MIT Cycling was recently featured in an article in Boston Magazine and The Tech. The Boston Magazine article is part of a feature of Boston-area sports teams. The Tech article focuses on the National Championships and Eastern Conference Championships. Click the images below to see the articles!
(by David Koppstein) Although our primary focus is racing, the MIT Cycling Club’s mission statement is “…to encourag[e] the enjoyment of all types of cycling in the MIT community.” In the spirit of giving back to this community, we decided to host an Urban Cycling Skills Clinic to foster safe cycling practices for newer riders who primarily use bicycles as a mode of transportation. On May 12th, 30 bicyclists from the MIT community descended on the N10 Parking Lot, where Nicole Freedman and Amy McGuire introduced the basics of commuting by bike, demonstrated key skills, and organized the students into four groups.
The first group, taught by Amy McGuire and Kamal Ndousse, emphasized beginning riding skills, such as hand signals, riding close with a partner (to simulate tight conditions with cars and other riders on the street), looking behind while riding in a straight line, and coming to a sudden stop. The second group, taught by veterans Zach LaBry and Spencer Schaber, built on these skills by having the riders weave through cones, practice bunny hopping obstacles, and keeping their weight low by picking up water bottles on the ground. David Koppstein, Elizabeth Mayne, and Matt Redmond led a crash course in bike mechanics, helping students practice changing a flat on their own bicycle, and demonstrating routine drivetrain maintenance. Finally, Nicole held a clinic on commuting tips. She emphasized fundamentals like wearing a helmet, the rules of the road, and being bright and visible. Additionally, her students practiced cycling outside of the “door zone” and avoiding right hooks and left crosses at intersections.
We concluded by recapitulating key points from the clinic, and distributed informational pamphlets from MassBike and free front lights, which were supplied by an ODGE Graduate Student Life Grant and a generous subsidy from Cateye. Furthermore, we invited these cyclists to participate in no-drop social rides to Lexington and Concord, and encouraged them to subscribe to our e-mail lists.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we hope to hold more of these clinics in the future, especially during the fall when new students matriculate.
Writes M. Giron:
On May 3-5, ten students from MIT raced in Ogden, UT, and won the coveted “Division II National Champions” title! There was a series of three races (TTT, crit, road race). The women earned maximum points for the team in every race (winning the TTT; getting 3rd and 4th places and lots of prime points in the crit; and 2nd, 5th, and 8th in the road race). The men got 4th in the TTT, first place in the road race, and got a few team omnium points for the crit. We won the team omnium competition by a clean 100 points (428 vs. 328). GO MIT!!!!
Full results for the team point (“omnium”) competition can be found here. Click on the race column headers to see individual race results. This means in the past eight years, we have at least 12 national-level team titles:
* Collegiate Road Nationals, Team Omnium (DII): 2008, 2012, 2013
* Collegiate Road Nationals, Women’s Team Time Trial (DII): 2011, 2012, 2013
* Collegiate Track Nationals, Team Omnium (DII): 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
* Collegiate Cyclocross Nationals, Team Omnium (DII): 2006
* Collegiate Club of the Year (DI and DII combined): 2012
Spencer Schaber: What were some of the most extreme emotions you felt during the events and why?
Shaena Berlin: This weekend was full of extreme emotions. Two opposite feelings stand out for me in particular:
i) Racing the crit, I felt terrified; there was a large pack of aggressive riders filling out the corners and frantically trying to move up all the time. When someone went down in front of me and I crashed going into the final lap, it felt almost inevitable. That race increased my respect for all the male riders, who have to race in that kind of situation every weekend; if I were them, I’d want to always be either off the front of off the back!
ii) When I saw Cameron crest the summit of the road race and then saw our other men toward the front of the rest of the group, I felt elated. We would probably win! It shouldn’t have been so surprising given our performance all season, but it was a huge relief to live up to expectations.
Kuat Yessenov: The final climb of the road race was pretty intense for me. My heart rate hovered around 195 for the entire duration, close to my red zone. I remember passing Chris, then Nate, then Nicole near the top, and all were cheering (even though I was quite far in the back.) That was quite motivating and helped with that last bit of effort to get over the finishing steep part. Also thanks to the anonymous guy who poured water over me in the middle of the climb!
Joe Near: The low point for me was after the crit, where there were big crashes in both the men’s and women’s races. I was disappointed in myself for failing to finish for the second year in a row, and worried about our chances at the team omnium. The high point came the next day, 3/4 of the way up the final climb in the road race, when a spectator yelled to me, “you did it — Cameron’s going to win!” At that point, with Cameron in first and Ulissi ahead of me, I knew that we had likely won the omnium. And I was doing better than I expected, too — my legs never cramped, and when Nate told me I was still in the points, it made me so happy that I was able to go even harder.
And I don’t think fried chicken has ever tasted as good as it did standing outside the grocery store in a stars and stripes jersey.
Laura Ralston: Excitement about getting to race in Ogden again – the courses were all great and very scenic, nervousness about trying to pull off a strong result, and enjoyment about spending time with team mates for one last nationals competition.
Katie Quinn: Fear that I was going to crash in the extreme cross-winds during the road race! Cross-winds with deep wheels have never been a favorite of mine, but they’re also one of several things definitely missing from training on a trainer all winter (and then winter-in-spring too)!
SS: What sort of team tactics worked well this year?
SB: We worked really well together in the TTT, keeping it smooth and ensuring that everyone contributed to their utmost abilities.
KY: For the road race, the plan was to bring Cameron first to the base of the climb. Cameron was quite confident that he can out-climb pretty much everyone else. So the plan was to wait if any dangerous break forms, and start chasing once Cameron signals. Luckily, other teams were eager to shut down any attempts (our pace was 60 miles in 2h 15mins till the climb!.) So we all arrived to the base of the climb together, and Zach set a good pace in the first minutes which immediately blew up the peloton. The rest was up for Cameron to do what he does very well.
JN: Bringing a pro .
But seriously, on the men’s side the strategy was to try to avoid crashing in the crit and get at least a few points, and then to keep Cameron as safe as possible in the road race. It was pretty simple.
The women had long discussions about tactics, but the men didn’t get to hear those. They seemed to work, though .
LR: Sending Chris off the front for most of the criterium on a solo break was a great move. While we didn’t get the win in the end, I think we showed our strengths and raced with courage and awesomeness.
SS: How did the competition this year compare to past years?
SB: This was my first year at nationals! ECCC women’s A/B races seemed significantly more competitive this year than the previous 2 years, though.
KY: I can’t tell about the last year, but I’m very glad there was no major carnage this year. We all survived (some with minor road rash.) Seems like most bad crashes occurred on the last lap of the criterium.
JN: It seemed pretty similar to last year. I think some other men’s teams have gotten slightly faster in the TTT (we were slower than last year, but not by a huge margin — and we got 4th instead of 2nd).
LR: Quite similar.
KQ: I think the competition was similar, though the crit field was deeper. Unfortunately it seemed like we got really unlucky with team tactics in the crit: Our plan was to play our strength of 4 competitive riders, which no other team had, by attacking and counterattacking throughout the race. Unfortunately, after just one “warm-up” attack from me, then a great attack from Chris, the peloton sat up and didn’t chase! That pretty much neutralized out strategy! As we marked any attacks from the field and patrolled the front of the bunch, it looked as though Chris should be safely away!! We didn’t dare try to bridge in case we jeopardized that. Since no one was really tiring herself out by chasing, when Chris was finally brought back closer to the pack, there was little opportunity for a bridge effort because everyone was ready to get on it. I feel responsible for not being present to help set up the team for the sprint: Perhaps due to my lack of racing this season, I didn’t control my position as the peloton “swarmed” whenever the pace slowed. I found myself caught out and was no help at all in the last two laps!! But it was great that, between Chris’ prime points and Laura’s sprint for second place, we were still able to claim the top team points for the race
SS: What was your favorite part?
SB: After we won, everyone was so happy for the rest of the trip.
Christina Birch: The best part of any collegiate nationals is, and always will be, racing and spending time with your friends.
Sometimes I feel like an outsider on the road because I try to support and have a presence in other disciplines, but Shaena in particular did an amazing job of making me feel like a part of the team.
Sometimes it’s nice to see yourself grow as a rider and competitor, too, since it’s the love of racing that gets us out there anyways.
KY: Seeing everyone on the team to be completely committed to the success of the team and doing their best in the race! Joe almost died at the end of the TTT (a few passing strangers asked if he needs medical help). Chris did an amazing attempt at a solo breakaway in the crit. Nicole running across the crit course and shouting time gaps (although I think none of us could actually hear what she was saying.) Ben revealed his culinary talents and cooked us nice dinners. Nate switching the break pads and grading our bikes (I think I got 93 – as good as Zach’s VENGE.)
JN: It felt pretty good to finally finish a race at nationals!
The hardest part for me, both mentally and physically, was the TTT. In a road race, I can get dropped and it’s not usually a big deal for anybody except me. But in a TTT there’s no choice: I CANNOT get dropped. My mind knows this, and lets me go just a little bit harder than I would be able to otherwise. I wanted to cry during the last part of the TTT, and when we got done I had to grab a car door to stay upright — my leg didn’t even have the strength to unclip. While I was laying on the ground coughing, at least two people that I didn’t know asked if I needed the EMTs. I couldn’t sit in a car seat because the muscles in my butt hurt so much. I spent the evening slouching on the couch and staring into space. I think it was the hardest race I’ve ever done.
But on the plus side I got to do this too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2xZAToNI3Q
So that was pretty good.
LR: Getting to stand at the top of the podium with team mates.
KQ: Spending a week with friends in the sun was really nice
SS: What advice do you have for next year’s nationals team?
SB: Get to know one another — goals, strengths, likes and dislikes. Make plans and strategies, but expect that the race won’t follow them. Make sure there’s a good mechanic and a good cook on the nationals roster.
KY: Altitude and heat can do funny things to our bodies. Since I raced mostly in the cold, I didn’t anticipate how much different it felt for me to ride hard in a different environment. So make sure to be ready to race in the heat (drink plenty) and at altitude (don’t know how to adapt well to that).
JN: Ugh, I hate to say it, but: train more .
LR: Train and race smart, and never underestimate your ability to win the race.
SS: Nate, for the second year in a row, you went to Ogden with the team purely to help out with logistics of bike mechanics and transportation. What was that like?
Nate Dixon: Last year was the first time I’d been to Road Nationals, and I’d never seen anything like it: a swarm of collegiate cyclists descending on one little city. The road captains called the shots and I scrambled around trying to be useful wherever possible. This year, since the location and courses were the same, I knew more or less what to expect. For me, the whole trip is a thrill, since I love the racing and nearly everything that goes with it. Utah is gorgeous, the whole team is great, and the races themselves are exhilarating. I’m just happy to be a part of it at all.
SS: How busy did the team members keep you?
ND: There’s not a lot of downtime. Each was different, but most started out with packing bikes into our cargo van, driving to courses (for recon on Thursday and then races each day after that), following the riders in a car to offer support, etc. Once everyone was back in the house in the afternoon or evening, I’d sit down and work out the logistics for the next day. FXDD provided the team with an amazing battery of racing wheels, so a big part of the task was getting each rider’s bike set up to their preference and ready to go. The idea was to let the riders think about the racing, and for them to let me worry about the bikes. Fortunately, everyone chipped in to make the trip go smoothy. Ben Woolston became the de facto team chef, for example, while Joe Near helped drive the van, and he and others lent a hand whenever there was too much wrenchwork for me to handle on my own. Once again our Captains (Zack and Shaena this time) did a great job running the show. It was also fantastic having Nicole, our coach, out there. Besides knowing everything about the races themselves, she was lightning-quick to take control of any sort of logistical situation that needed to be handled.
SS: What was it like to watch the events unfolding from your perspective? How was the actual outcome similar or different from your predictions?
ND: It’s a chaotic sport, so it’s never certain how the races will go. One of the best bets was that the women’s team would dominate the TTT, and they delivered again this year. The Nationals Crit is a crazy race. The stakes are high and the pack is excited. I didn’t know how it would play out, but it was fun to see MIT animate both races and score some points. The road race, in a way, is much simpler: the climb has the final say. I was at the top when Cameron came through, just like we drew it up. We knew he had that kind of motor, but watching him come around the bend with no company but a follow car was really special.
As a 5-time Road Nationals attendee (plus a couple of track nats, one cyclocross nats and one MTB nats), I am something of a seasoned veteran to collegiate racing and I have seen the team change over the years. While it has been sad to see my older teammates graduate and move away from Cambridge, I also feel very lucky to have be able to take part in so many years of collegiate racing and share the experience of national competitions with all so many different people. Every year the captains have done an amazing job of leading the team throughout the collegiate season and I am always impressed by how they exude enthusiasm despite the hefty time commitment that comes with the role. This year was no different and Shaena and Zack were wonderful team leaders. They did a stellar job coordinating logistics and were steadfast riders who could be relied upon to ensure the best team performance for each race.
Individually, I really enjoyed nationals this year. It was great to spend some time with my team mates after what has been a very busy semester for me. In the last few months I have been finishing up my PhD thesis and deciding what to do next in my life. I had my advisers sign off on my thesis 2 days before I left for Nationals and about a month ago I accepted a position with a development organization in DC, so getting to come to Nationals in my last year, really was the icing on the cake for me! The highlights for the weekend were seeing Chris on a solo break for almost all of the women’s criterium, seeing Shaena race so strongly despite a nasty crash at the end of the criterium, getting to share the experience of racing with Katie for one last time and watching Kate prowl the front of the pack to close down any moves for us during the road race. Of course, it was awesome to stand on the top step of the podium one last time, but I know I would not have gotten there without my team mates support, both on and off the bike, so getting to share the team omnium with them all was a very special moment.
Penn State Race Report (by Katie Maass)
What a wonderful way to end the ECCC season! This weekend’s races hosted by Penn State were both fun and hard. The weekend started off with a 9-mile TTT that I raced with Georgia LaGoudas and Jen Wilson. These two are great to race with because they are both very positive and supportive. We were all pretty equally strong, so we rotated smoothly through, working well together, and communicating the whole way. After going back and forth with a Women’s A team, we ended up finishing strong with a 2nd place in Women’s B.
After a brief delay waiting for the fire police to show up, the road race began. The distinguishing feature of this course is the long climb up Black Mo’ near the end of the course. Almost all fields were finishing one-by-one or in tiny groups. Luckily, Women’s C only had to do one brutal climb up the mountain. I hung in the middle of the pack during the initial descent, leaving plenty of space between the rider in front of me just in case. After the first few rolling hills, the group had split and I found myself with Georgia at the back of the front group of nine with a small gap from the rest. As we continued to climb, I was in a group of three girls steadily climbing the mountain. We never were quite sure if the top had come because every time we thought it was the top, we would descend a little bit and then see another climb ahead. These rolling sections near the top continued for a while. Penn State and I had dropped the other girl in our group of three and slowly caught up to another girl who was by herself. I ended up finishing sixth overall, not realizing that I was that far up until after the end of the race. I’m sure the climbs up Montezuma during training camp paid off this weekend.
The weekend ended with the Frat Row Criterium. I woke up Sunday morning feeling well-rested, waking up on my own five minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off. I enjoyed breakfast with the team getting waffles with strawberries at the Waffle House. Georgia and I decided early on that the positioning at the beginning of the race would be crucial. We were the first to arrive to staging and claimed great start line positioning. Only two laps into the race, we established a small gap with a group of five off the front. And for the first time in a Women’s C race this season, we organized well (thanks to Georgia’s encouragement) and worked together to keep the pace up in the front. Pretty soon, we had a large gap from the rest of the pack and settled into a steady pace as we rotated through. I sprinted hard for all three prime laps getting the win on two of them. The last prime happened with three laps to go and I think none of the other girls knew it was a prime lap. I started second wheel going into the straightaway and when the girl in front wiggled her elbow, I sprinted by to take the prime. I looked back after the finish line and saw that I had a short gap, but I decided that I wouldn’t be able to hold the gap for the remaining laps. I went easy and hopped on the back of the line. Going into the beginning of the last lap, I was pulling and I wanted to stay near the front, but not pull the rest of the lap. I flicked my elbow and let Georgia pull through. I stuck close to her, but the girl behind her didn’t want to give up Georgia’s wheel. Going into a corner, I told Georgia to push ahead a bit so that I could fit in behind her wheel and it worked. I fit into 2nd wheel and let Georgia pull the last three-quarters of the lap to lead me out. I swung around her after the last corner and gave it all I had for the last straightaway. I held on long enough to get the win for MIT by inches.
This was such an excellent way to end my first cycling race season. I first mounted a road bike almost exactly 7 months ago. I knew nothing about clipping in, cornering, or gu’s. I can’t thank the team enough for welcoming me to the group and teaching me so much about bikes and bike racing. I especially want to thank a few people:
- Ben Woolston for making bike racing sound too irresistible to not try and for always being willing to help me with bike stuff
- Shaena Berlin for being extremely supportive—from lending me her old road bike before I had one, talking me through race strategies, to being a great cheerleader
- Jen Wilson for always being there when I needed a hug or a laugh and keeping bike racing fun
- Georgia LaGoudas for being a great teammate, a joy to ride and race with, and for helping me shake my nerves when needed
Congratulations to the team for a wonderful season and I can’t wait for next year! In the meantime, I hope to see you out on the roads again soon, especially for some summer ice cream rides.
After last week’s horrifying events in Boston, it was a relief to get out to Rhode Island for a relaxing weekend of bike racing, home-cooked meals, and border collies (the latter 2 courtesy of Nate Dixon’s parents, who hosted us at their sheep farm nearby the road race course). This was my most successful weekend of racing yet, thanks to teamwork and helpful instructions from our coach Nicole. I took the week almost entirely off on Nicole’s advice; I usually convince myself that resting is bad for me. My legs felt tired the last few weeks, and I’d followed the training plan pretty diligently since November, so decided I should probably continue following it a few more weeks. It seems to have worked; all you other racers, try the resting thing before Easterns!!
Team time trial: (1st Women’s A)
Great practice with the TTT team that will race at Nationals! Not much exciting to say—we rode 4 hilly miles, and it was kind of hard.
Road race: (2nd Women’s A)
We tried to figure out how we could not only get in breaks, but also win them; the past few weekends, we’ve made the selection but not had the sprint abilities or coherent tactics to actually win. Rose (Mt. Sinai) made the race hard from the beginning, which was good for us. Coming into one of the dirt sections on the second (final) lap, we were a group of 6, including Chris and me. Rose tried to motivate the others to work against us, by attacking then waiting for me to chase. Chris is a better sprinter than me, so we decided to try to conserve her strength a bit for the finish; thus, I got to respond to attacks, which hurt. Rose’s strategy worked, in that one of her attacker ‘teammates’ got away (Hayley, Pitt, yellow jersey holder), but I got on her wheel. She pulled for a long time, since I put on a blasé attitude of “eh, if they catch us, that’s fine since Chris is there and they’ll be working”. Eventually it seemed like they weren’t pulling us back, so I traded pulls with Hayley for the last ~10 miles. Making the final turn, I downshifted into my little ring, then started sprinting and realized I was spinning out, so tried to shift into my big ring mid-sprint, during which time Hayley gapped me. In this race, I learned a lot about strategy and also that if you’ve been smart for 47 miles, you shouldn’t be stupid during the last 200m.
Crit: (2nd Women’s A, teammate win)
We strategized and made lots of plans for this crit, which made me nervous; I didn’t want to let my teammates down, especially after not getting the win yesterday. Happily, we didn’t have to implement any of the plans, so it was fun (in a painful way). Leslie (Dartmouth) attacked from the gun; I was fortunate enough to be beside her so jumped on it. I looked back, and we had a gap, so we decided to TT it and see what happened. I wasn’t worried about using myself up, since we had 5 A women in the race, none of whom (presumably) would be working to catch us, so by the time the chaser caught back on, it would be a perfect time for another MIT teammate to launch an attack. We came through the lap, and someone rang a bell, so we thought the next lap was a prime lap. I went for it, but then they rang the bell again; the last one wasn’t actually a prime (oops). The pack was close behind, which I didn’t notice, so I kept going hard while Leslie sat up to conserve strength to hang on when the pack caught up. They didn’t catch me right away, and soon after Laura bridged to me. We alternated pulling each lap, and she taught me more efficient lines to take through the corners. The gap was small (down to 8 seconds with 20 laps to go—yikes, almost gave up hearing that!), but we kept going and other teammates Chris and Katie blocked for us. We kept the same time/speed for all the rest of the laps (though my heart rate rose steadily…). Finally, we sprinted it out for 1st and 2nd!
Full results: MIT 1/31 (reclaiming #1 spot in season overall standings)
Team time trial:
MA: Cameron Cogburn 7, Zack Ulissi 9, Ben Woolston 23, Kuat Yessenov 26, Joe Near 29
WA: Shaena Berlin 2, Chris Birch 9, Kate Wymbs 16, Katie Quinn 19
WB: Jen Wilson 11
MB: Scott Burdick 14, Oliver Schrang 24, Laura Ralston 26
MC: Stephen Shum 7, Nate Dixon 29, Matt Li 30, Matt Redmond 31, Sam Nicaise 47
WC: Georgia Lagoudas 9, Katie Maass 12, Morgan Hennessy 28
MD: Ben Eck 2, Anton Hunt 10, David Rosen 27, Ethan Sokol 40
MI: Michael Everett 1
MA: Joe Near 10, Zack Ulissi 25 +6pt primes, Ben Woolston 28, Kuat Yessenov 29
WA: Laura Ralson 1 +20pt primes, Shaena Berlin 2 +28pt primes, Chris Birch 6 +4pt primes, Kate Wymbs 9, Katie Quinn 11
WB: Jen Wilson 9 +4pt primes
MB: David Koppstein 11, Scott Burdick 20, Oliver Schrang 25
MC: Matt Li 5, Stephen Shum 8
WC: Katie Maass 5 +7pt primes, Georgia Lagoudas 7 +4pt primes, Edrie Ortega 21, Morgan Hennessy 23
MD: Anton Hunt 2 +2pt primes, Ethan Sokol 9, Ben Eck 10
MI: Michael Everett 4
Army Criterium Race Report
It was a beautiful day for racing in West Point at Day 2 of Army’s Race Weekend. Everyone was shaking off the rust from their legs from the previous climb-intensive ITT and Road Race, getting ready for the final race of the weekend, the Army Criterium: my first A Crit. The course was generally flat and fast, with a strong wind off the Hudson River, trains passing by, a short hill to the finish, and a total view for spectators. Thoughts of the discussed team tactics filled my mind: be near the front, attack after primes, counter attack, start the sprint 200 m out, grab the attacking wheel, block.
Before I knew it, we were already past the first prime, and boy was this field fast! I was nowhere near contention and spent the rest of the following lap reclaiming my spot near the front of the field. When we passed the finish line again, I decided to attack. I dug in and sprinted hard up the hill and down the backstretch. Along the water, I noticed one rider had bridged to me. I tried to work with her but soon realized she was only trying to slow me down and bring me back to the pack. If I were wise, I probably would have let her do so. Instead, proud that I has seen through her tactics, I worked to drop her and soon had a bit of a gap on the field and passed the finish line again.
Then I paused and realized I hadn’t played this exactly right, because here I was, off the front with little hope of sustaining it for the 15-20 laps remaining. Oh well, maybe there would be a prime lap soon and I could use my lead to pick up some points for the team. With luck, the next lap was a prime! I picked up the pace, but felt my strength waning. The peloton caught me just before the finish line and ate up all the prime points. Disappointed, I sat up and tried to catch my breath, only to fall behind the pack, off the back. Shoot!
I spent the next three laps trying to work with 2-3 other riders who were off the back but alas, we were unable to bridge the gap to the pack. Finally, when I realized the pack was more than half way along the course to us, I recalled the words of the announcer right before the start of the race, “For you newer B-riders, if you get lapped by the field in this criterium, and you don’t get pulled, you can rejoin and work with the pack again”. If you can’t beat them, join them. I sat up, slowed down, and paid close attention to the gaining field behind me. Katie was in a break with Hayley! Maybe I could help! I waited for them and then attempted to lead them out. It took them a few minutes to realize that they could work with me and then I gave them approximately two good pulls before they took off and I dropped back toward the pack. I gave a feeble attempt at blocking at the front of the pack, but was soon passed up the hill by the field.
Exhausted, satisfied, and with two laps to go, I sat up and drifted back. When I passed the finish line the next time, the official whistled me off the pack and I was pulled from the race. I brought my bike over to our “camp site” near the finish line and collapsed into a fit of laughter as I watched my teammates sprint to the finish, Katie in a lead group of four, and Shaena to win a field sprint for fifth. Great stuff!
Lessons learned: If you attack to try to draw out the field and tire out the leaders, make sure people are chasing you. If they just let you go, knowing that you’ll tire out and fall off, return to the pack to fight another day, or try to make a more successful attack later.
I have two new goals: One, take these lessons to heart and attack more strategically next time. Two, be strong enough next year I won’t be dismissed as someone who can’t hold a break.
Comment by Katie Quinn
Great report about a really fun race! But Kate isn’t giving herself the credit due! So I’ll make a couple of clarifications:
- The reason the pack didn’t immediately jump on Kate’s attack to shut it down was that it was good! I was around 2nd wheel approaching the finish rise when suddenly Kate came flying past with such high relative speed that no one wanted to make the jump required to get on it!
- The chase kept the pace up and made the prime lap hard, which helped me get of the front!! Maybe the pack wasn’t urgently pursuing her, but several girls took solid turns to keep Kate within reach. Having Kate off the front before the prime made that lap extra fast because people wanted to catch her and take the points. Because the race got hard, it was after the next prime that I was able to get away
- Kate’s pulls with Hayley and I were super strong and absolutely helped us stay away! We caught up to her while we were both pretty tired from the initial effort to get away. Her pulls gave us extra recovery between turns and some serious horsepower at the crucial time where it seemed the pack was either going to catch us or resign to let us go free
In short, THANKS KATE! Really nice performance in your first crit as an A racer!!
WHAT AN AMAZING WEEKEND!
Our journey to West Point started slowly, crawling along in Boston rush hour traffic on our way westward. We arrived exhausted and slept well, waking up to devour the complimentary hotel breakfast. Our car decided to pre-drive the road race course, and were taken aback by the beauty of the course—scenic vistas at every turn, perfectly paved roads, beautiful babbling brooks and natural wildlife—this course had it all, including miles and miles of climbing.
My group, Women’s Intro, took off with Men’s Intro for a few neutral miles down the gigantic descent and into the first large hill, as I adjusted to wearing a fellow rider’s GoPro video camera strapped goofily to my helmet. After stopping briefly on the hill, the coaches sent our small field off racing. It became clear after a few minutes that the Women’s Intro race would be a race between me and one Bard racer, as the third Women’s Intro rider fell off the back early. With Coach Nicole’s wise words echoing in my mind, I let Bard pull me for several miles of rolling hills after the first big climb. I glued myself to her wheel until finally she rolled to the side, and asked me to pull…
I was reluctant but relented, remembering my sportsmanship, and agreed to pull at an extremely slow pace along one of the many beautiful lakes on the course. We rotated a bit, but I realized she was tiring while I had rested. I took my opportunity to attack with 5 miles to go – I pointed out some of the local wildlife (a few birds feasting on a roadkill carcass) to distract her and sprinted towards the yellow line. It felt awesome. I finished with my first-ever win. I have never been more honored than when that night, back at the hotel, I was awarded the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for my deceptive tactics. After completing our races that day, Katie Maass and I successfully fed all MIT riders wanting bottles from the feed zone—no small feat for anyone acquainted with a road race feed zone. And, it was my first time doing it! Passing off bottles to bikers going ~20mph is a full-impact sport.
The next day brought the ridiculous Stony Lonesome hill climb—major pain—and the criterium. The hill climb yielded yet another first place finish for me, but by default—no other riders entered my category! Due to the tiny size of the Intro field, the directors had us race with the Women’s C field in the Shea Stadium criterium—an exhilarating and exhausting 35 minutes. Amazingly, I was able to stick with the peloton for the entire race, and watch my teammate Katie M. hold fantastic position for the majority of the laps. I ended the weekend with 3/3 wins in my category.
Highlights of the criterium included Men’s A rider Zach Ulissi’s unrelenting solo attacks off the front of the field, holding off the rest of the riders for basically all laps, gathering many prime points, until the very end. I don’t think I’ve seen such grit and pure strength displayed in an athletic event in a long time (the Aggressive jersey needs to go to Zach now, for that performance). The Women’s A/B crit proved an exciting one, with an amazing attack by Kate Wymbs to lead off (see her race report), followed by multiple solo attacks by Katie Quinn and an amazing sprint by Shaena Berlin to the finish, while teammate Jennifer Wilson kept amazingly consistent position in the pack for the entire race and placed well among the B’s.
I guess I’ve been told if you sweep the field, it’s rude to sandbag for another weekend, so off to C’s it is for me (wait, look over there! It’s an eagle!! Don’t miss it! Just keep looking over there while I keep racing Intros….). Congratulations to all my fellow riders for their fantastic performances in all fields – you are all so inspirational and amazing. See you at RISD – I’ll bring the Cocoa Roasted Almonds, you BRING THE PAIN!