All posts by Jen Wilson

Oliver with his bike Friday in Solvang

Alumni Feature: Oliver Seikel returns to Solvang for cycling

Oliver Seikel (MIT ’59) has been bicycling for 30 years and even biked from Cleveland to Cambridge for his 50th reunion in 2009. Oliver first joined the team for its 2013 Spring Training Camp in Borrego Springs and visited training camps in 2014, and 2015, but was unable to attend in 2016. Why skip training camp? To visit San Luis Obispo and return to Solvang where he still brought his bike.

Oliver wrote to the team on January 29th and shared the following:
“Tomorrow we say goodbye to the mermaid and head back to Los Angeles where we will spend the night before returning to Cleveland on a morning flight on Sunday.   This has been a great way to break up the winter and I thank the team for getting me started with midwinter training.  I have biked everyday except for a rain day in St Luis Obispo, the transfer day to Solvang, and a day when my Friday was waiting for a new tire to be shipped in.”

He credits cycling with keeping him younger than his age.  His doctor recently told him to keep up his cycling as he leaves his teenager years behind.

Oliver with his bike Friday in Solvang
Oliver with his bike in Solvang, CA

For many of us, MIT Cycling is our first contact with the sport of cycling. It’s awesome to see the “team” expanding beyond campus to bring alumni and community members alike to the sport of cycling.

New Kit Mock Up

Kit Pre-order, through November 13th!

After months of work and planning, we’re finally revealing and taking pre-orders for the 2016 racing kit! We received many awesome kits and a lot of support from the team, alumni, and greater community, thank you all for contributing to this process.

The committee reviewed many submissions, much feedback, and a handful of clothing manufacturers. We will be moving forward with Vie13 as our clothing supplier and the ‘Charcoal Asymmetric’ design submitted by MIT alum Paul (Course 2 ‘08). Paul, along with another MIT alum Clayton (Sloan & ESD, ‘09) founded a company RIIND (riind.com), that designs, develops, and sells, everyday products designed to last.

New Kit Mock Up

At this time, we are taking pre-orders for 2016 kit. To pre-order items, please fill out this form for each item type (you have until Friday November 13th).

We will not guarantee kit availability if you do not place a pre-order and submit the deposit (read on for more info). Many specialty items like skinsuits and LS jerseys will only be ordered based on the pre-orders, so please plan accordingly.

A few features with this order:

  1. The pre-order period lasts two weeks.  Make decisions about what items you would buy and fill out the form. Once we’ve counted all items, we will determine what inventory we’re going to purchase. We will definitely be ordering jerseys, bibs, and skinsuits, though we may or may not order more specific items (wind vests, fleece items) if there isn’t enough interest.
  2. Treat this as a commitment to buy. Don’t pre-order something that you ultimately don’t want.
  3. Since we have no order minimums, kit prices will be set based on order cost. We will confirm exact prices when all pre-orders are submitted. Though, based on initial estimates, we can estimate prices for some popular items (Approximate_Pricing).
  4. For those of you who haven’t yet tried on Vie13 kit, check out the vie13_sizing_chart.
  5. You will be invoiced for the deposit Nov 13 (at $10/item), and for the remaining cost when the gear arrives.
  6. If you don’t order items now, you’ll have to wait until the next order (likely in June).
  7. Mountain jerseys aren’t included in this order, but will be included for the summer order in time for the Fall 2016 season.

If you have any questions about the order contact cycling-clothing@mit.edu.

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Thoughtforms to be title sponsor for MIT Cycling

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The MIT Cycling Club is pleased to announce that Thoughtforms Custom Builders, a supporter of the team since 2012, has generously agreed to act as the club’s title sponsor for the 2015-2016 season.

Founded in 1972 and based in Acton, MA, Thoughtforms has become one of the premier custom home builders. In 2003, they were nationally recognized as Custom Home Magazine’s Custom Builder of the Year. Thoughtforms emphasizes creativity and collaboration and is committed to building quality homes that endure. We feel that their mission correlates closely with the way that we train, race, and represent the MIT Cycling Club.

The MIT Cycling Club is dedicated to the promotion and growth of cycling in the MIT community. The club consists of students, MIT affiliates, community members at large, and alumni; our mailing list currently reaches over 700 cyclists. The club also supports a competitive racing team in four cycling disciplines: mountain bike, cyclocross, road, and track racing. The racing team has consistently represented the club well at the National level. With Thoughtforms as title sponsor, the team will continue to provide a high quality experience to club members, including professional instruction, professional level training camps, and support at local and national level races.

Thank you to Thoughtforms. We look forward to working with you during the 2015-2016 racing season.

My Bike Family

All Bike Thieves Should Be Banished: How To Recover Stolen Bikes

As much of the Boston cycling community knows, I had 4 bikes stolen from a shed in my back yard in early August, two of which were mine: my much-loved (and upgraded) commuter and my mountain bike. Through hard-headedness, some work, and a bit of luck I managed to get them both back, and want to share advice for others trying to get their bikes back.

First and foremost: document everything for all the bikes you own! Record serial numbers, know what parts are on your bike, and if it’s not stock or was bought off craigslist or something get an estimate of replacement cost from your shop, which can serve as proof of ownership and proof of cost. I was lucky in that though I didn’t have any of the serial numbers for the stolen bikes when they were taken, I was able to acquire them all within 24 hours, from receipts and other records. The folks at Landry’s were also super helpful and printed out all the receipts they had in their system for my purchases from them (I had a saddlebag and lights stolen as well), provided me with service reports that could count as proof of ownership, and did a replacement estimate of my commuter (20yo frame with 2012 105 components and very nice wheels) for insurance. I had also registered the commuter with MIT, and they were able to send me a letter for the insurance company saying that I’d registered with them two years ago.

The next important thing is to call the police. Call the station, don’t call 911; unless the thief is still there and you need him to be caught, this isn’t an emergency, even though it may feel like the end of the world. Most insurance companies will require a police report, and if you have a case number you can get help from the police later (more on this to come).

Next, the thing I didn’t do that meant I didn’t get my commuter back for 3 weeks: poster your neighborhood, knock on doors, ask people if they know anything or saw anything. I don’t know who took the bikes, don’t know if they had been watching me for a while (I used the shed for storage for about 2 months, and washed my nice carbon race bike in the driveway more than once), but my mountain bike was sold to someone in a MacDonald’s parking lot on Soldier’s Field Road (not far from where I live) for $200, and my commuter was dumped a block and a half from my home (probably because they decided they couldn’t sell it because it had no pedals on it). If I’d gone around the neighborhood I probably would have spotted the bike, or at least gotten someone to tell me about it sooner.

The thing that I spent the next two days doing: let everyone know that your bikes were stolen. Especially if they’re unique. I’ve never seen a match for either of my stolen bikes around Boston, so I told everyone I knew who knows bikes that if they saw a red Lemond Tourmalet with a particular paint job in the city, it was almost certainly mine. I printed posters with color pictures and descriptions of what was on each bike and distributed them to nearly every bike shop in the area, both by email and in person. I pretty much tried to get everyone in the greater Boston cycling community to help search for my bikes. It turned out to not be necessary, but it made me feel better that there were shops where, if my bike came in, they wouldn’t let it leave without letting me know.

The thing I did almost immediately after making posters: set up alerts on Craigslist. I didn’t want to post that I was looking for stolen bikes, in case I scared the thief away, but I did want to see if they came up for sale. You can check various boxes to include nearby areas; I did that in both Boston and New York and the search areas were large enough that they overlapped! I included New York because I was told by multiple people that bikes stolen in Boston can end up being sold there. Of course, I was lucky in that I was looking for a Lemond, a Superfly, and an orange bike (which I didn’t own, but had rented from MITOC and was thus responsible for), which are very uncommon on Craigslist so I didn’t get more than a few emails a day even though I was looking over a very large search area.

The thing that I almost didn’t do: call the cops if you think you’ve found your bike and it’s in someone else’s possession. If you see someone riding it, call 911, if you find it locked up or on Craigslist or something, call the station. 36 hours after my bikes were stolen, a 2014 Trek Superfly 7 popped up on Craigslist for 700, cash only, with “clip pedals on the bike,” and using the stock catalogue photo. I was pretty much certain that it was mine and first called a friend who has a car and plays rugby. Luckily that friend was busy, and at my flatmate’s urging called the cops instead. They had me set up a meeting with the guy (with my not-suspicious email address) and went to get the bike themselves. The seller was in Chelsea, so my case officer in Boston called up the Chelsea PD who did the sting, and then, after matching the serial number, took my bike from the guy who was selling it. They were only able to take it back because I had the serial number, which was proof that I had owned the bike. I’ll say it again: if I hadn’t had the serial number as proof of ownership, they would have had to let the guy keep the bike even though we were all certain that it was my stolen bike.

I’ll finish with the thing that brought my commuter back to me 3 weeks after it was stolen: register your bikes as stolen on the various internet databases. Rejjee is a startup that has just partnered with the Boston PD and will register all sorts of things, not just bikes, and allows you to ask that a police officer come to your house at the same time you report things stolen. My bike was returned to me via bikeindex.org, after the people in whose driveway the bike was dumped, perfectly intact (with the hundred dollars of lights and everything else still on it), found the serial number on it and used that to find a phone number for me. Imagine my surprise and disbelief when I learned that it had been sitting a block and a half away all along!

My Bike Family

The family is all back together! Why yes, I did buy a cross bike while being upset that I’d had two bikes stolen. You say I have too many bikes? Never!

I honestly can still hardly believe it that I’ve got both my bikes back. I’m incredibly lucky that I managed to get them both back, especially since they would have needed to be replaced immediately. The mountain bike is my race bike, and the collegiate mountain season started with last weekend’s opening race hosted by Northeastern, and the commuter is my transport workhorse, the only bike I own that I’m willing to lock up outside, the one with a rack that can carry enough groceries for more than a week, the one that I’ve had for years and have put a lot of work into maintaining and upgrading.

I guess that the final piece of advice is don’t despair, there’s always hope. I got my bikes back reasonably quickly (though I’d already started replacing the commuter), but I have a friend who once recovered a stolen bike 2 months after it was taken when he spotted a homeless guy riding it around town! You have plenty of support, both from cyclists and the police, and hopefully you’ll manage to find it eventually… or at least (and at worst, I guess) get your insurance to pay for replacement.

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Flashback Friday: Jeff Duval’s reflections on a season with MIT

One year of collegiate racing

I have always loved riding bicycles. When people ask me how I got started I always tell the same story. As a young kid, my mom would put me in a bicycle seat and go riding in the evening. When she felt my helmet hitting her back she knew that I was asleep and that she could go home and put me to bed. I have no way to test if this is the reason why I love it so much, but I like to think it is part of it!

As a grown-up, my reasons to ride are different. Of course, there are all the usual reasons (extremely efficient way of transportation, eco-friendly, cheap*, etc.), but this is also how I develop my personality. To ride long distances you need to train, to overcome obstacles, to adapt to various situations. It is a great way to become more perseverant, grounded and organized. Combine that with the health benefits of cardio-vascular activities and you can become a better person on all aspects!

Before joining the MIT Cycling Team I did a few cycling events (off-road triathlon with kayaking, mountain biking and trail running, Eastern Sierra Double Century, a few centuries) but I was always competing against myself, not directly against a pack. I didn’t think that I was fast enough, or talented enough, to do true races.

Last September I decided that I would start following the road training plan in November to get in a better shape before a long touring trip this summer. I was thinking about racing once or twice, just to see how it was. Then Beth convinced me to try a mountain bike race… and I was hooked after the first weekend. Don’t get me wrong, it was painful (my heart wanted to escape my chest, I felt disoriented, my glasses were all fogged up…), but I knew I would try again and again. I raced three weekends, and I got so much better in such a short period! Being passed really helps bike faster.

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Figure 1 Cross-country MTB Race

In November I started the road training plan. This was the first time that I was doing structured training and I made a point of following the plan as closely as possible. Initially, the hardest part was to stay in Zone 2. Completing a 2h training ride without heavy sweat was new to me. My training volume was higher than in the past, but my legs didn’t feel heavy like before; the plan had some benefits! The threshold intervals were really intense; I had no idea that I could keep such a high heart rate for up to 50 minutes.

The real test was to race. Before my first road race I was anxious (Will I get injured in a crash? Will I bonk after 5 minutes? Strategy?). Then the same thing as for mountain bike racing happened: I loved it! It is so intense, you need 100% of your body and 100% of your mind. You get in a zone where you have a strange mix of tunnel vision and complete awareness of your surroundings. Looking at the shadow of a fellow racer to know when to start your sprint is an awesome feeling. None of that would have been possible without the training plan and all the great advice I received from team members.

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Figure 2 Sprinting for the prime points at the Tufts Crit

Only 9 months after I started collegiate racing I’m forced to retire, as I’m getting my Master’s degree in a few weeks. Joining the MIT Cycling Team was a great idea; I learned a lot about bicycles, about racing, and I met wonderful people.

*Big lie

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Road Nationals 2015 Recap

Road Nationals Recap

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The team after TTT awards on Sunday. Back left: Ben Eck, Phil Kreycik, Andrea Tacchetti, Emerson Glassey, Corey Tucker, Julie van der Hoop. Front left: Zack Ulissi, Jen Wilson, Anne Raymond.

On May 6th, the MIT Cycling Team traveled down to North Carolina for three days of epic racing in the hills of Asheville. This year’s squad included: Zack Ulissi, Emerson Glassey, Corey Tucker, Anne Raymond, Julie van der Hoop, Jen Wilson, Ben Eck (mechanic), and later, Andrea Tacchetti and Phil Kreycik. The team rented a home to make prepping for race day easier (e.g. cooking lots of good food and sitting in the hot tub).

 

Day 1 involved a flight, wrangling of bikes and equipment at the airport (they did manage to get the doubles stuck in the conveyor belt!), and a ~2 hr drive to get to our place in Asheville. Kudos to Corey for an epic spreadsheet (it was color-coded and included our menu!) and kudos to Zack for finding the “deli” with fried chicken and pulled pork! Arrival at the house saw bike assembly, a grocery run, and a short spin down to route 52 to scope out the territory. Dinner #1 TACOS.

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Jalapeno egg salad from Zack’s lunch selection.
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A view from the deck of our house and the future location of the post-Nationals party

 

Day 2 was the day of recon. It was the chance to check out the courses and get a sense how the races would play out. Because of looming weather, the team headed out to the road course first. The team jumped out of the car to test the 25 mile loop at varying paces (Corey and Emerson dropped the group going into the first climb). It proved to be a beautiful course though, and now we were prepared for the race that was ahead. That afternoon, some of the team explored the lovely downtown area, while others rested and prepared for racing. Dinner that night: stir-fry.

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Pre-riding the road course. If anything, there was going to be great scenery!
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Grocery shopping – making decisions about which M&Ms to buy.
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Emerson at the stove making team rice crispies

Day 3 was our first race day. The women left the house around 6:30 am to get down to the race course, and Ben joined us for feeds and moral support (but really, when you’re nervous and trying to race, having a rational mechanic on hand is priceless!). The women took off around 8:30 am after call-ups into a foggy mist. The neutral start was a little rough as people crashed and bumped into each other. There was a lot of shouting and calling out to riders (flashbacks of CX-Nats had us all anxiously looking out for Corey). All of the women made it through to the climb though, and we were off! The sun came out and the day got hot quickly. By the end of the women’s race and the start of the men’s, it was hot enough that feeds could make or break the race. Ben Eck did a stellar job feeding the women all by himself (Ben, that bottle made my race!), and by the time that the men went off, Julie had effectively coordinated feeds for the entire ECCC. I think MIT riders may have posed for at least 4 different teams that day (North Eastern, Tufts, RISD, BU at least), but we were lucky to have that conference community to rely upon (thank you ECCC for being such an awesome and collegial environment).

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The misty fog pre-race. top-right: the D2 women of the ECCC bonding for a pre-race photo.
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The feedzone and the first climb. note: that MIT rider seems to be wearing extra jerseys! But really, it’s just a representation of how the conference really worked to help each other out).

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Day 4 was the day of the hill-attack crit. For many, this was by far the hardest crit course we had seen. With 100ft of climbing per lap, the course was more a process of constant hill repeats than the preferred technical corners and pack dynamics of a more traditional crit. Yet, the team threw themselves out there and fought on nonetheless. The women’s field splintered quickly as CMU set a blazing pace for the first few laps and set up the race to be one of attrition. Though even despite the heat and unrelenting climbs, the ECCC was out in full force to support us, and while in the pain cave, the cheers of Alan and the like were reminders of the strong preparation and community we receive racing in our conference. Also, a special thanks to Alan for advocating on MIT and Dartmouth’s behalf when the officials accidentally posted us as down a lap (it was just further proof of the chaos that ensued during this crit). As the other events went off, the course only became more brutal with the heat, and again, the ECCC bonded together to create an ice-water feed and splash zone (the women were not so lucky in the ability to feed or get splashed). At the end of the day, Zack received a victory ice-water bath from Anne, the team celebrated with some excellent donuts from Vortex (thanks for the freebies!), and then went home to recover for the last day of racing.

 

Day 5 was TTT! MIT traditionally does really well with the TTT, and this year was no exception. The Men set out first in their matching Venges, placing 4th overall. The women’s event followed, and ultimately placed 5th. Both teams made the podium! Zack Ulissi would go on to compete in the ITT in the burning heat (and after competing in all three events!) and end up 8th overall. We want to wish him luck in his future racing endeavors, but we are fearful of the future where he will no longer be scoring points for us 🙂

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Anne, Corey and Julie in the river for a post-race cool down.
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Women’s TTT on the podium.
Men's TTT on the podium.
Men’s TTT on the podium.

That evening concluded with a new Nationals tradition – BBQing with friends. In the past, the last race day has always seen an epic amount of dining (fried chicken has been the longest standing tradition). Though this year we mixed it up some and opted for salmon, sausages and steak instead (thanks a bunch to Emerson and Zack for getting groceries and starting the grill). The group eventually expanded to include Dartmouth, UCSD, NorthEastern and BU riders. Having the large porch afforded us the opportunity to bond with other cyclists and extend the cross-team camaraderie started at Saturday’s feed zone.

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The group hanging out on the porch.
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More socializing on the porch.

Day 6 was the return to reality. We had booked later flights to try and stave off the return to work and life, and did our best to squeeze the last bit of fun out of our time in Asheville. The group agreed that BBQ was essential to this mission and the team returned to 12 bones for one last fix. Emerson, Zack, and Ben apparently won lunch that day as they also secured ribs for the flight back. The other food-newbies on the team merely ordered lunch and were ultimately sad on the return flight when the pros opened feasted on their dinner ribs mid-plane ride.

 

The team was greeted at Boston with enthusiastic high fives from our resident expert, Ethan, and were much appreciated at the end of a long day. Kristine Fong also supplied Tatte pastries to give the team a little boost as we returned to the prospect of working and being students again (thank you both!).

 

The team, riders and equipment all made it safely back to Cambridge. Though, at the moment, it’s unclear as to who has unpacked and started riding. Six Gaps is looming on the weekend horizon and it seems that training-in-bed may be the best strategy.