Category Archives: Race Reports

Team in Time trail kit

Albuquerque Road Nationals 2024

What do you get when you combine a rose, bud, and thorn? Apparently Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 2024 Collegiate Road National Championships. Who knew?

Eight members of the road team traveled down south to go up in elevation, competing in four national events over three days – the team time trial, individual time trial, road race, and criterium. Let this blog serve as proof that we figured out how to breathe without oxygen, and let’s walk through what our week of races looked like! Of course, since we’re in Albuquerque, and because it’s Seamus’ favorite activity, each day will be presented in rose/bud/thorn fashion. Don’t know what that is? You’ll figure it out (no one ever explained it to me so idk either).

Team and Individual Time Trial day

Rose

Womens TTT. Craig Huffman Photographyabq ttt start

Hannah, Melissa, Chen, and Bianca (left to right on the start) set off for the team time trial to the sweet sounds of the commentator trying to recruit us for jobs. Apparently Los Alamos, NM has the highest number of PhDs per capita or something, little did they know that none of our riders have a degree yet. Regardless, they had a blast in their first team time trial and finished 7th in the nation and Melissa finished the individual time trial with a top 10!

Lee's defense

During the individual time trials, Hannah and Mason zoomed every rider into Lee Lopez’s thesis defense, continuing our time honored tradition of embarrassing one another when they’re hyper-focused on becoming a doctor. (We have only found his masters thesis online so far but will update this once the doctoral thesis is up too). Rumor (heard here first) has it Los Alamos is in his future.

Bud

M TTTM TTT

On the men’s team, Derek (pictured here in a totally legal aero position), Felix, Seamus, and Mason spent most of the warmup worried that Seamus wasn’t feeling that great and then spent the second half of the race worried about him dropping the other three. A faster time than last year was a great result, and with three of the four returning for next year we’re looking forward to the future. Inspired by the marginal gains acquired by the TT helmets and skinsuits (both new experiences for some of the team!), the whole team is looking forward to a future of aero gains. Gains are gains.

Thorn

petroglyphs hike

After the races the real adventure began, as the team headed to the Petroglyph National Monument so that Seamus could stamp his national parks Passport. A rather thorny adventure awaited us, with lots of sharp scrub greeting the hikers. The worst part of the day was definitely Derek and Melissa going an extra walk at Petroglyph and lording it over everyone else at dinner. After dinner, it turned out the shower’s hot water wasn’t working. Since the nearby volcanoes weren’t very appealing (editorial comment: what volcanoes? Clearly this post is not being written by a geologist), team mom and most senior mechanical engineer Hannah disassembled and reassembled the shower to make hot water!

shower fixing

 

Road Race Day

Rose

feedersracer

Only Mason and Hannah competed in the road race, which was more or less a forgettable experience for Mason. Hannah, on the other hand, won her small group’s sprint and was probably top-5 among the sea-level folks. Meanwhile… the rest of the team was on the essential duty of shuttling around the two of them, handing up bottles and food, and huddling around Hannah at the end of her race to keep her warm. This was hard work, and required at least three trips to Sprouts (Melissa’s favorite place on earth), beans, cuties (the citrus, not Derek) a few extra USAC water bottles, and more than one trip down the musical highway to the tune of “America the Beautiful.”

Bud

Dinner this evening was, well, challenging. We’re still waiting on the cornbread to finish cooking… In the interim, everyone has now made it their goal to match Hannah’s t-shirt choice without her knowing, as Mason managed to accomplish at least once on this trip.

twinning

In addition to this admirable goal, some, more, intrepid (?) members of the team proposed the aero-enhancing camelbak skinsuit as a startup idea. Their slogan? Hydraero 3000! Or maybe Watersuit! Bianca is workshopping still but regardless, catch us on Shark Tank next week!

Thorn

sandia! sandia crest view

The team really needed dinner that night, since most of the riders ended up doing longer rides than Hannah or Mason between shepherding us around the course and concluding their rides with a big climb up Sandia Peak (which gets above 10k feet at the top). This was particularly accentuated by the fake truce Seamus tried to make with Felix near the top, as the two of them slowly ramped up the pace on the way up the climb. Melissa, Bianca, and Chen followed at a more reasonable pace and it became almost everyone’s biggest climb ever! Opinions differed on how enjoyable the descent was: Melissa tore down like a slalom ski champ, Chen honed their apexing skills thanks to WTC cornering day, Bianca got in her arm day pulling brakes.

Derek, although he didn’t race or do the big climb and only eventually got cornbread, was still left out to dry. Hannah went to “””lay down””” in his bed to get away from the hullabaloo and woke up there the next morning, Derek banished to the couch and woken up at 5am by the rest of the team. Her only excuse? Sorry, it was very comfortable! (editorial comment: Hannah had also set a best 20 minute power during the road race… at 7,200’… tiredness was justified.)

Criterium Day

Rose

The crit was a hard day out for everyone with the only rose-worthy race mention being Hannah winning her second mini sprint of the weekend (albeit for 12th overall/top 5 of the sea-level schools after crashing earlier in the race but a sprint win is still a win!). Jealous of the Sandia Crest outing by the group the day before, Derek motivated Mason and Hannah to go peak bagging in the afternoon. We missed out on the glorious sun and instead were treated to 30+mph wind gusts and temperatures on the top to match the remaining winter snow. Despite the cold, the views were still stunning and the group photo ended up way cuter than expected!

sprintsandia

Bud

With the rotation of the Nationals venue every two years, it might actually be at sea level next year! #bringontheoxygen!

Thorn

For the second year in a row, the Rio Grande Celtic Festival was happening inside the crit course throughout the race (to be clear, this is not the thorn, keep reading). This led to a constant soundtrack of bagpipes throughout the day and to some stellar intermingling between the cycling fans and the Celtic fans. A thorn for some was a rose for others when Hannah quickly abandoned Mason to explain to someone’s grandma how bikes haven’t changed much in 70 years. Mason had just been pulled from his crit, was not amused, and Hannah, of course, documented the occasion with glee from afar.

Travel Day

Rose

Half the team headed back on Sunday morning, leaving Derek, Hannah, and Mason to fend for themselves at the criterium. It’s hard to find a rose on a travel day, but Seamus convincing all four of his NUMTOTs to take public transport home, bike bags and all, was by far the highlight.

train

Bud

One way to travel, and that we’re looking forward to seeing more of in the future, is Dartmouth’s chosen method. Helmets in the airport (easily identifiable), paceline walking at all times (drafting is important at 2.5mph), and extra compact use of porta-potties (don’t ask) are all admirable travel methods we expect to see more of from them at the next ECCC race. Teams from other conferences at nationals did not understand but Dartmouth, we see you and appreciate you.

Thorn

Unfortunately, travel day 1 ended up hanging out in the great city of Houston for six extra hours on Sunday. Bianca chose to pass the time alternating between her newly acquired USAC water bottle and napping, while Felix returned to the working world. Seamus, Melissa, and Chen were nowhere to be found (probably joyriding on the airport tram if we were to guess though).

airpirt ugh

Final Thoughts

Rose

Overall, nationals was a huge success. MIT was one of 5 Club teams to send both full men and women’s teams and have racers in every event of the weekend. We had fun, we challenged ourselves, and we looked pro while doing it with nail polish to match our kit. What more could you ask for? (editorial comment: the Gatorade Guy is what more. Mason’s favorite volunteer from last year was back again this year, enthusiastically forcing ice cold hydration on us at every turn. We needed him, and he delivered. Thank you, Gatorade Guy.)

nailsnailsnails

Thorn

Marking the end of the season is bittersweet as friends graduate and we wait a whole year to do this all again. On the bright side, the best riding months in Boston are just arriving and some might say #crossiscoming or maybe even track season?!

(Fancy) photos credit: Craig Huffman Photography

Text primarily by Mason

2024 Easterns

2024 UVM Race – Easterns!

Things started off slow in beautiful Vermont. Some cleats were forgotten at the hotel, some shifters needed adjusting, some porta potty lines were long. All signs of just another classic race weekend. Did we warm up? Who’s to say… 

ITT Highlights

Max got last place in the ITT but first place in the bike mechanic competition. In just under 39 minutes, he was able to 1) start the ITT 2) return to the start line to fix his front derailleur and 3) finish the ITT. We don’t think anyone else could have completed the repair as quickly as he did.

UPDATE: We managed to convince the one and only Alan Atwood to give Max the time from his second go at the ITT, netting him a respectable midpack finish. Maybe Alan’s gone soft in retirement…

Michael got 2nd place in the men’s C/D ITT rocking the sweet TT helmet. He only had access to the big gear in the front, but we think that made him faster.

 

 

Michael, Alex, Felix, and Bianca all looking pro during the ITT. 

Michael went full Roglič Monte Lussari for the mountain TT, while his fellow men’s C/D riders opted out of the extraterrestrial look…

Melissa and Chen put in strong efforts in the ITT, getting 4th and 5th respectively. 

Max, Seamus, Felix, and Bianca hung around at the top of Mt. Philo for some scenic photos. Disc brakes got hot and ears popped on the way down.

RR Highlights

Melissa and Chen rode in a peloton of ten or so riders throughout the women’s C/D race, after two smaller breakaways took off early on. This pack worked together and had great energy. At one point, a UVM rider even commented on the mountains in the distance and there was some oohing and ahhing in the group. Chen and Melissa, along with two Army riders, pulled the group for a good chunk of the time. Chen made the mistake of pulling through the final windy sections with less than five miles to go, leaving very little gas in the tank for the final sprint. Melissa, the smarter one of the two, had a strong sprint to the finish. 

Chen and Melissa upping the pace in the women’s C/D field

Bianca, Melisa, Vinh, and Chen practiced feeding Seamus during the road race. While waiting at the feed zone, Chen was hit by a USAC P/1/2 rider’s bottle flying at 50 mph and ended up with a bruise on their forearm that did not go away for a week (cycling is a dangerous sport!). On the third try, Seamus was able to hold on to the bottle, but he forgot to make space in his bottle cage, so the effort was in vain. We should practice holding bottles with our teeth. Bianca is glad she got shoulder surgery last summer to withstand the impact of the bottle pass. We are feeling ready for feeding at nationals next week! 

Felix gracefully parted the peloton like the Red Sea when his chain snapped. A friendly stranger donated a spare chain link so he could wander around Vermont. Seamus pushed through crosswind chaos in the last lap to finish 7th.

Vinh took the feed zone seriously, even post-race

Chen practicing feeding technique (under Coach Berk’s step-by-step instructions during Nationals pre-race meeting), moments before being hit by an almost-full flying water bottle

Women’s C/D racers on the start line

CRIT highlights 

Max “aero be damned” Katz-Christy channeled his MTB bike handling skills into grabbing third place in his first crit (men’s Intro), bringing home MIT’s best result on the day. Indefatigable, he then went on to take some cool pictures and video of the rest of the team’s races (see below).

Melissa got 4th in the women’s C/D Criterium after realizing on the final sprint that she did not in fact know how to sprint. Melissa later joined the women’s Intro race with Chen and friend of the team Tatum Brown from Yale, turning this race into a fun TTT and cornering practice. This podium may not reflect who crossed the finish line first in the intro crit, but we’re all friends, so who cares?

Seamus notched his highest power for the men’s B/C race off the start line in true cyclocross fashion—the holeshot was essential for the extremely technical sequence of downhill corners on the first half of the course. From there it was simply a “keep the rubber side down” kind of race: always an achievement in its own right.

Sun’s out tongue’s out

Michael and Alex were not impressed with the ability of the 50+ rider men’s C/D field to navigate the corner sequence and got caught behind splits. The course was so short that they weren’t given much of an opportunity to chase back on before the officials began pulling riders. Nevertheless, they both got some valuable experience with cornering and handling in the pack.

Day 2 squad prom photo 

Easterns also means double omnium points! After some frantic and flawed tabulations, the ECCC team announced that we got third place as a team in both the championship weekend and season omnium standings! In the individual standings, Seamus won the men’s B field this season (“podium” picture notwithstanding)!

Michael’s second place in the ITT was recognized by getting to stand atop a metaphorical representation of Mt. Philo

We found out later that Seamus had actually earned first place, but then he wouldn’t have gotten to stand in the shame bucket 🙂

Alex’s Belgian instincts kicked in as he zipped up his jersey for the sponsors

To recap the weekend (and as an assignment for his documentary-making class), Max made this really cool video

MISC

Photo credits: Max Katz-Christy, Tatum Brown, Felix Knollmann, Nolan Rogers, Bianca Champenois

2024 Garden State Stage Race!

We kicked off our first day of GSSR with team time trials! The boys (Derek, Mason, and Seamus) went out first, sporting their fancy Imperial Trooper helmets. It was a wet and wonderful TTT, with Seamus dropping just before the top of the climb and Derek accidentally selecting the blindfold setting on his Remco helmet visor. They couldn’t quite keep up with the New England Devo kids 😬 but snagged possibly 3rd place (out of 3 teams, 😉). One theme of the weekend was unknown/incorrect race results.

The boys in their Fancy TTT helmets

Tatem and Hannah followed, with Hannah insisting on a coffee ride pace to save energy for the road race later. Tatem struggled with the slow pace and later quipped, “I now know what it feels like to be a dog on a leash.” They placed 2nd! (Out of two teams… but who needs to know that detail?)

Hannah and Tatem going on their coffee ride

Next up, the road race! Tatem kicked off the Women’s C/D race and finished 4th, stoked by the result on the hilly course. Seamus got a flat tire 15 minutes before his race but, with lightning speed, fixed it just in time to start. He placed 4th in the Men’s B/C race and, of course, we got a notorious photo of him sticking his tongue out at the photographer.

Seamus showing off his tongue as per usual

Derek and Mason raced in the Men’s A field. One rode at a coffee pace enjoying the beautiful New Jersey (I know, right?) scenery, while the other decided the race wasn’t worth the struggle. Ask them for details!

Tatem couldn’t miss the opportunity to BeReal iykyk

Hannah had a fun photo op at the start of the Women’s A/B race but planned for a short ride due to feeling under the weather. She achieved that goal, but not in the way she intended, possibly overcooking a corner (who let her cook??).

Hannah at the start with friends

The evening ended with us eating Indian-Mexican fusion for dinner, the boys convincing Tatem that shaving legs makes you more aero, and Tatem receiving the “most aggressive rider” jersey for the weekend (which was actually Hannah’s jacket).

Most aggressive rider of the weekend. You know the drill.

Sunday morning, we headed to Rutgers for the criterium race. The course had one technical corner, which was mostly technical because of the giant potholes on the racing line.

Seamus kicked off the Men’s B/C race, with an audience from the intro clinic watching to learn crit racing technique. Confusion surrounding the breakaway catching the peloton on the last lap ended up netting him 5th place, despite more ineptitude with the results.

Seamus ready to take off at the start

Tatem’s goal in the Women’s C/D race was not to get dropped immediately, and she succeeded, aided by Seamus’s sideline yelling. She even stuck her tongue out at the photographer in true Seamus fashion, finishing 4th.

Tatem learned a thing or two from Seamus

Lastly, Derek and Mason in the Men’s A race placed 6th and 10th respectively. Mason even got a sick start line photo, now his Strava profile pic.

Derek riding in the peloton
Masons new Strava profile pic

We wrapped things up with a long drive back to Cambridge, stopping for dinner at Five Guys, and finally taking a team photo while Tatem wrote a logistics email for next weekend’s race. #Candid

Five Guys group photo! #classy

Race photo credits: Luis Bastardo

Melissa crushing the short track.

Mountain bike racing returns for 2023!

I (Matthew) may have forgotten to write up a season recap for 2022, but now we’re back again for 2023! MIT cycling returned to the slopes this fall, with a couple of adventurous weekends of racing in western MA full of new faces, shredding, bonfires, and a bit of mud.

Our first weekend led us to an old favorite: Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, MA. The XC course is an ECCC classic, with lovely winding trails through the woods, and a small drop in the first hundred yards that never fails to cause total chaos in the Men’s C field. Our team for the weekend consisted of relative old-timers Matthew and Josephine, newcomers Max, Amine, Omar, and Tim, and new-to-MTB-racing-but-old-timer-with-respect-to-MIT-cycling Nick.

Josephine in the zone

After rolling in after dark (and after Amine, Omar, and Matthew’s memorable first trip to Olive Garden), the team awoke from their tents to a glorious morning, and in an extremely unusual turn of events, decided to actually pre-ride the course. Nick showed that cyclocross prowess translates well to MTB, taking the win with Max not too far behind. All the other Men’s Cs conquered the course successfully, rolling through the finish line smiling. Josephine suffered the unlucky fate of an early puncture and got to take a more relaxing morning. The afternoon was enjoyed sessioning and spectating the dual-slalom course, and griping about bracket and timing errors. It’s not bike racing unless you have something to make excuses about. Proper ‘murican pub food and bonfire spectating sent us to bed with sweet dreams.

Max learned to do this stuff on a blue bike

Sunday featured some solid short-track XC racing, with Nick and Max taking W’s. After some relaxing suntanning and a cup-noodle lunch, the team packed up and headed home. One solid weekend down.

Nick leaving everyone in the dust as always

For our second weekend of racing, we returned to Western MA to check out a new race course at Thunder Mountain in Charlemont. Though the week was wet leading up to the event and rain loomed in the forecast, a fresh crop of new mountain bikers turned up. First-time mountain bike racers included Maaya, Andrew, Varsha, Melissa, Gabriel, and Julius, while Matthew, Tim, Max, and Felix returned for more time on dirt. This was the largest group that MIT has taken to a mountain bike race in at least the last four years!

Are your shoes wet?
Max wearing the correct uniform

Rain, rain go away, come again some other day that isn’t right before a mountain bike race. After a damp night of camping the team arose, expecting a relaxed bike ride down the hill and across the river to Thunder Mountain. We were surprised to see so many teams piling into cars for a distance that should take less than ten minutes on a bike… until we saw the bridge closed sign. A four-mile detour finally got us to the foot of the mountain, only a few minutes before the race was supposed to start from the top of the slope. Luckily ECCC does not run on time and we made it just fine.

Bridge detour caravan

Now I had promised some of the first-time riders that the ECCC race courses are generally rideable, even if you’ve never ridden a mountain bike before, but this was a new course and I couldn’t be sure. At the start line we received a dire message: “Sooo I rode the course, and it’s pretty techy… and everything is super wet and slippery which makes it harder. Also, there’s half a mile of bog.” To add to this, the course was 30% longer than it was supposed to be, and featured multiple opportunities to get lost. Needless to say, it was not the easiest introduction to mountain biking. Still everyone toughed it out through the mud, with a few folks smartly withdrawing after an hour-long lap. Kudos to Melissa, who was the only first-timer to complete both laps, and style points to Andrew who put his full MIT spandex kit through the mud!

Mud season

Post-race, the day turned around as the weather cleared, with the team spending the rest of the afternoon hitting the flow trails. I had a lot of fun seeing Varsha and Maaya build confidence throughout the afternoon, and seeing the grin on Gabriel’s face after our first lap. Tim and I had some good runs on techy stuff, though Tim managed to bend his second brake lever of the season. A great bonfire hangout with some clutch late-night grilling supplies from Julius capped off the day.

Smile for no lift lines

The sun came out for day two, and remarkably there was no mud to be found on the short track course. What was to be found: a tricky tight turn fifty feet after the start involving a sharp dip to avoid a rock garden, and a challenging uphill rock roll that made this perhaps the most technically challenging ECCC short track course I’ve ridden. Great for new mountain bikers…

Use protection, kids

While the race went off well for some, with an exciting sprint finish between Felix and Max to take first and second respectively in the B field, it also carried hazards, with Gabriel taking an unfortunate crash. The team rallied to field two mixed relay teams; we may have come in second-to-last and last, but I’m sure we had the most fun.

Good ol’ Western Massachusetts

While most folks headed home after the short track races, Felix, Max, and friend-of-the-team Emily hung around to ride a couple of the enduro trails, which featured gorgeous views across the valley. It was a memorable weekend for sure.

Riding enduro for the views

Thanks to all those who came out to the races this fall, and thanks as always for the hard work from the folks at ECCC who made it possible. We’ll be back next year.

– Matthew Goss

MIT Cycling MTB Captain

 

Photo credits: Team members Max KC, Matthew G, and Andrew D.

Championships and champions

Closing out the blogs for this road season with a few notes and photos from the ECCC Championships at Dartmouth two weeks ago. For updates on 2023 Road Nationals, check out our instagram.

When Derek and I (Hannah) were planning for this road season, we budgeted for an average 8 people joining per race. We didn’t know who the 8 would be, but we were being optimistic! By just halfway through the season we had entirely blown the budget: 12 racers at URI, 18 at our home race, 9 at UVM and 17 at Easterns. For 14 of the folks joining, it was their first season road racing with the team (and for 10, their first time road racing at all). I am in awe of the enthusiasm and momentum we were able to build throughout this season, and how much fun we all had along the way. There were Life Hacks by Bianca, passionate discussions about the best pop tart flavors, hype playlists, and chaotic lunch runs mid race-days.

Thank you to all the parents, siblings, friends and partners who showed up along the way to cheer us on, volunteer, and provide snacks. “Go MIT” is one of my favorite things to hear when I’m out racing because I know that the person cheering came out for someone else, but is still showing up to support us all as a team. And thanks also to our team sponsors (Thoughtforms and Exponent) for their generosity that allowed Derek and I to horribly miscalculate our team size, but still be able to support every person who wanted to join this year.

In these blogs it is easy to list off placements and stats, but these are only a small part of every weekend we spend together as a team. In case it wasn’t clear, I am the resident “team mom” (what I get for returning to a PhD after working for a bit, I guess). I’ll fully embrace that now to close by saying how proud I am of every single racer who came out this season. I admire everyone who talked to me about being nervous before their race, and came away at the end with a huge smile, because regardless of where you finished, you gave it your all and enjoyed the process. I applaud everyone who tried a new category, improved their placement, or simply showed up when sleep/work/life wasn’t in your favor. Well done conquering brutal courses, bad weather, early mornings, and tough competition.

I can’t wait to do this with you all again next year!

– Team mom (and women’s road captain) Hannah

 

Gwin, Bianca, Kira and Hannah rocking the first Women’s TTT team of the season! 3rd place brought us all home a medal.
Nick’s opinion of conditions during his time spent riding the breakaway in the Men’s BC race.
William, Alessandro, and Felix controlling the race while Nick was up the road.
Aaron, no evidence of a bonk in sight.
Hannah embracing the spirit of gravel (pocket bib snacks work well when your hands are numb) and Guillaume tagging along as a cheerleader.
The newest trend in facials, brought to you by the wet, gravel-filled “road” race, modeled by William.
Gwin, looking totally pro in her first ever crit!
Kira, also looking pro in her first ever crit!
Seamus. Try hard engaged.
Men’s A crit squad supported Lee to a 2nd place on the day.
Hannah – Women’s AB ECCC Season Omnium leader
William – Men’s BC ECCC Season Omnium leader (after starting in the Cs and upgrading mid season!)

 

Results and stats really don’t matter but here they are anyways. The team did pretty well at Eastern’s!

 

Photo credits: our very own Aaron V. and Williams College alum Peter Burghardt

Catamount Classic – Mid season mayhem

After the fourth weekend of the season the team is still delivering great results and good times, but sanity is waning. This post was co-written by Bianca, Mason, and Hannah on the rainy car ride home from the race. Enjoy!

The team made our way up to Burlington, VT this weekend for the Catamount Cycling Classic hosted by UVM. We made it into 3rd in the weekend and overall omnium this weekend with Westpoint choosing to go “Beat Navy” (from a quick look at the results, they seemed to have mostly failed at the goal).

The Airbnb that Mason picked for us this weekend aligned well with Hannah’s dream home (creepy doll in the closet included). Hannah wants to clarify that creepy dolls, peeling wallpaper and doors that don’t close are not part of her dream home, but the absolutely ADORABLE farmhouse in rural Vermont, next to a pond, minutes to Lake Champlain, with peepers at night, for less than the cost of her current two bedroom apartment in Cambridge is dream home material.

Saturday was the standard team time trial followed by the Mt. Philo Road Race. William, Lee, Mason, and Guillaume put in a great time trial performance (3rd on the day) in preparation for nationals. They also avoided the fate of an opponent they passed mid-ride whose insides were turned out on the side of the road (unclear if it was food poisoning or try hard…). Bianca did a great job spinning her flag as a marshal in front of beautiful Mt. Philo state park and Hannah marshaled in front of the cutest covered bridge in all of Vermont.

 

 

Zak completed his first ever race weekend (woo!). During the road race, he spent the first two laps off the front with another rider. Unfortunately, they got caught before the line, and the final hill grew a little too tall. Great start to a promising career. We can’t wait to see what he does next weekend.

 

 

Adam came back from a 6 year racing retirement! He did a team time trial with Andrew during which he forgot to remove his tool bag from his seat post. He also failed to correctly install his chain the night before. He was just dusting off the cobwebs in preparation for next weekend. His water bottle hand off skills are still impeccable.

William crushed it again with a third place in the road race after making the 3-man break away.

Guillaume put on a valiant effort despite getting COVID at the first race weekend of the year. He completed four strong laps of the road race before deciding that his lungs needed a break from coughing. Smart decision, save it for L’Enfer du Nord.

Hannah took the W during the women’s A/B road race, but the victory was not as sweet as the maple creemee she had after the race.

On Sunday, we had the return (after about a decade hiatus) of the UVM ‘on campus crit’ course (unfortunately raced in the pouring rain and described as cyclocross practice given the potholes).

Hannah’s carbon rim rim brakes were of no use during the rainy critérium. She would have been better off taking them off to save a couple of grams. For the first three laps, she forgot how to ride her bike. At lap three, Mason shouted “use your drops” (Bianca asked “what does that mean?”). Hannah gave a thumbs up and made it back to the front of the pack. Clearly, she likes road racing much more than cyclocross.

Adam “the fair weather cyclist” toughed it out in his race only to be pulled part way through. Luckily, by this point in the weekend his saddle bag was off and his chain was on.

Andrew was accused of sandbagging during the intro crit race. What the marshals didn’t know is that Andrew slept through the team vote that would decide which field he would race with. The team decided for him that he would do the intro race so that we could all sleep in. Bianca appreciated having him in the intro race because he cheered her on all three times that he lapped her (the women’s intro field was so small that they combined it with the men’s). On lap one, Andrew saw his life flash before his eyes when someone fell in the chicane. On lap two, it happened again. By lap three, he was safe and sound in front of everyone.

Bianca achieved her weekend goal of riding in the drops and drafting, which does in fact help with going fast (yay fluid dynamics!). She only had one rock hit her glasses and one bug stuck in her helmet during the C/D road race. It was only after the race that she realized one of her spokes was broken causing her back wheel to be extremely out of true. She thought she wouldn’t be able to participate in the crit, but she was lucky to get a loaner bike from Sam (Thanks UVM!). At that point, she only had a few minutes to get ready before the start of the race, but her jersey and cleats AND phone were locked up in Hannah’s car! A lot of running around and confused phone calls later, she used her free lap and jumped into the race. Not even a loose seat post nor a fully unzipped jersey could slow her down. Brute squad wins again!

The crit was so muddy that Mason was still finding dirt inside his ear at Five Guys. He used a fry to q-tip it out. The adhesive hot hands that he stuck to his toes were not enough to keep from shivering for hours after the race. The worst moment of Mason’s race was when he was isolated between the two main groups and was suddenly faced with a flock of seagulls during one of the course’s more challenging turns. He took a leap of faith and kept up his 30mph descent. The birds flew away in fear. Apparently Mason is more intimidating than Bauke Mollema.

Lee threw away any hope at an omnium win because he didn’t want to get wet at the crit. There is nothing more to say here.

Glossary of words that Bianca learned this weekend

KOM/QOM

Shelled

Chase back

Bridging

 

Thanks to @UVMcycling for the nicer photos in this post. Bianca and Hannah were the photographers for the more chaotic shots. We’re ready to have Aaron and Maxwell back next weekend to actually curate our team image.

2023 – Starting off the road season right

The whole team is riding a major high coming off of the first two races of the season.

Weekend 1 was hosted down at Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Derek, Seamus and Guillaume raced the first race of the season (Men’s TTT) in a horrible rain but powered their way to 2nd in the Men’s B/C field. Weather and spirits improved by the road races later in the day. The infamous “Sunrise Climb” combined with 20 mph winds blew apart (literally and figuratively) both Hannah’s Women’s A/B race and the Men’s B/C race. Seamus, Guillaume and Hannah all hung on to varying degrees to finish their races mid pack, while Derek hit a hidden patch of gravel and had an unfortunate slide that took him out of the race.

Coming back the next day with watts that can only be generated by the need for revenge, Derek got himself into a two-man break during the crit. The break eventually became three and Derek came away with a strong 3rd on the day.  Hannah ended up 2nd in her crit after also making the break and lapping the (albeit very small) field. Being the first race of the season and a small group and mostly racing at the same time means we were out of practice taking photos and don’t have majestic shots to show for the weekend. Thankfully, Aaron fixed this for us for Weekend 2 at the University of RI so keep scrolling for those!

Eleven of us made the trip to Southern RI for the second race weekend of the year hosted by URI. This was the first road race with MIT for more than half of the crew. Nothing says ECCC season quite like 5:30 wake ups and watching the sunrise, but at least for this weekend we started our day overlooking the beautiful Misquamicut Beach.

The first race of the day let us break out the MIT TT helmets (we remain the only team in ECCC who race in them, #science). Early in the day, there was some confusion about the ITT course, resulting in annulment of the results for the entire Men’s C/D field. But official results aren’t necessary because of the riders who followed the correct course, Felix and William went 1-2 in the Men’s C/D field so we won in spirit. Meanwhile, Josh and Derek did the same for the Men’s B/C field with times a full minute faster than anyone else in their field and the 5th and 6th fastest of anyone on the day. This placed them just after 4 riders who were all on the 1st or 2nd place team time trial squads at last year’s collegiate nationals.

And then started our weekend of breakaways. Being on the beach meant views, but it also meant wind. The road race course was an 8 mile extended dog-bone loop that ran parallel to the shore for ~6 miles. What started out as a cross wind turned into a headwind / tailwind for the last few races of the day that made the finishing stretch exceptionally fast and caused splits in all the fields.  Andrew, Vinh, Aaron, Seamus and Felix raced in the Men’s C/D field of over 70 starters(!!). With some excellent team tactics and road captaining by Seamus, they managed to send Felix off the front in the last 2 miles of the race. He came in 20 seconds ahead of the field in his first ever road race.

Hannah also went full send in the Women’s A/B field with a 2 woman break that finished almost 7 minutes up on the rest of the field. After working together all race, Hannah took second to the UVM rider with the hope that someday soon more riders in the field will have A licenses and be eligible to join for Nationals at the end of the season.

More team tactics came into play for the Men’s B/C race where Derek, William and Josh worked together for Josh to come away with a 2nd place. Meanwhile, Mason and Lee were on course at the same time for the Men’s A race. After a brief slow down to watch the B finishers come in as their field passed, the pace picked back up. There was a USAC rider off the front but they still came away with 4th and 5th in the collegiate rankings during the bunch sprint.

After a night of watching the Paris Roubaix Femmes together in the hotel, it was Crit Day at everyone’s favorite Southern RI course: Ninigret! The day was complete with tailgating on the sidelines made possible by another new MIT team member, Adam. He was MVP of the day for driving down to spectate, cheer, and most importantly feed us all breakfast burritos throughout the day.

Before the Men’s C/D race, we asked William, Seamus and Felix what the plan was for handling such a large field. Their answer: “make it smaller”. Sure enough, within 2 laps the three of them had a break away off the front. They TTTed together to the finish as planned. The ECCC conference director made a rare appearance on the microphone mid race to jokingly say that we’ve “been spending too much time in the wind tunnel.” Not entirely true since no one on the team was around for the last time the Club went into the wind tunnel. That said, we wouldn’t object to trying it out if anyone has a connection for us these days! There’s always room to improve, even when you’re off the front.

After starting the trend during the first race of the day, Derek and Josh couldn’t resist the temptation of a breakaway in their Men’s B/C race as well. Switching up the order from the ITT the day before, Derek took second and Josh third out of a four man group. Aaron followed up with a win in the Men’s Intro race by riding away from a group of 3 as Vinh controlled the pace in the main group behind. Andrew had an unfortunate encounter with a bush on the sidelines early in the race, but recovered for a respectable 12th in the group.

The Men’s A and Women’s A/B races in the day remained fun but success was more elusive. Hannah was nicked on the line in the final sprint (repeating almost every race in last year’s ECCC season…). With prime sprint points though, Hannah will still be wearing yellow numbers next week as the series leader in the A field for the season so far. A strong break went early in the Men’s A race and despite a valiant chase effort by Lee and Coach Robbie (riding in his USAC team colors for Community Bike Racing), they were unable to bridge. After a lead out from Mason, Lee took 3rd in the field sprint.

All in all, the team is psyched. We missed out on team omnium victory for the weekend by a single point. But we’ll be coming back next week for revenge! Closing out with a few thoughts from Vinh about his first road race weekend with the team:

“These first road races were phenomenal! I had so much fun drafting behind people and sticking into their wheels. I think I did better the second day with the experience I got from getting dropped hard in the first day. Glad that me being an annoyance in the peloton helped Aaron get a big gap in the break out and win the race!! Still, I have a lot to improve with my power and sprinting. Very excited! Being with the team was so much fun too, cheering, getting cheered, and learning from everyone was awesome!! 10 out of 10 would do it again!”

Next up, our home race, co-hosted with UMass Amherst. Will new MIT stars shine as we head to the rolling hills of Western Mass? Stay tuned to find out!

Photo credits: Mostly @aaron_v_photography, with supplements from Seamus, Hannah, Felix, and a stranger in the parking lot who was nice enough to take our group shot

2022 Mount Washington Hill Climb

This August a crew of MIT cyclists headed up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to take on Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast. The auto road that ascends its steep slopes is only open to bicycles one day of the year, and these cyclists couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. Here is Hannah’s account of the weekend:

This year’s Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb ended up being a wonderful MIT Cycling Club reunion full of hanging out, feasting, and on-the-bike suffering up one of the most intense and picturesque roads in the northeast. 

On August 20, the Tin Mountain Conservation Center hosted their 49th ride up the 7.6 mile long, 12% climb to the top of the highest point in the white mountains. Full disclosure, I *did not ride* because this is way more suffering than I wanted to sign up for, but alumni Caitlin, Carolyn, Delia and Tori, current coach Robbie and former coach Erik all thought it was a good idea. For some, it was a farewell to New England, others had come back to ride “the rock pile”: a bucket list item that COVID had postponed. For everyone, it was a personal test of how hard they could push themselves. This post is to celebrate their perseverance, to share photos from the beautiful day on a peak that is known for its terrible weather, and to appreciate the past and present MIT Cycling community. 

 

The “Auto Road” opened in 1861 and last year, Travis Pastrana averaged 80 mph on his record breaking drive to the summit. For the bicycle hill climb this year, former professional Philip Gaimon averaged 9 mph up the hill, demonstrating that cars are, in fact, faster than bicycles. The lanterne rouge rider (last rider to finish) finished in 3:20 hours at an average of 2.3 mph. 

The cyclists are not allowed to ride down the mountain so a community of support drivers head to the top before the race to chauffeur the descent. After dropping off our riders, Joanna, Anne, puppy Rosie, and I headed up the 7 miles to the finish while the riders completed their final chaotic prep at the base. Even though you cross the line at less than five miles an hour, the riders were given 8 different number stickers to put on themself, their bike, their helmet and who knows what else. In addition to number placement, there was also the existential question of figuring out why in the world they had signed up for the race… 

 

The scene on the top of the mountain felt like something you see on TV out of the Alps in the Tour de France. There was chalk all over the road with riders’ names and words of encouragement. Spectators lined the final few switchbacks where riders could hit a 40% grade if they picked the wrong line. Parents, partners, friends, and a few bewildered through-hikers made up the enthusiastic crowd cheering on the summiting riders summiting the mountain. 

One benefit of having such a big community of MIT riders was that the action at the top (and the bottom!) started early for us. Sarah, Dmitro, Nic, and Sophie woke up at 4:30AM to hike Mt. Washington and catch former coach Erik cross the line. 

 

Fortunately, they made it with 15 minutes to spare and we walked down the road slightly to be more recognizable in the crowd. Just as we were debating where to stand, Erik and Phil came around the corner and into view. Erik had hoped for his 3rd win at the race but unfortunately “the wall” at the end (a hundred foot long 25% grade section) got the best of him, and Phil finished just seconds ahead. That said, Erik was probably the real winner here since the finish line tape holders had a bit of a mishap and clotheslined Phil.

 

We reconvened with Anne, Joanna, and Rosie at the top, and a few minutes later got to cheer on Coach Robbie. He crossed the line slightly slower than he hoped but still way faster than I could have. Tori, Caitlin and Carolyn were next, all crossing within a minute of each other.

 

Joanna and I had discussed getting flags and noisemakers to run alongside the riders at the end but ended up just waving our hands enthusiastically. Delia finished off the day for our group, placing in the top 40% for the women in the race. She later titled her Strava ride “the worst thing I’ve ever done on a bicycle.” She stands by this title, claiming that gathering in a New England AirBnB with this grouping of people now triggers a fight-or-flight reaction due to the “hours of suffering she has experienced at Joanna’s encouragement.”

But regardless of how bad the time on the bike was, we all had a great time off the bike. Whether it was celebrating simply being at the top of the climb, laughing at the gearing choices made, or cooling off in a stream, the weekend certainly had more highs than lows. 

 

So will MIT be back in future years? The answer is a resounding “yes”. Carolyn commented that part of the fun this year was going in with “zero expectations” and still being able to pull off a ride she felt proud of. Caitlin and Tori were both relieved after less-than-ideal-preparation was still able to carry them up the mountain, but also left curious how things could go under different circumstances. Delia is not sure if she will ever climb Mt. Washington again, but recognizes that she is incredibly susceptible to peer pressure and would probably do anything Carolyn, Tori, Caitlin, or Joanna ask her to do. 

For the 2022 spectators, we still have the luxury of coming in blind. Dmitro and I are skeptical that the ride will ever be in our futures. After Nic recovers from his sunburn, he says he’ll consider it. Sarah was stoked after this year’s experience and inspired to ride “both from seeing our kickass women crush it, but also from seeing the diversity of riders making it up the road (age and fitness level)!” 

I am a newer member of the cycling club (2022-??) and I am so glad I found this supportive and welcoming group of people. Hanging out with so many alumni over the weekend reaffirmed to me how supporting each other’s cycling goals (no matter how ridiculous) builds a community that endures during our time on campus and beyond.

Photo credits: Anne, Caitlin, Carolyn, Dmitro, Joanna, Hannah, Sarah

Racing is Back! Mountain Bike Season Recap 2021

The blog returns! We’re back in action racing this fall, and there’s an entire season’s worth of recaps to read below. New friends, new racers, victories, dirty bikes… everything is here. 

The first race of the season was simultaneously the first collegiate MTB race for all of our racers. Josephine, Kira, Sara, Devin, and Felix all arrived at some point between dusk and the morning’s race. There was plenty of confusion getting numbers and figuring out where and when the start was. However, our valiant captain, Devin, had everything under control despite never having raced a MTB. A seasoned high school racer, Josephine was astounded by the lackadaisical nature of ECCC MTB. Needless to say, we did not really pre-ride the course. XC began with bang when the 3 women’s A racers left the improvised start line. Josephine started behind, but, bemused by her competitors lack of pace, sprinted around one before entering the trails. Devin and Felix started equally cautiously at the back of a large Men’s C field and were caught in an absolute chaos. The start can best be described as a traffic jam. Devin followed Felix’s lead by running around droves of stranded cyclists floundering uphill. The MIT tag team efficiently worked their way up the field until Felix’s handlebars started to come loose and he fell off the pace. Devin pressed to claim 2nd, while Felix limped to the parking lot, tightened some bolts and finished with a strong second lap.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Kira started in Women’s B with very little prior experience on MTBs. It was only Sarah’s 8th time ever! Nevertheless, they both put the pedal to the metal on the uphills, when their fellow riders were often in their way. They took the downhills at an appropriately measured pace, getting more confident as they went. Sarah came flying out of the woods for 4th place and Kira followed not too far behind. The whole time, Josephine was quietly putting in a superb performance with no competitors in sight. Getting faster every lap, she cruised by the rest of the team cheering after lap three. This caused confusion as her race was originally supposed to be 3 laps. Due to a shortened course, it had been extended to 4, which let her build an incredible gap of 11 min on the 2nd place rider. 

The whole group migrated up to the DS course for some fun with jumps and berms. Although several of us had no idea what dual slalom is, we had some time to kill and jumped in line to give the courses a shot! I (Sarah) found it hilariously challenging and completely different from any MTBing I’d done before – but it was inspirational to see some of the other riders really rip it! So many were even kind enough to give us some tips/coaching (shout-out to the UVM women!). Unfortunately the process of bracketing took so long that several of us had to leave before the bracketed rounds began, and then the entire thing got called off because it started getting dark and the EMTs had to leave. Devin stayed around for STXC and braved mud to again clinch 2nd and secure his promotion to B’s.

Kira charging out of the woods
Sarah grinning from ear to ear
Sunny skies
Smiling competitors

The second weekend of our condensed season brought weather that only the hardiest souls dared venture out into. With sunny Boston in the rear view mirror, Kai, Devin, Josephine, Bill, Felix, and Matthew set out for soggy Vermont, steeled for the persistent deluge that awaited them. The team awoke to the promise of wet skies and muddy trails but nonetheless hopped on their bikes for a slippery XC course. Out on the trail, the fun began with Felix taking second in Men’s C, Josephine notching another W, solid races for Matthew, Devin, and Kai. Bill ended with worse luck, wrangling his MITOC fat bike through the first mile only to fall victim to a broken chain. Fixing that, he returned to the course only to end up with a broken derailleur in the same spot! Afternoon dual slaloming brought the energy up with speedy runs on the sloppy surface by Kai and Josephine and a very solid “not last” by Bill who railed the berms on Kai’s XC bike.

Saturday night proved eerily quiet for the ECCC, dampened by the drizzle, but provided our hearty competitors with a good night’s rest. Sunday morning at Bolton Valley Resort saw the start of the most technical of the season’s short track XC courses, with a challenging steep descent in the middle. After a harrowing race, Felix, on his enduro steed, managed to just outsprint some guy on a fully rigid rockhopper from like 1995 to take the win. Devin’s race ended a little sooner and less fortunately with an up-close-and-personal encounter with a tree. Next up, Josephine enjoyed a chill ride with the only other person in the Women’s A field, before dropping her after a few companionable laps. Kai finished out the weekend with a solid ride on a slippery downhill course and the team skedaddled back to the city. When the points were tallied, MIT had come in a respectable third overall!

Josephine gritting it out in the wet
Aftermath of the mudfest
Matthew focused on a slippery descent
Felix, you may be muddy but you have nothing on Devin!
Bill primed for the dual slalom
Kai looking super pro
Kai looking super pro part 2

The final weekend of ECCC came all too soon, hosted for the first time in Claremont, NH. In an unfortunate start to the weekend, the well-known-to-be-extremely-calm-and-quiet ECCC was remarkably silent on Friday night at Running Bear Campground yet still managed to be told not to return for Saturday night. Nevertheless, the four riders, Kai, Josephine, Devin, and Matthew, turned to racing. Saturday brought the flowiest XC course of the season with a no-brakes downhill full of berms and optional jumps bringing smiles to their faces. Following a successful morning, the team headed over to the enduro course, in search of another points haul. Josephine stunned the conference again, winning Women’s B on her XC hardtail, and putting down faster times than any of the Women’s A riders. Fresh off a day of racing, the team enjoyed an unusual night involving a crowd of hang gliding afficicianados, a professional pyrotechnics crew, and a colorful bonfire.

Sunday started off strong with an exciting win in the short track XC team relay! The day then shifted back to Arrowhead Recreation Area for the Downhill. Kai pulled out a solid 7th in Men’s A, which saw him off to Durango for Nationals. Meanwhile, Josephine turned heads with her flannel, full face helmet, and signature XC hardtail, charging down the hill before an unfortunate crash below a rocky chute but still managing to salvage a second place. When all the dust had settled, the team walked away with a stellar second place overall in the weekend points competition and the best place for the season of any team that skipped the Pennsylvania race.

Josephine sending the rock roll!
Devin charging past a competitor

With 10 inches of snow the week before, the Nationals downhill course was shifted to the muddy and pedally XC track descent. While his dual-crown downhill bike may not have been the ideal steed for the task, Kai finished off the season with a solid 30th in the country. Although USA Cycling listed him as a competitor from Michigan Technical University, we knew he was reppin’ the ECCC as he wished to ride the wet, snowy DH course.

Perfect mountain biking conditions in Durango

Thanks for following along through the epic return to racing Fall 2021 had to offer. We’re so proud of our new racers, seasoned riders, and sponsors who helped make the racing come to life this fall. Next up: ECCC Cyclocross, Fall Training Camp, and a whole lot of Zwift & Trainer Road. Keep up the great work everyone!

Nationals – Braving the Heat

This year we sent 8 riders and Coach Nicole to the Collegiate Road National Championships in Augusta, Georgia. We arrived on Wednesday and spent Thursday assembling our bikes and checking out the courses for the team time trial, individual time trial, and road race at Fort Gordon. We also got a taste of riding in heat and humidity – Augusta’s weather was quite different from the 45 degrees and raining that we were accustomed to racing in!

Preriding the time trial courses and remembering what it’s like to ride without jackets.

The first race of the weekend was the team time trial, which Joanna describes:

“The team time trial was the women’s team primary goal for the 2019 road nationals. I felt like the four of us were on the same wavelength regarding the event, and I think our communication as a group gave us the extra push to victory. It was so special to win the event with this amazing team, and as we were gasping for air in Augusta I couldn’t help but think about how happy I am to have found such a great team at MIT. I’ll outline a short recap, but it’s so important to know that for the past few years the MIT women have been just seconds shy of the win. With Amy, Emma, and Tori all graduating before the 2020 road nationals, it was our last shot to go for gold with this group. We had a successful ECCC season with our TTTs, regularly winning by significant margins over the other women’s A teams, and practiced a few times to dial our communication and buzzwords (‘up’ for faster and ‘off’ for get off perhaps the most used words) prior to nationals. We also made sure that we looked as cool as possible, with matching skin suits, shoe covers, helmets, and even similar bikes to create that sleek and scary look we were going for.

Matching socks (and some matching kit) for the team time trial!

The hours and evening prior to the event were fairly nerve wracking as all four of us were visibly nervous. We spent a while on Thursday pre-riding the course and scoping out each turn and hill to make a cohesive plan. Importantly, we made sure to take into account the notion that these plans will likely change during the race, so we formulated a ton of backups for our backups. Lining up at the start, we took off steadily and quickly built up a very hard pace. Emma checked in with us at mile 7 to see how we felt, and we adjusted lengths of pulls and our overall efforts to make for a more sustained pace. At mile 18 I became so overwhelmed with excitement and all of us were hanging on for dear life once Tori took her final big pull, for almost a full mile, with < 3km to the finish. After Tori pulled us to the base of the hill, Emma went full gas on the front and pulled me and Amy up the final hill where we sprinted for the finish. Since we were the first team to cross the line, we all went for an anxious cool-down to await other teams coming in. Back at the vans, I was filling up my water bottles when Tori, Emma, and Amy ran over screaming, ‘WE WON! WE WON!’ And we all fell into a sweaty puddle of a hug. It was one of the most joyful moments in my cycling life, and it was so special to win with such a killer team. I am so sad that it was our final TTT with this group of 4, but I’ll always be able to look at my stars and stripes jersey (hah!) and think of a great season with even better teammates.”

So happy after WINNING the team time trial!

Our men’s team finished strong in 8th out of a competitive field of 15 teams. After the TTT in the morning, most of us retreated back to the air conditioned house to rest up for the road race and criterium, but a few brave souls stuck around Fort Gordon to tackle the individual time trial! Berk describes his race:

“The ITT was in the afternoon after the TTT, and came with nervous anticipation. Miles, Liam and I knew it was going to a tough ride after the morning’s effort. To make it worse, the temperatures had elevated into the high 80s, the wind had picked up and the sun was peeking through the clouds. I knew moments into my warm-up that I did not have the power I was hoping for. But I had my strategy and gear all worked out, so I still had some confidence that I could do well. 

Many folks say that TTs are where fun goes to die. I disagree. The ITT especially is a kind of experiment, where all of the ingredients of speed (power, pacing, weight and aerodynamics) can be truly tested. With 15 seconds to go at the start, it is nigh impossible to know how good your recipe is, and I was uncertain about my prospects of doing well. 

The course was relatively non-technical, an out-and-back with two major changes in elevation. I was already sopping wet from sweat from my short warm-up, which combined with the bad asphalt made it hard to stay in an aero tuck. But I kept my head down, and I knew I was doing alright when I overtook one rider with 1/3 of the course to go. 

Sprinting over the top of the last climb was about all I could manage by the end. I threw myself in a folding chair, threw some ice down my skinsuit and drank from a gallon jug of milk as Miles, Liam and I shared stories of suffering and listened to the announcer. I was sitting in 3rd for the longest time, and although I knew that I would likely not hold on for a podium the suspense was eating at me. Too bad that the five last riders were the only ones seeded and actually faster, but I was happy to be 8th, getting mediocre amounts of glory for MIT!”

In addition to Berk’s 8th, Miles finished 35th and Liam 46th in the ITT.

Post-ITT recovery: Berk chugs milk and Miles cries, ostensibly due to sunscreen in his eyes.

On Saturday we returned to Fort Gordon for the road race, which Emma recounts:

“I was really looking forward to the road race. Mostly because I was still buzzing after our TTT win, which was the highlight of the weekend for me by far! We drove the road race course the day before the TTT. We all thought it would come down to a race of attrition, with many short, punchy climbs, and I was excited because that suited my racing style. Tori, Amy, and Joanna all offered their help to support me and I was excited and nervous lining up. It was already pretty hot at 9am (but nothing compared to what the guys had to deal with later in the day!) but we had great support in the feed zone with Nicole, Miles, my dad and stepmom, and Tori’s parents, so I knew I would be able to get enough water in. As we started the 60 mile race, I was patient and tried to be vigilant about keeping near the front of the race for what I thought were the inevitable attacks and splits in the group. But as the race progressed, I just kept waiting, but nothing was happening or sticking. The race was very (surprisingly) uneventful and with 5k to go there were still 25 (out of 45) women still in the pack. This wasn’t at all what we thought would happen in the race, but I tried to stay confident. There was a short hill finishing about 500m before the finish, so I knew that it wouldn’t finish in a complete bunch sprint.

Joanna and Emma in the road race.

At 5k to go, Amy rolled up next to me and asked if I needed anything. I asked if she could get Tori to lead me into the final downhill (which was right before the last hill to the finish). In a previous lap I had been in a bad position on that downhill and knew it would be really bad to not be up near the front at the base of the climb. Tori came up and did an AMAZING job leading me into the perfect position and going fast enough so that no one could come around me to take the position. I was second wheel at the base of the climb, and when the rider from Arizona (Cara) attacked I tried to catch her wheel. She was incredibly strong, though, and pushed on and I couldn’t respond. I saw the two girls from CU Boulder coming up behind me and I got on their wheel. At 170 meters to go I tried to sprint around them but chose the wrong side and when Margot (in front) pulled off to the right I found myself boxed in, so had to brake and try to get around Anna on the left, but the initial wrong move cost me and I couldn’t get around before the finish, but still managed to come in 3rd. Cara had held on from her attack on the climb and finished a second or two in front of us. I was happy to get on the podium and was SO incredibly grateful for my teammates and their help, especially to Tori, without whom I don’t know if I would have been able to do as well!”

In addition to Emma finishing 3rd, Amy finished 15th, Joanna 16th, and Tori 23rd in the women’s club road race. Unfortunately the men’s club road race was plagued by crashes and flats, and Quinn and Berk finished 64th and 74th respectively as a result.

Sunday featured our final race, the criterium, which Tori describes:

“On Sunday morning, Amy, Joanna, Emma, and I geared up to race the crit. The course, located in downtown Augusta, was technical, with 6 corners in 0.8 miles. Pre-riding was especially important since it had rained all night, and there serval slippery manhole covers (and even a small stream!) on course. I was looking forward to racing this technical course with a really fast group of women, especially since we’d had only a few opportunities to race crits so far this season. But with that said, all four of us were nervous, and this was not helped by the wet roads and the fact that for three of us, it was sadly our last race as collegiate cyclists!

The pack still all together in the women’s crit.

At 9 am we were off, for our 70-minute race. Having gotten caught behind several crashes last year, I made an effort to get from my 3rd row starting position to the front as quickly as possible, and was settled into the top 5-10 wheels within a lap or two. There were several attacks throughout the first part of the race, but the pack didn’t seem to want to let anything get away. Emma racked up some omnium points by sprinting for primes. Despite several efforts by various riders for a late breakaway, the pack was all together coming into the final laps, and it was going to be a field sprint. I had raced pretty conservatively in an effort to save as much energy as possible for the finish, and was feeling good. Knowing I had to be in good position for the last corner, I did a small sprint leading into it, which let me claim 3rd wheel through the turn. We took the last corner quite fast, with the rider in front of me pedal striking badly after trying to start pedaling too early after the turn. With about 300 meters to go until the line, I stayed in the draft for about another 100 meters, then made a move to come around. Though I couldn’t outsprint the women who had led through the corner, I managed to hold on for 4th!

Leading into the race, my “stretch goal” had been to get on the 5-deep podium, and I was extremely excited to have done it. It was also really exciting to see Joanna finish in the top 10. I’m sad to be done racing for MIT, but I’m very glad to be able to end on a high note, not only from this one race, but our team’s performance at nationals as a whole.”

In addition to Tori’s 4th and Joanna’s 10th, Emma and Amy finished with the lead pack in the crit. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated after that, and the rain, particularly one wet manhole cover, led to several crashes in the later races that day. As a result, in the men’s club crit about a third of the racers (including Berk) did not finish, and another third (including Quinn) were pulled from the race to prevent the lead group from lapping them. Despite being pulled, Quinn finished 31st.

The women’s team dons the stars and stripes as national champions in the team time trial!

After the crits, we hung around Augusta for the awards ceremony in which we took our podium photos and collected our medals and stars and stripes jerseys. MIT also won the D2 club omnium for the 3rd year in a row, rounding out a very successful weekend!

MIT wins the D2 club omnium for the 3rd year in a row!