One week separated from Cycle-Smart International, and I’m already nostalgic. This was my second year racing at NoHo (Northampton for the uninitiated), and for the second year, it was my favorite CX weekend of the season. Why? Let me tell you…and maybe next year you’ll go race it and see for yourselves…
The second collegiate race weekend, and one relatively close to Boston means we usually have a pretty good racer turnout. This year, there were six of us (five women and Tobi), and we witnessed the reemergence of our resident doctor (almost) doctor Morgan for her first race weekend in about a year. We had a broad range of racing categories represented which meant lots of racing to watch and lots of racers to cheer on throughout the day. This is mostly attributable to Julie racing her first UCI race ever and admirably making the most of a mechanical filled day 1 by taking a maple syrup hand up and getting her neutral bike really, really sticky. There were some awesome finishes too: Anne and Emma both taking top 10s in the women’s cat 4 race over the course of the two race days.
Having all those friends cheering you on are what can make a race weekend fun…but what makes it great are the courses. The NoHo courses are impeccable. They are a perfect mix of challenging while not being terrifying. The courses at Providence are arguably the most intimidating, Hanover maybe the most technical, and the courses at NoHo are a terrific middle ground. Everything is rideable, unless they really intended for you not to ride it (still working on those barrier hopping skillz…), but parts definitely require some skill. There’s a rough run up, a deep sand pit, some tricky off-cambers, and a pretty steep downhill pitch. There’s also lots of power riding. If you listed CX course requirements, NoHo’s got it…except for mud. Thank god.
And finally, the intangibles. Those little things that can put a weekend over the top…things that you only get at special races and special venues. Awesome food trucks? Giant podium cookies? A really cool town to hang out in after the race? (I will refrain from an ode to Northampton, but it’s cool there, alright?) Microbrewery with a CX film festival? Check, check, check, and check. NoHo has it all.
So, for all of you CX racers, or maybe future CX racers out there…I’m sorry you missed such a good time this year…but take it from me, NoHo is the best race weekend of the year, go see for yourself…
After months of work and planning, we’re finally revealing and taking pre-orders for the 2016 racing kit! We received many awesome kits and a lot of support from the team, alumni, and greater community, thank you all for contributing to this process.
The committee reviewed many submissions, much feedback, and a handful of clothing manufacturers. We will be moving forward with Vie13 as our clothing supplier and the ‘Charcoal Asymmetric’ design submitted by MIT alum Paul (Course 2 ‘08). Paul, along with another MIT alum Clayton (Sloan & ESD, ‘09) founded a company RIIND (riind.com), that designs, develops, and sells, everyday products designed to last.
At this time, we are taking pre-orders for 2016 kit. To pre-order items, please fill out this form for each item type (you have until Friday November 13th).
We will not guarantee kit availability if you do not place a pre-order and submit the deposit (read on for more info). Many specialty items like skinsuits and LS jerseys will only be ordered based on the pre-orders, so please plan accordingly.
A few features with this order:
The pre-order period lasts two weeks. Make decisions about what items you would buy and fill out the form. Once we’ve counted all items, we will determine what inventory we’re going to purchase. We will definitely be ordering jerseys, bibs, and skinsuits, though we may or may not order more specific items (wind vests, fleece items) if there isn’t enough interest.
Treat this as a commitment to buy. Don’t pre-order something that you ultimately don’t want.
Since we have no order minimums, kit prices will be set based on order cost. We will confirm exact prices when all pre-orders are submitted. Though, based on initial estimates, we can estimate prices for some popular items (Approximate_Pricing).
You will be invoiced for the deposit Nov 13 (at $10/item), and for the remaining cost when the gear arrives.
If you don’t order items now, you’ll have to wait until the next order (likely in June).
Mountain jerseys aren’t included in this order, but will be included for the summer order in time for the Fall 2016 season.
The MIT Cycling Club is pleased to announce that Thoughtforms Custom Builders, a supporter of the team since 2012, has generously agreed to act as the club’s title sponsor for the 2015-2016 season.
Founded in 1972 and based in Acton, MA, Thoughtforms has become one of the premier custom home builders. In 2003, they were nationally recognized as Custom Home Magazine’s Custom Builder of the Year. Thoughtforms emphasizes creativity and collaboration and is committed to building quality homes that endure. We feel that their mission correlates closely with the way that we train, race, and represent the MIT Cycling Club.
The MIT Cycling Club is dedicated to the promotion and growth of cycling in the MIT community. The club consists of students, MIT affiliates, community members at large, and alumni; our mailing list currently reaches over 700 cyclists. The club also supports a competitive racing team in four cycling disciplines: mountain bike, cyclocross, road, and track racing. The racing team has consistently represented the club well at the National level. With Thoughtforms as title sponsor, the team will continue to provide a high quality experience to club members, including professional instruction, professional level training camps, and support at local and national level races.
As much of the Boston cycling community knows, I had 4 bikes stolen from a shed in my back yard in early August, two of which were mine: my much-loved (and upgraded) commuter and my mountain bike. Through hard-headedness, some work, and a bit of luck I managed to get them both back, and want to share advice for others trying to get their bikes back.
First and foremost: document everything for all the bikes you own! Record serial numbers, know what parts are on your bike, and if it’s not stock or was bought off craigslist or something get an estimate of replacement cost from your shop, which can serve as proof of ownership and proof of cost. I was lucky in that though I didn’t have any of the serial numbers for the stolen bikes when they were taken, I was able to acquire them all within 24 hours, from receipts and other records. The folks at Landry’s were also super helpful and printed out all the receipts they had in their system for my purchases from them (I had a saddlebag and lights stolen as well), provided me with service reports that could count as proof of ownership, and did a replacement estimate of my commuter (20yo frame with 2012 105 components and very nice wheels) for insurance. I had also registered the commuter with MIT, and they were able to send me a letter for the insurance company saying that I’d registered with them two years ago.
The next important thing is to call the police. Call the station, don’t call 911; unless the thief is still there and you need him to be caught, this isn’t an emergency, even though it may feel like the end of the world. Most insurance companies will require a police report, and if you have a case number you can get help from the police later (more on this to come).
Next, the thing I didn’t do that meant I didn’t get my commuter back for 3 weeks: poster your neighborhood, knock on doors, ask people if they know anything or saw anything. I don’t know who took the bikes, don’t know if they had been watching me for a while (I used the shed for storage for about 2 months, and washed my nice carbon race bike in the driveway more than once), but my mountain bike was sold to someone in a MacDonald’s parking lot on Soldier’s Field Road (not far from where I live) for $200, and my commuter was dumped a block and a half from my home (probably because they decided they couldn’t sell it because it had no pedals on it). If I’d gone around the neighborhood I probably would have spotted the bike, or at least gotten someone to tell me about it sooner.
The thing that I spent the next two days doing: let everyone know that your bikes were stolen. Especially if they’re unique. I’ve never seen a match for either of my stolen bikes around Boston, so I told everyone I knew who knows bikes that if they saw a red Lemond Tourmalet with a particular paint job in the city, it was almost certainly mine. I printed posters with color pictures and descriptions of what was on each bike and distributed them to nearly every bike shop in the area, both by email and in person. I pretty much tried to get everyone in the greater Boston cycling community to help search for my bikes. It turned out to not be necessary, but it made me feel better that there were shops where, if my bike came in, they wouldn’t let it leave without letting me know.
The thing I did almost immediately after making posters: set up alerts on Craigslist. I didn’t want to post that I was looking for stolen bikes, in case I scared the thief away, but I did want to see if they came up for sale. You can check various boxes to include nearby areas; I did that in both Boston and New York and the search areas were large enough that they overlapped! I included New York because I was told by multiple people that bikes stolen in Boston can end up being sold there. Of course, I was lucky in that I was looking for a Lemond, a Superfly, and an orange bike (which I didn’t own, but had rented from MITOC and was thus responsible for), which are very uncommon on Craigslist so I didn’t get more than a few emails a day even though I was looking over a very large search area.
The thing that I almost didn’t do: call the cops if you think you’ve found your bike and it’s in someone else’s possession. If you see someone riding it, call 911, if you find it locked up or on Craigslist or something, call the station. 36 hours after my bikes were stolen, a 2014 Trek Superfly 7 popped up on Craigslist for 700, cash only, with “clip pedals on the bike,” and using the stock catalogue photo. I was pretty much certain that it was mine and first called a friend who has a car and plays rugby. Luckily that friend was busy, and at my flatmate’s urging called the cops instead. They had me set up a meeting with the guy (with my not-suspicious email address) and went to get the bike themselves. The seller was in Chelsea, so my case officer in Boston called up the Chelsea PD who did the sting, and then, after matching the serial number, took my bike from the guy who was selling it. They were only able to take it back because I had the serial number, which was proof that I had owned the bike. I’ll say it again: if I hadn’t had the serial number as proof of ownership, they would have had to let the guy keep the bike even though we were all certain that it was my stolen bike.
I’ll finish with the thing that brought my commuter back to me 3 weeks after it was stolen: register your bikes as stolen on the various internet databases. Rejjee is a startup that has just partnered with the Boston PD and will register all sorts of things, not just bikes, and allows you to ask that a police officer come to your house at the same time you report things stolen. My bike was returned to me via bikeindex.org, after the people in whose driveway the bike was dumped, perfectly intact (with the hundred dollars of lights and everything else still on it), found the serial number on it and used that to find a phone number for me. Imagine my surprise and disbelief when I learned that it had been sitting a block and a half away all along!
The family is all back together! Why yes, I did buy a cross bike while being upset that I’d had two bikes stolen. You say I have too many bikes? Never!
I honestly can still hardly believe it that I’ve got both my bikes back. I’m incredibly lucky that I managed to get them both back, especially since they would have needed to be replaced immediately. The mountain bike is my race bike, and the collegiate mountain season started with last weekend’s opening race hosted by Northeastern, and the commuter is my transport workhorse, the only bike I own that I’m willing to lock up outside, the one with a rack that can carry enough groceries for more than a week, the one that I’ve had for years and have put a lot of work into maintaining and upgrading.
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).
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.
Nine full cycling days in Solvang, California made for THE venue for a great team training camp experience. The weather was exceptionally warm, mostly the 60s to 70s. As you can see, we were also fortunate it was beautifully green due to recent rains in the area, more so than the previous year’s camps further south and closer to San Diego. What a great escape it was from the record snowfall and cold back in Cambridge.
We had a great attendance with about 24 team members in the main house and another dozen alumni riders in a second house. Each morning we fixed ourselves a good breakfast and gathered at the main house to depart for the day’s cycling adventure about mid morning.
This was our first day out intended to be an easy “stretch you legs” day after a long day of travel, but the pace got alittle higher than that on the way out (what did you expect from a pack of overachievers?) Mostly rollers on this route, though each day we needed to head out from the main house to Solvang, a picturesque 9 mile route that included about a mile 6% climb on the way back.
First thing back each day FOOD was generally on everyone’s mind, and it tended to be every man and woman for themselves. This was rather necessary as these are drop training rides and we were not all returning at the same time, nor necessarily doing the same rides.
Dinner, on the other hand was carefully planned by Jenn in advance to be not only great fare but a true team event in it’s preparation. Everyone was assigned responsibilities that varied from night to night – you might be the helper, the clean up crew or the head chef. I think we all had a turn at each. The diversity of the cuisine prepared reflected the diversity of the group. I think we all came away with an appreciation of the challenges involved in cooking for a large group.
Following dinner the evening organized activities always concluded with the team meeting. These were just fun – at times very educational, at others very entertaining, and at times somewhat competitive. No dull moments.
Day 2 – Figueroa Mtn or Tour of California ITT Course and wineries
Today you had the choice of two great routes. Half the group climbed the epic Mt. Figueroa (this was a bonus climb as we did it again later in week) and the other half rode the Solvang ITT loop used several times in the Tour of California (15 miles) followed by a second longer loop through wine country.
A few stopped and checked out the grapes afterwards – worth the stop I am told.
Rest day meant something different to everyone. Rest was more about selecting a lighter self-directed ride. There is some interesting mountain biking in the area. Just a few miles from Solvang you can climb up a dirt road to the crest of the Santa Barbara coastal mountains and then ride the mountain tops to the highest peaks in the area, as demonstrated by the high density of communications towers shown below.
This was our longest day so far, over 90 miles from the main house south of Solvang west to Jalama Beach on the Pacific. Some fun climbing on the way out crossing over the coastal mountains and then descending to sea level and the beach. Great burgers on the beach awaited all!
Day 6 – Rest Day
This time most of us really scaled back on the riding to take a true rest. Good day to check out the very authentic Danish town of Solvang. Not a bad place to live – save your money, though – new starter homes begin around three quarters of a mil…..
Lots of variety this day, each was left to chose his own cycling. There were those who practiced the TTT, others who rested and some who chose mountain biking. The selection rather depended on how much climbing and mileage one was looking for at this point in the camp.
Day 9 – The longest day plus the epic Gibralter Road Climb
This route took us from Solvang to Santa Barbara and back. We did all the epic climbs in the Santa Ynez valley so it was decided we would end the camp with this serious climbers route.
When we got to the top of Gibralter Road looking out over the Pacific we were treated with a too cool drone session and group video sponsored by one of the alums. A great demonstration of how far the technology has come at a reasonable price point of $1500.
We wrapped up the day with a stop at the Cold Springs Tavern which had been highly recommended. Serious roast beef sandwiches. A very eclectic clientele. Beautiful setting. Obviously very popular with the locals. Worth checking out.
An epic week of cycling. While everyone was free to chose their own level of riding, several of us exceeded 550 miles and 40,000′ of climbing over the 9 days. Try to get that in Cambridge!
The miles, the warmth, the food and fellowship are rewards on top of the long term health benefits gained when you choose to make a commitment toward a balanced life style through cycling. Sign up for the next episode IAP 2016.
Almost exactly a year ago, I watched CX Nats in Boulder, sitting on my trainer. I cheered on MIT’s Chris Birch racing for JAM Fund in the women’s elite race. It looked frigid.
Even though I only had two ‘cross races under my belt, I had been bitten by the bug. Sitting on that trainer, I made a goal: Cyclocross Nationals 2015, in Austin TX. Because it would be warmer.
Ha. As we packed our bikes for Austin, our race-day forecast read “ice pellets.”
My goal for cross nationals was to qualify, go, and finish. Once I’d made the nationals team, my expectations didn’t change: I knew I’d be starting in the third or fourth row, I knew it was going to be a technical course, and I knew that this was my first national-level cycling event.
When we arrived in Austin, I expected to be blasting some good pump up music (read: 1989) in our minivan as we traveled to and from Zikler Park. Joe Near had other plans: our hosts, teammate Katie Maass and her parents, owned a copy of the Patriot. This played on loop (with some worthy scenes replayed for effect).
Our races included the collegiate relay (no, we don’t all ride the same bike), and the men’s and women’s D2 collegiate fields. Friday evening’s relay was on hard-packed, near-frozen dirt. The course was so fast. There was minimal mud, next to the pits, to be avoided.
After a night of rain, we arrived for Saturday morning’s pre-ride, to the sound of a military marching band on the DVD player. Matt wanted to do “at least one lap to see what had changed.” Everything had changed.
Oily. Tacky. Slick. Heavy. Slippery. Mud. This called for major changes in equipment (“get me the horse blanket”), but also strategy. While Friday’s race involved two or three dismounts for barriers and stairs, Saturday’s conditions favoured running.
The conditions led me to change my expectations: it was going to be a gong show, and it was going to be fun. Whatever happened, happened. And what ended up happening was fantastic, for me.
Our trip to Austin involved change and surprise for all of our teammates: Corey could not have expected her race to finish in the emergency ward, where she had a broken wrist re-set. Joe got a USA Cycling neck tattoo (ok, temporary). Chris had a surprise visitor, walked away with a fancy new necklace, and didn’t expect to be racing the elites on Monday (postponed from Sunday).
What else did we do in Austin? We hit the off-season hard, with the flagship Whole Foods, brownie sundaes, breakfast tacos, lunch tacos and dinner tacos, and of course some brisket (“dog is a fine meal”). We went bowling in a bar (Corey won, single-handedly). We watched the Patriot, twice.
Now, we’re back, our bikes and kits finally clean. We finished 7th in the relay, and 7th in the omnium. Lucky numbers for next year. And for me, everything has changed. I placed ninth in my first cyclocross nationals, when all I wanted to do was qualify, go, and finish. Who knows what next year will bring. See you in Asheville, where I’ll be praying for mud.
With the 2014 cyclocross season over, we can all finally take a breather from the relentless string of races and reflect on the past four months. For those of you unfamiliar with cyclocross, think of it as offroad criterium racing on a knobby tired road bike with obstacles (logs, barriers, stairs, flyovers, run-ups, sand, endless turns, yadda yadda).
Sound ridiculous? It is.
Fun? Most definitely.
Julie van der Hoop demonstrating a perfect bike remount on a bike that’s not even hers. (courtesy of Chris Trabulsie)
I’m obviously biased, but I feel that the cross season is arguably the most challenging discipline to train and race. As the season progresses, the temperature begins to plummet, the sun starts to avoid us, and the skies have a tendency to spitefully open up. Throw in a healthy mixture of fitness and high technical skills, this sport is not for the faint of heart or for those watt factories terrified of turning.
Colin Kennedy slaying the finish of a race (Shedd Park).
To put it another way, it’s not a matter of “will I crash?”….it’s more akin to “when will I crash?”. The unpredictability of the terrain, obstacles, and the riders around you makes this statement more true than other sports and in doing so, adds an intense hyper-vigilant mental aspect.
Don’t follow that dude’s wheel, he crashed you out last race.
Use that rut to the right of roots before the third turn after the second run up.
Yet even with all these potential deterrents, this season has been one of the most well attended in recent memory. Not only has this season had returning vets, but more substantially, newcomers. I stand by my statement that it only takes one race to get hooked, and if you ask anyone that first tried it out this year, I think they’ll agree – even if they mechanicaled out of their first race.
The MIT team participated in a circuit of races in the New England ranging from Hanover, NH down to Stony Point, NY. While you can practice in a field with cones and barriers all day long, the best way to really hone your skills is during a race. We raced in both ECCC and regional USAC races to get as much of this battle hardened experience as possible.
Morgan Hennessy gettin’ up and over a steep section (Canton, courtesy of Geoff Martin)
The culmination of the regular season happened in Warwick, RI at the ECCC Easterns. In true spirit of the season, we had a strong showing at all skills levels and it was fantastic being able to heckle so many people throughout the day. Some of the notable results of the day and season included:
MIT – 2nd
Men A – 6th, Joe Near
Men B – 8th, Ben Eck
Men C – 2nd, Matt Li
Women B – 2nd, Julie van der Hoop
Women C – 3rd, Katie Maass
MIT – 3rd (2nd Division II)
Men A – 6th, Joe Near
Men B – 7th, Ben Eck
Men C – 2nd, Matt Li
Women A – 4th, Chris Birch
Women B – 2nd, Julie van der Hoop
Women C – 6th, Katie Maass; 8th, Morgan Hennessy
Turns upon turns at Rapha Supercross, Gloucester (courtesy of C.Mcintosh)
While the regular season is over, the new year still holds one more capstone race, nationals. We’ll be sending 5 riders: Christina Birch, Julie van der Hoop, Corey Tucker, Joseph Near, and Matthew Li. Nationals will be held in Austin, TX this year and based on preliminary course previews, it will prove to be a fast race. Stay tuned for a report in the new year.
It’s been been a fantastic season. There have been enumerable good times with early morning drives and stinging heckles that have really brought the CX family close together. Although there’s still one more race coming up, I’m already eager to fast forward to next season!
With another academic year completed, MIT Cycling members have been out riding in force and the officer duties have passed into the hands of a new set of students. I’d like to introduce you to our newest student officers. I’ll be taking over as Alumni Officer and I’ll do my best to keep you as up to date as Laura did!
This summer, MIT Cycling members have been extremely active in local, regional, and national communities:
You may remember from Laura’s last newsletter that in May, the Road team successfully defended their Collegiate Road National Championship title in Ogden, UT.
Later in May, we hosted an Urban Cycling Clinic spearheaded by David Koppstein (G) with our road coach Nicole Freedman, teaching the MIT community about urban cycling safety and skills.
In June, we taught the Boston community at thing or two about aerodynamics (we hope our collegiate conference competitors missed this issue of Boston Magazine!)
A large group of MIT riders headed down to the Trexlertown Valley Preferred velodrome for a Try-the-Track weekend, led by our new Track Captain Kate Wymbs (’14). [Photo 1- Track]
At the end of June, Cameron Cogburn (G) won the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, an epic and prestigious stage race in Oregon. You can read about his awesome victory here.
Over the July 4th weekend, we took a team trip up to Kingdom Trails in VT as part of an Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) mountain biking weekend. [Photo 2 -MTB]
We had a great time camping, “shredding the gnar” on the awesome singletrack, and even deep frying some Pop Tarts in bacon grease (the ultimate recovery food?!) [Photo 3 – BaconTarts]
Many Club members took advantage of the mountain bike rental program provided by the MIT Outing Club (MITOC) and sponsored by the MIT Cycling Club.
Mid-July, MIT alum John DeTore hosted a viewing party of Stage 18 of the Tour de France—the epic double-summiting of Alpe d’Huez. (We sat and ate chips while commentating, “Oh we could totally do that…”)
On July 28th, TWO DOZEN club members dared the Climb to the Clouds, an epic local century ride that includes a summit of Mt. Wachusett! [Photo 4 – Clouds]
After a successful mountain biking weekend in VT, several Club members took on some ENDURANCE MOUNTAIN BIKE races!
Ben Eck (’15) and Luke Plummer (’14) raced a 2-man team at the 12 Hours of Millstone mountain bike race in Millstone, VT, finishing in 6th place! (Luke even rode an “extra large” 36”-wheel rigid bike!) [Photo 5 – Millstone
Yours truly Chris Birch (G) and Andrew Lysaght (G) headed to the State College, PA, area for the National Ultra Endurance series race Wilderness 101—a century MTB race consisting of 30 minute gravel climbs and 8 minute fall-line descents!
What’s next for the collegiate team?
Mountain bike season is about to begin, followed closely by the collegiate track! The conference calendar is here, showing upcoming races.
From those of us here in Cambridge and our club members abroad for the summer, we hope you’re enjoying some good riding wherever this update finds you.
See you on the road/dirt/track!
Want to be included in the Friends of MIT Cycling newsletter?
Send an email update (photos encouraged!) to alumni officer Chris Birch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Help fund our cycling outreach, riding, and racing goals by making a donation today. Go to this page to submit a donation of any size. Your donations are tax deductible and go directly toward sustaining our student-run club. Thank you!