Beer Bike returns in person, crash raises track safety concerns


Brandon Chen / drummer

By Viola Hsia 05/04/22 22:40

Last Saturday, Rice University celebrated the first Beer Bike to resemble pre-COVID celebrations in two years. The festivities began with college-specific events early Saturday morning, followed by a campus-wide Martel audience, a Festival of Colors in the Central Quadrangle, a water balloon fight, and a parade of floats, culminating with the races on the track.

Last year, Beer Bike was held at limited capacity, while the previous year was completely canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Official results for the 2022 race have yet to be released by the Rice Program Council.

During the women’s race, three female bikers crashed during the second lap, seriously injuring Sid Richardson College sophomore Lauren Hurt, who was taken to hospital during the race.

According to Ezra Smith, one of the captains of Sid’s Beer Bike, the accident started when a biker fell after cutting the wheel of another bike. This then caused the biker to fall behind her, creating a domino effect, which Hurt, the third biker, was most affected by.

“She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Smith, a junior.

Sarah Mozden, the other Beer Bike captain at Sid’s, said the first two riders escaped with a rash and minor injuries, while Hurt suffered a concussion and facial trauma at the jaw, nose, mouth and forehead.

“My bike co-captain Ezra Smith and I are extremely grateful that despite multiple surgeries and a hospital stay, [Hurt] did not sustain any life-threatening injuries,” Mozden said.

Smith said Hurt’s injury raises safety concerns at the track. According to Smith, these concerns include the placement of fencing along the track, the paving of the track itself, and general visibility, often hampered by structures such as Rice’s Athletic Bubble.

“It’s terrible to say this, but I hope Lauren’s accident puts pressure on the [administration] to make some of the changes that we’ve been asking for as bike captains for the past few years,” Smith said.

Mozden said these concerns should be brought to the administration’s attention by Beer Bike captains.

“I know the bike captains plan to contact the [administration] later discuss some of the issues we saw with the physical layout of the track and the races, and I hope they listen to student voices and take our feedback seriously for years to come,” Mozden said.

Mozden also said that in a meeting earlier this week, Beer Bike captains agreed that safety measures and certifications for Beer Bike felt rushed.

“I hope next year there will be more time for the riders, the pit crew and all the other members who will be working inside the track to receive the appropriate certifications in an organized way,” said Mozden said.

Since the crash, Mozden and Smith have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Hurt’s medical bills, which has raised more than $21,000 at press time.

“Lauren and Lauren’s family, Sarah and I are incredibly grateful to the running community and the support they have shown [us] with the GoFundMe,” Smith said. “I’m really, really grateful and blown away by the amount of money that’s been raised through this.”


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