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The Main Event: Wheeling and Dealing

By Selena Fragassi


Nichols College helps Cycle Massachusetts get into gear for a successful ride.

The state of Massachusetts isn’t short on sightseeing. As the gateway to colonial America, the birthplace of sports like basketball, and the home of MIT and Harvard, the “make it yours” state is always a one-of-a-kind experience—just ask the participants of the annual Cycle Massachusetts statewide bike tour.

Every summer since 2005, these endurance cyclists spend anywhere from two to seven days “cruising through the beautiful countryside of rolling fields, majestic woods, and picturesque towns.” Of course, it can’t all be done without some quality rest along the way, which is where venue partners become an important component—especially those with plenty of green space for the bicyclists to camp out. In 2016, Cycle Massachusetts found that combination with Nichols College, which was chosen to be the starting and ending point of the ride, which included roughly 140 people.

“We were staying two nights and wanted to have a nice facility for everyone to stay at overnight, especially at the beginning of the tour,” says Cycle Massachusetts Event Director Bruce Lederer who found the college on the portal and ultimately chose the campus for its central location in Dudley, which is an hour from Boston and three hours from New York City. “They were very accommodating and gave us many options,” furthers Lederer.

That includes using a majority of the campus’ Shamie Quad for tenting, the Olsen and Shamie Residence Halls and Building 21 athletic center for restrooms and showering, and the green space on Copper Beech Quad for various activities, including an acoustic concert, antique bike show and mobile bike repair, and recreational games.

“What they needed from us was essentially a place to camp out for the weekend. This was not the traditional residence hall lodging and classroom space like we were used to,” says Event Coordinator Wellesley Kosak, noting that college staff prepared by getting as much information as possible early on. “We researched their website to know more about the event and talked to group leaders [like Bruce] to understand what they needed from us.” Since January 2016 when Lederer first contacted the college, Kosak says they had constant contact. “Overall we just went with flow and were very flexible with last-minute changes or on-the-fly decisions,” she says. “We always come with an open mind and are ready for anything.”

Kosak engaged in some smart pre-planning, too, such as working with the town of Dudley to get entertainment permits for the outdoor music performance. “We’re on a hill and have neighbors so we wanted to get the right permissions. We also informed those in the area about it to further cover ourselves [from noise complaints],” she says. Her team also ensured the group had the necessary A/V and staging requirements. Another point of contact was with the tent rental company, Comfy Campers, to ensure workers protected the grounds while setting up and breaking down.

“It was really just to make sure they didn’t hit any irrigation or gas lines, but we had a campus map to make it easy to see the grid,” says Kosak.

In general, the campus provided a number of benefits—one of which was the self-contained design. “The quad where we camped is in the middle of everything, so that was ideal,” says Lederer. Although some people did choose to sleep inside, and for them, “Nichols had a wonderful [residence] that had lots of rooms, all air-conditioned,” he continues. “There were also plenty of showers that were readily available, and we had space to set up entertainment. We also used the dining halls. They were great facilities for everything we needed.”

Security and parking was also important. “We have 100 cars or so that we have to leave for a week; it’s not always been easy at venues in the past, but the parking situation at Nichols was really good,” says Lederer. And because the campus was quiet with the student population gone for the summer, Kosak says that there were no risks for the group since they were not able to lock the tents.

Having coordinated this event for 11 years, Lederer admits, “Some venues are better than others.” But, when it comes to Nichols College, he says the staff “worked really hard to make sure we were well taken care of. …Cycle Massachusetts is a 24-hour event but no matter what time of day questions might have come up, they were always there to be in touch. In many ways [non-traditional] venues like this are wonderful.”

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Nichols College
Dudley, MA
(508) 213.2103