Shaena’s highly successful RISD weekend (by Shaena Berlin)

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!

Shaena and Laura "co first place"