Tag Archives: ECCC

Team Photo with the Trophy and D2 Winner's Plaque

Bringing Home the Trophy!

And thus it was the last ECCC race weekend of the season, a bit too quickly if you ask me. Easterns this year was hosted by RISD and Brown and was only an hour drive away, so we had 27 racers come out, including a few first timers! On the agenda was the usual TTT and road race on Saturday and the crit on Sunday. Two dirt sections on a chilly and rainy day made the road race course very interesting!

It was a fantastic end to the collegiate racing season. We brought home the ECCC Championship weekend trophy for the 2nd year in a row, beating Army by a mere 8 points, and won the D2 Omnium as well!! To summarize some of the results: We got 1st in the Women’s A, Men’s C, Women’s D, and Men’s E TTTs, and 2nd in the Men’s A and Men’s D TTT. Emma came in 4th and Tori in 6th at the Women’s A road race, Quinn and Berk secured 4th and 5th in the Men’s C road race, Kate Lawrence got 2nd in the Women’s C race, Liam came in 4th in the Men’s D race, Emy got 2nd in the Women’s D race, and Josu and Tony came in 2nd and 9th in the Men’s E race. Tori secured 6th place in the women’s a crit, while Berk, Quinn, and Charles came in 4, 5, and 9 in the men’s C crit, Liam came 9th in the Men’s D, Amy ended 2nd in the Women’s D, and Josu and Tony came in 1st and 7th in the Men’s E crit!

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Emma and PK with the Championship weekend Trophy!

Here is a recap of the weekend from Amanda:

 “TTT: This was Kate H’s first ever race, and we had a 4-person Women D team! Despite there being no other Women’s D teams in the line-up, we pushed hard and put in a solid effort. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep our team of 4 together for the whole course. We dropped Kate within the first mile, and then I dropped off around mile 5 of 13 on an incline. Amy and Em pulled strong to the finish, and we ended up beating the 2nd place Women C TTT time.

RR: Sometimes being in cold rain triggers unhappy memories of this course. Previously unable to climb at a respectable speed, I surprised myself during this race by managing to move up in positions on some climbs! However, I still solo’d most of the race because I slowed down too much in the hole-y mud segments around mile 8 and wasn’t able to chase back onto the pack. In the end, Amy took 3rd, while Em and I came in 16th and 14th, respectively, in a field of 23.

Crit: *Turns* (ha) out that I’m too scared to corner in packs, and my Army crit strategy to string out the pack by hammering at the front & up the punchy climb doesn’t work quite as well on a flat course. The headwind we had witnessed in the morning races flipped, turning the sprint finish segment into a tailwind, and a straight segment after two quick turns into a fierce headwind. I spent most of this race yo-yo’ing off the back in those turns and trying to push through the headwind to catch the pack. The main pack raced together toward a huge 17-member sprint finish, with Amy earning 2nd place and some prime points!

As a highlight from the Women D field, Amy also got 1st overall for the season, beating out a girl from UVM by 6 points. As a team we also won the season and weekend omniums! It continually baffles me that I originally came to MIT to do science and joined the cycling team just to exercise, but instead happened upon a very inspiring group of top-notch cyclist-scientists that make me want to race at a more competitive level. Suffice it to say, I have a long way to go, especially since I’d just started cycling (outside of commuting) this past November on a trainer, with most of my outside miles actually at these ECCC-sanctioned races. I’m looking forward to a summer full of training to build fitness and drop some of those pack riding fears in preparation for next year! “

And the report from Tori:

“At the start line of the Women’s A/B road race, the conditions weren’t looking too promising – it was cold and raining, and no one was sure what to expect from the course’s two dirt sections, especially given the wet conditions. But the team went into the race with the idea that we’d make the best of it, and it turned out to be one of my favorite road races this season. As expected, the dirt sections were tough, but more manageable than I had originally anticipated. For most of the race, I was in a group with 10 or so other riders, including Anne. Emma was up the road in a breakaway that had gone during the second lap. Anne and I were riding next to each other in the pack, which gave us a chance to strategize and organize a leadout for the final sprint. Anne executed the leadout perfectly, and I came around her just before the final corner, and managed to win the group sprint. And Emma had hung on for 4th! Then it was back to the hotel to give our bikes (and us, of course) a good washing before Sunday’s crit.  “

Team Photo with the Trophy and D2 Winner's Plaque
Team Photo with the Trophy and D2 Winner’s Plaque

This weekend was a fantastic way to end our season. I could not have asked for a better season and enjoyed every minute of it with all of my amazing teammates. Thanks for an awesome season, everyone!!

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Philly Phlyer – Starting the season off right!

The first race weekend of the ECCC Road season has now quickly come and gone (and we are already filling our competition with fear by getting some awesome results!). Our team had a great showing, with 15 riders coming out, 6 of whom were racing road for the first time! Even though it was a bit cold and rainy, everyone was excited and eager to get out on the roads and race the TTT and Circuit Race! Without further ado, here are recaps from Berk and Liam:

“This is Berk writing! I am a first-year graduate student in the MIT AeroAstro department, and it is my first year racing with MIT Cycling. The Philly Phlyer was my first bike race ever, so I felt it would be a shame if I didn’t document the experience with a blog post!

It was finally time for all of the winter training to pay off. I had no idea what was coming for me in the road race, so I kept focused on doing well in the TTT, the first event of Saturday morning, and hoped that the road race afterwards would take care of itself. The conditions were rather gnarly that morning; there was a decent amount of snow cover, and there were snowploughs clearing the course less than 30 minutes before the first race. This meant wet and cold conditions, conditions that would usually mean being on the trainer at home. The crit the next morning had already been cancelled the night before, which was unfortunate, but not the worst news for a green rider like me.

I was nervous racing in the Men’s A TTT for my first race ever, but also really excited. Justin, Wade, Quinn and I had not had any decent weather in Boston to practice beforehand, so we did a short run of the course to feel it out. I definitely felt a little better after we pushed the pace for a few minutes and practiced our pulls.

I was amped when we pulled up to the line. It was great to have Justin, the most experienced rider in the bunch and an awesome TTer, set the pace from the beginning. I was perhaps a little too excited, because I was finding that my pulls were a little too hard, and my turns a little ambitious right off the bat. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep Wade with us, but Justin, Quinn and I maintained a strong pace until the finish. We missed second place by 2 seconds, which was frustrating considering that any one of the easily-avoidable time losses we had could have secured us the better spot. But you live and learn, and I think we were all satisfied with the effort we put into the pedals.

Unfortunately, there was only about an hour of respite between the Men’s A TTT and the Men’s C RR, so I had to use my recovery time very efficiently. That is exactly when things starting going downhill. After a short cooldown on the trainer and some food, about 20 mins before the race, I realized that I had taken a little piece of metal in the rear tire. Oh no.

Suddenly my mind was on overdrive. I quickly swapped an inner tube, put some more food down, attached my number on my jersey, filled my bottles, and rushed to the line. I was the very last rider to pull up, shivering, wet, and definitely not in the best place mentally. Not a good way to start my first road race.

For the road race, my goal was to stick near the front, no matter what. I didn’t want to miss out on the action, and wanted to gauge the strength of the field. Since the MIT C field is deep (there was Charles, Quinn, PK, Ethan, Wade and I that morning), I figured we could make something happen in the front.

It was fast. I didn’t mind, since I was cold and could use some warming up. Far from being efficient, I decided that I would chase every single breakaway down. I found being aggressive in the front to be thrilling; Quinn and I even tried to break away towards the beginning of the second of four laps, but we were absorbed quickly. On the same lap, on a 180-degree turn, I narrowly avoided a crash after some (MIT) rider in front of me (who know who you are 😉 I love you very much anyways) lost their line and I took evasive action by sliding into a snow bank. I watched the entire pack blow by me, and had to put in a big uphill chase to get back up to the front. I soon realized I was burning through my matches very quickly, and to break away from this pack would be almost impossible anyways.

The race alternated between tons of freewheeling on the flats, and the occasional furious chase. The pack stayed together until the last lap, where the first of two small climbs ripped the group apart. Charles and I managed to stick in the front, and hoped for a final attack on the second climb. But unfortunately, neither of us had saved enough energy, and we started to fall through the front group on the final climb. It all ended in a bunch sprint, where Charles and I placed 11th and 10th respectively. (Observe the very happy but cold-and-grimy post-race picture below!) I was proud to have gotten my first points for MIT Cycling, and was happy to survive the horrible conditions with no more than a trainer flat and a runny nose.

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The race was a great learning experience for me, a veritable trial-by-fire. I learned a lot about teamwork, the value of preparation, and the importance of efficient racing. I am no stranger to putting my head down and suffering (I did break my FTP record in the TTT, which was awesome), but the tactics of road racing are still new to me. I’m glad to have had such an awesome team around me, teaching me the ropes, being the reassuring voices while we are redlining in the TTT, sharing their warm ramen post-race, pigging out on infinite salad during the team dinner, getting pulled over by irritated police with too much time in NJ, and nearly avoiding a horrible car crash on the Mass Pike. (Yeah, those didn’t make it into the blog post.) I am looking forward to many awesome in and out of the saddle adventures with y’all! I also want to give a shoutout to the MIT Women’s teams for crushing it in great style (picture below), and schooling aspiring riders like me on racing. You are an inspiration to us all!

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But for now, Berk out. See y’all in l’Enfer du Nord! [So wait, if you win, are you the King in the North? 😉 ]”

Liam wrote:

“Road racing season is finally here! It’s hard to believe that training camp was nearly two months ago, and the excitement was palpable among the team as the Philly Phlyer – our first race weekend — approached. At long last, after months of conversations about watts and kilos, leg hair and Zwift, and Pop-Tarts and gear ratios, we would get to defend the ECCC road championship title.

Despite an ominous forecast and the cancellation of Sunday’s crit due to weather, fifteen of us made the drive to Philadelphia on Friday afternoon. I drove with Ethan, and quickly learned the first of the weekend’s many lessons: it’s really important to leave early! The drive was long, and our 11 pm arrival was certainly not ideal for the 5:30 AM wake-up the next morning.

Saturday kicked off with the TTT, which – despite the cold, wet, and muddy course – went excellently for the team. First up was the Men’s C team, featuring PK, Charles, and Ethan, who put in a terrific effort to come in second place. Dmitro and I followed as the Men’s D team. Enduring a steady stream of muddy, salty water kicking up from our wheels, we drafted our way into a fourth place finish. I absolutely loved every second of it – all of our time spent TTT’ing on Mystic Lake Parkway and in California had paid off! Behind us were Amanda and Georgia, the Women’s C TTT, who won their race. Not a bad first race for Amanda!

The Men’s A TTT, with Berk, Justin, Wade, and Quinn, powered its way to a third place finish, just two seconds off of the second place team. Meanwhile, the Women’s A TTT – Katy, Kate, Anne, and Tori – won their race to bring home over 100 points for the team.

After a quick bite to eat and warm-up session, the Men’s C and D racers headed down to the line for the start of our races. The C racers – Quinn, PK, Charles, Ethan, Wade, and Berk – comprised nearly 1/7th of the field, which they used to their advantage in a thrilling race. Berk and Quinn chased attack after attack, bridging between groups to keep MIT in the lead pack. Charles, meanwhile, shrewdly limited his watts by hopping from wheel to wheel, drafting our opponents to stick with the leaders. With PK and Quinn blocking, Berk and Charles sprinted their ways to 10th and 11th place finishes, respectively.

Dmitro and I started after the C racers in what would prove to be a crash-filled Schuykill Scramble. Unfortunately, my race ended  just seven minutes in after an accidental crossing of wheels, but Dmitro stuck it out for a solid finish.

After a quick trip to the EMS with Justin to get cleaned up (thanks again, Justin!), we headed to the line to watch the Women’s A/B and C races. They were both truly thrilling from start to finish. The A/B race split into three groups almost immediately: a three-person break, followed by a chase group containing Tori and Katy, and a larger pack behind, controlled by Anne. About two laps in, the second group split further when a rider attacked. With Katy blocking, Tori managed to bridge the attack with another rider, forming a three-person group that worked together for the remainder of the race. Thanks to Katy and Anne’s deft control of their groups, Tori’s chase group stuck together for the remainder of the race, bringing her to a fifth place sprint finish in her first ever A’s race. Both Anne and Katy finished in the top 10, too, capping a very successful weekend for the women’s A squad.

Meanwhile, in the C’s, Kate stuck with the five-person lead group the entire time, which steadily grew a sizeable lead over the main pack. On the climb to the finish, she attacked and completely smoked her competitors, winning her first ever road race.

All in all, a great first weekend of racing for the team! I can’t wait for L’Enfer du Nord – until next time!”

For those on the team that have not yet raced, we are excited to see you out there in the coming weeks!

-Emma and PK

 

Just look at all those smiles! TL - John Romanishin, TR - Jen Wilson, BL - Emma Edwards, BR - Alexis Fischer

Roots and rocks and bikes – oh my! A recap of the mountain bike season

Well folks, we were having so much fun riding our bikes this fall that we didn’t keep you updated on our race season. Our apologies.

The season was one of (mostly) great weather, a mix of veterans and newcomers, and tons of fun. The two weekends which really stood out this season were MIT’s own Sliderule Shredfest and the Eastern Championships at Highland.

Just look at all those Shredfest smiles! TL – John Romanishin, TR – Jen Wilson, BL – Emma Edwards, BR – Alexis Fischer

‘The Sliderule Shredfest XC was again fast and flowy, or rather, I think it was meant to be. As a still-novice MTB rider, I can’t say my ride was graceful, but it was still a lot of fun. It was also great to see the MIT women’s team rivaling UVM for entries. We had three new ladies come out – Emma, Alexis, and Laura, and saw 3 podium finishes! Alexis (1st, WB), Laura (2nd, WB), and Lucy Archer (3rd, WA).’     – Jen Wilson

‘The atmosphere the whole weekend was fantastic, especially Saturday evening with everyone hanging out by the campfire eating delicious grilled sausages, burgers, and burritos. I definitely want to go out to more race weekends in the future and want to compete next year.’     – Przemyslaw Krol

MIT's Sean Daigle tearing it up in the Men's A Downhill on Thunder Mountain Bike Park's trail 'The Schist'
MIT’s Sean Daigle tearing it up in the Men’s A Downhill on Thunder Mountain Bike Park’s trail ‘The Schist’

Northeastern University hosted the ECCC Championships on October 10/11th at the Highland Bike Park. MIT had another great showing, with eleven racers making the trip out to New Hampshire!

It was a crisp, beautiful weekend for the Eastern Champs at the Highland Bike Park
It was a brisk, beautiful weekend for the Eastern Champs at the Highland Bike Park

Some notable results from MIT racers at the Eastern Champs:

Julie van der Hoop – 1st in Women’s B Cross Country

Lucy Archer – 1st in Women’s B Dual Slalom

Sean Daigle – 8th in Men’s A Dual Slalom

Megan O’Brien – 1st in Women’s A Downhill

Matt Schram – 4th in Men’s C Cross Country

Edgar Gridello – 7th in Men’s C Short Track

Congrats to all of the riders who raced with us this season! We had 17 riders come out to race this year and clinched 3rd in the season overall D2 omnium standings.

Sadly, mountain season is winding down… BUT three riders are preparing to represent MIT at the USAC Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals in Snowshoe, West Virginia next week. Get ready to cheer on Lucy Archer (cross country and short track), Sean Daigle (downhill and dual slalom) and Megan O’Brien (downhill and dual slalom)! We’ll be sending updates throughout the week, but for up-to-date race info and results, check out #CollNats on twitter and follow @MITCyclingTeam!

Now go ride yer bike!

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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

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First Track Weekend Race Recap!

By Rajesh Sridhar
Fast on the heels of the road season, the first race of the joint ECCC/ACCC track season took place last week at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Allentown, PA. The event kicked off with an intermediate level track clinic on Saturday with Marty Nothstein, a former Olympic gold medalist and the executive director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. While the initial parts of the clinic dealt with talking about the various track rules and etiquette, we soon got an opportunity to practice some of the track-specific race skills such as pace lining, standing starts, wall starts as well getting comfortable with the bankings in the track. Having previously raced only on the comparatively flat Kissena track, I personally found the 28 degree banked turns to be a lot more technical and equivalently, a lot fun.
Probably due to the close proximity to the Road Nats, the race had a reasonably small attendance, with a grand total of 22 racers across all categories, collegiate and non-collegiate, women and men. MIT was represented by two Men’s C/D racers, Christian and Rajesh, making it the third largest collegiate group at the competition, after Westpoint and Yale.
Thanks to the dearth of racers in the Men’s B/C category – Christian was the only one present on the day- Men’s B/C and D categories were clubbed together and the races modified to adjust for the small number of racers. A 5-lap scratch race around the 333m track was followed by kilo (the track version of ITT over 1km) and a chariot race (a short 500m race, from a standing start).
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Even though Christian missed out on winning the scratch race by a fraction of a second, he won the overall competition in the B/C/D category, after setting the fastest time in the kilo and finishing first in the chariot race. I finished 3rd in all the three races, and managed to secure the final podium position for MIT. After the main ECCC races were over, the 22 racers were grouped together into 4 teams for a fun Italian team pursuit.
We rounded off the hot sunny weekend with some delicious burritos for lunch at a nearby California themed Mexican restaurant, before starting on the dreadful 7-hour journey back home.
Joe after the Frat Row crit at Dartmouth, his signature Dr. Pepper in hand.

My last race weekend: “I have the cheapest bike you can buy”

By Joe Near

I’ve been using an extreme version of the “Joe Near Training Plan” this year. The normal version calls for 3-4 hours of riding per week  at the highest intensity you can manage (i.e. zones 3 or 4) in an  attempt to keep your fitness through the winter while spending as  little time on the trainer as possible.

This year, I managed 1-2 hours per week.

At Beanpot, I got dropped hard in both the road race and the crit. At  Army, I held on in the crit but failed to score points; in the road race, I got dropped again. So my expectations for this week were low.

But my legs must be coming around, because I scored points in every race (that I finished) this weekend. In the ITT, I averaged over 300 watts and got 15th. That’s pretty great for me — even at my best fitness, my threshold is barely 300 watts.

The Dartmouth crit was very difficult for me, both physically and mentally, because of the rain — I’ve always been bad at cornering hard in the rain, and it was hard to force myself while the water and grit being sprayed in my face made it hard to see anything. The faster guys knew it would be hard in the back and went pretty hard in the  beginning.

But I stuck with it and as the rain stopped, things got easier. I still couldn’t see anything in the final lap, and the two guys who had lapped the field started pushing people around in an effort to beat each other in the final sprint, so my primary goal was to avoid crashing rather than place as well as possible. I was therefore very proud to get 10th.

Joe after the Frat Row crit at Dartmouth, his signature Dr. Pepper in hand.

The TTT is typically very tough at UNH because I have to do it with  Zack Ulissi and it’s hilly. I was very fortunate that he took it easy on me this time. It was extra fun because we started last, behind the only two other Men’s A teams. This meant that once we caught the other teams, we knew we were leading in terms of time. I think this encouraged Zack to go easy on the hills, because he was certain we could win. I appreciated that.

But there was no camera for the finish of the TTT. This was a bummer. I wanted to be in one last finish-line photo before I graduate, and the TTT is typically the only place I get to do it! I was going to make such a great face.

In the road race, I felt much better than I expected. Unfortunately the roads were terrible. I have raced this course in the past and remember them being pretty reasonable, so this winter must have really been tough on the road conditions.

Anyway, I flatted around mile 15 and fortunately the leak was slow enough that I was able to ride it back to the parking lot. Some of the downhills were a little bit scary on a tire with 20 psi, though. I was sad to have flatted but it’s tough to complain: I have pretty good luck with flats, generally, and I didn’t end up having to walk home.

I had a great time this weekend, and while I’m sad that I won’t get to do another ECCC race, I’m happy to see that the team is as strong as ever. I’ve been around long enough to see several “generations” of riders, and it’s great to see that the welcoming attitude and cohesiveness of the team has remained.

Some of our newer riders — the women, especially — are getting great results and obviously learning a ton about bike racing every single weekend. Many of the newer riders already act like veterans: I sometimes forget that they have never raced bikes before this year.

Veterans on the team have historically sprung for expensive equipment. My bike is the oldest (and probably the least valuable) in most of the races I enter. So during a discussion about bikes on Saturday, I said, “I have the cheapest bike you can buy!” It was quickly pointed out to me that my bike had fancier stuff on it than many of the bikes sitting around it. Many of the newer team members are so good that I just forgot they hadn’t yet been bitten by the upgrade bug!

So I’d say good luck to everyone, but I don’t think you’ll need it. Being a part of the team has been an honor and a privilege, and I’m both happy to see that future members will have access to the same
great experience I had, and excited to see that the new generation of riders seems poised to continue achieving great results.

UVM Kingdom Cup Race Report

The true virtue of studying at a place like MIT is the ability to develop new passions and pursue them rapidly. Although I am generalizing from my three years experience as an undergrad, I can certainly say this holds true for the MIT Cycling Team. I joined the team for the first time this past weekend at Kingdom Trails in Vermont, and my first race weekend absolutely exceeded all my expectations.

In total seven of us raced, and our mix of riding experience and ability brought an exciting new dynamic to the weekend. I benefitted from the expertise and insight of the more seasoned riders, Luke, Lluis, Carlos, Marcos, and Matt, and especially from the leadership of our team captain, Ben. As for me, this was literally my first serious time on a bike* since middle school, and I was really just excited to get away from Boston for a weekend and bike in the mountains!

Sitting around the campfire Friday night listening to Ben, Luke, and Carlos’ stories of strenuous mountain bike races, I was quite nervous for my first race. But in reality I was relieved to enjoy a lovely Saturday morning cross-country race, thanks especially to the tremendous support of my fellow competitors. The beautiful 9-mile race wound throughout the hills and forests of Burke Mountain, including a fun and fast track through a sunbathed mountain field and down a thrillingly technical downhill.

By the end of the race, I was wishing for more! Surprised and pleased to learn of my 3rd place finish (it’s women’s B after all :D), I spent the remainder of the morning cheering on Ben and Luke, and chatting with the other racers.

Luke coming through for another lap

I was impressed to learn many were just as new to racing as I was, although I also enjoyed meeting the veteran racers. Regardless of our ability or experience level, we all agreed mountain bike racing is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, ride bikes, and meet new friends.

Following the Super D afternoon race,

Carlos crushin the Super D

we enjoyed much-deserved maple syrup “creamies” (soft serve ice cream) and made plans for our afternoon fun ride. Despite our hard morning of racing, all seven of us couldn’t help but hit the incredible Kingdom Trails. What we lacked in stamina we made up for in zeal for the trails – by the time we returned back to our campsite that evening we were all ready for a hearty campfire dinner and s’mores.

The night’s heavy rain introduced an entirely new challenge to Sunday’s short track and downhill races – mud. It was nevertheless thrilling to race the short track, and cheer on my fellow teammates and the other riders. Although I was pleased with my 2nd place finish, the race certainly inspired me to devote lots more time biking in the future, both mountain biking and road riding.

As we drove back to Boston Sunday evening, I felt emboldened by the successful completion of my first mountain bike race. Thanks to a friendly welcome from my fellow racers, and especially the MIT team, I had an inspiringly positive introductory experience and I can’t wait to get out on the trails again sometime soon!

* I would like to give special thanks to Kate Wymbs who graciously loaned me her mountain bike which kept me safe and happy all weekend long.

Beth Hadley, September 20-21 2013, UVM Kingdom Trails Race Weekend

Attitash! First Race of 2013 ECCC MTB Season

My first mountain bike race consisted of long climbs up alpine meadows followed by switchbacks down an 18% root-filled trail. This was Attitash, in NH, and I enjoyed it more than expected. Even the top A men had to walk up the steepest sections! The climbs were long but non-technical, which suited my road-riding fitness and terrible bike-handling skills. I raced women’s A, which required 3 laps; the first lap, I tried to ride the downhill switchbacks, and face-planted once then inched my way down so slowly and scaredly that it seemed like I’d be better off walking! The next 2 laps, I got off the bike and ran down, which was shameful but actually faster…Anyway, great workout, beautiful scenery, and it was fun seeing all the other MIT racers from the other fields either lapping me or cheering. We watched the downhill races in the afternoon, which looked insane — I imagine there must be a lot of crashing before riders reach the skill level of some of those racers!
Mandatory bridge-to-nowhere
The next day, I went for a lovely ride (mostly pavement, some dirt) over one of NH’s “gaps” since I wasn’t racing Enduro
then participated in the short track XC race and team relay in the afternoon; this was a completely different atmosphere from the XC race; it consisted of many laps of a short, twisty, flat course, with hecklers building jumps and cheering from the sidelines in the trees.
"Hit the jump!". Brought to you proudly by PBR.
It was an agility test, and I couldn’t get away with using fitness to overcome skill deficits there! The team relay was really fast and exciting — with laps only around 2-3min, it was all-out from the start. Overall, I liked the chill atmosphere of the MTB scene, getting out on dirt, and camping with the team. It wasn’t as intimidating as I imagined just starting out, and other than a few bruises we all emerged unscathed 🙂

-Shaena Berlin

Joe Near’s photos and video from Yale

I’ve posted photos taken with my camera at both the Beanpot and Yale
(thanks to everyone that took photos!):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jnear/sets/72157626213043928/

And helmet-cam footage from the Men B crit is here:

Yale Lux et Velocitas 2011 Crit, Men B from Joseph Near on Vimeo.

I’ll try to post video from the USAC 3/4 crit this week, and if I have
time, video from the B circuit (it’s a lot of video to work through!).

Joe

“Always wear a helmet”: Keith’s race report

Keith, our former MTB captain, had an interesting couple of weekends racing road, and has posted his thoughts to his blog.

Let’s digress a moment to understand my perspective on this road racing thing: I’m a guy who races with big spacing at average speeds of 14mph; on dirt, which is soft; dodging trees, which don’t move; on a bike that eats obstacles the size of baseballs for breakfast. Now take this same guy and put him on a bike that feels like a toy, speed him up to double the pace, replace dirt with concrete and add a couple dozen clean shaven 20-somethings as fit and aggressive as they are squirrely bike-handlers to swarm about while whipping around in circles until everyone is blind from oxygen-deprivation. They tiptoe on the brink of disaster where the minimum penalty for failure is ending up like a lemon skin after an evening in a french kitchen. This is pretty much the definition of scary.

I strongly suggest you read the whole thing.