Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hopkins Cycling in the early 1980’s and Other Reminiscences

Peter D. Verheyen, A&S '85 authored this guest entry to our Blog and the Friends of Hopkins Cycling Newsletter.

Peter Verheyen in an unknown race in 1984
Peter Verheyen in an unknown race in 1984

I first became infected by the cycling bug while a junior in high school, Breaking Away was fresh in all of our memories through a teacher at Boys’ Latin in Baltimore who had raced. On prom night following graduation I left Baltimore to embark on what was supposed to be a 6 week, 1000K bicycle tour of Germany visiting relatives and exploring a country I had often visited with family. Unfortunately the cycling part of the trip was cut short on week 5 when I discovered that my bike had been stolen on the morning that I was to depart from Freiburg Germany to Mulhouse, France to watch Bernard Hinault win one of the time trials of the 1981 Tour de France… Firmly bitten by the cycling bug I resolved to get a new and better bike when I returned and to continue cycling. While intrigued, I didn’t consider racing until I arrived at Hopkins to start classes that fall.

As a local I knew the area roads and found myself showing classmates around Baltimore, mostly heading north along Falls Road, into the still verdant Green Spring Valley and beyond, alternatively we headed around Loch Raven. During that fall we all learned about the annual race around Lake Montebello from Mark Choi, ’83.
Mark Choi, Class of '83
Mark Choi, Class of '83
Others were Ken Nakata, ’84, and Patrick Liu, ’85 who would quickly become the standout among us. Who won at Montebello in ’81 (I believe the race was held in the early fall then) escapes me, but I was hooked. Baltimore being generally mild we all rode through the winter, hooked up with other local riders, learned about the Chesapeake Wheelmen (CW) and their club races as well as other local clubs like Esquire that ran the 4-race series at Druid Hill Park that was one of my favorite local courses. The “club” existed, and was very diverse in terms of attendance on rides. The pace while variable was gentle and the idea was not to drop (too many) riders.
Ken Nakata - unknown location - 1983
Ken Nakata - unknown location - 1983

Those of bitten by the race bug started riding with more of the local racers, mostly leaving from Mt Washington Bike Shop, then managed by Joe Carey. This mix of JHU and local riders formed Charm City Velo Club and started participating in USCF races sporting stylish pseudo-harlequin jerseys designed by Patrick Liu. These races were in addition to the CW club races. With only the one JHU race (first at Montebello, then at Druid Hill) we never did get JHU jerseys, or even t-shirts preferring our nice wool, then lycra pro-team jerseys. I favored the Renault Elf Gitane, Ken Nakata usually sported TI-Raleigh Creda to match his bike, and so it went on. I still have all those old jerseys, holes and all. In almost all races, especially criteriums, Patrick was a local standout, winning the National Capitol Open in his first appearance in ’83 and winning it again in ’84. Patrick and I stayed in Baltimore during the summers and so riding with the local riders and in the regional and club races became very natural and filled with competitive camaraderie. For many, the club races were more than enough offering racing several times a week through the season – circuit race at Druid Hill, points races at Lake Montebello, road races at “Hydes” north of Loch Raven, time trials south of BWI towards Annapolis and occasionally northwest of the city, and a criterium around a high school near there as well.
Shawn Downing (left) and Pat Liu, (Charles Street Classic?) criterium at Mt Vernon Sq, Baltimore, 1983?
Shawn Downing (left) and Pat Liu, (Charles Street Classic?) criterium at Mt Vernon Sq, Baltimore, 1983?
I spent most of my energy on training and racing, but there were also more gentle touring rides that appealed to the more casual riders in “the club” and headed around Loch Raven, through Green Spring Valley, to Annapolis, DC, or Frederick and back. The latter three were more unusual but still fun. These rides also tended to be more mixed gender wise. We did suffer a tragic loss in ’83 when one of our group, a student from Minnesota whose name I cannot remember died tragically while riding in the city.

Pat Liu winner of 1983 National Capitol OpenPat Liu winner of 1983 National Capitol Open

While Pat and I were the principle JHU racers of the day, there were others. Ken Nakata joined us for many rides but running was his first love. Kozo Shimano and his brother also attended JHU at that time, with only Kozo seemingly interested in riding. He was never sighted on the road preferring his rollers but telling us about the keirin scene in Japan. Ken Ono, still in high school and a “faculty brat” like me joined us in ’84 along with some other junior riders. Other local riders of note in our circle were Frank Russo, Howard Chilcoat, with Joe Carey also always a presence. Charm City Velo Club became Team Baltimore in ’85 with sharper jersey’s and more comprehensive sponsorship for the top riders including Pat. I did finally win the JHU annual race at Druid Hill in ’85, my other win having been the overall at Druid Hill in ’84 with three field finishes and a 3rd. What happened to the club thereafter is unknown, but we left them with the set of rollers and a nice Park wheel building stand that we had inherited.

While not JHU related, Baltimore played host to the first two US-Pro Criterium Championships that drew top notch riders, including many international riders we would get to know in the Tour and other grand tours. These were in addition to the US based standouts like 7-Eleven and Raleigh. The second race (1984) even attracted Laurent Fignon who would win his first Tour a few short weeks later. Took lots of pictures of those races and still remember the huge crowds they attracted to the Inner Harbor.

After graduation in ’85 I left for Germany to apprentice in hand bookbinding towards becoming a conservator and continued racing while there – a real culture shock as no races were less than 100 kilometers and fields for some were 200+. Most races were challenging circuits or road courses, the pace brutal and attrition the name of the game. Think spring in Flanders… Despite the rough transition I managed to find a groove and learned to keep up. Interesting was the preponderance of fixed gear riding in the off-season something that really helped develop a fluid style. My time there ended after 2.5 years in southern Switzerland where I treated myself to the Lukmanier Pass and the Lakes of the Tessin – a piece of heaven. Returning to the states in late ’87 I moved to Chicago for my first job, joined the Turin Club in Evanston and ran into Ken Ono then a student at University of Chicago on a training ride. Almost like old times. Ken was quite serious at the time and we ended up going to many of the USCF races in the area together. He would later join the Pepsi-Miyata as a Pro, long enough to race the US Pro Cycling Championship in Philadelphia and had things to say about Greg Lemond trying to get back on after a flat…

Touch was lost with most of the riders from the day with Patrick Liu settled in Scottsdale, AZ as an MD, and apparently still racing at a Masters level. I am glad for the occasional contact with Ken Nakata (now in Seattle and still riding time trials and running). I continued to ride for a few years more in Chicago and New Haven, but stopped when I moved to Ithaca to work at Cornell. Dealing with the FSH-MD I had been diagnosed with in ’87 had made things to hard and unsafe, also explaining some of my erratic performance and why it became harder and harder to keep in shape. I still follow the sport and look back fondly on the days when times were good, or as Laurant Fignon wrote titled his autobiography, “we were young and carefree.”
Ps. Looking at pictures from 25 years ago, I realized how fresh many of these memories were. That said I did try to confirm dates and apologize in advance for any errors.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Website!

We've redesigned the Hopkins Cycling website, Eventually, we'd like to integrate this blog over there.

Also, we're now on twitter and youtube as user hopkinscycling. Check it out! We'll post video race reports in the spring!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome to New Members!

Welcome to Hopkins Cycling!

I hope you all had a great summer.

Whether you're a seasoned racer, a commuter, a new racer, a recreational rider, or anywhere in between, Hopkins Cycling is the place for you.

Our listserv serves as the primary hub of all communication within the club. If you're going on a ride, post it to the list serv. Include information about the level of the ride (recreational, hammerfest, etc.), the distance, an idea about the route, and the departure point. A lot of ride departures have been meeting at our sponsor, Twenty20 Bike Shop in Hampden, to the west of campus. Just email to request listserv membership!

If you come across an interesting ride (such as the Tour Du Port, Sunday October 3, 2010 with its 20$ student rate) or race, post it to the listserv. If you read an interesting or funny article about cycling, post it to the listserv. If you have stuff you want to sell—you get the idea.

There are some ride cues posted on the outdated (and soon to be overhauled) website. Additionally, esteemed Hopkins Cycling alum Michael Retzlaff posted some cues to the Hopkins Cycling blog last year .

We will be having our first meeting of the year this upcoming week. As soon as I secure a meeting location, I'll post it to the listserv and the blog.

We will be discussing our coaching (Kris Auer), racing in the spring, rides, our sponsorship from Twenty20, this years jersey order, and more. But more on that to come.

Thanks for signing up, and again, welcome to Hopkins Cycling!

I really look forward to this year's cycling adventures.

-Adam Zeldin
President, Hopkins Cycling
A&S '12

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Even though I will be leaving Baltimore soon as a graduate, I wanted to give everyone an exciting preview of next year.
In 2010-11 Hopkins Cycling will be taking an integrated approach to coaching and sponsorship.

1. We will now be supported by Twenty20 cycling–a new shop in Hampden, which is super close and convenient to campus.

2. Kris Auer, a co-owner of the shop and former pro will be coaching us.

3. Finally, the local team C3, who will be holding group rides from the shop.

The guys at Twenty20 encourage you to stop by and meet them. They are very cool, super knowledgeable and passionate about local cycling.
(FYI: They also hold a group ride from the shop at 9am on Sundays)

all of these promising changes make me wish I could stick around!


hopkins cycling pres
845 702 6161
   _____   __o
------- -\<,
------ ( )/ ( )

Monday, February 22, 2010

1st Meeting of Spring Semester!

I'm planning on having a cycling meeting this Wednesday 2/24 at the usual time/place– 8pm in the Rec center classroom–to asses the general interest in collegiate racing, and make arrangements for the upcoming race at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The Navy race weekend (this upcoming weekend ) includes a criterium and a time trial for all of the aspiring triathlete-types. Maps of the courses can be seen here:

As a reminder, Hopkins hooks us up well– race fees/gas/hotel bills are all covered so all you would have to pay would be the license fee ($30 fee for the whole season/ or 10$ for a one day)

On Wednesday, I will provide info about how to register for the race/liscences etc....


Also, even if you don't care about racing at all–honestly, although I dabble, I mainly just love riding my bike and (trying) to get into shape, feel free to show up. I would love to get the more casual Sunday ride going again out of Joe's Bike Shop, or even go as a group to Joe's Saturday shop ride, which begins weekly at 10:30.

Hope you all got an opportunity to ride this weekend–the weather was absolutely beautiful.


hopkins cycling pres
845 702 6161
   _____   __o
------- -\<,
------ ( )/ ( )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Club Plans

I know it's getting cold, but now is actually when the cycling season begins for some of us who are just now starting our training. I figured a club update was pretty overdue, so I would like to share a few ideas with you guys and (hopefully) get some feedback.


1. Training Plans–does anyone who is considering racing/getting into better shape want them? I have some I can distribute to you via email upon request

2. Since the Training Plan might be pretty foreign to most of you who haven't used heart rate monitors before, would anyone want to do a spin class where I explain to you what Zone 1/2/3/4/5 and other weird jargon like VO2 intervals actually mean? I figure it would be a fun way to learn the stuff together, and get a better sense of what training and competitive cycling are about.

3. Jerseys–I would like to place a new order, and will begin working on a redesign if there is enough interest. Ideally, if we can get everything organized relatively quickly it should come within 2-3 months. (In time for the season)
FYI, the full kit (shorts and jersey) generally costs about 115, or 110, I'll have to double check.

4. Group Ride? I had been doing sunday group rides at a pretty relaxed pace at 10 AM from JOE'S BIKE SHOP.
4a. does anyone actually know where the bike shop is?
4b. I'm sorry but the ride leaves by 10:10 at the latest, No exceptions. If you're late, it's up to you to catch up.
4c. There is also a local Saturday group ride out of Race Pace in Owings Mills, Last time I went I got my legs torn off, but if anyone is looking for a hard group ride, and is familiar enough with the roads to find their way back, then this is definitely a good option.

5. Clinics with the Coach : I know it's getting cold, but if you dress in a few layers, it's really not too bad. We could schedule some early when we return to school in February or later when it gets slightly warmer (although the season will be underway at that point) We could work on sprinting, climbing, cornering, drafting, anything you guys are interested in.

That is all for now,

hopkins cycling pres
845 702 6161
   _____   __o
------- -\<,
------ ( )/ ( )

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Colors Ride

Fellow Cyclists,
This weekend, Sunday November 1st, Hopkins Cycling is hosting our Fall Colors Ride . For those of you who have never participated, it is our biggest group ride of the year, and generally has a relatively large turnout–last year, we had several dozen cyclists come out. We would like to encourage a very welcoming and no drop atmosphere. The summer season is well over, the weather is finally starting to change, a few leaves have fallen, and its time to enjoy a few relaxed months of riding, before winter is upon us, and base training begins again.

This year, there will be two rides:
1) The Caves Road loop is the easier option. Leader is TBA, so if anyone can volunteer, it would be much appreciated. The route is approximately 28 miles round trip from the Hopkins campus, at a very easy pace.

2) I will personally lead the longer ride, which will be some variation of the Park Heights loop–depending on the atmosphere of the group, we may
head up longnecker, piney grove or dover . Once again, it will be faster than the Caves Road group, but will still be fairly relaxed. Solid base mileage. So please, no hotshots or heroes. The ride will most likely be between 45-60 miles round trip from the Hopkins Campus.

We will be meeting at 9:40 at one world café,
Here's the google map's location, for those of you that aren't familiar with it.
We plan to get to Joe's Bike Shop on falls road by 10:00

Hope to see everyone on Sunday,

hopkins cycling pres
845 702 6161
   _____   __o
------- -\<,
------ ( )/ ( )