Rachel Bainbridge – Women’s B
Dartmouth was another great weekend of racing. This was my second weekend racing Women’s B, and my first weekend with a real road race. Saturday morning started out great. Mahalia and I had a great time racing the Women’s B time trial. I feel like as we learn more about ourselves as racers, we get better and better at this event. The Women’s A and Men’s A teams did awesome, both winning the events (the Men’s A team by 80 ms. whoa.) The crit course was pretty hard, with one difficult corner going up into the course’s one climb. I fell off the back of the pack again, and the only thing that kept me going was the promise that I would score points and all of the people cheering for me along the way. Unfortunately, the announcers miscounted and I came in 16th, 1 place short of scoring a point for the team. Mahalia overcame her fear and raced the Women’s Intro crit, and even came in third! Watching the the Women’s A race was awesome. We got to cheer Martha on as she got in a break and lapped the main pack. We also got to see Mike Hamilton stick it out and finish his first Men’s A race and score some points. Good job guys.
The course Sunday was really beautiful, we got to ride along a river and through a bunch of farm land. My race started out kind of like a Sunday ride at first, with a pretty moderate pace and people talking about the day, pointing out the pigs at the side of the road etc. We got into a section with a few rolling hills, and I could really feel all the work I put into the crit on Saturday. On the second big climb, the pack split and I was in the back. My group formed a double pace line and worked through the next lap together, and I got to the finish totally exhausted. It’s really hard to remember to eat and drink when you’re working hard to catch the pack! After my race was over, I got to go the feed zone to hand out refills of water (and enthusiasm!) to the people in the longer races. At first we had a little trouble handing out water to a few people, but their second time through, everyone who wanted something got it. It was a nice day, so it was fun to hang out on the side of the road and help out some teammates. Our Women’s A riders got in another break, comprising more than half of the leading group. The feed zone car got to see (and heckle) the Men’s A pack as they made the final climb. Tim broke away near the top and our guys ended up finished 7th and 12th. All together, I think we were successful, winning the weekend. I’m continuing to learn a lot about racing, just as much this weekend as any other. I can’t wait to apply it Xpot next weekend.
Martha Buckley – Women’s A
The Dartmouth weekend began with the TTT on Saturday morning with Yuri, Martha, and Laura racing in women’s A for MIT. The course was challenging, with two substantial uphills, two very fast descents, and even a traffic circle. The countless practices together helped the team race smoothly and efficiently. The MIT women passed both of the women’s teams that started in front of them by the halfway mark of the course. Although a victory was almost certain, the MIT women did not let up the pace in the second half, and defeated the second place team by over two and a half minutes.
The second event of the weekend was a criterium through frat row on the Dartmouth campus. The challenging aspects of the crit course included a chicane, a greater than 90 degree turn at the bottom of a hill, and a small hill. The women’s A riders took to the course just as it was starting to rain, and it rained progressively harder as the race continued. Despite the difficult conditions, the MIT women raced aggressively. Yuri attacked up the hill, and as a Dartmouth rider tried to close the gap, Martha jumped on her wheel. Unfortunately, Yuri was overexerted from her attack and couldn’t catch on to Martha’s wheel as she went by. After Martha and the Dartmouth rider got away from the field, Martha hesitated hoping the Laura would be able to bridge. Unfortunately, a Mount Holyoke rider bridged first, and the top group was now just one MIT rider and two others, but the group still worked together relatively effectively and succeeded in lapping the field. Although she was narrowly out-sprinted at the line, Martha placed third and succeeded in getting more points than any other rider by winning all the primes except one.
Not discouraged by missing the break, Laura broke away from the field later, and impressively was able to gain almost half a lap on the field by herself. The success of the MIT riders off the front was certainly due to the work of Yuri, who successfully chased down attacks throughout the race.
The final event of the weekend was a 60 mile road race with an insane amount of climbing. Fortunately, the rain and fog of the previous afternoon and evening had evaporated, and when the women’s A races started a bit before noon, it was sunny and almost 60 degrees, making for a beautiful day of racing. The MIT women pushed the pace of the first hill, which was a very steep incline directly after a covered bridge, and successfully splintered the field. The top group of 5 included all 3 MIT riders (Yuri, Laura, and Martha) and a rider from Army and a rider from Mt Holyoke. The MIT women worked together to insure that all three riders remained on the break until the finishing climb. Unfortunately, the MIT riders were overexerted from the weekend of racing and got edged out at the line by both the Mt Holyoke and Army riders, but placing 3, 4, 5 was still a quite impressive feat.
Spencer Schaber – Men’s D
For my TTT, I practiced with Tony for only about an hour the week before, and I haven’t done much TTT practice other than that, so it wasn’t too surprising that we didn’t get points. I still thought Tony and I worked pretty well together. For my crit, I thought I would do decently well, since I like climbing hills, but it turns out that the rest of the men’s D field has also learned quite a bit and gotten stronger since the last race I did, and I finished 17th of 45 starters (at the end of the front pack). Nonetheless, I was happy with that result because I finished close to the very end (47th/57) on my last crit with the D men at Philly. I think I did better this time because I made a point to advance in position whenever I could, and in particular not letting the front person get far away in the first half lap. I was happy I have SPDs because I beat some people off the line just by clipping in faster. The road race course was absolutely beautiful (including the weather), and I had a ton of fun doing it. I finished 33rd/67. I made a point to not work too hard on the early hills and save some gas for the finish, but I still didn’t feel like I had saved that much when I was doing the final climb. (I was hoping some of the people getting out of the saddle on the early hills would have used all of their energy up, but it seemed many of them were still able to beat me!) One thing I would do differently in the future would be to try to move up on the flat sections so that I could drift back on hill climbs and still be among the first 20 riders. I think my critical mistake in the race was letting the front pack get ahead of me in the second-to-last hill climb. After that, I had to work hard on the descent to catch them, while most of them were resting for the final climb. All in all, a fantastically fun weekend (though I still didn’t get any points for the team).
Mahalia Miller -Women’s Intro
Dartmouth College’s L’Enfer Du Nord was my first racing weekend. I raced the Women’s B Team Time Trial and the Women’s Intro Criterium. I came into the weekend wanting to score points for MIT, have a competitive and smooth TTT with Rachel, and learn some technique from the veteran racers. The TTT was particularly appealing, because Rachel needed another teammate and because the otherwise empty road meant I could focus on the race and not on avoiding other racers.
The women’s cycling group provided great technical and mental preparation for the TTT in the various Wednesday morning practices. I knew that I had the tendency to pull off too far to the side and also to sprint for a few strides when beginning to pull. Thus, I focused on an even pace. Rachel was stronger than me and did most of the pulling on the flat. However, on a few occasions when she was fatiguing, I took over. We also coordinated well the hills, so that we would work together. The first long hill was extremely strenuous physically and mentally, so the teamwork really helped. We both worked hard up the final hill and were able to keep digging across the finish line, ending strong. In hindsight, I would have worked on my hill climbing ability more and would have started my acceleration to the end a little bit earlier. Cooling down, Rachel and I felt exhausted, but great. TTT’s are fantastic!
I also did the crit, which was technically difficult in that there was a 90-degree turn right before a hill. I decided beforehand that I’d just go as a learning experience and would be conservative on all corners. After a helpful teaching session, the race began. I consistently fell to near the back on each corner and then caught up on the straight-aways. With two laps ago, I tried to gain more speed on some of the straightaways and hills. Coming into the last lap, I accelerated more to get to the front of the pack. Thus, I could control the speed on the corners of the last lap. This plan worked mostly, except for the corner at the bottom of the hill, where two racers went in front of me and maintained their lead. My last corner at the top of the hill was probably my best, since I focused particularly on the advice given to me–look past the corner to where you want to go (a pole or whatever) and never break while turning. The speed was such that I could turn without breaking beforehand, which helped. In the end, I had extra energy, so I probably should have gone harder on the hill each time or around the corners.
The Women’s and Men’s A and B races were particularly interesting and much different from my race. One noted the competitiveness in the faces and their technique cornering. It’s surprising how much technique makes a difference there. Other racers have described these races in detail, but I enjoyed cheering for the racers and offer my congrats. I also found it interesting how long the Men’s A race took and how the approach differed. Jose, for example, was consistent in the first half and tended more towards spinning. Mike Hamilton, in contrast, appeared to treat each lap as the final lap, as judged by his facial expressions.
Thanks to the team for a fun weekend.