April 16, 2012

Pipes Takes High Intensity Cycling World by Storm

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When the competitive world of women’s cycling isn’t enough for Cornell graduate student Lenore Pipes, she ups the intensity of her training by racing against the men.

“I like to race with the men. Last week I almost got points and [the race organizers] said you’re not supposed to get points.”

So while Pipes was allowed to wear a number and petal past many of the men,  points were awarded to the next male to cross the finish line.

Pipes picked up cycling in 2008 while commuting to Swarthmore College in Media from her home in Philadelphia. Encouraged by members of her road biking club, she forayed into the realm of women’s cycling just four years ago.

Now, she is training six days a week and says, “the hills and the wind make Ithaca a challenging place to train.” Pipes takes larger rides in the winter months, which means four or five hours of riding at a sustainable pace. As the weather gets warmer, she is transitioning to higher intensity and shorter rides to fully prepare for the peak road season, the summer.

When the first year graduate student is not in the saddle, she can be found in Adam Siepel or Chris Mason’s lab working on a project to build non-human primate reference transcriptomes (rRNA for those of us without a biology graduation requirement). Pipes is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Tri-Institutional Program for Com­putational Biology and Medicine which is a program involving Cornell’s Ithaca Campus, Weill Medical College, and Sloan-Kettering Institute. “It’s difficult to balance studying and training, but I am used to it,” said the racer. “My social life is pretty non-existent.”

Over spring break, Pipes travelled to New Zealand for the Oceania Cham­pionships to represent her native Guam. Disadvantaged by the fact that it is currently the peak of the road season in the southern hemisphere, Pipes returned disappointed in her performance, but enthusiastic about future races this spring. “I love so many aspects of racing: the competitiveness, the tactics, and that the only way to get success is by working harder, and that’s directly translatable to your training.”

More recently, Pipes has earned an Olympic Nomination for the women’s road race in London this summer. While she waits for the final selection of the team members in June, she is pursing a few high-profile International Cycling Union (UCI) races to increase her chances of selection. Coming up are the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau and the Liberty Classic at the the end of May and beginning of June respectively.

Pipes was competing in the Liberty Classic for the past few years when she lived in Philadelphia but experienced a flat on the final lap last year. “I’m hoping for better luck this year. I also did the Gatineau race last year and finished 20th so I want to improve on that result.

”When she is not riding professionally for the RIDECLEAN/PatentIt.com Elite Women’s Cycling team, Pipes rides with the Cornell cycling team and has made a habit of blowing away the competition. Within the past month, she has brought home first-place finishes all of her races including the Frozen Toed Opener Road Race presented by Rutgers Cycling, the Princeton Jersey Devil Road Race presented by Princeton University and the Lux et Velocitas Road Race presented by Yale Bulldog Cycling which has a hill-top finish.

The student athlete’s victories climaxed with a victory in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference’s Women’s A road race, a second place time trial finish and a solid showing against the Men’s B field in the criterium.

Her success on the collegiate circuit has qualified the top woman rider for the Collegiate Cycling National Championships, where she hopes to represent Cornell on May fourth through sixth. Unfortunately, while the Cycling team president deems the competition an excellent use of club funds, there simply is not enough money in the budget this year for Pipes to go and represent the Red. The Cycling team is technically a Cornell club like the Ultimate frisbee team and not a division of the athletic department.

Despite Pipes’ knack for fierce competition, she is very interested in encouraging other college women to start racing, especially at the amateur level. Currently, Pipes is serving as a recruitment officer and said, “We’re definitely looking for more people to join the club and go to the races. We’re especially looking for women at whatever level.”

Original Author: Rob Moore