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Bringing an army to Army

I (Emma) have missed the Army Spring Classic the last two years, so I was super excited to do it this year! It’s a relatively close race and famously well-run, so we had TWENTY-SEVEN people come out to race!!! It was the largest crowd we’ve seen all year!

We had the “usual” three events this weekend (Team Time Trial, Road Race, and Crit). We were super excited about the TTT’s because we had teams for every category except one! And we were even more excited when 6 teams got 1st and the other 2 teams got 2nd in their categories!! It was an awesome way to start out the weekend; we were feeling optimistic about the rest of the races.

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Women’s A TTT squad after the TTT, with all of our aero helmets! Photo: Charlie Nodus

We have three race reports from this weekend: one from me, one from Charles Wu (2nd year grad) and one from Laura Treers (3rd year undergrad).

First, Charles comments on all three of his events:

On the TTT:

Simple course, downhill then uphill along the same road, this was a real pacing test.  Go too hard on the downhill, and you have no energy for the climb back up.  We had two C teams, Charles/Charlie/Wade and Brian/Daniel/Ethan.  Our first priority was to beat the rest of the schools, and our second priority was to beat the other MIT C team J We went out hard into the headwind and started slowly reeling in the team in front on the downhill portion.  After we made the U-turn, we hammered uphill and eventually passed at least 2 or 3 teams before the finish (which means we gained 30-90 seconds on each of them).  After the finish, one of the Pitt riders said something to the effect of “Nice job, you made us look silly”.  We won the race!

 

On the RR:

This was a really fast course, huge downhill followed by ~12-13min uphill, a rolling middle section, and an uphill finish.  We were hitting almost 50mph on the descent (very scary).  The C field was, like last weekend, oddly calm, and almost nothing happened the first two laps except for Berk dropping his chain and chasing back on. On the last lap, Quinn and Brian set a searing pace uphill which dropped me off the back. I rode for a bit in no-man’s land until Wade caught up to me (he had dropped his chain earlier too) and we had some TTT practice, eventually rolling in 25th and 26th.  Up the road, the race ended in a bunch sprint, where Charlie got 4th, Berk 7th, and Quinn 9th.

 

On the crit:

The Army crit course is a weird triangle shape, with a little big-ring hill right after the finish line, a >90 degree corner leading into a back straight, and a fast sweeping right into a short (100m) finish straight.  Luckily, I had experience racing it last year and already knew the passing points (no one wants to push up the bumpy af right side on the back straight, so you can make up positions easily).  The race started and almost immediately, Berk was away on the attack.  He stayed away for most of the race and at one point had almost 20 seconds on the field, winning 2 primes.  But he was eventually reeled in (through some miscommunication, MIT chased too much, d’oh). The field started to yo-yo in pace and this caused some minor crashes.  I tried to move up as best I could, and after some recovery time, Berk hit the front with me second wheel.  We rode at a high pace for a few laps, and no one had time to attack due to Berk’s crushing sprint leadout.  Finally, on the last lap Army tried to launch a two-man attack, but their leadout guy crashed at the top of the hill, flipping over the curb right in front of me and almost taking me out.  I lost a bunch of places immediately, but held on the back straight and final sprint for 5th, rueing what might have been.  Quinn (7th), Berk (11th), Brian(13th), and Wade(14th) all finished top 20 in a great MIT showing.

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Berk during his ~15 minute solo breakaway, Photo: PK

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Charles in the pack. Photo: PK

 

On the rest of the weekend:

What a turnout! 27 riders and a lot of hanging out/banter/eating snacks in the sunshine. We all but swept the TTT categories, and Kate and Emma won a race each, both in sprint finishes!

And here is Laura’s race report from her crit:

Sunday lived up to the legends of the glorious Army Crit course.  Featuring a long straightaway right next to the Hudson River, a punchy climb, and two quite technical corners, it might just be the funnest crit course I’ve ever done.  I was super excited to have two other MIT women racing with me in the Women’s D field.  For Amy and Amanda, it was both of their first crits, so we were all a little nervous going into it, but did some initial strategizing in hopes of all staying at the front of the pack.  Right off the gun Amanda sprinted to the front and started hammering, stringing out the field from the very beginning.  Amy stayed within the front 5 riders the entire time, while Amanda moved around in the pack quite a bit, staging some attacks up the punchy hill to keep things interesting.  I ended up “yoyo-ing” off the back more than I wanted, so with ~10 minutes to go I used the straightaway to pass most of the field and grab onto Amanda’s wheel for the rest of the race.  Because we were going soo hard the whole time, the field had really broken up, leaving only around 8 riders in the main field by the end.  The last lap was especially fast, and ended in a sprint to the finish, with Amy in 2nd, and Amanda and I in 4th and 5th, respectively.  I couldn’t have been happier with how the race went, and also soo proud of my teammates for totally crushing it in their first crits.  This was sadly my last collegiate race on the road this year, and I think a perfect ending. Already getting stoked for next season 🙂

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Women’s D squad ready for the RR to start! Photo: PK

Here is mine from my victory (!) at the women’s A crit on Sunday:

I never thought I would be writing about winning a women’s A crit because I am not a great sprinter, especially in large packs (I get pretty nervous!). But this year two of the three crits we’ve done have included small breakaways. I must say that I’ve enjoyed crits MUCH more when it’s just 2 or 3 other girls cornering with me! 🙂

This time, the break went about halfway into the race, with Dani (conference leader, Brown), and Liz (Army). After 5-10 minutes of pushing, I asked people from MIT who were spectating for the gap, and the next time around they said it was only 15 seconds. So we kept the pace high, and seemingly magically the gap grew and grew. I found out afterwards that this was not magic– this was teamwork!! Tori and Anne did an AMAZING job blocking the rest of the pack. I really don’t think we would have been able to stay away if they hadn’t been there, and I appreciate their help SO much.

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Tori and Anne controlling the women’s A/B pack to enable my breakaway to stay away! Photo: Wade Wang

Unfortunately, with about 6 laps to go Liz took one of the corners too wide and hit a guard rail (it was padded and she was okay other than some road rash), so it was then just Dani and me. We worked together until the last lap.  In a head-to-head sprint, Dani would beat me every time. She has an incredible sprint! So knowing that, I stayed on her wheel for the last lap to try to tire her out. Coming out of the last corner she was close to the left hand side of the road, so I went to her right. I put my head down and sprinted as hard as I could and I barely edged her out! It was an amazing feeling, and it meant so much more when I found out how much Anne and Tori had done to help me!

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Hardest I have ever sprinted! Photo: Wade Wang

This coming weekend is ECCC championships hosted by RISD and Brown. We have another large group coming since it’s so close!