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Fall training camp 2016: Lake Sunapee, NH

Alex Klotz shared his experience of the fall training camp that 23 of us went on Nov 4-6, 2016 in Lake Sunapee, NH:

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Last weekend I joined the MIT Cycling Club for the fall training camp near Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire. Some see this weekend as the start of training for the spring road racing season, but since I am not a student and won’t be doing much collegiate racing, I saw it more as a coda to the extended “summer” of road biking that I had been enjoying, and was also hoping to push myself a bit.

I drove up Friday with Lucy and Emerson. The team had rented out an entire bed-and-breakfast, which overall was really nice. I went for a short ride with Wade to stretch my legs and get a sense of the area, while he tried to get cell reception so he could send some texts. The roads in the area were all of pretty good quality, without many potholes and the occasional longitudinal gash. There wasn’t that much traffic, and when cars passed us they were generally courteous and gave us lots of space. Nobody honked at us all weekend ūüôā

It was around freezing when we started out each day. I’m more often too warm than too cold and my general philosophy for bike clothing is “dress for the weather you want” and hope that I work hard enough to keep myself warm. A ride a few weeks ago with Berk and Liam made me realize that this was unsustainable and I went out and bought some stuff to protect myself from the cold without being too flappy. The rides were cold at first but not unbearably so, getting a little warm towards the end of the day.

On the first day I had the choice of the long, medium, and short rides, or some kind of crazy backroads adventure ride that didn’t really seem like my thing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do medium or long, but they started on the same path so I set out with the group and resolved to choose the route when I had to. We set off towards Mt Kearsarge and the fastest few rides quickly took off ahead of us. The first part of the involved a rolling but generally upward freshly paved road for five miles towards the base of Mt Kearsarge. At this point we started to spread out, with PK and Wade getting ahead of me but remaining within eyeshot, while Liam and I passed each other a few times. I hadn’t done too much research besides glancing at the map and knowing there was a big hill, and I took it at a fairly high but sustainable effort, and then got to the gate of the mountain, at which point the slope roughly doubled, the road quality halved, and there was a sign saying it was four miles to the top. I cranked down to the lowest gear and started grinding up, as my speed fell to about 6 miles an hour (it was at this time that I decided I’d prefer the medium ride). After half an hour of alternating sitting and standing grinding, I made it to the top, which fortunately was half a mile before I was expecting it. I got a photo at the top and started to head down before I got too cold. The road was covered in leaves and cracks and was full of sharp turns, so I basically held my brakes the entire way down and hoped it would all be ok. It was. At the bottom the faster riders were about to head off and I was still recombobulating myself so I waited for everyone else to reach descend. When gravity was finished, our group consisted of Kolie, Lucy, Amy, Liam, Anne, Stan, and myself. The rest of the ride consisted of a lot of rolling hills, gradually gaining in altitude and circling Lake Sunapee. Eventually we got to cash in all our gravitational potential with a massive descent, at which point Lucy, Stan and I separated from the group and hightailed it home. I think I reached 42 mph on the final descent. bringing the total up to about 64 miles, the second longest ride of I’ve ever done. I felt a lot less dead than after my last ride of comparable length, so that’s an improvement.

On the second day, the bulk of the group went on Emma’s PRETTYDECENTRIDEIGUESS which involved climbing the main face of Kearsarge again. I went on the medium ride again, with the same group with the addition of Quinn and Oli and the subtraction of Stan. We started out going up a different face of Kearsarge, which wasn’t quite as much of a slog as the main climb the previous day. We regrouped for a snack at the top and rolled down. The road here was much better quality than the one on the other side, and also straighter, so going down wasn’t quite as terrifying and I let myself build up a bit more speed. The rest of the ride again was a lot of rolling hills and a few segments going in the opposite direction of the previous ride. There was one very large hill in the middle of it that took about 12 minutes to bike up, but annoyingly we stopped to regroup right before the end of the Strava segment so it looks like we did it super slow. This ride was about 50 miles total, and with about five or six left we had a false-alarm flat on Quinn’s bike. Lucy and Oli had gone ahead, and we started rolling again and immediately Kolie’s derailleur catastrophically removed itself from his bike and the world of functioning bike parts. I sprinted ahead to catch Loli and told them what happened. They decided to sprint home so Lucy could come pick up Kolie by car, while I turned back to tell the rest of the group. I climbed back up the hill that they had stopped on top of, to find out that a passing pickup truck had given Kolie a ride. Anne texted Lucy telling her not to get Kolie, and we headed back to the house.

Both rides were really nice and my body and bike were mostly functioning adequately. I’m a little regretful that I didn’t try to ride with the faster group, but I’m also glad I didn’t wreck myself going at 100% for six hours or get dropped in the middle of nowhere. All in all it was a really fun weekend and it was a really nice area for biking. I’m currently on a work trip to Singapore and when I get back it’ll be almost December and summer might be over, and this was a great way to end the season.

 

Edit: PK made a video compilation of Training Camp Рcheck it out on Youtube: https://youtu.be/66mNAZaT31M

Oliver with his bike Friday in Solvang

Alumni Feature: Oliver Seikel returns to Solvang for cycling

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

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

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

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

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

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Biognosys will join us as Elite sponsor

The MIT Cycling Team is excited to announce the addition of Biognosys as an elite sponsor for the 2015-2016 racing season.

Biognosys is a leading company in next generation proteomics based out of Switzerland. The company specializes in precision measurements of proteins within the cell, and their measurement technology aids researchers, pharma, and agricultural industries. The privately-held company is a spin-off from Ruedi Aebersold’s lab from ETH Zurich.

Biognosys, like members of the MIT Cycling team, is committed to cutting-edge technology development, and believes that great science and competitive sports programs are best run together. Biognosys supports its own racing team, and encourages its employees to balance their work life with sportive exercises.

Thank you to Biognosys; we’re happy to have the support of a company who is eager to promote both science and cycling.

Sometimes sand hurts

An Ode to CSI: Cycle-Smart International, NOT Crime Scene Investigation

One week separated from Cycle-Smart International, and I‚Äôm already nostalgic. This was my second year racing at NoHo (Northampton for the uninitiated), and for the second year, it was my favorite CX weekend of the season. Why? Let me tell you…and maybe next year you‚Äôll go race it and see for yourselves‚Ķ

Remounting like a doctor
Remounting like a doctor

The second collegiate race weekend, and one relatively close to Boston means we usually have a pretty good racer turnout. This year, there were six of us (five women and Tobi), and we witnessed the reemergence of our resident doctor (almost) doctor Morgan for her first race weekend in about a year. We had a broad range of racing categories represented which meant lots of racing to watch and lots of racers to cheer on throughout the day. This is mostly attributable to Julie racing her first UCI race ever and admirably making the most of a mechanical filled day 1 by taking a maple syrup hand up and getting her neutral bike really, really sticky. There were some awesome finishes too: Anne and Emma both taking top 10s in the women’s cat 4 race over the course of the two race days.

Julie coming in for some maple syrup
Julie coming in for some maple syrup (special appearance by Smith Anderson)

Having all those friends cheering you on are what can make a race weekend fun…but what makes it great are the courses. The NoHo courses are impeccable. They are a perfect mix of challenging while not being terrifying. The courses at Providence are arguably the most intimidating, Hanover maybe the most technical, and the courses at NoHo are a terrific middle ground. Everything is rideable, unless they really intended for you not to ride it (still working on those barrier hopping skillz‚Ķ), but parts definitely require some skill. There‚Äôs a rough run up, a deep sand pit, some tricky off-cambers, and a pretty steep downhill pitch. There‚Äôs also lots of power riding. If you listed CX course requirements, NoHo‚Äôs got it…except for mud. Thank god.

Sometimes sand hurts
Sometimes sand hurts

And finally, the intangibles. Those little things that can put a weekend over the top…things that you only get at special races and special venues. Awesome food trucks? Giant podium cookies? A really cool town to hang out in after the race? (I will refrain from an ode to Northampton, but it‚Äôs cool there, alright?) Microbrewery with a CX film festival? Check, check, check, and check. NoHo has it all.

Too much fun!
We were having too much fun eating cake and drinking beer to take pictures of our night out…

So, for all of you CX racers, or maybe future CX racers out there…I‚Äôm sorry you missed such a good time this year…but take it from me, NoHo is the best race weekend of the year, go see for yourself…

Safe Cycling in the City

We get it! You want to ride your bike, but heavy traffic and seemingly careless drivers make you choose to use dreadfully crowded and slow public transit, pay for a cab, or even drive a car yourself.

Riding a¬†bike¬†in a¬†city can feel like a¬†daunting task¬†and, yes, it¬†can be dangerous ‚ÄĒ but keep in mind: No driver has the¬†¬†intention to harm¬†you. Out there, it sometimes may feel¬†like your fate¬†is determined by drivers of motorized vehicles, but for the most part¬†it is in your control¬†to minimize any potential hazards. A first step to do so is to read and follow these tips:

  • Be aware! Pay attention to vehicles, pedestrians,¬†and other cyclists around you. Make it a habit¬†to think about what¬†drivers around you may want to do, anticipate their decisions, and react accordingly:
    • Turns and stops. Does a driver want to turn or stop? Are their indicators on? Is he/she¬†checking her¬†mirrors? Is there someone in the passenger¬†(or other) seat who wants to get out of the car?
    • Parked cars.¬† Many times, ¬†bike lanes are aligned right next to parking spots on the side of the road. Unfortunately, this area is also the so-called¬†door zone where extra caution is key. After all, a parked car may¬†pull out on the road¬†or a driver or passenger may open a door unexpectedly.¬†In doubt, reduce your speed or give these cars extra space by moving to the center of the road ‚ÄĒ but, before you do so, make sure that nobody is about to pass you! It is also a good idea to pay attention to whether the car’s¬†engine is running, its lights¬†or indicators are on;¬†whether¬†the driver seat is occupied, and whether the ¬†front wheels are turned into road. You don’t necessarily have to focus on all these details all the time, but it is a good idea to train yourself to notice these things as they¬†can help you evaluate how likely it is that a¬†car will pull out or someone will open a door.
    • Traffic lights. Are traffic lights about to turn? Some people may want to catch the last moment of an orange light. Check before you cross an intersection, especially if your light just turned green. Clearly, do¬†NOT¬†run red lights!
    • Speed. Learn to judge the speed of all kinds of vehicles.¬†Is a car too fast to stop before a light? Chances are, they will cross it. Will a runner or pedestrian try to cross the road? Is someone about to run a red light?
  • Communicate!¬†As in many other aspects of life, communication is an important factor¬†on the road. Knowing others’ intentions helps us adjust and react accordingly.¬†Sometimes you will have to¬†¬†decipher drivers’ and pedestrians’ next steps¬†before they happen based on their behavior; other times you are lucky and they will let you know what they are about to do. Keep in mind, it is your responsibility (and in your best interest!) to communicate your intentions to others!¬†This not only applies to turning and stopping, but also to making others aware of dangers.
    • Use hand signals.¬† It is easy and takes minimal effort: Signal before you turn or move to the center of the road, to show what you will do. Point to the ground to make other cyclists aware of dangers such as potholes. Signal¬†if you are about to stop. Also, ¬†let hesitant drivers behind you know when it is safe to pass you.
    • Make eye contact.¬†A simple eye contact is often all it takes for another person to know what you want to do and vice versa.¬†This applies to anyone you might encounter on a road:¬†Drivers, pedestrians, other cyclists, etc.
    • Make yourself visible.¬†Keep in mind that drivers might actually not be able to see you.¬†Avoid the dead space of mirrors, the sides and backs of large vehicles such as buses and trucks, and make sure you and/or your bike wear lights in the dark.
  • Be courteous! Say thank you with a gentle nod of your head, or a (friendly) hand signal! Out on the road, you are an ambassador for cyclists and want to leave a good impression to encourage a friendly co-existence!
  • Be assertive! Sometimes¬†you will have to be assertive and just claim your space on the road (e.g. changing lanes in busy city traffic). When you do so, (1) make sure you communicate your intention, (2) confirm that other traffic participants have enough space to react to what you are about to do (right speed? enough distance?), and (3) only then do your thing.¬†As mentioned above, drivers are not out there to harm¬†you. They want to protect your life and your bike as much as they want to protect their¬†lives¬†and their car.
  • Be Prepared!¬†Regularly maintain your equipment. Having a working bicycle can prevent accidents as well. Lend special attention to your brakes, tires, and chain. Here’s a good example for a ¬†maintenance schedule.
  • Abide the law!¬†This should be an obvious one. Don’t run lights, etc. You know the rules (if not, read this); you expect drivers to follow the rules. Follow them¬†too! Again, when you are out on the road on your bike you represent all cyclists. Make sure to leave a good impression!

Josh Zisson, a Cambridge-based lawyer, created¬†Bike Safe Boston, a great blog with many good resources about cycling in the city. Amongst other posts, we recommend you read the MA cyclist’s bill of rights and the 10 commandments of city cycling. ¬†These posts will give you some general pointers (as the above) as well as information about what to do when you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident (spoiler alert: Don’t forget to get the driver’s information!).

If you are riding in a group, some additional rules apply. We have compiled a safety policy document that we encourage everyone to read who leads or joins a ride with us.

New Kit Mock Up

Kit Pre-order, through November 13th!

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

The committee reviewed many submissions, much feedback, and a handful of clothing manufacturers. We will be moving forward with Vie13 as our clothing supplier and the ‚ÄėCharcoal Asymmetric‚Äô design submitted by MIT alum Paul (Course 2 ‚Äė08). Paul, along with another MIT alum Clayton (Sloan & ESD, ‚Äė09) founded a company RIIND (riind.com), that designs, develops, and sells, everyday products designed to last.

New Kit Mock Up

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

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

A few features with this order:

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

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

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A club ride narrative with Strava Labs

Want to know what one of our weekend club rides can look like? Alex Klotz, a new member of the MIT Cycling Club, put together a cool video using some of Strava Labs‘ features.

We started out on a no-drop ride with about 25 people, headed towards Concord. After the first big set of hills, we were pretty spread out and waited for everyone to catch up. One of the riders, Parrish, was going to go on to an apple picking trip after Concord, and wanted to get going at a faster pace, so she, Paul and Felix¬†set off; I wanted to push myself so I joined the faster sub-group. We stopped at the Ride Studio Cafe so Parrish could fix her shoe, and were behind schedule so we booked it to Concord as fast as we could to try to meet up with the main group, covering about 11 km at 30 km/h. We got there and the main group was nowhere to be seen, but a guy was there waiting for them who said he’d been there for half an hour, so we figured they were behind rather than ahead of us. We were surprised, because we were stopped at the cafe for ~20 minutes.¬† Parrish went off to go pick apples, and Paul, Felix¬†and I decided to do the CBTT loop and then head back. We did that, headed towards Cambridge, hoping to overtake the main group from behind, and pretty quickly Felix got a flat tire, which we spent a few minutes fixing. Then we continued, went down Mill St, and got to the far end and had to turn back to the main road. After that we continued home without event.

Looking at the Strava flybys afterwards, I saw that we were tantalizingly close to the main group on two occasions. They were delayed because they had tried to go up Mill St and were blocked by the same downed power line that we were, and got within a few hundred meters of us near Marrett St. But the closest we got was at the Concord visitor’s centre. We left when they were within 200 metres, and they arrived two minutes after we left. There’s no way we could have caught them on the way back, even without the flat and the dead-end.

 

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Thoughtforms to be title sponsor for MIT Cycling

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

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

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

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

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Early-Season Cyclocross

To get primed for the upcoming ECCC Cyclocross season, MIT racers hit up some of the biggest events in the National CX calendar over the last few weeks: the Grand Prix of Gloucester and the KMC Festival of Cyclocross in Providence, RI. A mix of veterans (and alum!) and first-time racers hit the difficult courses and with fantastic results.

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Matt Li comes through the paved section on Day 1 of GP Gloucester. Photo by Ernest Gagnon.
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Anne Raymond faces the infamous GP Gloucester run up fresh with new skills from our clinics with Adam Myerson. Photo by Ernest Gagnon.
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Julie remounts after the barriers.
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Corey Tucker rides one of the many KMC flyovers.
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Emma Edwards’ first CX race was on one of the toughest courses that we’ll see this season. Congrats!
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MIT Women after Providence

 

The ECCC Season is now upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited for what it’ll bring. If you’re in the area, stop by to cheer and spectate! See the¬†ECCC Cyclocross¬†Calendar for more details.

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

One year of collegiate racing

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

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

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

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

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Figure 1 Cross-country MTB Race

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

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

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Figure 2 Sprinting for the prime points at the Tufts Crit

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

*Big lie