Tag Archives: jen wilson

Army Spring Classic Race Weekend, by Morgan Hennessy

Our journey to West Point started slowly, crawling along in Boston rush hour traffic on our way westward. We arrived exhausted and slept well, waking up to devour the complimentary hotel breakfast. Our car decided to pre-drive the road race course, and were taken aback by the beauty of the course—scenic vistas at every turn, perfectly paved roads, beautiful babbling brooks and natural wildlife—this course had it all, including miles and miles of climbing.

My group, Women’s Intro, took off with Men’s Intro for a few neutral miles down the gigantic descent and into the first large hill, as I adjusted to wearing a fellow rider’s GoPro video camera strapped goofily to my helmet. After stopping briefly on the hill, the coaches sent our small field off racing. It became clear after a few minutes that the Women’s Intro race would be a race between me and one Bard racer, as the third Women’s Intro rider fell off the back early. With Coach Nicole’s wise words echoing in my mind, I let Bard pull me for several miles of rolling hills after the first big climb. I glued myself to her wheel until finally she rolled to the side, and asked me to pull…
I was reluctant but relented, remembering my sportsmanship, and agreed to pull at an extremely slow pace along one of the many beautiful lakes on the course. We rotated a bit, but I realized she was tiring while I had rested. I took my opportunity to attack with 5 miles to go – I pointed out some of the local wildlife (a few birds feasting on a roadkill carcass) to distract her and sprinted towards the yellow line. It felt awesome. I finished with my first-ever win. I have never been more honored than when that night, back at the hotel, I was awarded the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for my deceptive tactics. After completing our races that day, Katie Maass and I successfully fed all MIT riders wanting bottles from the feed zone—no small feat for anyone acquainted with a road race feed zone. And, it was my first time doing it! Passing off bottles to bikers going ~20mph is a full-impact sport.

The next day brought the ridiculous Stony Lonesome hill climb—major pain—and the criterium. The hill climb yielded yet another first place finish for me, but by default—no other riders entered my category! Due to the tiny size of the Intro field, the directors had us race with the Women’s C field in the Shea Stadium criterium—an exhilarating and exhausting 35 minutes. Amazingly, I was able to stick with the peloton for the entire race, and watch my teammate Katie M. hold fantastic position for the majority of the laps. I ended the weekend with 3/3 wins in my category.

Highlights of the criterium included Men’s A rider Zach Ulissi’s unrelenting solo attacks off the front of the field, holding off the rest of the riders for basically all laps, gathering many prime points, until the very end. I don’t think I’ve seen such grit and pure strength displayed in an athletic event in a long time (the Aggressive jersey needs to go to Zach now, for that performance). The Women’s A/B crit proved an exciting one, with an amazing attack by Kate Wymbs to lead off (see her race report), followed by multiple solo attacks by Katie Quinn and an amazing sprint by Shaena Berlin to the finish, while teammate Jennifer Wilson kept amazingly consistent position in the pack for the entire race and placed well among the B’s.
I guess I’ve been told if you sweep the field, it’s rude to sandbag for another weekend, so off to C’s it is for me (wait, look over there! It’s an eagle!! Don’t miss it! Just keep looking over there while I keep racing Intros….). Congratulations to all my fellow riders for their fantastic performances in all fields – you are all so inspirational and amazing. See you at RISD – I’ll bring the Cocoa Roasted Almonds, you BRING THE PAIN!

800,000 Calories at Costco (by Jennifer Wilson)

Cycling Training Camp = Eat, Ride, Eat, (maybe eat some more) and then rinse and repeat. So when it comes to feeding 25+ hungry cyclists, it requires a little more than the usual trip to the grocery store. Both last year and this year we collected recipes weeks in advance, corrected portion sizes to match those of a rider, and collated a rather large spreadsheet of ingredients which later became the master shopping list.

As one can imagine, a small town like Borrego Springs (without any traffic lights, malls or dense population) might not be the ideal place to buy groceries for the aforementioned group of riders—they just didn’t have the capacity, especially in the banana department. Instead, we took a rental car over to Costco and proceeded to purchase the equivalent of ~$1500 worth of groceries including 10 quarts of Greek Yogurt, 15 dozen eggs, about 65 pounds of bananas, and over 50 pounds of meat (including tenderloin, bacon, whole roasting chickens and ground turkey). Throughout the shopping process, Shaena and I skillfully navigated 2 carts and a flat-bed through the store, packing and piling as we moved through each section of the store. More than once we were approached and asked for assistance shopping—apparently it was just too much food for anyone to believe we would purchase. In the end, we made it through checkout (with the help of no less than 6 different Costco employees), loaded up the van and headed to Borrego.

The meals really round off the trip. Not only are they delicious and cost effective for a group of our size, but they give us the chance to cook and eat together and build team camaraderie. Each night we’d have a head chef and a handful of support staff (can you imagine chopping 12 onions on your own?) putting together dinner, and then another 5 or so people on clean up (I think we used every dish for every meal!). In the end, the food is a small logistical piece of the whole puzzle that ends up adding another layer of decadence to an already amazing trip.

Three Carts at Costco
Three Carts at Costco

Philly Summary

by Spencer Schaber

For the team time trials Saturday morning, MIT men’s A came out and crushed it, defeating the second fastest collegiate team by 1 minute 23 seconds and handily beating even the fastest open USAC racers with TT bikes.  MIT’s second A squad took 7th place, and was within 30 seconds of the fastest non-MIT team.  The MIT women (Katie Quinn, Shaena Berlin, Jen Wilson, and Elizabeth Mayne) won by over 30 seconds as well, despite having a mixed squad consisting of one woman each from A, B, C, and intro.

On Saturday, Kuat Yessenov won his men’s D circuit race, with a powerful attack up the final hill, earning him the coveted intra-team “most aggressive rider” jersey.  At the criterium on Sunday, as Sebastien and I walked backward around the course to get a feel for all of the different sections, we watched the men’s D crit, and Kuat showed he had what it takes to keep the red jersey by spending many laps in a solo breakaway.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching him stay away solo for much of the race.  His face got more red with each passing lap in order to match the jersey and show he meant business, and he took home a second win!  Matt Smith and David Koppstein also looked very comfortable in the pack.  After watching the division 1 men’s D race, they knew they needed to stay in the top ~10 places to finish the race, and they were among the ~50% of starters who hung on until the finish.

At the Temple University criterium, we saw many more successes after Kuat won the men’s D race.  Elizabeth took 1st among the collegiate women in women’s intro (there were two non-collegiate women in front of her), with a beautiful final sprint.  In the men’s C race, a breakaway of two won the race, and Ben Woolston took second in the field sprint for fourth overall.  After the finish, he did a very classy on-bike high-five with the winner of the field sprint and looked pretty satisfied with the result.  For the women’s A/B crit, Shaena Berlin looked remarkably good—she was in great position throughout the race, taking 1st in 3 of the four prime lap sprints and 2nd in the 4th sprint.  It was awesome to keep seeing her in such great position for such a hard course (typically top 5 in her group, but not doing too much work on the front).  Afterward she said it was one of her most enjoyable crits ever.  Katie Quinn won overall in style, doing most of the race off the front by herself, having ridden in the breakaway with Mary Costelloe (Kutztown) for a few laps and finally shelling her.

In the men’s A race, the last collegiate race of the day, the field strung out single-file almost immediately and remained that way for almost the entire 60 minutes.  I did some terrible cornering in the first half, which added to the yo-yo effect from being farther back in the pack and meant I had to sprint to catch back on at almost every corner.  Eventually, the “elastic” broke for me and I dropped back with the second pack.  I worked with them for a while, and finally we were lapped by the breakaway consisting of Robin Carpenter (Swarthmore), Matt Buckley (UVM), and Ed Grystar (Brown).  I hopped on the back of their train, after confirming it was allowed with some of the other racers, but I didn’t do any work.  It was much easier to stay with them since (i) they took great lines through the corners, (ii) I was 4th wheel, and (iii) I didn’t do any pulls.  Meanwhile, Adam Bry and Zack Ulissi were busy attacking and covering moves in the peloton, and Zack led Adam out for a field-sprint win, 4th overall.  Adam said that all of the credit goes to Zack for that.  Zack led out the final lap at a very high pace, and ramped it up coming into the final corner, delivering Adam to the finishing sprint in 1st wheel, which Adam maintained.  Le maillot jaune reste avec MIT.

Kuat Yessenov wins from a solo breakaway
Kuat Yessenov wins men's D crit from a solo breakaway

Training Camp 2012 (Adam’s report)

MIT sent a group of 16 riders to the warm deserts of southern California to prepare for the upcoming road cycling season. No one on the team had been to Borrego Springs before, but flights to San Diego were cheap and google revealed Borrego (2 hours NE of San Diego) as a cycling hot spot. The locale more than delivered. A tiny town of 2500, Borrego is surrounded on three sides by mountains but is pancake flat on the fourth side.
A five minute ride from our rental house, Montezuma climb formed the backbone of many of our training rides. With 3600 vertical feet over 10 miles, it’s known as the “glass elevator” because when descending you can see the desert floor, thousands of feet below, all the way down. To the south, Yaqui pass provided 1500 ft of climbing with a slightly shallower grade which proved perfect for shorter (painful) intervals. When it came time to practice the team time trial or sprints we used the flat and empty stretches of road around town, and for variable paced “hammer rides” (i.e., make each other hurt as much as possible) we rode east towards the Salton Sea. To top if off, it’s against town policy to install stop lights and the entire week we never saw one. I don’t think you could design a town or terrain more perfect for cycling training, not to mention the weather was almost perfectly reliable at 70 degrees and clear skies all but one day.
The Group
In-line with coach Nicole’s training plan, many of us put in 30 hours over the 8 days with upwards of 30,000 ft of climbing and 500+ miles. The group also highlighted another trend for MIT cycling: PowerTaps! Eight people started camp with PowerTaps and two more actually placed orders while in Borrego. FXDD indicated an interest in displaying team power data. We’re still crunching the numbers for them, but the gist of it is individuals did close to 20,000 kJ of work over the week (equates roughly to calories burned) while averaging about 200 watts (while pedaling). The max instantaneous wattage for the week was 1342 by Sebastian GP (look out men’s B field).
Riding Past Palm Trees
Perhaps the most beautiful part about training camp is the simplicity of it – to maximize on-the-bike gains, time spent not riding should be spent resting, recovering, and eating. Joe Near led the way in in this department, firing up the house’s hot tub immediately after a ride and mixing up some chocolate milk. By the end of the week he had most of the group following suit and I’m sure it showed in the quantity of milk and chocolate syrup we went through.
If an army fights on it’s stomach, a cycling team certainly trains on it. Thanks to alumnus John Detore, we arrived in Borrego with a Jeep full (literally, FULL) of food. Katie Q and Jen W went above and beyond in planning and organizing meals, and everyone else chipped in as chefs, sous chefs, and bus boys. The result of the effort is that we ate like kings every night. From chicken tikka masala, to buffalo stew, to homemade pizza, to apple crisp desserts, everything tasted good and there was a lot of it (remember that bit about burning 20,000 calories?).
Overall the experience was incredible and the training was excellent. MIT is ready to race; look out ECCC.