Category Archives: Road

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

ECCC road season kickoff: Rutgers/Princeton, March 7-8

The 2009 road season kicks off this weekend with the annual Rutgers/Princeton races in Piscataway and Princeton, NJ.  The weekend is traditionally the first the road season, and includes one of the only individual time trials, in addition to a criterium and a Sunday circuit race.  The time trial is the first race on Saturday morning and is very short, only 2.7 miles in length.  The winning time last year was under 6 minutes.  The race is almost perfectly flat, but does involve 2 separate 180 degree turns, giving an advantage to technically sound riders.

The Saturday afternoon criterium is on a new, 4-corner course on the Princeton campus.  The race is advertised as having a steep “wall” that racers will climb every lap, and promises to be fast and spectator-friendly since the whole course is accessible.  Sunday’s circuit race, on the Rutgers campus, looks like it will generally be more mellow, but a very long and moderately uphill finishing straightaway will reward patience and lead to an exciting sprint finish.

Check out Men’s B powerhouse José Soltren’s analysis (and maps) of the courses here.

Tim Humpton likes races that feel like battles. He’ll have plenty of those in Men’s A

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.

Pre-Season Racing: Boston Triathlon Team Indoor TT

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

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

-Michael Hamilton – MIT Cycling Vice-President

Here are the team results:

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

Team Time Trials Set Pace as Cycling Wins Div. II National Title

The MIT Cycling Team won the 2008 Division II National Championship at the USA Cycling Collegiate Championships help in Fort Collins, Colo. on May 11. The MIT team seized an early lead in the opening event, the team time trial, and built their advantage throughout the weekend to take a surprise victory.

The MIT women’s team time trial (TTT) team of Martha W. Buckley G, Yuri Matsumoto G, Zuzana Trnovcova ‘09, and Sonya J. Cates G entered the competition solidly positioned as the best team in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, having won four of five team time trial events during the season, including the ECCC championships.
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