PYC 2017: Sapphires Shine in Cycling
The girls of 6G race the clock on the cycling course.

The sun was bright as I headed off to the two-story building called “the tower” on campus. Upstairs is the studio for artist Gary Dorning; downstairs is where the bicycles are housed.

I arrived at the tower just after 6G had arrived. The assistant counselor, Stephanie Szabo, was pleased to see me there and skipped off to show me what her girls had drawn with chalk on the sidewalk the day before. Their dorm name was written in large, sprawling pink and blue letters: Esther’s Serving Sapphires.

The assistant cycling instructor, Cathryn Bancroft, showed me a few of the other drawings that had been done by the campers. “This year’s cycling is a year of national pride on the pavement,” she said, pointing out the combination of American, German, and Canadian flags. “They have used their artistic abilities to chalk up some flags.”

As the head cycling instructor, David Dodds, came riding up on his bike, Miss Szabo and I sprayed him with water in greeting as the girls laughed. I was curious about how the instructors were doing with achieving their goal from stick night: to avoid getting sunburned. They both seem to be doing very well thus far and are optimistic about the rest of the camp.

At this point, the whole dorm circled up on the grassy area just outside the tower to stretch. Miss Bancroft asked them what their favorite activity was so far. Fifteen-year-old Anna said, “Everything.” Several gave a list, which usually included volleyball. Ashlynn said that her favorite part so far was going to see the plane, to which Miss Szabo exclaimed, “Oh yeah! We did see that.”

After we had finished warming up, everyone chose a bike to get started. Mr. Dodds led the way through the long course as a reminder of where it went so that the girls could do it for time. I tagged along to see how this year’s course compared to the one’s in years past.

The course went around the trees, past the lake toward the Mail Processing Center, and around the archery field before heading back around to go the other direction. This led us past one of the girl’s dorms where sixteen-year-old Destiny found a ticket on one of the trees. There were four tickets hidden in various places throughout the course, and Destiny was the first to find one. No other tickets were found in the rest of the class.

Next we headed past the maintenance shop, past the softball field, and across the finish line. In the last section, Mr. Dodds explained that he had designed a course that was longer, but required less skill, making it more fair for inexperienced cyclists. Some people have come to pyc in the past without any experience on a bike at all, meaning they have to learn at camp. He wanted the course to be more about endurance than skill, so that those campers would have a chance to practice a new skill set. Any campers that have experience would still have a challenge in endurance.

The girls then went through the long course again, this time for time. Thirteen-year-old Ella had the best time at seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds. Fourteen-year-old Tory fell and scraped her knee, but made it through otherwise unharmed and smiling.

The girls then went through the short course. Cones were set up in the parking lot for them to weave through for time. This course puts more emphasis on skill than endurance. Knocking any of the cones over would add four seconds to the time. If a cyclist’s foot touched the ground, that added one second. To make things really interesting, the instructors set up water balloons next to the cones. If a camper could pop or move the water balloon without knocking the cone over, then that would take two seconds off of the time—high risk, high reward.

In the end, Tory received a ticket, and the girls headed off to lunch where it was announced that they had received cleanest girls dorm for the day and would get to go through the lunch line first. It was a good day for the girls of 6G.