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,