by Brendan "Bigs" Breslow (#2628, '18)
On April 13th, the Acacia will race in Indiana University’s annual Little 500, starting 15th on the outside of row 5.
Justin Fox, Indiana Acacia alumnus (#1793, ‘95), is in his second year as coach of the Acacia Bike Team and his first year as the House Director of the Indiana Chapter.
Fox’s association with Acacia began with his grandfather, who was pledging membership at the Indiana Chapter before he left school following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. However, Fox joined Acacia because of the chapter’s historic bike culture. He was part of Team Acacia’s success in the 1990s, when Acacia placed 2nd three times and grabbed its third championship trophy in 1991. In 1997, he and teammate and brother Kurt Gensheimer (‘96) were selected as All Star Riders. (Gensheimer repeated as an All Star Rider twice more in 1997 and 1998.)
With a team made up of four rookie riders and one veteran rider, team captain Will Kerr, Fox hopes to gain some experience as a team and build the potential he sees in his young riders. And they will not be lacking preparation.
“We’ve got pretty sophisticated, track specific workouts that we’re doing (designed by?) from a coach out in Texas, who’s a former world champion as of last year,” Fox said. “We’ve had a lot of support in equipment, we have bikes purchased for the rookies which is the first time I’ve seen that happen, and that’s a huge deal.
“We’re doing other preparations, practicing exchanges, eating right and taking supplements that the national team uses. There’s a lot that goes into preparation for the race, but that’s just a small bit of it.”
Team preparations are only part of the race, and Fox hopes that the house camaraderie surrounding the bike team will return to its traditional prominence. “The brothers in this house are going to be what boosts the bike team, culture and attitude,” Fox said. “But it’s getting better. The reason I joined the team is because I want to return it to its original excellence.”
Will Kerr, fourth-year rider and team captain, began biking after a back injury that left him unable to pursue his Division I Rowing offers. “I started during my pledge semester, Spring 2016,” Kerr said. “When I came to IU, I needed an athletic output, so I signed my bid at Acacia wanting to be a part of the huge biking culture at the university.”
Kerr explained that cycling is a very difficult but rewarding part of his life on campus. Despite the need to maintain a strict diet and a steady training schedule, Kerr loves the ability to ride with the team and explore the beautiful Bloomington roads. Kerr is also excited by the new shape that the bike team is taking under the leadership of Fox.
“Fox is the man,” Kerr said. “He’ll push you as hard as you want to be pushed, but if you want to be the best you can be, he’ll get you there and push you as hard as you need to be pushed.”
For his Senior year, Kerr hopes to be in the top 20 finishes of the individual time trials, but his goal for the team is to rank above 18th place, the best team finish of his four races. Kerr has other goals for the race, but they are much less focused on biking.
“I can’t really put it into words yet, but April 13th is going to be a really emotional day for me,” Kerr said. “Last sendoff, last time taking the saddle as an Acacia rider. I’m really excited, I’m really nervous and I’m really sad that I’m going to have to leave this team and move onto the next chapter of my life. But I feel like I can walk away from this with a good sense of satisfaction and happiness that I helped the team as much as I could and can see the team improving.”
Kerr’s favorite moments as a rider are his sendoffs in the front lawn of Acacia, but another part of the race he loves is the opportunity to connect with the Indiana Acacia alumni riders in attendance, discussing their favorite roads and least favorite hills to ride during training.
The race begins at 2 PM on April 13th, and tickets can be found on the Indiana University Student Foundation website.