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Cyclist Sets Wheels in Motion


Evan Murphy 11 FD leads the winning breakaway in the Men's A crit in April. Photo by Chatura Atapattu.

At RISD, art and bicycles come together before students even arrive on campus. As part of their admissions application, students submit what has become famously known as the “bicycle drawing” – a unique and personal rendition of a bicycle, from any angle, as a required part of their portfolio.

But the association doesn’t end there. Cycling has risen to become RISD’s first and, so far, only varsity sport. As a result of a stellar season, team founder and captain Evan Murphy 11 FD qualified for and competed in the Collegiate Road Nationals held May 6-8 in Madison, WI, racing against some of the best collegiate riders in the country.

On the Cycling team’s blog, Murphy describes the race as a “fast-paced blur” with speeds ranging between 27 and 53 mph. Over three days, he competed in a 72-mile circuit through Blue Mound Park with sections up to 14% grade and a “next-level race” that he sums up by saying, “Rarely have I experienced those speeds in a crit, so I was pleased to get the results I did. It took everything I had to get [to the front].” He finished the weekend in 11th place.

 cycling pronunciation thumbnail
RISD's cycling team shows the
competition how it's pronounced.

The competition at Nationals was Murphy’s last with RISD, but he is leaving the team in good hands. The eight artist-athletes who compete on the team have spent long hours training together, consistently helping each other and traveling to weekend-long races while also managing to keep up with studio projects. Current members George Coffin 12 FD and Oliver Henderson 12 ID will be co-captains next year and have plans to build broader sponsorship, in-depth training and a more extensive blog to document their races.

As for Murphy, after graduation in June, he’ll continue to juggle bikes and art when he moves to New York City. He plans to work with artist Tom Sachs in building and maintaining “quasi art bikes” for Sachs’ 2012 Armory show and already has a spot on a NYC racing team. “I’m not trying to plan too far ahead, but I am excited to combine my two passions,” he says. 

Murphy is also excited about the great team he’ll be leaving behind at RISD. “We’re the only art school in the whole nation competing in cycling as an organized team,” he says. “It’s kind of a big deal.”

tags: Furniture Design, students

At RISD there's nothing unusual about suddenly finding a doorknob on a tree trunk, shown here across from Carr House,
the charming home of Student Life offices and the student-run Carr Haus Café.