Tracking the 200: The night before
By Jeremia Schrock
Sun Star Reporter
The Sun Star’s Jeremia Schrock reports on location as a team of UAF students competes in the Fireweed 200 bicycle race.
This weekend will see a team of three UAF students compete in the Fireweed 200 bicycle race, an annual competition that sees its participants bike from Sheep Mountain (on the Glenn Highway) to Valdez over the course of 12-16 hours. However, for two of the three members of Killasaurus Wrecks, the adventure began two days before in Fairbanks, AK.
“I forgot my shoes,” said Jonathan Keill, a curly-haired senior who works out of the Geography Department.
“What?” responds Jesse Swibold, a first-year freshman in Japanese Studies.
“My biking shoes,” Keill says, holding up his leg, revealing a pair of black and white Converses. “I do not want to bike in these.” It was 8:30 PM, Wednesday night, and we were still stuck in Fairbanks.
We hit the Parks Highway at 9:14 PM and I asked both Keill and Swibold why they were biking the Fireweed 200. “Well, Bippy [UAF graduate Brenna Kennicker] did it last summer and said that we should do it together,” said Keill. “So, I said ‘Hey, that sounds like fun!’ It’s also something different that I’ve never done before.”
Swibold agreed, adding that, “I’ve never been on any bike race before.”
Keill popped a Japanese music CD into his car’s audio player before looking around at the passing scenery outside. “This is boding very well,” he said, watching as the suns rays danced across the tops of trees. “I like this.”
I asked the guys how they would describe their team. Keill answered with “Awesome” and then laughed. “I think we’re very solid for what we’re going to do. Jesse’s the [groups] strong, silent one.”
Keill glanced back at Swibold who smiled and said, “Yeah, what he said.”
“Bippy…” Keill paused. “Why would I, on first go, [describe her as the groups] ‘raging female?’ I don’t know!” He paused again, “[she’s] our fearless leader. And I’m the athletic one!”
As for the team’s name, Killasaurus Wrecks, “I think Bippy came up with it,” said Keill. The name, as it turns out, has it’s origins in the gang’s Rock Band band. “We couldn’t decide on a name, so we had the game’s random name generator pick a name. It chose ‘Killasaurus Oranges’ so we altered it to ‘Killasaurus Wrecks.’” I spoke to Bippy later on about the name.
“The ‘Wrecks’ is supposed to be ironic! You know, since we’re biking!” Bippy said.
You can see more details about the Fireweed 200 course here.