Sunday, March 27, 2011

RPI race report

This past Saturday the team brought a small group over to Troy, NY to compete in the ITT and Circuit race at the RPI Tour de Troy. Representing the team were Evan, Taylor, Alex, Paul, and Brenny. In the morning's sub-freezing temp ITT of 4.9 miles Evan stopped the clock fast enough to net himself 11th place in the Men's A race and importantly, scored himself points towards going to Nationals.

Just after Evan's solid ride Alex and Tay set off to a very successful 5th and 6th respectively. Continuing to find very little between themselves after 2 ITTs Taylor and Alex are only separated by a cumulative time of 2 seconds.

A little later in the day once the temps finally rose above freezing Brenny and Paul were off for 5 laps of a challenging circuit course that ended with a 2-staged climb that really took it out of the legs. Paul suffered an unfortunate crash but other than some road rash was feeling fine. Brenny was having a tough day and ended up in 64th in what was an absolutely massive Men's C field of over 80 riders.

In the afternoon races Alex and Taylor found themselves frustrated with a complacent field that wanted no part in chasing down the day's early break, which lead to a margin of victory of nearly 4 minutes for the successful MIT rider. Cramps held Taylor back on the final lap but he still managed a solid 28th in Men's B. With a tough finishing climb that wore out the field Alex was able to ride the pack off of his wheel to win the bunch sprint for 9th place in the B's.

Evan just missed the break in the Men's A race and after close to 2 and a half hours of hard racing he rolled across in 23rd, a little frustrated, but with an encouraging result in the morning more good results are sure to come for Evan in the coming weeks as the road turns upwards.

That's it for our short weekend in Troy, NY. Next up, the Boston Beanpot which boasts the some of the best and hardest racing of the season.

Ride Hard

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grant's Tomb and Philly Race Reports

Now that we are on spring break, I finally have some time to write about our past couple of race weekends. It is ridiculous to think that we are already halfway through the ECCC season, but time flies when you are riding your bike.

There isn't too much to talk about when it comes to the Grant's Tomb weekend. Our day was filled with pack finishes and crashes. The majority of the team crashed, which was a real bummer. Doug hurt a finger, Rock was crashed out while feeling great with a couple laps to go, Evan cooked a corner too fast in the Pro/1/2 race and took himself out, and Kip went down unfazed (probably due to his downhill background). Alex and I went pretty hard in the Men's B race, and there wasn't too much to talk about after the race. We put in a couple of attacks, got a few prime points, and I was fortunate enough to hit the final turn in first before doing some lead out duties.

The racing in Philly went a lot better. We left on Thursday night to break up the long drive, and that left us with three days of nothing to do but eat, sleep, and bike. On Friday, we went for a 2 hour ride in Jersey with Evan's coach. I will admit that NJ does have some nice riding and climbing, but it still doesn't deserve the nickname, the Garden State.

Saturday's early morning race was a team time trial in Fairmount Park. Kip, Evan, Alex and I were the only four Tufts racers, so we all raced up in the "A" category. This race went incredibly well, and our team placed 5th; only 38 seconds off of the winners, F&M. We were all impressed with how perfectly we executed the technical parts of the TTT. In addition, none of use felt like we had finished on empty, so there will be more to come at the Beanpot TTT!

The circuit race went really well for the B riders. A single rider soloed off of the front and ended up winning by close to a minute, but this wasn't without reason. First, the Shippensburg rider who won is apparently a pro mountain biker who rides for the Scott RC Team, so that is why he had the legs. Secondly, the peloton sat around sucking each other's thumbs for most of the race. Alex, a few other riders and I started a chase, but unfortunately most of the pack didn't feel like racing hard. The peloton ended up complacent for the rest of the race and decided to race for second.

Alex and I both maintained position in the top-10 for most of the race, but on the final lap the pace slowed before the hill and I got swarmed. Alex lucked out and fought his way up the climb and to the finish line in 6th place. I started the hill in about 30th, but climbed well to fight my way up to finish 17th. The single-lane, final climb was quite chaotic as some riders slowed and moved backwards, and the faster riders shot up the hill. I was on edge as I weaved through the pack, hoping that riders falling back would maintain their lines. In the end, we were stoked with our results.

Evan's race went off as we cooled down. We were changing back at the car and started talking about where we were going to watch Evan's race from when Evan walked over without a bike in a ripped pair of shorts. His chain completely froze and he accelerated out of a corner, and he ended up flying over his bars. Him and his bike were okay for the most part, but he is now missing most of the skin on his right butt cheek (literally about 80% of it). We were all bummed for Evan, but the good news is that he is due for a stellar result. The EMT's had us laughing pretty hard when they told us about the damage to his hind end, so that lightened the mood. Kip also ripped out a solid 14th place in the circuit race, and is definitely starting to get the hang of pack riding.

The crit was a hellish race. Alex and I were in the front row in staging, but when everyone swung out to the start line, we ended up in the back. Then we both missed out clip in (in Cole-esque fashion) and started the race in the way back. At this point, I knew that I would have to dig deep if I wanted to hold on. The race went out fast and never let up. Every corner had a full speed acceleration and I spent the first 20 mins chasing before I finally reached the front of the pack. After that, I stayed in the top-5 or so because I knew that there was no way to get a result any farther back.

In the end, I was 11th in the field sprint. I was satisfied because of the hard work I put in to claw my way back to the front. It was a fast race and the peloton actually raced hard, which was a great change from Saturday. At the finish, there were less than 20 riders in the field sprint because of the splintering speeds that we raced at. Alex came in a little behind the pack. Kip also had a race similar to mine. He started in the back and clawed his way back to the front group for a 14th place finish. I was stoked to watch his tenacity during the race. It's easy to give up in that position, but he stuck with it and got a solid result.

Next weekend we are off to RPI for just the first day, then the weekend after that we race at home at the Tufts Campus Criterium during the Boston Beanpot!!!! Make sure you make it to watch this exciting day of racing on the technical, historical course!

Keep riding,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let the Racing Begin: Rutgers Race Report

Hello all,

After all of the winter miles and cold weather, the Tufts Cycling Team was greeted by a great weekend of racing at the Rutgers Scarlet Scurry ECCC Opener. The team was lucky enough to have wonderful housing arrangements for the weekend at Evan's house, and we arrived Friday night we were greeted by a large feast. Evan's mother is known for her wonderful cooking, and she did not disappoint.

Even after an early bedtime, the 4:20 am wake up call on Saturday morning was pretty rough. Those who rode in Angel's car (Evan Cooper) were quickly woken up by blasting techno beats on the ride over to the time trial. The TT was a 2.2 mile dash on a smoothly paved, park road. Although short, this race was certainly painful. I was lucky enough to have my club team teammate start 20 seconds in front of me, so it gave me some motivation to ride fast. In the end the majority of the team had an impressive start to the ECCC season. While not racing, we were all entertained by Joe and Sully's heckling towards D racers with 80mm deep dish rims or other riders wearing TT helmets. Historically, aero gear in the Rutgers TT is discouraged, and those that break this gentleman's agreement are made fun of by the color commentary of the conference directors.

After the TT, we made the transfer over towards the Rutgers footbal stadium for the afternoon criterium. My race went out pretty fast, and it was nice to finally get some race speed in the legs. Unfortunately, Rock had another race full of mechanical failures and didn't finish, so halfway through the race Cole, Alex, and I were the only ones left in the race, and we got a little help from my CycleLoft Velo teammate, Conor. I stayed in the pack for most of the race and followed a couple of attacks just to get the legs moving. The sketchiest part of the race came on the turn onto the home straight about halfway through the race when a West Point racer cut me off and I ended up skidding a couple feet to the side and somehow stayed up. With 4 laps to go Alex made an attack. He was caught soon after and popped off the back, and with 2 laps to go Cole went off the front in a move that looked like it may stick, but with a lap to go, the field pulled him in and two of the chasers opened up a gap.

With all of our pre-race tactics going down the drain, I realized I had to do something, so I went to the front and caught the two guys hanging off the front. We hit the second to last straightaway (which was into a headwind) and when I looked back I had a few bike lengths on the rest of the field, so I put the gas on and headed towards the final corner. Right as we made it to the corner a Dartmouth racer and another guy passed me, and I hit the home straight in 3rd. When I started my sprint, I realized my legs weren't there after putting the gas on and I got nipped on the line and ended up 5th. Not a bad start to the season. Everyone else was extremely happy to get the first mass start race out of the way, and it was definitely a great learning experience for the new riders.

Sunday's points race was hectic and hard. The course went up a pretty substantial climb, down a 40mph downhill, through a flat, and up the hill again. Not exactly a points race on the track. Our field was the first field that was able to stay together all day, as most of the other races were splintered after the first couple of laps. Alex, Rock and I all got pulled at some point in the race, but Cole snuck in for two 3rd place finishes on prime laps and pulled away with an impressive 5th place finish. After his second 3rd place, he celebrated with a fist pump only to be immediately greeted with a massive calf cramp. Luckily, his work was done and he was able to limp home to the finish.

Audrey pulled out some fantastic results in the Women's C with a 3rd place in the ITT and a 9th place in the crit. Paul had a solid showing with a 16th place in the ITT, 14th in the points race, and a 13th in the crit. The Men's B racers filled up the top-10 with Cole striking a 3rd place finish, myself a 5th place finish, and Alex a 9th place finish. The downhill MTB transplant, Kip had a solid start to his cycling career with a 19th place in the crit, 15th in the points race, and 17th in the points race. Matt Erle came back from to the ECCC scene with a 11th place in the ITT. The new riders showed a lot of promise for the future.

Next weekend we are off to Grant's Tomb Crit promoted by Columbia, and Evan and I are sticking around for the Stevens RR. Also, Happy Birthday to our little angel, Evan. He just turned the big 21 on Monday!

Keep riding,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Take on the ECCC Fall Meeting

This weekend West Point hosted the ECCC's annual fall planning meeting, which aside from working out any potential rule changes and improvements at the conference level the 2011 racing schedule needed to be decided. I assume none of you are terribly interested in any potential changes to scoring in the men's D field I'll skip down to a summary of what lies ahead.

Rebranded as the Rutger's Scarlet Scurry the Central New Jersey School will once again be home to the season's first race, around about 7am March 5th, 2011. The races will be slightly different this year in that the bike path prolog TT is no more. Instead the weekend is shuffled around, with a potential ITT to start the season of 1 lap of the existing circuit couse, followed by the circuit race, then Sunday would be the crit, same parcours as previous years.

Columbia and Stevens grabbed the second weekend that will feature a late starting Grants Tomb crit (11am first collegiate race with USAC races proceeding) on Saturday and a brand new circuit course from Stevens, with an ITT planned for one lap of the same course (may be changed to add variety)

Weekend 3 of the ECCC season and the front half of the Tufts Spring Break sees the team down in Philadelphia for the long running Philly Phlyer. Our first TTT of the season and the circuit race to follow later in the day are the same courses they were last year, with the technical upper section and fast, flat stretch along the water making up the middle half of the course. The Sunday crit may be on the Temple campus, and failing that, will return to the Naval Yard, home of what may have been last years fastest and safest crit of the season (baised? ...yes)

Racing during the second weekend of our spring break will be at RPI who have three races on the docket but everything is pretty trivial when placed next to their 9, as in nine, one less than ten, corner downtown crit. We ask, why stop at nine?

Week 5, marks the start of the extremely difficult second half of the season in the best way possible, with the BOSTON BEANPOT! Boston University, MIT, and Tufts came together in an 11th hour deal to get on the schedule bringing together the Xpot road course, a medium length TT, and on Sunday, the Tufts Criterium. If that doesn't strick fear and great excitement in your heart, your haven't been in the ECCC long enough. Don't think this is a big deal, check wiki
We're pretty excited about this, and with the most infamous corner in all of ECCC freshly paved, This is going to be BIG.

Maybe the easiest april race weekend, once again running up against the pro/am weekend of Battenkill is Yale. Though I may be taking liberties with "easiest". The circuit has been changed to remove the busy road on the back side and replaces it with half of the rock climb, which adds a great deal of decent as well. The crit stays the same and the uphill ITT remains. Also in place is the chance to win the KOM jersey for crushing your cat. in both the ITT and circuit.

Despite loosing their bid for Easterns we will still be headed up to the Hell of the North for a Dartmouth/UNH co-hosted epic. Saturday begins at the Northern Ivy with a neutered version of their crit (no corner of death) and what is hyped up to be an incredible TT course. Sunday brings us to the other side of the Granite state for a long TTT at UNH which will be followed by a rolling road course around one of New Hampshire's beautiful lakes.

Eastern's this year was on paper a three horse race but it was really down to Dartmouth/UNH and our winners and torturers Penn State. You should start doing hill workouts now, is all I can really say. Frat row crit, rolling TTs, and what really will get everyone to drive all the way down to PA is the road course. Over 21 miles a lap gaining 1900ft each time around. Men's A will climb almost a mile and a half into the sky by the end of the day, with Men's B clearing over a mile upwards. AWESOME.

So 2011 sees more 4 race weekends, road courses take the second half of the season by storm, and two northern races. So keep climbing, and good luck.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tufts Cycling Kits 2010-2011

Hey Everyone,
We are very excited to present to you our new kits for the following year. Primal Wear has graciously worked with us for the past couple of months on dialing in these designs, and I must say they came out pretty fly. We are definitely going to be one of the best looking teams in the peloton this coming spring in the ECCC.
Here is a look at our jerseys, bibs, arm warmers and leg warmers (the only thing missing is the DZ nuts logo):

I just received the sizing kits today for Jerseys, Speed Suits, Arm Warmers, etc and I should be receiving the sizing kits for the bib shorts very soon. We need to get quantities and sizes out to Primal ASAP, so they can get a roll on production. Therefore, Monday night we will be having a meeting to try on the sizing samples. It is highly recommended that anyone who is buying kits this year make this meeting because there is nothing worse than kits that don't fit right. 

Remember, anyone racing for the Tufts Cycling Team this year MUST buy at least a jersey as it is the official uniform of our team for this year. Racing in last years kit is not allowed under USAC rules.

Remember: Meeting, Pearson 106, Monday, 9pm, sizing for kits

See you all there,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall riding tips

A rather unfortunate fact of living and racing in New England is that our most important months as far as training is concerned, Nov.-Feb., are also our coldest and most dangerous to the unprepared cyclist. Riding inside is one way to avoid the chill of the fast approaching New England winter, but not going anywhere gets boring very quickly and there is no true substitute for miles on the road. In the intrest of keeping as many Jumbos out biking on the roads for as long as possible that I've brought together a couple of fall/winter riding guides for your enjoyment below.

Note, wind chill factor is exponentially more important when the initial air temp is lower so in the coming weeks and months look for the "feels like" or wind chill temps, and base clothing decisions from that value.

55+F, no special considerations required unless it's dumping rain outside, but otherwise not really in the span of this post

45-55F, call me soft but I like to have knee warmers on once the mercury drops below 50F, Also helpful are some light gloves and a scull cap. Long sleeve jerseys or short sleeves with armwarmers are important starting around 50F. Socks that are slightly warmer than your summer weight cycling socks are plenty warm for most rides in this zone (smartwool midweight cycling socks are perfect in my opinion)

40-45F Knee warmers, or if you get cold very easily leg warmers, should be worn on these rides. Hats, full finger gloves, and shoe covers are all good accessories, or in leu of shoe covers you can get the more economical over socks. (avoid toe caps as they are not very effective and couldn't be less pro) Long sleeve jerseys and a light base layer or a regular jersey and a light coat should keep you warm in these temps.

30s This is going to feel pretty cold, so layer accordingly. Legwarmers, full finger gloves, shoe covers, a hat/balaclava, are all pretty straight forward, the problem usually comes down to your core. Your base layer should ideally be wool or some high tech synthetic, wool trumps because of termal regulation and its effectiveness at getting sweat away from your body, but synthetics do the same things just a little more slowly (wool moves moisture away from your body while it is a vapor while synthetics can only transfer liquids). The second layer is a great place for a long sleeve jersey, warm, synthetic, and comfortable. The third layer, as needed, should be a jacket, and windproof is a great quality in a cold weather jacket since even 5-10 mph winds have a much greater effect on feels like temp down in the 30s and below.

20s and below, time to head inside for most of us. To comfortably ride in sub 30F temps all of the above for 30s riding is needed, with some augmentation. Namely, very warm legwarmers, shorts and or bib tights that will keep warm the parts of you your legwarmers/jacket wont. A high quality base and mid layer that are going to keep you warm.

A word on snow, forget your romantic notions of snow, this stuff sucks to bike in. Skiing yes, biking no. The day of/after a snow storm are great for going to the gym and lifting, and not for being "epic". (acceptable exceptions are of course racing and inspiring a generation of American cyclists, see below)

(photo from

If you care to spend the money you can certainly ride in very cold conditions without too much discomfort, but at a certain point it becomes cheeper and safer to buy rollers or a trainer, or cheapest yet use the schools equipment and ride inside.

looking for a more organized source for cool weather riding tips? try cyclingtips
prefer charts?

from a great cycling blog created and run by a Dartmouth/ ECCC alum

Finally, the Thor Hushovd Index of hardness
HI1: Only the Spanish are in legwarmers
HI2: Italians are starting to look a bit chilly
HI3: French riders start to wrap up
HI4: The Belgians and Germans start to feel the cold
HI5: Even the Danes and Norwegians are starting to suffer a bit
HI6: Thor Hushovd puts on a light jacket.

I rarely go beyond JF3/HI3 but if nothing else this winter

keep riding

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Local Climbs

Recently people have been asking/ wondering how steep and long some of the local climbs that the team ride on are. So I've put together some basic info about climbs the team runs into most frequently, and then added in a couple extras to provide some alternatives.

The bone jarringly chewed up Winthrop St. incline that many of us go around campus to avoid clocks in at a gain of 79 ft in .15mi, which after some math gives you a 10% grade. Steep and short, but far too dangerous to do repeats on, to be avoided.

Starting at Powderhouse, Packard ave has discouraged many a Tufts undergrad from taking their bike to Olin/Cabot/Barnum. .3 miles and climbing
92ft (5.8% avg) this is another short one, but very convenient if you find yourself pressed for time.

A Tufts cycling classic the 1 mile long Arlington reservoir hill off of Park St. provides a 6.1% average for 322ft of climbing. quiet roads are a big plus, and the last ramp has some serious bite after the first couple of reps.

Newly discovered Ridge St. hill climbs 213ft in just one kilometer and actually drops down 23ft in the middle section, making the average 6.5% much lower than how it feels

Johnson rd. (think reservoir loop backwards) is a quick .5mi averaging 7.8% going up 207ft and also happens to be the easiest way to get to Ridge hill. If you aren't thinking it already, yes these two hills are great for combining.

Much to my surprise there are hills longer than 1 mile around these parts, as I learned on a recent adventure into the greater Acton area. Oak hill road certainly lives up to its name, after miles of rollers leading up to it this 2.5mile incline will burn despite a pretty modest 2.8% avg for 371ft gained, but it doesn't let up and ramps up to 7% in the first half and ends a 5%. A few times up this are a great addition to any long ride.

Hopefully the above is in some way informative, please feel free to to email/ write a comment with additional suggestions and or questions about how to get to any of these. Better yet, show up to our Saturday group rides at 2pm and we'll show you exactly what each of these is like.

Finally, one of my personal favorites, the easier* West side of Hurricane Mtn. Rd. This climb HURTS. 2 miles, 1020 ft of climbing, 9.7% grade that peaks somewhere around 24% on the final switchback.

*East side of the above climb is an extra .3 miles, 171 bonus ft of climbing adding up to an average of 9.8%

-keep riding