Dear MIT Cycling,
This was the beginning of what promises to be an epic journey to the end of the road and back again. We won the overall conference championships edging out both Army and UVM in the final weeks. After some beautiful podium shots with the team, we packed up the Nats van with help from teammates. We ended up being the last to leave the Penn State crit course, but Nick and I decided to go ahead and leave even later by taking the first of many side detours to attend a tasting of ice cream at the Penn State Creamery. I had a shake, and Nick had a cup, and we chatted with Joe Kopena and Caitlin Thompson about why USA Cycling sucks and how they need to improve.
Eventually we got on the road to Pittsburgh toward Nick’s sister Andrea’s place. Most of the journey was through the mountains of Western Pennsylvania coal country, which provided some pristine views of several large coal power plants and billboards (as well as green mountains and rolling countrysides). I noted to Nick that one natural-draft cooling towers (show a pic of one here) could cool up to about 1GW of coal generation, so the plant that had three in the distance was likely a massive 2-3GW net plant. Ok, done with the electricity nerd aside.
One interesting sight on the way was this small red business off to the right labeled with big white letters spelling “CLIMAX”. Of course this piqued our interest, both being 20-something males. As we came closer, I noticed a smaller sign saying “DRIVE THRU PEEP SHOW”. Wow. I was simultaneously disgusted and amazed at the existence of such an establishment, when the appropriateness of the name finally hit me. ‘Nuff Said. Hilarious.
We got dinner at a great Pittsburgh-original Mexican place called Mad Mex, where Nick and I chowed down on a trio of salsas: habenero-pineapple, avocado-tomatillo, and spicy cheese. The wittiness of the menu can be summarized by their listing of one particular fake side item: “Item: A Little Honey on the Side | Price: Half of Everything”. After a big meal of fish tacos and beer for me and enchiladas for Nick, we rode on to Pittsburgh.
We arrived at Nick’s sister Andrea Loomis’ house and we had a grand ole time hanging out with her and her boyfriend Dan. We spoke of Swine Flu, phallic (non) musculature, instruction manual translation, and teaching science to school children. After a solid three hours worth of driving, we were worn out and sweaty, so we took showers and went to bed ready for an epic day of driving to follow the next day.
Q: Where are you from, what are you studying, what year are you?
Tim: I’m from Jamison Pennsylvania. It’s a typical suburban area that is within shouting distance of Philadelphia (around a 40 minute drive) but is still far enough away that the roads are great for cycling. I’m a Junior (class of 2010) and am currently planning to graduate with degrees in Biology and Chemical Engineering (officially Chemical-Biological Engineering). Although I’m not in the lab 24/7 like the grad students on the team, I am doing research in the Amon lab at the Koch Center for Cancer Research here on campus. I’m working with yeast on the question of aneuploidy and its relationship to tumor development. Could it possibly be a cause of tumorigenesis!? Is it just a consequence of the process? Maybe before I graduate I’ll find out something about these questions…
Q: How did you get into cycling?
Originally, I got into cycling as a way to cross train between other sports seasons in my senior year of high school. In high school, as well as in my first two years at MIT, I was a two sport, three season varsity athlete in soccer and track and so obviously, I needed to pick up another sport to pass the time in between. Anyway, at that point training was well and good, especially in scenic Bucks County, but there is only so much scenic riding that a person can handle. I entered one race my first summer because it was practically right on my doorstep, I was tired of just riding for the sake of riding, and I wanted to maybe win a trophy. From then on I was hooked into bike racing. It has everything that I liked about running track, but at a level that was amped up orders of magnitude.
Q: What kind of races do you like, and why?
I like races that end up feeling like battles. My favorite and ideal races are those that have hard changes of pace, lots of long steep climbs, solo breakaways and really anything else that forces everyone in the pack to kind of dig deep. If you are familiar with the running movie Without Limits, I would say that my racing philosophy is similar to Prefontaine’s. I really don’t like sitting in the pack or getting pulled along at a pedestrian pace. I would much rather be at the front or off of the front attacking and making the tempo. Because of this, I would say that I am much more of a road race and stage race man because it seems like these races are the most likely to be long and grueling and I think that this leaves me with the best chance to do well in them.
Q: What are your goals for the season?
Since the racing hasn’t gotten underway yet my goals are all very ambitious. This is my first season of strictly cycling (I stopped running track and playing soccer) and I feel like I am ready to rock the collegiate field. My main personal goal is to win a road race in the A field this year. Tentatively, I think that the Dartmouth and PSU road courses best favor my strengths. I also want to be in the conversation for the conference points race which will entail stacking up some solid performances on a consistent basis. Again, I feel strong going into the season! Obviously, the pinnacle of the season is Nationals, and putting the other aspirations aside, I want to be on top form then and have a season ending goal of a top 8 finish in the RR. And of course, the goal of both the conference and the national team championships.