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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wells Ave- Final Road Race?

 Last weekend, Rock and I headed over to Wells Ave to race the A-race in the final crit of the year. The race was pretty painful and we knew that going in. We had gone to bed late the night before, which wasn't the best pre-race sleep schedule, so we knew going in it would be rough. Fortunately, we had our usual pre-race dose of Top-40 hits on the ride there and we were ready to go.

The race started fast and it never let up. After the second lap, they rang the bell for a muffin prime and the race sped up even more. These primes continued basically every other lap of race, which kept the pace high. It seemed like every time the race would settle down, someone would attack off the front and pick up the tempo. Rock and I both decided to sit and wait through the first 45 minutes of the race to save energy. There was no point going for prime after prime and tiring ourselves out early in the race. We were comfortable, even with the high pace, and our goal was to burn as few matches as possible and lead Rock out at the finish.

With ten laps to go, a group of 10 racers went off the front after going for a prime. This group included most of the strong riders, but I had held back on the prime to not waste my sprinting legs. I thought that the main pack would come back together after the sprint like it had the past ten times...but that is where I made my tactical error. I was sitting in the top 5 riders and I realized that the gap between us and the 10 guys ahead was increasing slowly. At this point in the race, I decided to go for it and I started to bridge. After a full lap in the wind I was 75 meters behind the leaders, but then the lactic acid build up took over and their gap increased to 100 meters, then 200 meters, and then I admitted to myself that I had missed the move and sat up to wait for the main pack.

After expending a lot of energy trying to bridge I knew the last 5 laps would be a trip to the hurt locker, but I had to get Rock to the finish. We came through the bell lap with me sitting 3rd wheel and Rock right behind me. Perfect position. The leader kindly pulled until the final turn where I took over and drove the pace home. I looked back to see Rock still on my wheel and I made my jump. As I did, we were swarmed with other sprinters and Rock unfortunately got boxed in. We crossed the finish line in the top 20 or so, but nothing to be completely excited about.

Even with the lackluster result it was still a productive race. We got in a 33 mile speed workout on a Sunday morning, learned from a tactical error, had a good lead out, and left completely exhausted. Once we get Alex back on the train this spring, we should have a strong lead out train to control the last couple of laps. Spring will be here in no time, as will the ECCC season, and we will be ready to roll. It was also a great race because my whole family, including my dogs, came down to watch, and then we went out to lunch to celebrate my dad's birthday and my parent's anniversary. That was definitely an enjoyable part to waking up so early on a Sunday morning.

Now that the road season is over my focus will turn over to long miles, rest, nordic skiing, and some cyclocross races. It is a personal goal of mine to field a strong Tufts team at cyclocross races by next season!

Keep riding,

Cycling Skills

Hey Folks,
This weekend we have a couple of great rides planned out for everyone. On Saturday, we are going to be doing a skills-focused ride and on Sunday we will have a group ride with our generous sponsor Dan Byrne.

Saturday will be the first of a few skills rides this fall. We really can't stress to everyone how important these skills are. I still work on these skills while riding or quickly after a ride even though I have had a lot of racing and riding under my belt. These skills are important for winning races, riding in the pack, and avoiding crashes. In a sport of high speeds and many unexpected variables, crashes are inevitable. Everyone experiences a crash or two, but hopefully these skills will help you master your bike handling skills so you can avoid the majority of sketchy situations. Trust me, you don't want to be the racer in the peloton that everyone is worried about...Alex has some first hand experiences with these types of people.

But anyways, don't be scared about crashing. I didn't mean to get you all worried. These skills are actually really fun to work on and they really do help! If you are exposed to these situations in a practice setting, you will be a pro in the peloton when you have to deal with them!

Things that we will be covering during these skills sessions are:
1. Bumping- so you won't freak out when this accidently happens in the pack
2- Bike handling- picking up bottles off the ground, crazy-cyclocross dismount balancing acts, bike limbo
3- Looking back safely in the pack
4- Braking- getting use to skidding and stopping fast
5- Cornering- learn to do it with more speed, safety, and skill
6- Pacelining
7- Descending- safely, aerodynamically, and quickly
8- Sprinting- you all want to win races right??
9- TT starts, TT turn arounds- great race situation exposure

Come out and have some fun and improve your skills. You will see the progress when you ride and race!

On Sunday, we are lucky enough to ride with the generous Mr. Daniel Byrne. He is the man who graciously funds our team, supplies us with aero helmets, tents and more!! Come out for a great group ride around some our favorite training roads. We will cover a new route this week!

Here is what you need to know:

Saturday. Skills. 2pm. Campus Center.
Sunday. Group Ride. Mr. Byrne. 1pm. Campus Center.

Hopefully we will see you all there!


ps: here are a couple of great cycling videos showing off bike skills (Tufts Cycling does not encourage the use of either of these techniques in races---they are not optimal):
Cav's Bunny Hop
Lance's Cyclocross Experience (poor Beloki)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Homecoming/Jersey preview

Two big things for this post, a look at our new kit design for those who haven't seen it, or incase you just didn't get enough the first time around, and our homecoming ride, Oct. 2nd from Grafton to Medford with our incredible alumni.

I'm a huge fan of how these jerseys are shaping up, logo placement and other clothing articles are in the works

Homecoming: Saturday Oct. 2nd Tufts Cycling will be continuing our tradition of riding from Grafton to Medford/Somerville with members of the Tufts Cycling Alumni community. What you need to know is that this ride is a lot of fun and we would love for you to join us, to do so please RSVP with me, alex at by Sept. 24th. The ride process will begin at 8:15 am across from cousins gym by loading our bikes and persons onto a bus, followed by a pretty easy (in both tempo and terrain) ride back to the undergrad campus, getting back in the early afternoon to tables of free food down on the J field. any additional questions can go in the comments section below or to my inbox.

Additionally, group rides are continuing throughout the foreseeable future Saturdays at 2pm. Thank you to everyone who has already come out, we've had some large groups out there, and I promise that the coming weeks will be at a more relaxed pace for those of you (self included) who one of our excellent team dad's Tom C. dropped this past weekend.

also, the Mayor's Cup is this coming Sunday Sept. 26th races start at 2pm, with the PRO 1/2 race starting at 5pm, and going on for 90min in downtown Boston. more info here and I hope that we can get a strong showing of Tufts Cyclist out there to see some of the best go at it right here in Boston.

keep riding,
Tufts Cycling

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall Group Rides

With classes starting in a week its time to switch from "Base milage around my house" mode to "Group rides with the Tufts Cycling Team" mode. Ok, even if you haven't been riding we still want to see you out riding with us this coming Sunday Sept. 5th outside the campus center (upper level) by the bike racks, at 2pm. This is an all levels welcome, lets go ride and have fun, ordeal. So non-racers, fear not! A big part of our early group rides is to show everyone interested some safe and fun roads around Tufts, because lets face it, the roads around here don't make it easy to find your own way.

a helpful sign down in Davis

In other news the Team will be out in force at the Fall Activities Fair 5-7pm September 13th, this will be followed by a general intrest meeting later in the week (tbd) where we fill do our best to fill everyone in on whats happened this summer, whats coming up, and get excited about riding.

Plan on group rides being on Saturdays as we move into the fall, and check back here, TuftsLife, and or the Facebook group for dates and times once we figure those little details out.

What you need to know:
-Sunday 9/5 2pm group ride starting at the Campus Center.
-Activities Fair 9/13 5-7pm Res. Quad, come show some support for the team
-More rides to come this fall, including this.

keep riding and enjoy la Vuelta as it continues to heat up

-tufts cycling

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall Training Camp

First, a very big thank you to the Schwartz family, who have throughout the past year been there for the team in countless situations, made many of our ECCC race weekends possible, and for me personally were there in the hospital when I really needed them. This pattern of outstanding team support was continued this past week by opening their home to the team for our fall training camp.

Taylor welcomed four of us this past Sunday night; Audrey, Doug (coming almost straight from the airport upon returning from biking across Europe), Eric, and myself (Alex). Greeted by great food and warm beds Sunday quickly became Monday morning and our first ride. The skies threatened with rain but we enjoyed a dry and hilly 50 miles around the lakes of central Maine. Monday also saw the departure of Audrey and Doug for various non-biking reasons.

Tuesday began slowly, the three of us remaining sleeping in then spending the rest of the morning working on our bikes. After a brief lunch Taylor, Eric and I did a bit of exploring around Wayne and Monmouth, finding a couple good climbs and lots of great roads. Unfortunately Wednesday the clouds finally broke, and the cumulative fatigue of the days leading up to this camp and the riding itself caught up with us and we called it quits.

Thanks again to the Schwartz family and everyone who made it up for our training camp.

Eric flying up yet another hill

Alex smiling for the camera

Taylor with some apple trees

Photos by Taylor Schwartz, taken on Tuesday's ride.

Keep riding, and we'll see you in just over a week.

-Tufts University Cycling Team

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Welcome to the new Tufts University Cycling Team website. Our goal here is to provide the Tufts cycling community and all those interested with up to date information on the races, rides, and events we are involved in and to post the stories that come from those rides. We've got a very exciting fall headed our way with plans for some racing and at least one epic ride already in the works.

News from the recently completed fall training camp in Maine as well as news about our beginning of the year events will be up shortly. So keep riding, and check back in soon for more info.

-Tufts University Cycling Team