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Nittany Classic 2017 Race Reports

Penn State (aka the Nittany Classic) is a favorite race each year for the MIT cyclists. The famous “Black Mo” climb is the biggest hill we face in the conference (putting our California training camp to good use!), and the crit is fast and fun, located around Frat Court. This year we had 11 people make the drive to State College, PA, including 3 new racers!

We have 3 race reports this week: one from Dustin Weigl (1st year grad), a joint one from Katy Olesnavage (5th year grad) and I (Emma Edwards, 3rd year grad), and one from Laura Treers (3rd year undergrad).

 

From Dustin:

This weekend was my first time racing with the team and I had the chance to start in my first road race with a great squad in Men’s C. With a huge 5 mile climb up Black Moshannon Mountain at the end of both laps I went in with an open mind hoping the team could find a way to work together to put some time into the field. When we got to the climb on the first lap I found myself at the front with nobody else willing to lead so I decided to just put in a consistent effort to see how things went. At the top, I found myself in a group with MIT teammate Charlie Nodus and 2 NYU riders with a sizeable gap on the next group. Unfortunately, one of the NYU riders crashed out on the descent into the second lap and we were left with a group of 3. We got organized and kept up a good pace back to the bottom of the climb and the moto let us know we had about 4 minutes on the next riders. About about a mile into the climb, the NYU rider surged and I went with him with Charlie holding a steady pace a little behind. About halfway up I felt some sharp pain in my back that I’ve struggled with in the past so I lightened up, and sadly watched the NYU rider ride away up the hill. Charlie had kept within shouting distance and cruised past me to secure 2nd place and a rider from UVM passed me with later with about half a mile to go.

I was of course disappointed to miss out on the podium after leading most of the race but I’m happy I played it safe and know what I have to work on looking towards the rest of the road season. I was also surprised and honored when the team awarded me the most aggressive rider jersey that night so not all was lost! It was incredible to watch MIT riders finishing high in the standings in every category this weekend and I’m excited to see what happens in the upcoming races!

 

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Dustin winning the aggressive rider’s jersey!

I also must add that Dustin went on to get 2nd in the crit the next day, despite his back issues, just barely losing in the sprint!

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Quinn, Dustin, and PK in the crit. Photo: Aaron Huang

In the women’s A road race, we had Katy, Tori Wuthrich (4th year undergrad), and myself. Here is a race report from Katy and I, who somehow managed to get 1st and 2nd in the road race in A’s (2nd and 3rd in A/B)!

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Katy, Emma, and Tori before the road race. Photo: Aaron Huang

We were nervous but excited going into the road race. We knew it was going to be very hard, but we were excited and anxious to see how our winter training would pay off. The race started with a big descent and a couple of punchy short climbs. After some pretty hard efforts and a minor crash in the field, suddenly we were in a group of only 10 girls going into the big climb on the first lap. The first climb up Black Mo really strung us out. At the top, Katy and I were in a strong group of five women, including conference leader and friend of the team Dani Morshead from Brown University chasing the two leaders, an A racer and an exceptionally strong B racer, who had managed to put a 1:30 gap between us and them. We tried to work together to reel them back in, but they held a steady lead on us. We still kept the pace high, popping riders off our group one by one. By the second climb up Black Mo, Katy and I were the last riders left chasing the two leaders.  As a Moto official passed, he pointed out a racer up the road and told us that she was the A racer who had been off the front, and that there was only a 30 second gap between us and her. Our hearts sank a bit because we knew we had to at least try to catch her. With our legs and lungs burning, we took turns getting second winds and encouraging the other to keep it up. We used the flat (well, rollers actually) at the top of Black Mo to work together and passed her 2k from the finish. We accelerated to make sure she didn’t catch our wheel and kept pushing until the line. Through the magic of Strava flybys, you can watch how it all played out below!

From Laura:

I have to say that the Penn State weekend was amazing, not just for me but for the team as a whole. Everyone did so well in their races, and overall just had a really fun time.  This was my first road race of the season, and I was pretty excited/nervous/unsure of how I would do within the Women’s D field.  The Saturday road race started with a big descent, where everyone stayed together, and then on the smaller climbs that followed the field started to break up a bit.  A few riders went off the front and I followed, pretty amazed to actually find myself in a breakaway group!  The race ended with a totally epic 5-mile climb up Black Moshannon, which was very challenging but tons of fun.  Everyone seemed to split up on the long climb, and I finished the race solo into 4th place, my first ever top-5 finish!

Since my legs were pretty fried after the road race, I didn’t think the crit on Sunday would go very well for me, but I managed to sprint out right at the start and maintained a good position at the front of the field.  Around the last 10 minutes of the race, two riders got away from the front of the pack who I wasn’t able to chase down, but I sat in for the last few laps and was able to sprint ahead at the very end to come in third!  Overall, I think I surprised myself this weekend with what I was capable of, and was also constantly impressed by the strength and skill of my teammates in all of their races.  I’ve definitely caught the bike racing bug, and I can’t wait until next weekend!

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Laura in the crit! Photo: Aaron Huang

And that’s it for this weekend! We just found out that the Dartmouth/ UVM weekend has been cancelled due to bad weather, so our next race will the the Shippensburg Scurry.

-Emma and PK