Alumni Tent at Beer Bike
Rice’s residential colleges have been a source of student creativity, pride and fun while uniting alumni around the world in shared tradition and community. For decades, the highly anticipated Beer Bike competition has exemplified this unique college spirit for alumni and students alike. The Association of Rice Alumni is proud to welcome the Rice community to the Alumni Tent in celebration of this favorite tradition!
About the Beer Bike Tradition
Dating back to 1957, Beer Bike is a combination intramural bicycle race and drinking competition. Each of the eleven residential colleges, in addition to the Graduate Student Association, participates with a men’s team, a women’s team and co-ed alumni team. Ten riders and ten chuggers comprise a team.
Each leg of the race is a relay in which a team’s “chugger” must chug beer (an option for those over 21) or water before the team’s “rider” may begin to race around the track. The next “chugger” prepares for the next leg of the relay as their teammate rounds the last curve of their last lap. Men chug 24 ounces and bike three laps while women chug 12 ounces and bike two laps. Elaborate guidelines outline biking regulations, chugging allowances and race rules.
Coined in the 1990s to refer to the week before Beer Bike, Willy Week is a time of excitement on campus. Pranks referred to as jacks are especially common during Willy Week.
On the day of Beer Bike, two other popular events are the water balloon fight and the cheer battle.
The History of Beer Bike
The First Beer Bike May 1957The four men’s colleges (Baker, Hanszen, Will Rice, Wiess) participated. Each biker on the team had to consume an “unspecified” amount of beer at the middle of each lap. Over 500 spectators gathered to watch the races, which took place along the inner loop.
Chug Cans 1960sChug cans became standardized with men chugging 16 oz with times in the three-second range.
Women's Tea Trike 1960s/1970sWomen first participated in Beer Bike in the form of a Tea Trike, where they would do laps around the loop and stop in the pits to chug a little Earl Grey.
The Race Expands Mid-1970sBeer Bike outgrew the inner loop and moved out to the East Stadium Parking Lot (now the West Lot) and a parade was introduced. Men started chugging 24 oz instead of 16 oz, and women began to fully participate in Beer Bike, doing away with the Tea Trikes.
Alumni Return 1980sThe first ever alumni races were held as the races overall became more competitive with better bikes, more sophisticated pit crews and special chug cans.
A New Track Late-1980sA new track was constructed in the West Stadium Parking Lot (now the Greenbriar Lot) with bleachers installed for spectators. The area was named Hackerman Field in honor of the university president.
Water Balloons Early 1990sA tradition within a tradition was born when a handful of students starting throwing water balloons during the parade.
A New Beginning 2011The water balloon fight is made an official part of the day, kicking off the Beer Bike festivities.
Cancelled 2020Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beer Bike doesn't occur for the first time in 64 years.
The Return 2022After an altered program in 2021, Beer Bike returned to its pre-pandemic structure.
Timeline content courtesy of the Rice Thresher.
Beer Bike 2022 Highlights
If we measure the success of the Alumni Tent at Beer Bike in hugs, handshakes and high fives, this year’s celebration is definitely a winner. We are thrilled to help you reconnect with your @RiceUniversity family and friends. #RiceAlumni pic.twitter.com/Cbyhf2oXMs— Rice Alumni (@ricealumni) April 2, 2022