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MHC Cycling Club Member Places in Nationals

Posted: June 2005

Alexandra Kenzer '05, of Putney, Vermont, a member of the MHC cycling team, wowed the crowd at the collegiate nationals May 14 in Lawrence, Kansas, with a fourth place finish in the Division 2 women's road race against 31 other cyclists.

  Alexandra Kenzer
Alexandra Kenzer '05

Kenzer's strong finish came as a complete surprise. "What a rush!" she said. "Nobody ever thought it would have turned out like this. I went into the competition thinking that it was amazing to just be there. I felt really strong the whole race and was able to maintain a 20 mph average, finishing after about three hours. The weather was warm and sunny but the wind was much stronger than I was used to. Staying close to others in the pack helped me to avoid strong winds and save my legs for the final push at the end."

Kenzer was a competitive runner throughout high school and her first three years at MHC. But a series of injuries took their toll, and she decided to give it up. "Running just wasn't good for my body," she said. "Then I discovered biking. I had a real epiphany."

The cycling team was founded in 2004 by Karen Woods FP'04 and Erin Dopfel '06. When Kenzer joined the team in fall 2004, at the start of her senior year, she and Dopfel launched the team’s racing career. As a club sport, the cycling team pays all its own expenses. To save money, the team hitched rides to competitions with the UMass Men's team. "They had a lot of biking experience. They gave us a lot of coaching and support. And, they had a van!"

When Kenzer learned she had qualified for nationals, she applied to the SGA for financial support to cover her travel expenses to Kansas. "They paid for everything but my airfare, which I paid myself with frequent flyer miles," she said. "I felt really supported by my SGA. I had never been involved with them before."

Impressed by Kenzer's performance at nationals, the Verizon Wireless Wheelworks Women’s Cycling Team recruited her to race this summer. A highly successful team, they began in 2000 as a New England-based team and quickly grew over the following years into one of the top amateur women's teams in the U.S., competing and placing in national and international events against professional teams and sending some of its members into the professional ranks.

This year, according to coach Eric Fleming, the team has gone back to its New England roots to develop a group of new young riders to pass along to the top of the sport. "Alie has been a great addition to the team for 2005," Fleming said. "We were amazed and excited by her incredible fourth place finish at collegiate nationals for being so new to the sport. Alie has continued her meteoric rise, winning her first race for the Verizon Wireless team up in Auburn, Maine, and regularly placing in the top five each weekend."

There are four categories of cyclists, and all new riders start in the lowest, category four. "Alie has already achieved results to allow her to move up to the next category and has the potential to move up two categories this year if she continues her trend," Fleming said. "There are very few riders each year that are able to move up two categories--let alone one--but Alie definitely shows the potential and ability to do just that."

Kenzer is proud that the Verizon Wireless team donates its winnings to help victims of domestic violence through the Verizon Wireless HopeLine Program. To date, the team has donated over $25,000 in race winnings to charity.

Kenzer credits MHC with helping her develop as an athlete. "On a varsity team, you have to maintain a certain GPA to compete," she said. "I had my best GPA senior year on the cycling team. You learn how to budget your time for training and academic work.”

A psychology major specializing in infant development, Kenzer plans to work this fall at UMass-Amherst in an infant development research laboratory. She looks forward to being back in the area and riding with her former MHC teammates.

The collegiate cycling nationals are covered in this month’s Velo magazine. And, Kenzer is featured in Vermont Life’s summer issue.

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Copyright © 2006 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on May 23, 2006.