense, almost indescribable pride - this is an event that we train all year for, whether biking, chugging, or cheering is your specialty. If you win, your college will remember that year for time and eternity. I'm not joking.

My freshman and sophomore years, I was lucky enough to get to be on Brown's (that's my residential college) women's bike team. Although I am by no means a sprinter (the race is 2/3 of a mile long), I practiced and practiced, and dragged one of the team captains out to the track multiple times a week to time me in hopes of clocking a time fast enough to get on the team. Both years I was lucky enough to make the team by the skin of my teeth. Then, my junior and senior years I switched over to cheering my college-mates on due to other commitments, but I must say nothing beats the rush of biking. I believe we came in second both years I was on the bike team, and although I would have much preferred a tally in the win column, second isn't too bad.

188766_1936590534886_1992976_nSo, what will Beer Bike look like for me now that I'm an alumni? More than anything, it means that I get to see many of my friends from college for the first time in almost two years. As you read this, TONS of other young Rice alumni are pouring into Houston - I fully expect to be parceling out hugs like it's my job starting this afternoon, and I absolutely cannot wait. My time at Rice was extraordinarily special to me - I grew up there, made my very best friends there, met my husband while I was there, and got really, really comfortable in my own skin for the first time while I was there. In so many ways it's my true home, and my fellow alums are my true family. So watch out, friends! My hugging skills have been praised before, but as of right now you ain't seen nothin' yet.

P.S. - For those of you who won't be at Beer Bike, I'm going to try my best to share my experience here on Instagram

P.P.S. - I got all of the photos in this post (other than the first one) from things I was tagged in on Facebook or that were in Beer Bike albums. I did not take any of them. If you would like to claim the photo credit you so rightfully deserve, please leave a comment on this post!