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MIT Cycling Team Blog

‘Cross Musings Vol. 4: the New England Race Calendar

Welcome back, or welcome to MIT, as the case may be! Our first ECCC cyclocross race is two months from today, and the local USCF races start in just a couple weeks, so I thought I’d use this month’s newsletter to highlight the local calendar and share my (completely subjective) opinions about some of the races on it.* First, though, some training goals for September.

TRAINING FOR SEPTEMBER
We’re just finishing Week 1 of the Build 1 phase. With base training complete, now is the time to make your training more race-specific. An important workout to include once a week in your training is threshold intervals. Start with two 12 minute intervals at 95 – 100% of threshold (time-trial pace) heart rate and add a little each week. By the start of race season nine weeks from now you should be able to do a single interval the length of your race. The biggest challenge around here is to find a course where you can do 20 to 40 minutes continuously without stoplights, traffic etc. The Charlie Baker course is one option, or take your ‘cross bike to a local park and do it off-road. Here’s one decent route with few stoplights: http://tinyurl.com/5uk4le Ride to Waverly as your warmup, start the first interval up the Mill St climb, and finish the last to the top of the hill on Concord Ave before coasting back down into Belmont.

Continue to do one day per week of tempo work and two days aerobic. The fifth day might be sprints, VO2max intervals, or handling skills. Keep the remaining two days for rest or active recovery (<75% threshold HR) - threshold work takes a lot out of you. Hours come down to perhaps 10 per week. THE NEW ENGLAND RACE CALENDAR New England has arguably the richest cyclocross calendar in the country. There are races every weekend from mid-September to mid-December, many a short drive from Boston. With gas averaging $3.59 of late, it's probably sensible to choose your races by proximity. To that end, I've created an interactive Google map of the races. Red markers indicate races we'll target as a team, and dots in the markers indicate official, points-carrying ECCC races. Check bikereg.com for more detail on each race. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=114213208780859673298.000454ad38b73f689d8e6 Sun 9/14 - Amesbury Cyclocross, Amesbury MA Fairly close, in its second year, moderately technical, fun course. A bit rooty last year, but supposedly they've corrected that. Recommended. Sat 9/20 - New England Velo-Cross Challenge, Londonderry NH Located at the New England Velodrome! New course for this year. Sun 9/21 - Sucker Brook 'Cross, Auburn NH Just off I-93, fast non-technical course, the cupcakes at last years concession stand were highly acclaimed by none other than master framebuilder Richard Sachs. Sat 9/27 - Green Mountain Cyclocross #1, Williston VT Sun 9/28 - Green Mountain Cyclocross #2, Williston VT The first weekend of the Verge New England Championship Cyclocross Series, held at a cross-country ski resort outside Burlington. The Verge series races tend to be well-run, well-attended, and very competitive. With national-caliber pros in the A field, many local A's race the B race, and some B's the C, etc. Start line staging is by order-of-registration, and the closer ones such as Gloucester will fill up fast. Sun 9/28 - Quad 'Cross 2008, Bedford MA Very close by, sponsored by Quad Cycles in Arlington. The second year for this course, last year was fast and dusty, like racing in California. Fun! Sun 10/5 - Coonamessett Eco-Cross, East Falmouth MA I'm not sure what the Eco- means, other than that they have limited parking and strongly encourage carpooling. Sun 10/5 - Casco Bay Cyclocross, Biddeford ME Second year for this one as well. Basically a long dirt road climb followed by long winding grass descent. Fun, in an intervals sort of way . . . Sat 10/11 - Gran Prix of Gloucester #1, Gloucester MA Sun 10/12 - Gran Prix of Gloucester #2, Gloucester MA The Queen of them all, Gloucester is the biggest and one of the oldest races in New England. Part of both the North American Cyclocross Trophy Series and the Verge New England Series, it's a great race to compete and/or spectate. Most of the top pros will be in attendence, and the venue is simply gorgeous. Fast, non-technical course, but the big fields (up to 125 racers) pose challenges of their own. Note that this is the same weekend as MTB Easterns, so if you have a mountain bike you should do that. If not, registration opens Sept 8, sign up early! Sat 10/18 - Downeast Cyclocross, New Gloucester ME Another New England tradition, held at a cross-country ski area and conference center in southern Maine. Moderately technical course - years past have featured mud, a steep run-up, and a long off-camber section. Formerly part of the Verge series. Sat 10/18 - Mansfield Hollow 'Cross, Mansfield Center CT An under-rated little gem of a race in Central Eastern Connecticut. Moderately technical, with some beach runs to make things interesting. Sun 10/19 - Canton Cup Cyclocross, Canton MA One of my all-time favorites. Very close by, a fairly fast course with a good mix of terrain. We'll use Canton as a pre-ECCC warm-up race, so stay tuned for details! Sat 10/25 - MRC Cyclocross, Wrentham MA Also close by, but I've never done it so I don't have much to say. They run a training series on Wednesday nights on this course, starting this week. Sat 10/25 - Opa Opa Beer Cross #1, Dayville CT I once did a night-time training race here. They lit it with dozens of electric lanterns and hundreds of yards of extension cords. Logistically impressive, but still super sketchy. Their daylight races were pretty dangerous as well, from what I hear. As Phil Liggett would say, I'd give this one a miss. Sun 10/26 - Wicked Creepy Cyclocross, Bennington VT Don't know much about this one. Bennington's nice! Sat 11/1 - Cycle-Smart International #1, Northampton MA Sun 11/2 - Cycle-Smart International #2, Northampton MA Finally, the first ECCC races of the season! Previously a one-day race, the old course was short, twisty, turny, rooty, with a gnarly run-up. I'm not sure what promoter Adam Myerson will do with the second day this year, but we'll find out! I'd like to send a decent contingent to each of the two days to start off the ECCC season with a bang. Also part of the Verge series. Sat 11/8 - Plymouth North Cyclocross, Plymouth MA Site of two cyclocross national championships, held at Mark McCormack's high school, a nice balanced course. Past primes have been known to include oysters! Sat 11/8 - VT Psycho Cross, Brownsville VT Another sophomore effort, near Mt. Ascutney. Technical, I believe. Sun 11/9 - Plymouth South Cyclocross, Plymouth MA Day 2 of Plymouth, at a completely different venue. Super-positive fans cheering you up the tough ride-up. Awesome. Barriers before and after the sand pit. Not so awesome. Sun 11/9 - West Hill Shop Cyclocross, Putney VT Another classic New England race, featuring a killer run-up a hundred yards before the finish. Sun 11/9 - Highland Park Cyclocross, Highland Park NJ OK, not New England, but the closest non-New England ECCC race. If we can find the money, I'd like to send a few people down to show Rutgers how it's done. Four day weekend for MIT. Sat 11/15 - Brockton City of Champions Cross, Brockton MA Did this a few years ago, can't remember much except that they scored me as "Pam Williams." Which was OK, since I'd had a crummy race and didn't need any cyber-stalkers finding that result on the Google! Sat 11/15 - Opa Opa Beer Cross #2, Dayville CT See comments above. Sun 11/16 - Shedd Park Cyclocross, Lowell MA Another close one, and an ECCC off-week, so maybe we'll put together a carpool. Fun course, well balanced. Sat 11/22 - Cheshire Cyclocross, Cheshire CT Fun woodsy descent, followed by an epic run up. Search youtube for "Cheshire Cross Hill People" and see for yourself . . . Sun 11/23 - Easthampton Cyclocross, Easthampton MA No idea. Sat 11/29 - Baystate Cyclocross, Sterling MA The closest ECCC race, and part of the Verge series. The course is fairly non-technical, but the cool weather could make it interesting. Sun 11/30 - Palmer Cross & Bike Swap, Palmer MA Another New England tradition. Pretty technical, I believe, with a lot of dismounts. Talk to Eric or Illana for details. Sat 12/6 - NBX Gran Prix #1, Warwick RI Sun 12/7 - NBX Gran Prix #2, Warwick RI The Verge and ECCC series finale. Another beautiful venue, in a large park on Narragansett Bay. Good mix of terrain, well balanced with a couple good sand sections. Sun 12/14 - Natz Schmatz Opa Opa Beer Cross Finals, Dayville CT Irrelevant, since we'll be in Kansas City at Nationals! Go Engineers! Bill *The opinions expressed in this email are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MIT Cycling, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ECCC Track Season

The inaugural ECCC Track Season, organized our own Josh Schwartz, gets underway next weekend. The ECCC season will feature three race weekends, shortly followed by Collegiate Track Nationals in Coloroado Springs.

The season schedule is:

Aug 22-24 Kissena, NYC
Aug 30-31 Valley Preferred Cycling Center, Trexlertown, PA
Sep 06-07 New England Velodrome, Londonderry, NH
Sep 11-13 Collegiate Track Nationals @ Colorado Springs

The team has spent this summer preparing at the New England Velodrome in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Pictures from a coaching session several weeks ago have been posted.

Google Calendar

Hello MIT Cycling Community,
We have a new Google calendar on the http://mitcycling.org home page that we will be using exclusively for events scheduling for both club events and team events, for all disciplines road, mountain, cyclocross, and track. Note the calendar can be added to your own personal calendar if you have a google account.

For the time being, If you would like to add special rides, races, or cycling events to the calendar, please email Michael Hamilton with the date, time, location, and event description, and we’ll make sure to get the events up on the calendar. For regular training rides with short notice (less than 2 days notice), please continue to post to the cycling-club, mitoc-bike, or cycling-race lists.

Ride Leaders Needed

The City of Boston has a really cool event Friday morning August 22nd, called Bike Friday which gets new riders to try cycling to work. The police do a rolling enclosure (sorry, no blue lights). Anyway, we would love some more volunteer leaders to help on the Newton, W. Roxbury, Lexington and JP routes. You will even be back at school by 9 or 10!!

Let Nicole know if you are interested.

Info is at http://www.cityofboston.gov/bikes/bikefridays.asp

Track Coaching this Weekend

This Saturday is the last coaching session before the ECCC starts next week, so let’s try to make attendance as good as possible! We’ll be concentrating on team stuff: figuring out starting orders for team sprints and team pursuits, talking about pacing and exchanges, etc.

If you’re planning on racing at ECCC or Nats, or even if you’re just interested in track in general, it’s highly recommended to come out. The team will be covering all expenses for the trip.

We’ll send two groups: one leaving at 8am to race in the morning and do coaching in the afternoon, and one leaving at 12:30 to come up just for coaching. Expect coaching to finish around 4-4:30 and to get home around 5-5:30. Please sign up using the logistics form.

The deadline is Friday, 6pm.

‘Cross Musings Vol. 3: Technique

It’s August, which means that cyclocross season is just around the corner!  For the true diehards, the first local race is August 24th in Springfield.  For traditionalists like myself, the season doesn’t really start until mid-September.  Either way, August is a good time to start practicing your cyclocross technique.  I’ll try to give a few tips in this email, and we’ll run some clinics once school starts.  If there’s anything in particular you’d like to improve on, please drop me a line and we’ll tailor the clinics accordingly.

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‘Cross Musings Vol. 2: Equipment

A few people have expressed interest in trying cyclocross this fall, but don’t yet have a bike, so I thought I’d devote this month’s newsletter to equipment. First, though, a quick reminder of the training objectives for July.

TRAINING FOR JULY
According to the schedule I mailed out last time, we’re currently ending Week 1 of the Base 2 phase. Your main focus should still be on aerobic development, with at least three zone 2 rides per week. Your second objective is to start easing yourself into harder efforts. Start with one tempo workout per week, riding at 85-95% of your time trial heart rate for extended periods without interruption. Start with 20 or 30 minutes and add 5 or 10 minutes per week. The third objective for Base 2 is to start to get your legs accustomed to working at different cadences. You may not realize it, but on the road you generally pedal within a very narrow range of your preferred cadence, unless going up or down a steep incline. A cyclocross course, on the other hand, changes terrain quite rapidly, often faster than you can shift, so it’s important to be able to deliver power over a wide range of cadences. Spinning at high cadence requires pedaling efficiency whereas a low cadence requires strength. To develop the former, try to incorporate some spinning intervals into one or two of your aerobic rides. Shift into a low gear that will enable you to spin 10 or 20 RPM above your preferred cadence, and hold it for five minutes. Recover for five minutes at your normal cadence, and repeat. To develop leg strength, your fifth workout of the week should incorporate hill-climbing that requires you to drop your cadence 10 to 20 RPM below your preferred cadence. Some good local climbs include Eastern Ave in Arlington, Prospect Hill in Waltham, or Great Blue Hill in Milton. Start with three 3-minute intervals and build from there. Exercise caution when doing strength workouts as it is possible to overdo it and injure yourself. If you’re in your first or second year of cycling, skip the strength workouts and do a fourth day of aerobic riding instead.

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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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‘Cross Musings Vol. 1: Training for Cyclocross

Cyclocrossers and cyclo-curious:
Finals are over, days are long, the weather’s great, all of which suggest it’s time to start base training for cyclocross!  The ECCC schedule will likely run from November 1st (the first Saturday after Mt. Bike Nationals) to December 7th (the Sunday before ‘Cross Nationals).  In this email I’ll lay out a general training philosophy, based largely upon Joe Friel’s methods but with some cross-specific adjustments.  Additional references are listed at the end.  This schedule assumes that ‘cross is your primary focus, but the sport can also be good preparation for road season or just a way to keep the winter weight off.

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To glory in the wind tunnel and beyond