Like many of her fellow students, Brittni Wait bikes to school daily. A new student club, BikeCuspiDDS, has been formed at UTSD. Photo by Brian Schnupp.
The newest student club at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston has nothing to do with dentistry, but the crammed bicycle racks outside the school suggest this new group for cycling enthusiasts could find a large audience.
“BikeCuspiDDS,” a play on the name for premolar teeth, was started by a trio of third-year dental students who only recently took up cycling, yet are eager to get other UTSD bicycle riders – regardless of skill level – involved in group activities.
Randi Mellon, Duyen Ho and Totatzi Lopez hatched the idea for a new club after deciding to participate in this year’s MS 150, an annual charity bicycle ride for multiple sclerosis. They bought road bicycles, helmets and other riding gear and started training with weekly rides at George Bush Park or along bayou bike trails.
Although not experienced riders, they embraced their new hobby and decided group rides with other students would be fun, so they formally registered BikeCuspiDDS as a student organization with UTSD’s Office of Student and Alumni Affairs.
Many students already pedal to school every day, Mellon said, and bicycling is a great diversion for busy dental and dental hygiene students.
“We’re different because we’re not about dentistry or drinking, we just want to be a fun club for students who enjoy bicycling and who want other people to ride with,” Mellon said. “Riding is good for the mind, body and soul, and dental students need that in such a high-stress environment.”
Riding as a group is also safer, since Houston streets are not always bicycle-friendly, she added.
More than a dozen students showed up at the club’s first meeting in early March. One of those students, second-year dental student Brittni Wait, understands the hazards bicyclists encounter.
Wait rides her bike to school every day. The trip was 3.5 miles to the old Dental Branch but only half a mile to the new building. The roads are poor, and impatient drivers often don’t make room for bike riders. Still, rain or shine, Wait pedals to school every morning and even keeps extra pants in her locker if she has to change.
Sarah Amidzadeh, a third-year dental student also at the meeting, might be an even more committed bicycle commuter. She had three bicycles stolen from the Dental Branch. Now on her fourth bike, she rides almost two miles to school each day and double locks her cycle at the bike rack.
The club is still in its infancy, but students made plans for weekend group rides — favoring a route that included a tasty bagel shop — and even discussed a club riding jersey. Students interested in learning more about the club can contact Mellon at Randi.B.Mellon@uth.tmc.edu.