Category Archives: Race Reports

Days 9 and 10: Return of the Chamois

Dear MIT Cycling,

Despite having some incredibly intense days during the last, oh, two weeks of driving team equipment around (and dealing with two different feed zones, yum!), I’d still qualify this as our most intense period.  Tim and I left Lincoln, NE early in the morning after visiting The Coffee House*.  We traveled across Iowa without stopping for more than gas and a reprise of the World’s Largest Truck Stop.  Tim then covered all of Illinois and a good chunk of Indiana.  He had the bad luck of getting the worst construction along I-80.  We continued across Ohio before taking time out for a celebratory dinner in which Tim again demonstrated his endless stomach capacity, only to be rivaled by the Death Star.  (Tim may have won.)  The literal mound of ice cream, toffee, and whipped cream they brought out would have brought any reasonable man to his knees: Tim proved he either had no knees or no reason.

Tim grabbed a load of late night coffee and took the night shift across the rest of Ohio, Penn, and a good portion of New York.  We switched off through to Lee, MA, where Tim again demonstrated his stomach capacity when devouring celebratory breakfasts** at the local diner.  (His breakfast bread pudding also came with a mound of whipped cream.)  We booked the rest of the distance back along the Mass Pike, arriving a only 10 minutes late (we got stuck behind an MIT shuttle bus picking up grad students who couldn’t walk the 1.00 km from Tang to 77 Mass Ave), which we figured was pretty good for having driven for twenty some hours.  And for those of you who were curious, yes, I did made my afternoon flight to the conference thanks to Tim’s heroic driving ability.

For those not keeping track: we saw eight states within 24 hours (out of nine total on our trip), rolled the van’s odometer over the 25,000 mile mark, accumulated enough bug guts on our windshield to feed a starving village for twelve days (see earlier posts), encountered two frat boys who took longer to order their coffee than an entire sorority going to Starbucks together (I can’t get what Suzie’s getting, what should I get instead?), and survived literally more miles than I could shake a stick at.  I did try, I promise.

Nationals Road Trip Out,


* Lincoln’s best coffee drinking atmosphere, with The Mill as a close second.  This is the place that got me started on the bean.  If you visit, try their mochas or teas, too.  Shameless plug done.

** Yep, that was plural on purpose.

Day 8: TTTTTTT (sorry, my teeff froze togeffer)

Dear MIT Cycling,

Today was the last day of competition in Colorado.  The cosmos decided to make up for the sunny and moderately temperate weather we had the first two days, opting for 40 degree temps (that’s not Celcius), drizzle, and reasonable wind.  Despite being well attuned to crummy weather thanks to the 84 weeks of cold rain we get in New England each year, it was still challenging for our riders.  (The Florida riders were, ah, “slightly less” prepared.)

The men’s team started first, and discovered some minor equipment issues that they worked out.  The guys bravely warmed up, if that’s what it could be called out there, then took the line as the wind was really starting to blow.  I’ll leave the details for a race report from one of the riders, but will quote Tim as saying that he was happy that he put in his maximum effort as the MIT Men pulled into 7th place after 17 miles of hard work.

As the women’s team warmed up, I became more aware that Martha is either insensitive to temperature or she’s a machine.  (Add your vote to the comments.)

The women had an unfortunate mishap out on the course: after a strong start, Martha flatted just after passing the first neutral support and had to continue riding a flat to the next neutral.  They finished in second place, about a minute behind the leaders, and recording the only flat on the course for the entire day.  The good news is that they’re in a great position for next year.

After the TTT, everyone returned to the hotel to pack and get their awards (2nd in the Team Omnium!) before heading back to MIT.  I also played Shuttle Bus with Coach and had an entertaining drive down to Denver International with Nicole in the jump seat for the third time in three days.  Yes, I was worried that we’d have to spend a day without driving somewhere together, but that fortunately got delayed until tomorrow.

Tim and I struck out for home, making it to Lincoln for the night and Ma Loomis’s brownies.

Monkeys and cogs,


Final omnium results: MIT second in division 2

In today’s time trial, the MIT women came in second to Whitman College, and the Engineer men placed fourth (probably—the scoring is being disputed).

Their great rides today sealed the team’s second place, with 373 poins, to the aforementioned Whitman’s suspiciously round (just kidding!) 500. The full D2 team omnium results are available here (all links PDF).

In the men’s individual omnia, Jose Soltren came in 24th and Tim Humpton 27th. On the women’s side Laura Ralston placed a great 7th at her first nationals, Yuri came in 8th, Martha Buckley 11th, and Zuzka Trnovcova was 17th. Few if any other teams can match MIT’s strength on both sides, which is how MIT was able to follow up a first place last year with a second place this time. That kind of consistency speaks volumes about the depth and quality of the team. And Whitman better watch out next year: as anybody who’s ever done a time trial knows, it’s better to have somebody in your sights to chase.

We’ll have race reports from the nationals heroes as soon as they get back, shower, change, and quite possibly (and understandably) hang up their bikes for a little while…and the journey of the Brotherhood of the Traveling Chamois is only half over!

Day 7: crit grit from the pit

Dear MIT Cycling,

If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that today was the criterium in downtown Fort Collins.  The race was set up to make nearly a figure 8-shape, which meant more corners than a picture frame shop.  The women’s race was quiet: they kept a blistering pace, with Martha and Laura both contributing to the pain and nabbing a few prime points.  The group stayed together for the most part, allowing our own mini-godzilla clone, Yuri, to snag fourth place in the field sprint.  The rest of the women’s team also finished in the pack.

The men’s race maintained their own high intensity, with attacks being launched at various points.  Most of those got reeled in after a few laps, with our own men either covering, bridging, or leading the charge to chase down those measly pipsqueaks who thought they could get away.  In the end, a pair of riders did get away, and the rest of the field put in an incredible sprint — with Pretty Boy Sears nabbing 9th.  The rest of the gents pulled into field spots in the top 30.

One key result, from the team’s perspective, is that everyone who went to Nats was able to hang with the big dogs.  In the crit, everyone who rode stayed with the pack in both the men’s and women’s races.  It makes me proud to see that many amazing racers pushing pedals hard for MIT.

The remainder of the day involved lounging in the hallway, setting up TTT bikes, and dealing with Michael walking around shirtless again.  Makeshift test “jigs” were constructed from race flyers and dental floss, hacksaws were employed (sorry, Chewie), and Tim learned how to wrap bar tape.  I said something a little too loudly about the “crack pipe”, the angled valve extender used to inflate disc wheels, just as a three year old and her mother walked past; the look I got was a mix of “you said what in front of my kid?” and “thank goodness my kid doesn’t even know what that means.”  (Michael explained it to me on Day 2, so I at least knew what it meant.)

The team omnium is still up for contention, at least in my opinion, with MIT’s strongest event early tomorrow morning.  Whitman is currently leading the team points race, and we’re not helped by the fact that there are limited numbers of teams registered for tomorrow’s race.  Everyone around here is taking it seriously and are ready to ride a great Nats TTT… then leave for a triumphant return to the coast.

Oh, and Michael thinks he might be allergic to shellfish.  He found that out last night.  It probably wasn’t the steak, salmon, shrimp, baked potato, or beer that he also ingested during dinner.  Sally Struthers was in the back of the restaurant crying at how many African villages that could have fed.  (Answer: four villages for twelve days.)

Tomorrow: TTT, awards, then Tim and I start our epic return to The Right Coast.

Monkeys and cogs,


National women’s [updated – and men’s] D-II criterium results

Are up here thanks to USA Cycling. Yuri 4th, Martha 8th, Laura 10th, Zuzka 21st. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Pretty Boy Sears snuck into 9th in the men’s criterium.

Whitman College’s women took first, sixth, and sixteenth—which, although somebody should check my math, means they eked out an overall victory in that race.

It’ll all come down to tomorrow’s time trial—the D2 men go off at 8 a.m., followed by the D1 men and then the D2 women. Remember, you can watch it live here:

Also, VeloNews has good Day 1 (road race) coverage and photos, including of the spectacular solo win by Princeton’s Nick Frey.

Day 6: Road race and Bob’s feedzone

Dear MIT Cycling,

Today was the road race.  As the automatic doors of the hotel lobby slowly buzzed upon at 7AM this morning, we were greeted with slightly colder temps than expected, and much higher winds.  The weather, and particularly the strong, gusty winds (which lasted all day) made it much more critical to ride with a pack.  The women stayed in their little group until the end, with all four of MIT’s ladies heading into the sprint and finishing in the top 12.  In the men’s race, the wind blew apart the field into smaller groups.  Tim and Jose managed to stay in the largest group, while John decided to strike out on his own to bridge (and pass) smaller groups later in the race.

Semi-official results: Laura, 5th; Martha, 9th; Yuri, 11th; Zuzka, 12th, Tim, 23rd; Jose, 29th; John, 54th

But that’s all boring race stuff.  (The kids can give you updates at some point.)  What you’re here for are the enthralling details of the race atmosphere, in which I give you four of my favorite moments from the day:

1. Race announcer, just at the start of the D2 Men’s race, referring to the gusting winds: “Gentlemen, prepare to get guttered!”

2. The pizza place where we went to dinner, where after parking the car I couldn’t find the other guys.  I saw a table where two guys were sitting with their back to me, talking to a cute girl, and walked right on past… “Our guys wouldn’t talk to a girl, they must be sitting on the other side,” I’m thinking.  It turns out I’ve never seen Coach Nicole without a hat or helmet, even in my dreams.  (Amy, it’s nothing weird, those dreams are always about ice cream.)

3. The feedzone was just a few yards down from The Mercantile, where Bob has reserved parking for himself and his truck.  Steve H from Union asked him if he owned the shop.  Bob’s response: “Son, I *own* this town.”  Yes, we quite possibly fed from Bob’s feedzone.  If we stayed too long, he would have run us out of His Town with an authentic gatling gun.  Even though I’m in the hotel right now, I still fear Bob.

4. The award for the best feed goes to the Air Force Academy (and yes, I saw some great feeds, all of them from MIT except this one).  Imagine if you will: a 3 inch diameter by 12 inch long summer sausage, wrapped in a porno magazine, stuffed down a Gatorade bottle.  “How’s he going to use that feed?” asks a teammate.  “Well, he can find a nice place along the side of the road and just enjoy life.”  John reports that the feed did get “picked up.”

Tomorrow: early morning crit-on-crit action, finalizing the TTT gear, running the final computational fluid dynamics codes to chose the appropriate height for gluing numbers for optimal aero advantage given the TT course and our measured wind patterns (after extrapolating using the National Weather Service’s 22:GMT predictions), and more cookies.  For other teams: we recommend using Javascript for TT-CFD simulation code for easier integration into the NWS server system.  You can then get results pushed to your iPhone without too much work.

Monkeys and cogs, and rambling because I’m tired,


UPDATED Women’s national DII road race results

Emma Bast from Mount Holyoke College won in a mass sprint out of the leading group, which included all of the MIT riders. Laura Ralston got 5th, Martha Buckley 9th, and Yuri Matsumoto came in someplace around 12th 11th, right in front of 12th-placed Zuzka Trnovcova (unlike Loomis, I can spell her name without the MIT people search). Zuzka had to off-road to avoid a crash right before the sprint—not bad bike handling, for a sometime triathlete. Thanks to ZacH Attack, Seth Behrends, and Alex Chaleff for watching and keeping yours truly posted.

Brotherhood of the Traveling Chamois, Day 3: Lincoln to Boulder (by Nick)

Dear MIT Cycling,

Today, Michael and I saw the extremes. It was like camping: it was “intense”. (Yeah, a bad pun if you sound it out.) Nebraska proved to be much flatter than all of Iowa, and slightly less interesting unless
you happen to be from the state and are entertained by large pieces of farm equipment in distant fields. The short is that it was flat straight, and a nice 70-27-3 split between I-80, I-76, and “everything else”. That last category includes playing Ferris Bueller with the van’s odometer. Movie buffs, you’ll be glad to know that the movie is accurate, up until the point where Cameron’s dad’s car careened into the valley behind his house. We had no valley and had to settle for a corn field.

Side note: corn is literally knee-high to a grasshopper right now. You should wait until July for it to be knee-high to me.

The stretch between Nebraska and Denver was one of the more dull areas, like watching Book TV with the sound turned off. There were sand hills, cows, crummy road surfaces, grasslands, and traffic more patchy than Eric’s beard. As endurance athletes, we endured, and eventually rolled into glorious Boulder somewhere around sunset.

Our gracious host for the night, the astrophysicist Amy B, in addition to explaining galaxy clusters, would like us to beat Baylor, kick Stanford’s ass, and “try not to bleed on our roads too much.” I believe that last comment was directed at Michael, mostly. Dinner at The Sink, what I thought was a reasonable Boulder landmark (Robert Redford worked there, and the ceiling is literally covered with graffiti), one too many Fat Tires for me, and The Onion in street side news paper stands rounded out the evening.

Tomorrow is more Boulder, getting work done, and venturing North to Fort Collins.

Monkeys and cogs,