Category Archives: Road

Quick update from Army

MIT had what might politely be called an astonishingly good morning. We fielded two men’s A time trial teams of 3 men each—and to everyone’s surprise, one of the teams came in first, and the other came in third. Sandwiched between was UVM, who were beaten by sixteen hundredths of a second. Oh point one six seconds. Sadly, the third place got us no extra points, but it did bump everyone else down a notch. And the women’s A team came in first, of course. It got colder and windier as the day went on, but you wouldn’t have known. Laura took the B circuit race, and Jose came in seventh in the road race, chasing  a break that included Josh Lipka and Nick Frey more or less by himself.

More to come tomorrow, when we all get up bright dark and early for a hill climb and a criterium!

This just in: MIT cleans up at Philly

This is more or less what the rest of the ECCC feels like tonight:

A cheese steak from Pat\'s

After two days of racing, the Engineers made everyone else look as out of place as John Kerry ordering Swiss on his cheese steak.

46 Schools, 407 Riders Participated
1       Massachusetts Institute of Technology 239
2       Penn State University 188
3       US Military Academy 174
4       University of Vermont 149

Penn State by 51, Army by 65, and UVM by a whopping 90.

So, far from “wit wiz”, this is MIT’s attitude at the moment:

MIT won the Women’s A TTT, the Women’s B TTT, and the Men’s D2 road race.

The Engineers came in the top ten all over the place, and Michael Hamilton (led out by Chewie and Zach), Laura Ralston, Martha Buckley, Yuri Matsumoto, and David Quinn had particularly good weekends…in fact everybody had a good weekend. A full record of the carnage is here including (just added) finishing photos. Looks like we have to work on our victory camera poses. Especially if there are more weekends like this one.

Philly race previews, by José

Once again, José has the most comprehensive maps and analysis of the weekend’s races in Philadelphia:

U. Penn, Temple, and Drexel are hosting another beautiful weekend of ECCC racing in Philadelphia, PA, in Fairmount Park on the Schuylkill (Schoolgirl!) River. Forewarned is forearmed, so here are my thoughts on the courses.

This circuit race is one of the very few ECCC courses that I’ve done before (the other being Columbia). That long flat section could be great for establishing a break if no one is chasing, or could be the place where the pack comes back together if the wind is going the wrong way. The A field gets to go around the 6.5 mile course five times. My prediction is that a break will form early on around the course’s major climb, which may or may not get caught. No matter what, the long, uphill finish is longer than even I would like. Like last year, the attacks will start on that very last climb, and the pace will get ever faster to the line. Cornering skills will help in two places: after the start for the left onto the river, and after the hill for the right back on to the river. The Men’s A start time is about 3:20pm – so late!

The Team Time Trial course is about 8.5 miles long and dead flat, except for a section at the start and finish. Without a disc wheel to use, I’ll be riding my Tri Spoke wheels. The wind could make things interesting. Aerodynamics will matter more than anything, so I think Team MIT will do well here. The Men’s A start time is 8:30am.

This is a weird little crit course. If it is going clockwise as I believe it might, there will be a slight downhill finish. The Men’s A field will go from the gun for 50 minutes, trying to wear out as many riders as possible before the finish. A good start is key. I believe this course is so short, flat, and empty, that you can see one side of it from the other. Cornering and pack skills are crucial to conserving energy for that inevitable final sprint. The Men’s A start time is 2:50pm.

That crit is going to be nothing short of terrifying if the weather turns wet. Flats and crashes everywhere. I can only hope for the best.

Saturday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 56. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Saturday Night: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a low around 47. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Sunday: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 58. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

ECCC week2 Columbia/Stevens: Race reports

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

http://www.velocityresults.net/

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

-Yuri

Ian Rousseau, Men’s C:

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

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

Rachel Bainbridge, Women’s Intro:

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

Michael Hamilton, Men’s B:

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

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

Tony Laidig, Men’s Intro:

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

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

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

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

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

Rutgers Day 2

On Sunday, we awoke to another 60 degree day and made the early morning trek to the circuit race on the Rutgers campus to preride the course. However, when we arrived, the Rutgers team had a surprise for everyone: while the 3 mile loop was unchanged from previous years, it would be run backwards this year. This meant that instead of a long, straight, uphill finish, the finish was on a slight downhill about 250 meters after a left hand turn. As a result, many of the races finished in a relatively large (and high speed) bunch sprint, without the stringing out that typically occurred on the uphill finish. It also led to a number of crashes, as some MIT riders experienced firsthand.

However, we also had another surprise that morning when the tabulated team results were posted: we were in 2nd place, not in Division II but overall, and only slightly behind the juggernaut UVM team (they brought 53 riders to the races). On that note, the races began with the D Men, Kenny and David, who both rode smart races in the lead pack and ended the day in 5th and 6th, respectively. The intro racers were up next. All of them were experiencing their first weekend of collegiate racing, and in the men’s race, Yao, Matt, and Spencer all rode smart races and finished well. Spencer began what was to be another common occurrence among MIT racers, crashing during the race. Although Spencer was fine and finished the race, his jersey didn’t fare as well.

The C men were up next, with only one MIT rider represented in the peloton. Isaac Bleicher rode a tactical race to improve upon the previous day’s performance and finish in the lead pack of the race. Then, the B women were off, with Melissa and Lindsey both riding together with the leaders of the race and coming to the finish in the points. Next, the B men started their 60 minute race, and about 15 minutes into the race, Jose was off the front again. He led for the majority of the race, with myself and Chewie doing our best to block for him, but the UVM team (all 8 of them in the B race) had learned from the previous day when Jose beat two UVM riders in a three man break to the line. This time, UVM burned almost their entire team leading the chase to keep Jose within sight, finally managing to catch him with just over a lap to go. In the future, the B men will be keeping UVM’s plans in mind whenever tactics are concerned.

Fortunately, the A women were able to resume the successful weekend from MIT racers. Yuri and Zuzka both raced in a rather sedate peloton which, according to Yuri, didn’t start racing until the sprint at the last corner. This didn’t seem to bother the MIT racers, who brought home a pair of top 10 finishes. Capping off the day were the A men, who were scheduled for an 80 minute showdown. Tim, again the lone MIT rider, had the misfortune of starting at the very back of the pack, and this proved costly for him. The course is run on narrow roads with the yellow line rule enforced, so it is difficult to move up in the pack. A few laps into his race, Tim fell off the back of the peloton, and decided to pack it in and save it for the next weekend shortly afterwards.

In all, MIT ended the first weekend extremely successfully. We took home multiple wins, introduced a lot of new riders to collegiate cycling, and came away in 2nd place overall, again leading our nearest Division II opponent Army by a wide margin. We’ll be looking to build on our lead next weekend at the Columbia and Stevens races in New York City.

Rutgers, day 1

Laura sprintsWe all awoke on Saturday morning knowing the weather would cooperate with the start of the season. But as the early racers warmed up on trainers, and everyone else stood in line for the annual ritual of registering, the spandex layers began to come off. Soon the mercury hit 75°F and almost everyone was down to shorts and jerseys. Freezing temperatures might have handed an advantage to hardy New Englanders like ourselves. But nobody was complaining. The generally festive atmosphere of a collegiate bike race, plus the general enthusiasm of the Rutgers season opener, plus the clear sky and warm air and bright sun, cheered even the least-trained and most equipmentally challenged riders (like yours truly).

The D men were the first to go off, and when D riders Ian Rousseau came in at 6:36 and David Quinn at 6:46, MIT scored its first points of the weekend. Zack LaBry surprised even himself with a time of 6:17, placing him 11th (out of 93) in men’s C, and Jon Dreher came in second in the category, only four seconds over six minutes. Those times were so good they would have put Zack and Jon in eleventh and fifth place in the men’s B category—which was in turn won by MIT’s own José Soltren in a scorching 5:45, the fourth best time of the day, period. Tim Humpton, racing in A’s for the first time, beat half the field. All the while, MIT’s women were tearing up the course as usual. Rachel Bainbridge placed third in her first race in the women’s intro. Laura Ralston came in fifth, Melissa Gymrek came in 11th, and Lindsey Holland was 29th in the B time trial, and Yuri Matsumoto and Zuzka Trnovcova, at eleventh and twelfth in the As, were exactly 1.01 seconds apart. Everyone did well, which isn’t to say that everyone was thrilled with their performance—some people felt they could have gone harder from the gun while others felt they’d gone too hard—but nobody had time to grumble. It was time for the crit.

By the end of the morning the whole of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference had uprooted and replanted itself forty-five minutes away in the comically picturesque town of Princeton. Everyone hopped on their bikes and checked out the course and its hill, not long enough to be a real climb but not short and steep enough to be a “power climb” either. That hill was where, after crashing early on (and taking advantage of the “free lap” rule), Ian broke away and won the D crit solo (after scoring in both prime laps, too).

John Dreher leads the C packIn men C, Jonathan Dreher came in a superb sixth after beating the pack to second place in all three prime laps (behind only the Princeton rider who had soloed off the front). But Zach LaBry, feeling good after his time trial, was taken out on the first corner of the first lap by a pair of crutches bizarrely stuck into the road. Fortunately scrapes and bruises were the only injuries. (It was a bad day to start your name at the end of the alphabet: Zach Ybarra had been taken out while cornering in the D race.)

The pace slowed a bit for the intro races, where Rachel Bainbridge came in fourth on the women’s race. Matt Blackburn and Leo Luo, two other new racers, placed tenth and eleventh in their intro race. Spencer climbs the wallSpencer Schaber, who was trying racing to see if he liked it, not only came in sixth in men’s intro, but won the contest for best race face of the weekend hands down.

Then came the B races, and MIT simply cleaned up. Laura Ralston won the most points in the primes and then beat everybody else with a perfect sprint to the line while the B men, warming up near the start finish, cheered her on.

Then, in the men’s race, when a pair of riders from Vermont took off, José hauled them back himself. He then proceeded to stay away with one of the UVM riders for the rest of the race and beat him to the line, putting out so much power that he won the sprint without getting out of his saddle. Jose puts out the watts

Yuri and Zuzka racked up plenty of points in the sprint out of a shattered women’s A field. But a short crit was never going to be Tim’s kind of race, especially not when Princeton’s time trial phenom Nick Frey decided to show off to the hometown crowd. Having missed the start signing autographs or something, Frey jumped into the race a lap late, and decided to try lapping the field (à la Easterns last year), which he almost—almost—did.

So at the end of the day the tally showed that MIT had flat-out won, aside from the men’s B time trial, the criteriums (criteria?) in men’s D division 2, women’s B, and men’s B. In other words MIT had won three of the seven races it entered and placed in the top five in two others. And it had been a nice day, too!Yuri climbs, cheered on by David Quinn