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Clarkson hosts mountain bike races at Seven Springs in Colton

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COLTON — Starting at the top of a large, steep hill, racers navigated their mountain bikes through the woods one-by-one in a timed race at Clarkson University’s Seven Springs property in Colton.

More than 50 cyclists from 12 colleges all over the Northeast met at the bottom of the hill for the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference mountain bike races.

After readying their bikes and gear, they loaded onto a small shuttle that took them up the hill where each timed run started. Each cyclist got two chances to make it down the hill in his best time.

The ECCC holds more than 12 cycling events each year. Along with Sunday’s downhill event, the weekend included cross-country competitions on the Clarkson Hill Campus trails in Potsdam.

“Clarkson participates in these races elsewhere, but they’ve never hosted one before,” said Robert J. Davis, director of the Student Projects for Engineering, Experience and Design program at Clarkson.

Mr. Davis said Clarkson has owned the Seven Springs property since the 1970s and once used it as a ski hill.

“It sat vacant for several years but now, different student groups use it as an all-purpose recreation area,” he said.

Brendan J. Carberry, engineering and management senior at Clarkson, is the president of the school’s 45-member cycling club, which organized the races this weekend.

“We’re really lucky for Clarkson allowing us to host this on their property,” he said. “It’s really unique because not a lot of schools have the ability to provide their students with a place like this to get outside.”

Bryan D. Curneen, a computer engineering senior at Rochester Institute of Technology, said he’s been cycling for four years with his school’s cycling club.

“This run is a lot shorter than other tracks,” he said. “This one is about a minute but, typically, they’re about three minutes.”

Evan J. Gill, mechanical engineering senior at Pennsylvania State University, said he drove about seven hours to be the only cyclist representing his school in the races.

“Next time, the rest of the Penn State Cycling Club better come,” he said.

Mr. Gill said he’s been racing for the club for a year, but rode BMX bikes previously. He said the track at Seven Springs was a little short, but the area is nice.

“It’s fun, though, and a good course,” he said. “I like it out here, but it was a far drive.”

Although a Parishville Rescue ambulance was on the scene, Mr. Davis said injuries don’t usually occur at these events.

“Brendan said it’s very rare they have any accidents where racers can’t get down the hill on their own,” he said. “They all wear a lot of safety equipment such as neck braces and shoulder harnesses and shin pads.”

Mr. Carberry said he would like to see the event continue on an annual basis.

“We’d like to keep having it every year, if people like the track,” he said.

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