The Well-dressed Antiochian
by Duffy ’77
Photos: Steve Duffy & Tamisha Reyes
Antioch College students continually work with learning how to be their true authentic selves while they work on their future potential victories for humanity, as many of YOU already have done. The current students also want to know as much about pre-closure Antioch as they can and yet put their own evolutionary twists on some “traditions”.
Even though we are rather non-traditional in the larger universe maybe there is comfort and stability in knowing that some events are predictably traditional. Freshman orientation, your first co-op, (now followed by oral co-op swap presentations in 113 McGregor), ComCIL and other elections, Community Meetings, Div Dance and eventually Graduation. A new twist right before graduation is Colloquia where graduates orally present their work and are open for questions and comments.
Antioch students study and “work” hard so it is ever so natural that at times they also play hard. With some rumor, legend and probably some trips to see Scott Sanders in Antiochiana, students must have figured out that they wished to re-imagine the old Camelot Bike Race which happened in May for many decades. So, for the past few years there has been a re-incarnated, re-imagined race. Maybe we shouldn’t say re-in”carn-ated” as the Race has now been deemed organic and vegan.
Although the Camelot Bike Race goes back many decades I somehow had never been to any until the past two years. Camelot is a race of 100 laps in the horseshoe by Main Building. In days of yore it was large and tumultuous with straw bales here and there in case people took a spill. Nurse Barb and Maples were vigilant just in case of the worst. Camelot also has traditionally been somewhat of an obstacle course…with the obstacles being “things” hurled at the contestants. Legend says that at intervals gross animal related products and more were hurled. The new generation has decided that only compostable items would be hurled at the riders by people who have volunteered to be “Throwers”.
I arrived fairly early to check things out. There were various buckets of organic matter in various stages in their voyage towards compost. Some students had gone dumpster diving behind a local Aldi’s, known to have only organic produce. So there were rotten tomatoes, ancient oranges, romaine lettuce, potatoes! By the way, the Camelot Bike Race gets a Rotten Tomato score of 100%! Autumn leaves and more were in other buckets.
The participants slowly gathered. Some wore creative costumes. One rider looked like a combination of Groucho Marx and Abraham Lincoln with his “steed” covered in red, white and blue bunting. (One guesses each rider’s bike is their steed and also has a name.) Riding teams rode in pairs and had names like “The Second Coming”. I do not know if they were second in the race or not!
A student with a super loud megaphone announced the start of the race and then cheered the riders on. Sometimes Antioch has ambiguous amounts of organized chaos at an event. The student with the megaphone reminded people of some of the rules…which included that the race was on the honor system and one had to keep track of their own number of laps.
As the race began Michael Casselli ’87 also popped up. We sat on the back steps of the Main Building in front of the speaker that played an eclectic mix of racy music, The Gits, Frank Zappa, Michael Jackson, DMX and more. Soon the throwers got busy. Tomatoes, compost tea and gluten-free flour were flying. Flower children or flour children? Some folks had on ponchos…a multi-purposed moment as it was that kind of chilly May day where it would rain at any minute. It mostly rained compost tea! The person behind the megaphone reminded the throwers to be kind and aim the potatoes toward the lower extremities. One rider did take a spill and suffered a bloody knee but other than that was okay. As the race headed toward its final laps, some kind of bulk vinaigrette was tossed at the riders! So just about everyone was wearing some kind of salad ingredients and with the final touch of that vinaigrette one might say they were certainly well-dressed Antiochians in more than one way.
Finally a pair of winners finished and then the others. Everyone was wet and smelled like old produce and vinegar but everyone seemed happy. Everyone got a Camelot Tee (after being pelted with Camelot Compost Tea!) In true post-race fashion endorphins were everywhere! As the race and celebration ended folks were reminded to clean up what they could. One imagines chipmunks and the like finished whatever wasn’t cleaned up.
At one point in the race Michael Casselli had a student in their own creative poncho do laps further away in the horseshoe…maybe as a performance art ghost rider from the past.
If you feel like you have been doing your own race in life with everything being hurled at you perhaps you might think about coming to the 2022 in-person Reunion. Probably the only things to be thrown around will be ideas for the present and future and stories of the past. There is a cap of 250 this year because of COVID concerns so if you are thinking of coming please do not be part of the procrastination nation. Travel and more seems so expensive but Antiochians are creative so I imagine people will get here in one way or another and it will be great to be with each other. It may cost more to get here but the price of being here and seeing old friends…priceless.
Video: Rosemarie Compton ’24