The blog returns! We’re back in action racing this fall, and there’s an entire season’s worth of recaps to read below. New friends, new racers, victories, dirty bikes… everything is here.
The first race of the season was simultaneously the first collegiate MTB race for all of our racers. Josephine, Kira, Sara, Devin, and Felix all arrived at some point between dusk and the morning’s race. There was plenty of confusion getting numbers and figuring out where and when the start was. However, our valiant captain, Devin, had everything under control despite never having raced a MTB. A seasoned high school racer, Josephine was astounded by the lackadaisical nature of ECCC MTB. Needless to say, we did not really pre-ride the course. XC began with bang when the 3 women’s A racers left the improvised start line. Josephine started behind, but, bemused by her competitors lack of pace, sprinted around one before entering the trails. Devin and Felix started equally cautiously at the back of a large Men’s C field and were caught in an absolute chaos. The start can best be described as a traffic jam. Devin followed Felix’s lead by running around droves of stranded cyclists floundering uphill. The MIT tag team efficiently worked their way up the field until Felix’s handlebars started to come loose and he fell off the pace. Devin pressed to claim 2nd, while Felix limped to the parking lot, tightened some bolts and finished with a strong second lap.
Meanwhile, Sarah and Kira started in Women’s B with very little prior experience on MTBs. It was only Sarah’s 8th time ever! Nevertheless, they both put the pedal to the metal on the uphills, when their fellow riders were often in their way. They took the downhills at an appropriately measured pace, getting more confident as they went. Sarah came flying out of the woods for 4th place and Kira followed not too far behind. The whole time, Josephine was quietly putting in a superb performance with no competitors in sight. Getting faster every lap, she cruised by the rest of the team cheering after lap three. This caused confusion as her race was originally supposed to be 3 laps. Due to a shortened course, it had been extended to 4, which let her build an incredible gap of 11 min on the 2nd place rider.
The whole group migrated up to the DS course for some fun with jumps and berms. Although several of us had no idea what dual slalom is, we had some time to kill and jumped in line to give the courses a shot! I (Sarah) found it hilariously challenging and completely different from any MTBing I’d done before – but it was inspirational to see some of the other riders really rip it! So many were even kind enough to give us some tips/coaching (shout-out to the UVM women!). Unfortunately the process of bracketing took so long that several of us had to leave before the bracketed rounds began, and then the entire thing got called off because it started getting dark and the EMTs had to leave. Devin stayed around for STXC and braved mud to again clinch 2nd and secure his promotion to B’s.
The second weekend of our condensed season brought weather that only the hardiest souls dared venture out into. With sunny Boston in the rear view mirror, Kai, Devin, Josephine, Bill, Felix, and Matthew set out for soggy Vermont, steeled for the persistent deluge that awaited them. The team awoke to the promise of wet skies and muddy trails but nonetheless hopped on their bikes for a slippery XC course. Out on the trail, the fun began with Felix taking second in Men’s C, Josephine notching another W, solid races for Matthew, Devin, and Kai. Bill ended with worse luck, wrangling his MITOC fat bike through the first mile only to fall victim to a broken chain. Fixing that, he returned to the course only to end up with a broken derailleur in the same spot! Afternoon dual slaloming brought the energy up with speedy runs on the sloppy surface by Kai and Josephine and a very solid “not last” by Bill who railed the berms on Kai’s XC bike.
Saturday night proved eerily quiet for the ECCC, dampened by the drizzle, but provided our hearty competitors with a good night’s rest. Sunday morning at Bolton Valley Resort saw the start of the most technical of the season’s short track XC courses, with a challenging steep descent in the middle. After a harrowing race, Felix, on his enduro steed, managed to just outsprint some guy on a fully rigid rockhopper from like 1995 to take the win. Devin’s race ended a little sooner and less fortunately with an up-close-and-personal encounter with a tree. Next up, Josephine enjoyed a chill ride with the only other person in the Women’s A field, before dropping her after a few companionable laps. Kai finished out the weekend with a solid ride on a slippery downhill course and the team skedaddled back to the city. When the points were tallied, MIT had come in a respectable third overall!
The final weekend of ECCC came all too soon, hosted for the first time in Claremont, NH. In an unfortunate start to the weekend, the well-known-to-be-extremely-calm-and-quiet ECCC was remarkably silent on Friday night at Running Bear Campground yet still managed to be told not to return for Saturday night. Nevertheless, the four riders, Kai, Josephine, Devin, and Matthew, turned to racing. Saturday brought the flowiest XC course of the season with a no-brakes downhill full of berms and optional jumps bringing smiles to their faces. Following a successful morning, the team headed over to the enduro course, in search of another points haul. Josephine stunned the conference again, winning Women’s B on her XC hardtail, and putting down faster times than any of the Women’s A riders. Fresh off a day of racing, the team enjoyed an unusual night involving a crowd of hang gliding afficicianados, a professional pyrotechnics crew, and a colorful bonfire.
Sunday started off strong with an exciting win in the short track XC team relay! The day then shifted back to Arrowhead Recreation Area for the Downhill. Kai pulled out a solid 7th in Men’s A, which saw him off to Durango for Nationals. Meanwhile, Josephine turned heads with her flannel, full face helmet, and signature XC hardtail, charging down the hill before an unfortunate crash below a rocky chute but still managing to salvage a second place. When all the dust had settled, the team walked away with a stellar second place overall in the weekend points competition and the best place for the season of any team that skipped the Pennsylvania race.
With 10 inches of snow the week before, the Nationals downhill course was shifted to the muddy and pedally XC track descent. While his dual-crown downhill bike may not have been the ideal steed for the task, Kai finished off the season with a solid 30th in the country. Although USA Cycling listed him as a competitor from Michigan Technical University, we knew he was reppin’ the ECCC as he wished to ride the wet, snowy DH course.
Thanks for following along through the epic return to racing Fall 2021 had to offer. We’re so proud of our new racers, seasoned riders, and sponsors who helped make the racing come to life this fall. Next up: ECCC Cyclocross, Fall Training Camp, and a whole lot of Zwift & Trainer Road. Keep up the great work everyone!