MIT dominated the first ECCC road weekend with smart tactics and strong legs in all race categories. 21 riders traveled to the Rutgers Frozen-Toed Opener to compete in a 2-mile ITT, a crit, and a hilly circuit race. MIT won the Team Omnium with 206 pts (Penn State #2, 167 pts).
Be warned: with all of the excitement about the races, this is a long post!
All Results (place):
MA: Zack 6, Joe 8
WA: Shaena 1
MB: Ben 2, Oliver 12, Kuat 21
MC: Scott 3, David K 4, Stephen 7, Kamal 13, Nate 16, Ernesto 22,
WC: Kate 1, Georgia 3, Edrie 22
MD: Matt R 2, Tom 5
WIntro: Katie 5, Marianna 8
MA: Joe 16, Zack 38 +1pt prime
WA: Shaena 10 +13pt prime
MB: Kuat 12, Ben 33
MC: Scott 3 +3pt prime, David K 8, Matt Li 11, Stephen 15 +5pt prime, Nate 27, Kamal 28 +3pt prime, Ernesto 29
WC: Georgia 6 +11pt prime, Kate 8 +7pt prime, Edrie 21
MD: Matt R 2, Tom 6 +3pt prime
WIntro: Katie 4, Marianna 7
MA: Zack 5 +1lap, Joe 18
WA: Shaena 7
MB: Kuat 14, Ben 19, Oliver 25, David S 41
MC: David K 1, Scott 4, Stephen 12, Kamal 13, Ernesto 21, Matt Li 28
WC: Georgia 4, Kate 6, Edrie 19
MD: Tom 5, Matt 8
WIntro: Katie 3, Marianna 10
Captain Zack U’s Men’s A Circuit Race
I had high hopes for the circuit race this year after winning the B’s last year in a solo breakaway, but with PSU, Pitt and UVM all showing good teamwork in the crit I was worried that they were going to manufacture an early break that I’d miss. I had a long warmup and made sure to get a spot on the front row of staging. The Tufts rider next to me attacked right at the start and I jumped on his wheel. Alan (Shippensburg) attacked right after on the hill and I followed that as well, Samson (Pitt) jokingly shouted “that’s the move” since the attack was way too early in the race, at the top a spectator shouted that Robin was present, and with that the break of the day got away (Robin, Wyatt (PSU), Alan, and myself). With Wyatt in the break the PSU guys were blocking in the field, and Wyatt took full advantage of this and refused to do any work in the break (smart racing). After a while working well together, we had a sizable gap on the field and Alan/Wyatt were dropped on a particularly hard pull from Robin. Robin and I continued until we had almost lapped the field, but I wasn’t able to hold his wheel when he made a final push and I spent the next ~10 laps solo until I also got to the back of the field. The officials didn’t neutralize the field and we weren’t allowed to work with it, so we spent a few laps a few bike lengths from the back until we were able to get around, and Robin dropped me again. Brendan appeared after his own solo-lapping and dropped me a lap later. Wyatt/Alan then made it up to me and we spent the last few laps together, with those two sprinting around me leaving me with 5th place.
I wish I could have finished a bit better, and maybe could have if the officials had neutralized the field and let Robin and I pass earlier in the race, but regardless I honestly feel that I gave it 100% and completely buried myself. Last years’ effort: 290W NP for 40 minutes, this year: 315W NP for 70 minutes.
David Koppstein’s Men’s C Circuit Race
After failing to sprint on the final lap in Saturday’s criterium because I lost track of the laps to go, I decided to count the laps in the circuit race. This clever stratagem led to victory.
Seriously though, this race was the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike, and it was all because of the incredible MIT men’s C field. We had so many strong riders, and we worked really well together! As we rolled out from staging, Matt Li and Ernesto Jimenez led the pack and kept the pace high. Acting on Zack’s advice, I remembered to get to the front at the bottom of the hill, sag climbed to the middle of the pack, and then worked my way back up the peloton on the downhill through drafting. As the race progressed, MIT riders started to become aggressive at the front. Kamal Ndousse put in a strong, unexpected attack that forced Princeton and Army to chase, letting me, Scott Burdick, and Stephen Shum sit in. When Kamal was caught, Stephen attacked, again forcing the field to chase. When a four-man breakaway threatened to get off the front, Oliver Schrang shouted encouragement from the sideline to catch their wheel, so I forced myself up to them and it eventually petered out. Towards the final laps, Stephen talked me through setting up the sprint finish, telling me to stay on the inside of the course. With one lap to go, I got on Scott’s wheel and he gave it everything he had up the final climb, delivering me to the top in first wheel. It was too early to be first, though, and Princeton’s Jacob Lapenna was glued to my wheel. I didn’t want to lead him out, so I got in an aero tuck for the downhill, soft pedaled, and watched behind me.
In the heat of the moment, I forgot all about Nicole’s advice on finding the right gear, using my arms, and kicking up with my knees. All I could think about was 1) find the 200m line, and 2) jump hard enough to get separation. At ~250 meters to go, I decided it was time. I kicked in a frenzy, sprinting on instinct and adrenaline. I didn’t look back until the end, and was exhilarated to see that nobody had been able to catch my wheel — I had won the race! Watch out ECCC, the MIT men’s C field is strong, rides smart, and works together seamlessly. We’re here to stay. [Hopefully not in the C field to stay! —Ed.]
Katie Maass’s Weekend
This weekend was my first cycling race weekend and I had a blast. My favorite part was during the crit when I was sticking at second wheel and going through the corners quickly. I started to see in practice what I had only heard people talk about before about bike racing. I definitely have a lot to learn about how to implement race strategy, but it was really fun to go out there, bike fast, and try some things out. I can’t thank my teammates enough for all of their support – be it answering my numerous questions, cheering me on, or helping me get ready to race. I felt very prepared for my first race weekend and that made it really fun. I can’t wait to do it again soon!
Tom O’Grady’s Weekend
This was my first ever weekend bike racing with the team. What an experience. My main emotion from the weekend is “why did it take me so long to discover this sport?” I honestly can’t remember having so much fun in any sport before. I love endurance sports, and have a background in running, so what clinched it for me? Three things, I think. First, the tactical element: conserving energy, watching for breaks, going ahead at the right time; re-living the races in my head afterwards is already proving dangerously addictive. Second, the teamwork: the teammates cheering me along at every bend (Ben W sounds particularly menacing when shouting “attack! attack!”); the help, advice and sheer fun from everyone else on the team; the sense of working together for a common goal. I’ve never experienced this before as a runner. Third, the fact that everyone earns points. Sure, I didn’t win many. But we couldn’t have won the omnium this weekend without the points from C, D and intro riders. I love that everyone played their part, even the complete novices like me.
This is supposed to be a race report, so I should talk about the races, too. In the men’s D crit, Matt Redmond and I had a simple plan: stay at the front to avoid crashes, and get Matt to the line for a sprint finish. It worked perfectly. I knew where the 400 m mark was, knew Matt was on my wheel, and sprinted like mad. Matt shot past me with 200 m to go and finished 2nd by half a wheel length. Next time we’ll nail it. In the men’s D circuit race, I saw the big hill and smiled. I have a chance, here, I thought. I gave it everything I had: staying just back from the front, covering attacks, and attacking myself with 3 laps to go. I got out in front with a West Point rider for one lap but we couldn’t sustain it on such a short course. In the end I was happy with 5th after giving 110%. Next time, I would do it differently. Conserve my energy, let someone else chase the attacks, sit back and have something in the tank at the very end. But that’s why I want to get back out there: so many lessons learnt, so much more to do…next year I’ll train like a beast and be competing in the higher categories. I wish it would come sooner.
Kate Wymbs’s Women’s C ITT Win
5am: I woke up excited and turned on my pump-up music infecting my roommates with my excitement. Five hours of sleep – so what? After two and a half years at MIT, sleep deprivation doesn’t scare anymore. Let’s race.
5:30am: Big news! The night before on the drive up a hawk with a death wish and flying in the opposite direction as the car carrying my bike crashed into and taco-ed my new rear wheel with PowerTap hub. My reaction, ARE YOU JOKING?? But it was no joke, nor was it a joke that I still had my first road cycling race ever in two hours, wheel or no wheel. I had to get my head back on straight.
6am: We arrived at the site of the ITT with the pre-race rush. Between registering, signing forms 27 times, pinning numbers, and finding bathrooms, I was breathless before I even got on my bike. Zach and Shaena generously lent me a rear wheel to warm up and then to race on, and I was off to pre-ride the course. It was an out-and-back 2.2 mile loop with a sharp 180° turn and only very slight changes in elevation. I returned, changed wheels and listened to teammates talk ITT strategy
7:30am: I was about to set up some rollers to get the blood flowing before attempting to go as fast as I could for six minutes when I heard the call: “WOMEN’S C TO STAGING”. Crap. No warm up, but at least I got to pre-ride the course. Maybe fifth in line of the Women’s C, I listened to the other girls’ chatter as we all anxiously awaited our turn. Twenty seconds after the racer in front of me, I was off, or would be, as soon I as managed to clip in. Charged by that small delay, I revved up my legs and powered through my gears. Fifty seconds in I realized I would not be able to maintain that speed, 24-26.5 mph for much longer, so I dropped into a slightly easier gear. Half a minute later I saw my first target, the racer who had left 20 seconds a head of me, and I saw that I was gaining on her. I picked up the pace and passed her. Not long after I reached the 180° turn-around, and slowing down perhaps too much, I made a tight turn, rather than the faster, wider turn. To compensate and based on the knowledge that the second half was shorter than the first half, I accelerated rapidly to ~22 mph and tracked down and passed my second rider. My heart rate averaged 182 bpm and I began to feel the lactic acid building up in my legs. But there she was, another ride within my clutches. Forcing my legs to maintain their cadence, I passed the third and final racer just before seeing the road sign that was to signal my final sprint effort. I paused, took a deep breath and then gave it my all, coming into the finish line with a time of 5:46.73.
11:15am: I saw the scoreboard of the events earlier in the day and to my amazement, find my name at the top of the WC ITT list: 1 Katherine Wymbs Massachusetts Institute of Technology 32 points! I exploded into a smile and started hugging each teammate that I could find. Wow!
Scott Burdick’s Men’s C Road Race
The Rutgers Crit was a lovely race on a nice little course with an ugly, pot-holed downhill corner and a gentle climb to the finish. For the dozen or so laps, the pack tooted around, there was a bit of sketchy cornering (I helped with that) and Stephen took the first prime. As we came up on the second prime, Nate rolled over and suggested “go for it” to which I replied “ehyup.” Kamal contested the sprint and I followed up behind him and kept pedaling after the line. I flew through the dicey corner best I could and continued hard for about half a lap until I saw that only a fellow from Middlebury had followed me. I said to him “hey,” and he said “want to do this?” and I said “let’s give it a shot.” We were joined by a Princeton chap eventually, and after some confusion we fell into a nice paceline for what seemed like an hour or an hour and a half. The race was 30 minutes so I could be wrong. Meanwhile, my heroic, handsome teammates were doing some amazing blocking back in the pack. I heard after that the other riders were frustrated and pointedly wondering if there was MIT in the break, and I like to imagine our guys sheepishly grinning and professing not to know. With three laps to go, my hamstrings sadly exploded and I fell away from the other leaders. Anyway, I managed to stretch my legs out and recovered well enough to still finish ahead of the pack. It was pretty fun for my first road race, but not quite as fun as watching Koppstein blast ahead of everyone to win the circuit race on Sunday!
Georgia’s Race Report: Women’s C
This was my first race weekend with the MIT team, and it was AMAZING! I learned a few things during this weekend:
1. WARM UP. It’s very important to warm up on the trainer, especially when it’s 32 degrees outside. With an early morning start to the ITT (7am), I didn’t really give myself enough time to warm up properly, and could definitely feel it in the race. My head was saying “GO”, my legs were saying “NO!” But it still turned out great (3rd place finish), so next time I know!
2. GO FOR IT. The Criterium race was definitely the most exciting of the weekend. With Kate Wymbs also in Women’s C, we decided to work together and see if we could take away a few sprint laps and hold on for the finish. Our team strategy worked! At the start of the race, we played it easy and stayed in the pack to get a feel for the sharp corners and downhill section. On the first points lap, no one was making any moves, so I gave Kate the signal and we hit it on the last stretch. I gave her a lead 400 m out, and she sprinted to the finish, with me right behind her, a 1-2 sprint finish! We pretty much did the same for the second points lap, this time I took the lead with Kate right behind me. We stayed in the pack for the rest of the race, jostling at the front for who would pull the pack. It was great having another teammate with you, and we stayed together through the end. Teamwork goes a long way!
3. PAIN CAN BE AWESOME. The last race of the weekend was a circuit race with a steep hill, which basically meant pounding it up the hill 15 times in a row, with a few seconds to catch your breath on the downhill stretch. After my second time up, I was already feeling the pain in my legs, and I started to think, “I have to do this how many more times??” But never fear; adrenaline, cheering fans, and chasing down the rider ahead of you can make pain feel like fun! Epic race, epic effort, and epic riders. This makes you want to push yourself harder every time!