In 1977, a small group of club members, led by Stephen Solombrino, began the Bicycle Co-op. From its corner of the Student Union, the Co-op has been a meeting place for all manner of cyclists on campus, providing good deals to students in need of bike repairs, an advertising center for the Cycling Club, and a comfortable couch on which any cyclist on campus can put to practice the old cycling adage “never stand when you can sit down.”
The first incarnation of the racing team came in 1978, when a small group of racers in the club decided to form an intercollegiate racing team so they could participate in the collegiate racing scene in the spring. The club managed to raise enough money to have jerseys made for the team and a UMass van was procured to travel to the races. This early effort would be the first assault by UMass into a collegiate circuit that had historically been dominated by the Ivy League schools.
Over the next few years, that initial group of racers would leave and the club would return to its recreational roots. It would not be until 1986 that Alan Cote, Greg Swinand, and Bob White would combine their efforts to create the official UMass Bicycle Racing Club, the second incarnation of the racing team created nearly a decade earlier. The UMass team would mark its re-entry into the collegiate scene with Corky Dean and Burt Jones taking a dominant 1-2 at the Cornell Stage Race in the spring of 1987. Later that year, UMass would make a clean sweep of the first four places and the overall at the inaugural Central Criterium.
1988 would be the first conference championship victory for the team, which had been bolstered by the addition of Peter Vollers to the squad. That same year they would go on to place on the podium at Nationals in the team time trial. The following year would be a memorable one for UMass. Vollers led the charge through the conference by going undefeated for the entire season. The team would win Easterns as well, a feat Vollers would top by going on to win the criterium and the omnium at Nationals.
The following year Greg Swinand would carry on the tradition by bringing home another individual Easterns win. New additions Adam “Jazzy” Myerson, Steve Rozko, Bob Wilson, and Dan Coady would carry the team to victory at Easterns in 1992. Now legendary among members of the UMBRC, victory came down to the last race, the criterium. To win the overall, the Men’s A squad had to clean house, which they did, with Myerson winning every points sprint and Rozko winning the day thanks to a “great lead out from Bob Wilson.” The win would prove to be the end of a season long bet that culminated in the famous “Naked Ride” down North Pleasant Street (the main campus drag) just as classes changed on a sunny spring afternoon. The team would go on, clothed, to place sixth in the team time trial at Nationals a few weeks later.
The club would remain relatively quiet until 1997, when Myerson, in his last semester at the University, would take the National Collegiate Cyclocross title. The next spring would see the return the team time trial prowess to UMass when Keith Burgoyne, Chris McDonald, and Joe Alachoyan would win both Army and Easterns in that event. McDonald would go on to take second place in the road race at Nationals. ’99 would start well for the team but any hopes of TTT victories would disappear when Alachoyan was sidelined for Easterns and Nationals by a knee injury.
Returning in full health in 2000, Alachoyan, Burgoyne, and Ross Krause would win the TTT at Easterns. Ross would win the road race solo, taking third in the omnium, while Keith would slide in for second place omnium honors. After a consistent season, Burgoyne came out as the overall winner for the conference, an honor that Matt Loftus would take the following year after winning a slew of races throughout the season. The depth of the team would show in the final conference standings for the year: Loftus, Alachoyan, and Krause would take 1st, 3rd, and 6th, respectively. Joe would go on to take 3rd overall in the collegiate Super Cup series and 7th at Nationals.
Over the next few years, club participation experienced a decline. The club still had memorable wins and trips to Nationals, but the strength and depth of racing members became a far cry from its glory days. However, starting in 2009 Joe Clemenzi and Jeremy Durrin helped revive the club spirit. Member participation increased drastically as so did the club budget. Although Durrin and Clemenzi graduated in the spring of 2010, their ideas and ambitions have been passed on. Current club officers have been actively promoting the club and the number of club members is still on a rise. Weekly group rides have been reestablished, and turnout for these rides is growing.
The 2010 Mountain Season demonstrated the growing strength of the club, by sending two members to Nationals, Adam Gagne and Shaun Laplante. The upcoming 2011 Road Season will not only feature seasoned riders of last year who show great promise, but also a showcase of many new member’s talents. The majority of club racers are still young, but in a couple of years the club may finally experience a taste of its former glory.
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