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Race reports from Dartmouth weekend -Rachel, Martha, Spencer, and Mahalia

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.

ECCC week2 Columbia/Stevens: Race reports

Fourteen of us (11 guys+3 girls) drove down to New York this weekend for another awesome weekend of racing. We had two criterium races, one by Columbia and the other by Stevens Institute of Technology. When I was walking inside the Steven’s student center, I noticed that the color of SIT’s graduation gown is identical to that of MIT; they must really like us… Anyhow, here I posted several short reports by the riders who were at the races this weekend. The full race results are posted at:

After this weekend, MIT is placed second in DII and third overall. Let’s keep up the good work. I can’t wait to start racing TTTs!


Ian Rousseau, Men’s C:

I really liked the Columbia course, particularly the 180-degree turn  that seemed to be designed for bike racing.  Unfortunately, my bike  did not want to cooperate and my shifters got stuck. Tony was kind  (and brave!) enough to lend me his bike and I wound up finishing with  the pack.  I felt like I was working too hard-not picking the best  lines
around corners and not drafting enough-and wasn’t able to get  further than 2/3 of the
way through the pack.  I need to work on  riding smarter in packs and getting through the group. At Stevens, the course scared the crap out of me at first, but after the  first few laps with my now somewhat-unstuck shifter, I realized that I  could use my momentum to save a lot of energy on the uphill part of  the course.  The cornering clinics made a huge impact because I felt  comfortable cornering at full speed and then was able to sag on the hill and wear the other riders down.  I finished 2nd and could use some more work on sprinting so I can fight it out at the line. (Editor’s note: Ian sprinted to 2nd place with his hands on the HOODS, as you can see in the picture below…Clearly he paid more attention in the cornering clinic than in the sprinting clinic.)

This weekend was also my first weekend driving (and parking) in NYC,  so that was an interesting experience.  In addition to being a saint,  Tony is also a transportation guru.  I had a lot of fun cheering with David on the uphill part of the Stevens course yesterday.  I think we’re both a little hoarse today.

Rachel Bainbridge, Women’s Intro:

This was my second race weekend ever and it was just as exciting and as fun as my first. I was really excited for the Columbia crit, and I was feeling pretty good Saturday morning despite be sick all week, so I ended up trying to do too much work again like last week in the circuit race. Despite being out sprinted at the very end, at least I remembered to use my drops this time. I also thought the course was really cool and fun. At the Steven’s crit, I ended up starting behind, but I was making up 1-2 places on the back stretch simply by taking corners faster than other girls and carrying my speed onto the flat and up the hill. My race actually ended with a rather exciting sprint finish, which I won for fourth place. It was a good weekend and I am looking forward to moving up to women’s B where I will hopefully get to race for longer than 4-6 laps.

Michael Hamilton, Men’s B:

I was very happy with the weekend with two 8th place finishes and a pack finish on my first Men’s B race weekend.  The Columbia races went like a pretty standard criteriums, with a major pack sprint at the end.  I was a bit stronger than most in the 4 race, so I got 8th in the sprint out of the ~100 starters.  In the B race I broke off a half-lap early to take one of the prime laps, but then I sat back in and tried to conserve energy.  The B field is much stronger so I got 22nd (there may be some *cough* sandbaggers *cough* in that B field still.  I did try to give Chewie a lead out in that race, but I didn’t have much left for him since it was so fast.  Perhaps the flat criteriums will not be my strong suit this year, but I am still working on my sprint anyway.

Being such a short course, we did 26 laps to make a 40 minute race at Stevens. The race started with the fast downhill, and I had started toward the back, so I couldn’t move up much until the first uphill when I moved up maybe 10 places and realized I was going to be just fine in this race. UVM had about 20 people in the race, and it was hard for me to tell them apart, but I knew that they were very strong, and I had to stay with UVM or my man Jose to do well in this race.  Each lap was the same sort of thing, but with different players. The first 5 laps I passed people and dropped people each lap. I would pass people in the downhill curvy section since I had good handling and was being aggressive, sometimes I would pass before or after the fast downhill corner, and then I would try to save energy and not be so aggressive on the uphills every lap. Some of the riders like Jose and UVM riders were much stronger than me and I couldn’t stay with them, but a group of 4-5 ended up forming for most laps with me, a Millersville rider, my friend Ross from UPenn, some UVM riders, a Dartmouth rider, and a Columbia rider. I pushed it to keep with the guys every lap, and we started to lap riders by about the 8th lap, and we even lapped some of them twice by the end. I ended up getting 8th place again, which was really exciting, and has shown me that I can stay with the Men’s B field this year.

Tony Laidig, Men’s Intro:

Armed with a full nights sleep this time, I began my Saturday crit stronger than any of last week’s races. I kept with the pack for most of the first lap until we reached the downhill straightaway and I found myself spinning out with everyone leaving me behind. For what seemed like an eternity, I tried to pedal harder until I realized that I had been in my small ring since the beginning! It was now time to play an impossible game of catch up. I kept strong for the rest of the race, until on the second to last lap a woman and her dog stepped out into a crosswalk right in my line. The loss of momentum made me fall further behind. In the end, not so much a better race than last week. The Stevens course was a little insane, with several blocks of 15% grade– what I assumed would be just long enough not to hammer up– and a fast and furious downhill.Again, I started well, but I had a fear of the corner at the bottom of the hill, which caused me to lose precious time. I finished at the back of the pack yet again, but this race was notable in that it was the first time I was not pulled before the finish!

David Quinn, Men’s D:
In the Columbia race (D2) I was really pleased to get in to the front of the pack and hang in there for most of the race. After getting one preme (3rd final lap), I ended up being stuck in the awkward position of 50 yards behind the leader, and 50 yards in front of the pack. I drifted back, and then hadn’t anticipated the pace that pace of the final lap which caused me to drop back. I didn’t work my way up quickly enough before the last corner came and had to drop back as I was getting squeezed out. Managed to get by ome people at the final sprint but felt like I could have made some better tactical decisions towards the end, finishing 15th.

The Stevens course was pretty tough, but after pre-riding several times I really got into the cornering (thanks Chewie!). I managed to get out early and floated between 3rd and 4th place, finishing 3rd. I liked the course as it was just about cornering and hills, though was sorry not to have caught the Steven’s guy who got second at the final sprint.

Yuri Matsumoto, Women’s A:
My goal for this weekend was to finish the race with the leader, namely Ana from Harvard. At Columbia criterium, I successfully followed her wheel throughout the race (~90% of the time I was on her wheel; literary “fly on ****”) and covered every move she made before/after primes, so I was happy. I finished 9th because I didn’t have much to spare at the end for sprint. My sprint is still quite slow this season but during the race, I had couple of moments (at some primes) when my legs felt really good. I’m still getting into racing shape and hopefully by the end of the season, I can have my sprinting legs back.

Women’s A field at Steven’s crit was very small with 9 people (Guaranteed top 10!). I must say that I had a lot of fun going uphill and taking corners hard every lap. I was always at the front (first, second or third wheel) most of the race and felt really good. I felt so good that I was driving the pace up the hill to shed people on the climb and it came down to five riders. But then I guess I spent too much energy in the first half of the race that when Ana attacked 3 laps to go, I was on Cortney’s wheel who was on Ana’s wheel and I couldn’t sprint to get onto Ana. After attempting to chase down the attack, I felt quite week for the finish and ended up finishing 5th. I guess I failed my mission to finish with the leader in this race, but I learned a lesson, “race like a weakest rider even if you feel like a beast!”

Pre-Season Racing: Boston Triathlon Team Indoor TT

The MIT Cycling Team brought 8 racers to the major pre-season road event for the year (plus our friend Alex from the New England Conservatory).  We had a great performance throughout the day over 3 different heats.  Congrats to Jose Soltren and Melissa Gymrek for winning the collegiate events for men and women respectively.  My pictures for the event are up on our gallery page.

These team results are promising as we prepare for the Rutgers/Princeton Race next weekend.  Stay tuned for weekly race summaries and pictures.

-Michael Hamilton – MIT Cycling Vice-President

Here are the team results:

MIT Women:
MELISSA GYMREK 20:20.5 18.88 236.97
ZUZANA TRNOVCOVA 21:22.2 17.97 205.48
MIT Men:
JOSE SOLTREN 17:08.5 22.4 391.88
JON DREHER 17:44.9 21.64 362
MICHAEL HAMILTON 19:09.1 20.05 291.36
ZACH LABRY 19:28.5 19.72 292.95
NICK LOOMIS 20:55.8 18.35 304.33
CAL LANKTON 21:04.2 18.23 253.07
ALEX CHALEFF 21:14.9 18.07 255.21

Cyclocross Nationals Wrapup

As you’ve probably heard, five of us (Tim Humpton, Jose Soltren, Kate Harris, Cim Wortham, and myself) flew to Kansas City this weekend to contest the Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships.  We stayed in Lawrence, KS with Nick Loomis’s wonderful aunt and uncle Kathy and Howard Ebmeier.  Nick traveled home early for the holidays to serve as our soigneur, chef, and photographer, taking pressure of us and making the weekend a lot of fun.  Jose thinks he gained a pound in 24 hours thanks to our hosts’ wonderful cooking.

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