Dear MIT Cycling Team,
I’m trying desperately to remember what we did today… right, drove. All the way from Pittsburgh to Lincoln, traveling through six giant Midwest states. Michael’s GPS failed miserably in its entertainment value: instructions were “Follow this interstate to I-80; Keep right onto I-80, Keep left onto I-80, Stay on I-80, Keep left onto I-80, sleep”. (A note for the other ECCC teams driving out: if you get lost, you’re doing something seriously wrong.)
Side note: Ohio has just as many messed-up names as Massachusetts. For example, Cayahoga Valley gets converted into Kiohga. See, while Ohio-ans also don’t care about excess syllables, they chose to drop the ones in the middle so that you can’t tell there’s letters missing. At least Mass is honest about retaining useless freebie letters.
The flat plains and farmlands stretching from Ohio through until tomorrow makes everything blur together. We’re already confusing which day is which, and can’t remember what exactly we did this morning. I also can’t remember who’s foot that is touching mine. Given that there’s only two of us, and Michael is staying on his side of the car (now), I’m pretty sure it’s mine. It may have fallen asleep somewhere around Des Moines.
Travel tip: look for pizza joints near state colleges. Today we learned about Bob’s Your Uncle outside Iowa State: cajun chicken, roma tomatos, feta cheese, and approximately 100% cute waitresses. Yes, please.
For the people whose bikes are in the back, just know that Chewie’s is the only one that we sold off for gas money. Did you know that a single time trial bike can net enough to fill a 30 gallon tank? It’s another reason to keep your rig shiny, it increases the resale value in Gary, Indiana. (Hint.)
We also found The World’s Largest Truck Stop (TM) (sic) in Iowa. It had its own food court, theater, clothier (they’ll customize anything you bring ’em, including tie-dyes), and dentist (not kidding). The number of belt buckles for sale alone was pushing near the limit of what I’ve seen. Imagine if we’d melted down all of Chewie’s bikes and made them into belt buckles, that’d only be 12% of what TWLTS offered.
Tomorrow is a shorter trip to one of my favorite cities in America, Boulder CO. Be looking for stories of Runzas, Pearl Street and University Cycles, The Sink, CU astrophysicists, and true honest-to-not-Eastern-Ave mountains. I’m getting tingly already in my other foot.
Monkeys and cogs,
Dear MIT Cycling,
This was the beginning of what promises to be an epic journey to the end of the road and back again. We won the overall conference championships edging out both Army and UVM in the final weeks. After some beautiful podium shots with the team, we packed up the Nats van with help from teammates. We ended up being the last to leave the Penn State crit course, but Nick and I decided to go ahead and leave even later by taking the first of many side detours to attend a tasting of ice cream at the Penn State Creamery. I had a shake, and Nick had a cup, and we chatted with Joe Kopena and Caitlin Thompson about why USA Cycling sucks and how they need to improve.
Eventually we got on the road to Pittsburgh toward Nick’s sister Andrea’s place. Most of the journey was through the mountains of Western Pennsylvania coal country, which provided some pristine views of several large coal power plants and billboards (as well as green mountains and rolling countrysides). I noted to Nick that one natural-draft cooling towers (show a pic of one here) could cool up to about 1GW of coal generation, so the plant that had three in the distance was likely a massive 2-3GW net plant. Ok, done with the electricity nerd aside.
One interesting sight on the way was this small red business off to the right labeled with big white letters spelling “CLIMAX”. Of course this piqued our interest, both being 20-something males. As we came closer, I noticed a smaller sign saying “DRIVE THRU PEEP SHOW”. Wow. I was simultaneously disgusted and amazed at the existence of such an establishment, when the appropriateness of the name finally hit me. ‘Nuff Said. Hilarious.
We got dinner at a great Pittsburgh-original Mexican place called Mad Mex, where Nick and I chowed down on a trio of salsas: habenero-pineapple, avocado-tomatillo, and spicy cheese. The wittiness of the menu can be summarized by their listing of one particular fake side item: “Item: A Little Honey on the Side | Price: Half of Everything”. After a big meal of fish tacos and beer for me and enchiladas for Nick, we rode on to Pittsburgh.
We arrived at Nick’s sister Andrea Loomis’ house and we had a grand ole time hanging out with her and her boyfriend Dan. We spoke of Swine Flu, phallic (non) musculature, instruction manual translation, and teaching science to school children. After a solid three hours worth of driving, we were worn out and sweaty, so we took showers and went to bed ready for an epic day of driving to follow the next day.
Witness the fitness—literally and figuratively: the MIT cycling team now has its own Flickr photostream. In terms of social-media-hipness, we are still sucking the wheel of the White House.
Already it has photos by Kenny Cheung, Nader Shaar, Nick Loomis, and Matt Blackburn.
UPDATED 5/5: As you can (hopefully) see, thanks to the FlickrRSS plugin, the latest six photos from the team’s photostream now appear at the top right of the blog.
After coming in second to host Penn State at the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference championships this weekend, the finall tally is that MIT has claimed 2061 overall points to UVM’s 2039 and Army’s 1844. Which is just great. Thanks to everybody who trekked out to State College Pa. this weekend, in fact to every single rider who came to any of the races this season—and especially to all the newbies competing in fields from women’s A to men’s intro.
But this isn’t the end: on Monday our fearless leader Nick Loomis will be driving seventeen sleek bicycles, a bunch of trainers, and gobs of aerodynamic equipment across the western east/eastern midwest. He and Michael Hamilton are on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado, where on Wednesday they’ll meet up with Laura, Martha, Yuri, Zuzka, Tim, José, John, and Jason (phew) to kick ass in the national championships. Those sun-drenched teams from California don’t know what’s about to hit them.
A little birdy tells me that MIT has won the ECCC overall championship. I assume we’ll have more details from those who made the trip to Happy Valley. Congrats all around!
Results: MIT 262, UVM 253, Army 222.
The Women’s and Men’s A time trial teams put MIT into a lead from which nobody could pull the team back. The women won by nearly three minutes, and the men by only eight hundredths of a second over UVM. That’s half of the winning margin at Army. Extrapolating, MIT will beat UVM at next weekend’s X-Pot by .04 seconds, .02 seconds at the ECCC championships hosted by Penn State, and by a mere .01 at nationals.
Congratulations to everybody who raced, but especially to the whole Women’s A squad that performed amazingly all weekend. And also to Mahalia Miller, who came in a stellar third in the women’s intro criterium—not bad for a race you don’t even intend to do!
Check them out here. UVM won the weekend with MIT in third, 44 points behind.
As always the women’s squad can take the credit with first, fourth, and fifth in the time trial and 2-3-6 in the road race. Chewie came in a spectacular second in the men’s B crit, and José posted an equally stunning third in the ITT, among some seriously fast company.
Army was sixth, a further 17 points back. It’s still a tight conference!
In this shot, you can clearly see an unstoppable locomotive coming straight at the camera.
There’s also a CSX freight train.
Thanks to David Quinn for pointing this photo out.
Tony Laidig — Men’s Intro
I started racing to work on some things that I’m not particularly good at– being aggressive and taking calculated risks when necessary. Having been raised by recovering hippies, these were not high on the list of qualities to pass on to your children. That being said, I’m getting better at this and this last weekend was the best yet. The intro field wasn’t large, but a formidable match for me. The circuit race was a great course for technique and strength, and I got to show off both. It was exhilarating to close a sizable gap on the straightaway, uphill and into the wind, then leave two guys behind on the following climb, and spin out down the descent. Scored my first top ten finish at 6th place. Sunday was a beautiful day, if a little bit cold in the morning. The hill climb was grueling and left me missing both training on the hills of the Bay Area and my touring bike’s granny gear; maybe next year I should bring it as my HCTT bike ;). Came in 5th and actually scored an omnium point! In the crit, I got a good start and kept with the front of the pack the whole way. One thing I can work on a little more is when to apply power after a corner– I always had to sprint to close a gap after crossing the line each lap, but now I know to work on this it won’t be hard to get it right. Next weekend I’m moving (back) to D’s, not to get slaughtered again like I did at Rutgers.
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Our strong performance from Saturday’s team time trials gave us enough of a lead that even Army’s victories in its criterium and hill climb time trial on Sunday couldn’t push them into first place.
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology – 285 pts
2 US Military Academy – 281 pts
3 University of Vermont – 216 pts
Not that MIT didn’t show up on Sunday: Tim and José both scored points on the ascent of Stony Lonesome. Laura Ralston won both the Women’s B HCTT and criterium and will be putting the hurt on the A field next weekend. Yuri Matsumoto came in an agonizing second in both the Women’s A hill climb (by less than four seconds!) and the crit.
After beating UVM on Saturday by .16 seconds MIT’s luck soured when Sunday turned into a crash-fest. Zach Ybarra, after working hard riding smart all race in the Men’s Ds, was taken out on the very last lap and will need to replace the sparkling new Rudy Project helmet he’d gotten two days before. Then somebody knocked Kenny Cheung over in the Men’s C sprint. The real carnage came in Men’s B, when three separate incidents took out four of MIT’s five, but the worst injury to body (as opposed to carbon fiber) parts fortunately only required a few stitches in Michael Hamilton’s chin, courtesy of the USMA on-post hospital.