Climbing the Hill: Cycling Studies students participate in D.C. National Bike Summit

April 21, 2017

By Nina Mastandrea

Photo courtesy of Brian Palmer/

With flashing red and white lights strapped to their bike’s seat-posts and handlebars, the four men– dressed appropriately warm for the cool Washington, D.C. night–zipped their way through the emptied streets of downtown.

Amidst the already-packed National Bike Summit event agenda, Jack Perry, Will Harden, Josh Cady and Cole Kraft craved to ride their bikes, if only for a few hours, to experience the city while mostly everyone was asleep.

During the daytime–of course–there was work to be done.

Adjunct Professor of the Cycling Studies minor at Lees-McRae, Ted Silver, with his four students in tow, made their mark at the National Bike Summit earlier this March.

The four-day bike advocacy event called upon leaders in their communities across the U.S. as well as those on Capitol Hill to collaborate on various cycling-related issues and legislation.

On Monday, March 6, the group attended the “Bicycle Friendly Poster Showcase.” The session highlighted innovative universities and colleges across the U.S. deemed a “Bicycle Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists–a title Lees-McRae proudly received earlier this year.

The poster displayed various pieces of information relating to the college’s Cycling Studies minor, the Division I cycling team and college’s focus on bike advocacy and strong sense of community.

Kraft described the experience as thrilling, saying that he had very few moments where he actually stopped talking.

For him, cycling takes on multiple facets in his life–so he felt passionate speaking on the subject.

The 2017 summit was the fourth time Silver brought students to the event which amassed approximately 500 people, according to Perry.

“There were so many people, and sometimes it was overwhelming, but actually we were the only college that brought some of its students,” Perry said.


The trip provided everyone who attended with something to take home.

For Perry, it was a sponsorship and expo team internship for the coming KMC Cross Fest at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut.

The event attracts cyclocross racers, professional to amateur, from all over the world. More importantly, it will give Perry the chance to apply the skills learned in college to the real world.

For Silver, it was the invitation to attend the Youth Bike Summit in Arlington, Virginia, come October. Silver said he plans to contact both current students and alumni to help present a workshop that may help younger cycling enthusiasts find their passion in bikes.

Later in the week, the five men attended one of several “State Meetings.” The round-table discussions grouped together cycling advocates to create specific state-level requests, or “asks” to send to the respected U.S. Representative.

Further on, the group talked with U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s fifth district, Virginia Foxx. Foxx’s district covers the majority of Avery County where both her, having been raised in Avery County, and Lees-McRae call home.

Silver said he is proud of his students for the hard work they completed both before and during the event.

“They networked, learned about lobbying, experienced what it’s like on the hill and were able to have fun as well,” he said. “Each of the students worked independently, acted with professionalism and represented [Lees-McRae] well.”


Photo courtesy of Tim Potter

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