Tag Archives: columbia

Collegiate and amateur racing in the New York Times

This isn’t really about MIT directly, but a recent post from the New York Times’s City Room blog deserves a shout-out. It’s called “For Would-Be Armstrongs, Some Bike Racing Tips,” and it’s all about the transition from riding to racing in the amateur and collegiate circuits.

It also features advice from the coach and riders from my own undergraduate alma mater, the Columbia University Cycling Team. ECCC pride!

Columbia is a squad that has had an enormous amount of success in the past few years and has turned itself into one of the largest and most successful organizations in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference. The Lions almost always place talented and skilled riders in every men’s and women’s category. So it’s well worth reading their advice in the Times post.

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:


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!


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!”