Category Archives: Conference Announcements

Representatives Election

At least year’s annual meeting, an important step toward ensuring the longterm continuity of the ECCC was debuted: A nascent but formal Board of Trustees. As discussed, this year we’re adding two representatives to that board via an election across all of the membership.

The Board

Like most such structures, the ECCC Board of Trustees has two key objectives:

  • Provide independent strategic guidance, oversight, and decision making;
  • Ensure long term continuity and survival.

Historically most of the overarching, major operational and strategic decision making about budgets, hiring, significant initiatives, etc., have ultimately resided with the conference director. Over time the board will assume oversight of much of this, particularly as/if the conference continues to develop a larger paid staff. One major goal is better sanity checking via peer review, and formal procedures discouraging ad hoc practices. However, the board also makes this decision making institutional rather than individual, able to be made—and hopefully made well—absent any particular person. In that vein, the board also acts as a knowledge repository, capturing lessons learned and institutional experience even as individuals come and go.

These things take time to develop and there are many well entrenched practices and people even as the conference has to continue to operate at full speed with limited human capacity, so the board is still maturing, settling on activities and responsibilities. However, it has been meeting periodically over the past year to discuss a number of topics. Prominent among these, as an example, is taking public input from the discussion at last year’s annual meeting and settling on final criteria and procedures for the first representatives election. As another example of the kinds of topics addressed by the Board of Trustees, a major topic for the near future and our incoming representatives is a developing proposal that’s been under intermittent discussion for some time to open ECCC racing to all youth, not just full-time students.

Trustees

As currently architected, the ECCC board consists of nine volunteer members in two components:

  • Seven trustees appointed and confirmed by the board itself and serving indefinitely;
  • Two representatives elected from and by the full membership and serving for two years.

The current trustees are all longstanding leaders of the ECCC community:

  • Emma Bast: Former Mt Holyoke rider, collegiate road national champion, and USAC Collegiate committee athlete representative; currently outside Burlington, VT.
  • Christina Birch: Former MIT rider, collegiate cyclocross national champion, and general rockstar; in Boston, MA.
  • Shane Ferro: Former Columbia rider, team leader, and race director; in New York, NY.
  • Joseph Kopena: Former Drexel rider, team leader, race director, official, and conference director; in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Michael Rea: Former Dartmouth and UVM rider, team leader, race director, longstanding conference advisor, and former NEBRA collegiate liason; officially in Washington, DC but often Hanover, NH.
  • Rob Rowan: Former Columbia coach, race director, official, and longstanding conference advisor; in New York, NY.
  • Ian Sullivan: Former UVM and Vermont Law rider, team leader, race director, official, and assistant conference director; currently splitting time between Pittsfield, MA and Rutland, VT.

The two slots for representatives are to be filled for the first time by this election.

Representatives

As a whole the board is formally committed to maintaining gender parity in its structure. There is thus a representative for women and another for men, according to competition gender. However, all current members (currently defined as full-time high school and college students with at least one ECCC scholastic start this year) will vote on both positions.

The other eligibility criteria for the representatives are:

  • Must have 4 starts in any discipline or category in a scholastic field at an ECCC event  within the past year, i.e., was an active collegiate or high school racer this year;
  • Must be at least 18 years of age at the time general voting closes;
  • Must be approved by the trustees, with significant cause to be given otherwise.

Note that the representatives need not necessarily be full-time students at the time of the election or afterward. Racers that just graduated, are taking a break, etc., all have much to contribute. However, especially for this first year we strongly encourage nominees and votes for representatives that will be active racers in the coming year such that they may be more easily acquainted with how the conference works behind the scenes.

Responsibilities

Participation in the Board of Trustees is explicitly and critically not intended to be an overwhelming commitment. It is a significant, serious commitment but not on the critical path for ongoing operations. Expectations include:

  • Attending the annual fall conference meeting if possible;
  • Attending some ECCC race or races annually;
  • Quarterly voice or video call with trustees;
  • Ongoing but light/bursty email discussion;
  • Taking lead on a particular area or project of special interest.

Once elected, the representatives will each serve 2 year terms. They need not be active racers throughout, nor even be committed to staying in the geographic region.

Election

The timeline for our inaugural representatives election is:

  • October 21: Call for nominees (this post!)
  • October 28: Nominations close at noon (to provide time for collation & board review)
  • October 29: General voting opens
  • November 12: Voting closes at 11:59pm
  • November 14: Representatives announced and introduced at the annual meeting

Nominations are to be made by the candidates themselves via this form:

Nominate yourself!

If there are any questions about eligibility, the election process, or any other issues, please contact Joe Kopena.

Track Season on the Blocks!

With the road season wrapping up, we know you’re anxious to use that fitness you’ve accumulated. Hopefully you’re not quite finished with collegiate racing for the spring and summer, as we’re pleased to present you with the 2014 collegiate track season!

Showdown in T-Town

This year’s track schedule kicks off May 10-11 at the Valley Preferred Velodrome in Trexlertown, PA. As we finalize the full calendar over the coming weeks, we want let you know about two unique events coming up for the season opener.

  • Saturday, May 10: Collegiate Track Clinic
    Track racing brings a whole different dynamic to racing. The collegiate track clinic will be run by 2000 Olympic Gold Medal Sprinter Marty Nothstein, who will teach you the fundamentals of track racing from how to ride and control a fixed gear bicycle, safety in a pack, rules of etiquette on the track, how to make use of the racing surface, to basic track racing tactics. This clinic will qualify you for an automatic upgrade to Cat 4.
  • Sunday, May 11: Collegiate Team Omnium
    The collegiate team omnium is an exciting event that will be contested by teams of 6 riders (2 men’s A, 2 men’s B, and 2 women’s open). Each category will have its own set of three races, and individual riders places will contribute to the team’s overall score. The final event will bring all six riders from each team onto the track for a 6-rider, 6-lap team sprint. Events are as follows:
  1. Men’s A: Win-n-Out
  2. Men’s B: 12 Lap Snowball
  3. Women’s Open: Miss-n-Out
  4. Men’s A: Flying 1km Team Time Trial (Leadouts Only!)
  5. Men’s B: Last Man Standing
  6. Women’s Open: 12 Lap Tempo
  7. Men’s A: 12km Points Race (Sprints every 2km)
  8. Men’s B: 8km Points Race (Sprints every 2km)
  9. Women’s Open: 8km Points Race (Sprints every 2km)
  10. All: Collegiate Team Sprint
MIT works on their Madison.
MIT works on their Madison.

The Basics

What exactly is track racing? Is is just like road racing?
My favorite description of track racing is that it’s like playing a match of chess on two wheels at VO2max. It’s not pure strength, and not every race is a simple first-across-the-line wins. It’s part strategy, part mind games, and only part turning the pedals as fast as you can. Don’t worry, we’ll explain every race before we run it, but we promise to challenge your notion of what a bike race is.

Do I have to attend the clinic to race on Sunday?
In short, yes. If you are a Cat 3 or higher on the track, you may show up just for the racing on Sunday, however unless you have extensive track experience you’ll likely learn a lot from Saturday’s clinic. If you are a Cat 4/5 on the track and have either done a formal clinic or have significant racing experience, talk to us first if you are thinking of skipping the clinic. Our main concern is safety, and there are track-specific rules and etiquette that you need to learn, even if you are a Cat 1/2 on the road.

I’d like to come, but I don’t have a track bike.
Don’t worry. T-Town has rental bikes that will be available for the clinic and for racing. These bikes are not normally available for racing, but a special exception is being granted for the ECCC.

How much experience do I need to show up?
None! We’ve specifically designed this event to give you an introduction to track racing. If you’ve never raced on the track or even ridden a fixed gear bike, we’ll teach you what you need to know at the clinic to have fun and race safely on Sunday.

Brandon Masterman (NYU) gets ready for his first velodrome ride---on the challenging FCV track no less!
Brandon Masterman (NYU) gets ready for his first velodrome ride—on the challenging FCV track no less!

How do I decide what category to race in?
Because this event is geared toward new riders, we’re not basing the racing categories strictly off of your USAC track category (we assume most of you will be Track 4/5s regardless of your fitness), and the events for each category have been chosen to be fun and beginner friendly. We want everyone to have an appropriate field to race in. We’re relying on you to self-select a category based on your fitness. Here are some guidelines:

  • For the women, we have a single open category, however if you are a Cat 3 or above, you may elect to race in one of the men’s categories (taking one of those spots for your team). If there is enough of a split in rider strengths, we will split the women’s field into Women’s A and Women’s B. We want everyone to have fun and have a proper field in which to race.
  • For the men, if you have a Cat 3 or higher on the road or track, you should race the Men’s A. If you are a fast collegiate B on the road, you should also consider racing Men’s A. Cat 4/5 riders should race Men’s B.

The Collegiate Omnium looks cool, but what if I don’t have a team to race with?
No problem! While we definitely think you should encourage your friends and teammates to come try the track with you, mixed teams are encouraged if you have friends from other schools you would like to race with, but even if you don’t find a team. Even if you can’t find a team, sign up. We’ll make sure everyone has a team to race with.

What’s this sprinting clinic I heard about on May 10-11?
Indeed, we’re sharing the weekend with an advanced standing start and sprint clinic, which will be running both mornings from 9am-1pm, for the more experienced riders. We’ll be sharing details about this event as we get closer to May.

Summertime Action

Looking ahead to the rest of the 2014 track season, there’s a lot already planned.

In June the ECCC goes international, so get your passports ready! We’ll be heading north to London, Ontario to the Forest City Velodrome, the world’s shortest and steepest permanent velodrome—138 meters and 52 degrees!

Banking at the FCV track in Ontario!
Banking at the FCV track in Ontario!

In July, we’ll first be going to Kissena Velodrome in Queens, NY for track clinics and racing. Afterward we’ll stop at the Bud Harris Track in Pittsburgh, PA for a day of racing.

Finally the season will return to T-Town in September for full two days of racing and preparation for collegiate nationals, including a team pursuit clinic.

Stay tuned for dates as we finalize these events, and get your legs ready for some fixed gear racing!

Women’s Meeting, Gender Identity Policy Study

Alongside its exciting, high speed course through frat row, this week’s Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord will feature an important ECCC event on women’s cycling, and the next step in an ongoing project on gender identity policies in collegiate sports.

Women’s Meeting

At the start of Saturday’s criterium, right after the first Men’s D race begins, all of the conference’s women cyclists are invited to meet by Turn 2 of the course, at Main St and Clement Rd/Maynard St:

ECCC Women’s Meeting
Saturday, April 12, 2014
10am (start of the criterium, after the ITT)
Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord Campus Criterium
Turn 2: Main St & Clement Rd/Maynard St
Hanover, NH

There is two hour block in the schedule at that point without women’s races, yielding plenty of time to meet. The hope is to have a free ranging discussion among all of the conference’s women, collecting input and generating ideas on multiple fronts, including:

  • General feedback, e.g., on the new Women’s D category;
  • Ideas for riders, teams, and the conference to recruit and retain more women cyclists;
  • Empowering women to better push back on negative culture, and approaches to combatting latent sexism and actual harassment.

As a concrete example of the latter, the conference is currently planning for 2015 to require all teams to have a designated contact go through the US Olympic Committee’s SafeSport program, much as USA Cycling officials do currently. However, all observations on existing issues and ideas for future progress in women’s cycling are welcome, needed, and fair game to discuss in this meeting. The intent is to gather wide-ranging input and proposals  in order to determine priorities and develop new plans.

Announcements will be made about alternative plans for the meeting in case of inclement weather.

Betsey Pettit (UNH) in the 2013 Women's A/B Rutgers circuit race.  Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Betsey Pettit (UNH) in the 2013 Women’s A/B Rutgers circuit race. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Transgender Policy Study

In addition, this Saturday the ECCC is going to be visited by Kristine Newhall from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a prominent researcher on gender and inequality in sport. Dr Newhall is well known as a contributor to the Title IX Blog as well as TED Talks on that subject. She is currently beginning a study of gender identity and inclusion policies in collegiate sports outside the NCAA, and is looking at the ECCC as one example.

To that end, Dr Newhall wishes to interview current ECCC riders, coaches, and officials. She has already talked with a number of people at the MIT X-Pot criterium, and will be at the Dartmouth crit as well as possibly the RISD/Brown/PC Eastern Conference Championships to do the same. In addition, she is interested in potentially traveling to nearby teams to meet and conduct interviews outside of race weekends. The official recruitment letter for this study is as follows:

Dear ECCC riders and officials,

I am a lecturer in the McCormack Department of Sport Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currently, I am engaged in research about the creation and implementation of gender identity policies in non-NCAA collegiate sports using the ECCC as a case study. I am looking for potential interviewees who would be willing to discuss their opinions on the new gender identity policy implemented by the ECCC this year. In order to participate you must be currently participating in ECCC events as either an athlete or administrator and of legal age to consent (18).

Interviews would likely last one hour or less and will be arranged at a mutually convenient time and location. Interviews will be recorded but only I will have access to them. You will not be identified by name in any publications or presentations which result from this research.

If you agree to participate, I will contact you to arrange a meeting place at which time you will receive a detailed consent form that further outlines this research. In the meantime, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for taking the time to consider participation in this research.

Sincerely,
Kristine Newhall, PhD
knewhall@isenberg.umass.edu
McCormack Department of Sport Management
Isenberg School of Management
University of Massachusetts Amherst

By participating in this study, the conference hopes to both learn more about itself as well as push its open, inclusive worldview to other sports and cultures. Anyone specifically interested in talking with Dr Newhall about the ECCC’s new gender identity and inclusion policies should feel free to email her in advance, or find Joe Kopena or Ian Sullivan this Saturday to be pointed in her direction.

Headline photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Black Inc Wheels Support

blackinc-logoThe Eastern Conference is happy to announce new support from Black Inc wheels, offering discounts to ECCC teams and neutral support at the upcoming races in the 2014 road season.

History

Black Inc is a carbon wheels manufacturer led by a former ECCC racer from McGill Cycling, now working with a premiere carbon fiber producer in Taiwan. Its wheels have been tested and raced by UCI continental and pro tour teams for the past three years, both marked and unmarked. They also have a close partnership with Factor Bikes, creator of the Aston Martin One-77 and the well reviewed Vis Vires.

Black Inc’s product range currently includes 35mm and 50mm deep wheels, in tubular and clincher form to suit those riders looking for knockdown drag-‘em-out race day performance as well as the more practically minded. A variety of hub options are available, from the industry standard DT Swiss 240S laced to DT Aerolite spokes to the upcoming proprietary Black Inc hubs made from Ceramic Speed bearings. The Black Inc 30 tubular rear wheel weights a mere 30 grams more than the Lightweight Meilenstein full carbon “wunderwheel,” while employing a more aerodynamic profile, traditional spokes, and retailing for $3,400 LESS per set.

Giving Back

In the spirit of giving back to the community that shaped its founder as a rider, racer, and person, Black Inc is offering student friendly pricing to every ECCC team. The program is designed to get cash-strapped academics riding and racing on top-notch equipment, at prices they can afford. Interested riders and teams should check out biwheels.com and contact Ben Adler, another McGill Cycling and ECCC alumnus, and now North American agent for Black Inc.

Beginning this past weekend at the MIT X-Pot, Black Inc will also be at ECCC road events throughout April, showing off their full range of high quality carbon fiber wheels as well as providing neutral mechanical support to all ECCC riders.  Look for the black tent by parking or staging and swing by to chat up an exciting new range of cycling products, or simply to get some help with your bicycle!

Everybody Races: Diversity in the ECCC

Heading into the 2014 road season, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference is excited to announce formal diversity and transgender rider policies. These statements render in words the positive, all-inclusive culture of the ECCC, and cement that progressive attitude as a foundation of the conference.

Policy

The diversity statement firmly establishes in writing that all riders are welcome in the ECCC:

It is the goal of the ECCC to conduct and maintain a collegiate cycling community that is free of harassment and discrimination in an effort to promote an environment of respect that will be extended into the broader cycling community as well.

The ECCC recognizes and affirms the equal humanity and identities of all people, without regard to their various characteristics including, but not limited to: Race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, perceived gender identity, religion, or other immutable characteristics. All people are welcome and are to be equally included in all ECCC events. All conference participants, including but not limited to racers, coaches, spectators, officials, and conference personnel, are expected and required to abide by this policy.

Any actions contrary to those beliefs should be reported immediately to conference personnel and will be treated as a serious offense to the community. Potential redress includes but is not limited to points penalties, suspension of riders and teams, and notifying school administrations and/or police.

The ECCC has now also established policy for transgender riders and competition categories:

The ECCC particularly recognizes the challenges facing transgender athletes. Such members of the community should compete in the gender category most appropriate to their unique personal situation. They are invited and encouraged to discuss this with the Conference Director(s) and other ECCC leadership.

Competitors may be asked by the Conference Director(s) and/or their designee(s) to furnish two pieces of documentation from relevant legal, medical, or academic authorities documenting personal sex, gender, or gender dysphoria supporting their selected competition gender category.

This policy is unique and innovative in providing maximal leeway and privacy for transgender athletes, while also having a formal, objective basis upon which to make category determinations. It is specifically designed to account for ECCC demographics and objectives and incorporates modern research.

Motivation

Eastern Conference director Joe Kopena specifically emphasizes that these policies are not reactions to incidents in the ECCC: “The original motivation was actually watching riders and couples racing and at our Kingdom Trails summer camp. It doesn’t occur to anybody in our community that, say, other people might find it awkward traveling with a gay couple. That’s really great, and that positive, live-and-let-live attitude is an ideal I want enshrined in stone as the conference goes on and the leadership changes.”

Meanwhile, Western Conference assistant director and collegiate cycling socialite Virginia Solomon says “Tolerance and equality are still issues in many regions, for collegiate cycling and otherwise, and making statements like these and explicitly advocating for them is still important.”  Eastern Conference assistant director Ian Sullivan adds “It was only in the 2004 road season that the ECCC equalized women’s and men’s points, which eventually became the national standard. There are people still around who raced before that, this isn’t some ancient principle.  There are parts of the country where it’s apparently still very controversial that women racers score the same points as their male peers.”

By placing these formal statements at the forefront of the in-progress updated, comprehensive ECCC policy manual, the conference leadership hopes to ensure that tradition of progressivism and commitment to providing a high quality experience for everyone remains at the heart of the ECCC, and continues to be adopted as the guiding mantra of other conferences and cycling organizations.

The 2013 squad for Yale Cycling, a traditional ECCC women's cycling powerhouse and diversity advocate. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
The 2013 squad for Yale Cycling, a traditional ECCC women’s cycling powerhouse and diversity advocate. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Transgender Riders

In developing that general diversity policy, it quickly became clear that transgender riders warranted particular attention. As society becomes ever more tolerant and inclusive, the conference must ensure it is supporting all its constituents and addressing particular issues to keep pace, and further to help drive that progress. Assistant director Caitlin Thompson observed “In the high school where I teach, as society opens up and these concepts are out there more prominently, we are definitely seeing more kids feeling free and safe to take on non-traditional gender identities, and to rightfully expect that to not have a negative impact on their daily lives. The conference should support them as they enter college and start racing bikes, just as it does everybody else.” That observation was born out after the conference leadership announced it was working in this area and wanted to explicitly welcome transgender riders, as several such members came forward to note that they are already present in the community.

Beyond being an unsettled, evolving topic across sports in general, there are a number of issues unique to collegiate sports regarding transgender athletes. Notably, collegiate cycling and other sports are directly based on a young demographic, one explicitly engaged in exploring the world and self-identity as its members make the transition into adulthood and becoming independent members of society. Many transgender collegiate athletes will have just begun adopting those determinations of their own gender and identity. These athletes will not be at the point yet of proceeding with alterations to their physiology, even if they have the resources with which to do so. Those that are embarking on a physical change will often be in early stages, without the biological record or time passed to comply with the standards of many sporting organizations. Even matters such as updating government identification can be challenging for students juggling and transitioning between living at home and residence at school, often quite removed and in different states.

Regarding the biological standards of many organizations, the ECCC leadership advocate a sense of perspective. Amateur, grassroots, development focused racing such as that in the conference need not, and most likely should not, hold its participants to standards that might make sense in other contexts, such as professional, Olympic, or other elite competition. Former ECCC superstar and USA Cycling Collegiate trustee Emma Bast says “Society being what it is, life is already probably going to be challenging for transgender athletes. While it might make sense at some levels of competition to have rigorous physiological standards, at others the default should be to enable them to just race bikes in whatever way is best for them, and to make sure they have the same good experience as everyone else. Hopefully other organizations look at these ECCC policies as exemplars of that attitude.”

Notably, the conference has received a generally positive attitude to change in this area from USA Cycling. Previous national policy was for riders to compete in the gender category given on their state ID. There are reasonable cases in which a member might not be able to meet that standard, and indeed the ECCC has a rider in such a situation and willing to press the issue. In response, USA Cycling has apparently moved to a more flexible case-by-case basis. Kopena reports “Several people on our team working on this were ready for a huge battle to make progress, but talking with USAC’s legal and other personnel they were very receptive and are making changes. We hope to still help push them to a more objective, transparent policy, but also acknowledge that they have many more issues to address given that they do encompass all levels of racing. It’ll necessarily take time to educate the community, determine consensus, and evolve better policy.”

The ECCC leadership hopes that the community then in turn not hold too strongly to assumed knowledge and knee jerk reactions. Solomon notes “There’s a lot of ‘conventional wisdom’ out there about trans-females having a prolonged advantage from having developed as a male, trans-males getting an unfair boost from testosterone treatments, and so on, that isn’t being born out by current medical research. Physiology is complex, and ideas on gender and identity are often new and difficult for many people to understand at first, so I encourage everyone step back a bit before deciding on some response to the topic, and to come at it with the attitude of letting people live their lives as they wish.”

Ready for Action

With these policies the Eastern conference continues to advance its mission of high quality bicycle racing and personal development for all high school and college students. It has always been doctrine of the ECCC that everybody deserves the best possible racing experience. In the past that meant ensuring equally good events for men and women, then beginners and elites, and these statements continue that thread. Everybody deserves a high quality racing experience, and the ECCC is making that happen.

It takes all kinds. The UVM team struttin', Dartmouth Frat Row Crit 2013.
It takes all kinds. The UVM team struttin’, Dartmouth Frat Row Crit 2013.

Headline photo above by Jan Valerie Polk.

2014 Swag Ready to Roll

With the winter pressing on, the ECCC is here to deliver new motivation! Despite the snow storms, convoys of UPS trucks have been steadily making their way to conference headquarters with new goodies for the imminent 2014 season.

2014 Season T-Shirts

In a shocking display of the conference leadership having its act together, 2014 season t-shirts are already here instead of arriving minutes before departure for the final Easterns weekend. A variety of sizes are available in each of blue, orange, lime green, lemon, pink, and chocolate, seen in the feature photo above and ensemble below. T-shirts will be $10 (cash only), and available on-site at races as supplies last.  Shirt sales will begin by registration at Stevens after the conclusion of the first wave of the season-opening TTT, once the horde of racers has worked its way through bib number pick-up. About 265 season tees are available—first-come, first-served & when they’re gone they’re gone!

2014 season t-shirts front and back.
2014 season t-shirts front and back.

Travel Bags

New for this year, a limited number of ECCC small sport bags are also available. Vinyl and easily rinsed out or washed, these are ideal low-cost bags for shoes, helmets, dirty kits, and other items that should probably be kept segregated from the rest of your clothes lest the funk permanently transfer. About 36 bags are available among red, blue, & black  and will be sold on-site for $10 as supplies last.

ECCC small vinyl sport bags.
ECCC small vinyl sport bags.

Media T-Shirts

Of course, the other way to acquire a t-shirt—and the only way to get a red t-shirt this year—is to contribute to the ECCC Blogosphere! Media t-shirts exclusive to authors and photographers are in, and they are definitely going to stand out at every race. Get involved today!

ECCC Media exclusive t-shirts.
ECCC Media exclusive t-shirts.

Verge Bib Numbers

Even for those that miss out on this year’s t-shirts, every ECCC racer is going to receive a hot new piece of swag to hang on their walls: New cloth season bib numbers, graciously and speedily donated by Verge Sport. Seen in the photo below, they’re visually striking, ultra long lasting, and definitely have that super-pro feeling, regardless of category. All ECCC riders with annual licenses will receive a pair of these at their first race, to use throughout the season and then place forever in their personal shrine to cycling glory.

Cloth season bib numbers, courtesy Verge Sport. From left to right, top to bottom: Men's D, C, B, A; Women's D, C, B, A.
Cloth season bib numbers, courtesy Verge Sport. From left to right, top to bottom: Men’s D, C, B, A; Women’s D, C, B, A.

Hincapie Leader Jerseys

Finally, last but no means least, is the most exclusive piece of ECCC gear: The series leaders’ jerseys. As they have for over a decade, each Women’s A and Men’s A rider to top the season overall and sprint points standings will receive their own leader’s jersey generously provided by Hincapie Sportswear. Many people might say a diploma is the absolute best thing to hang on your wall and show you did something with your college years, but they’re actually wrong. It’s one of these sweet babies, firmly declaring your position among the most elite riders in this region and the country.

Yellow season overall and green sprint points leaders' jerseys.
Yellow season overall and green sprint points leaders’ jerseys.

Less than three weeks till go-time, get on it!

Writers, Photographers, Show Your Stuff!

For 2014 the Eastern Conference is relaunching and rejuvenating the ECCC Blogosphere, which you happen to be reading right this moment! We’re looking for all the writers and photographers out there to join our team producing content for this and all the ECCC‘s media efforts. If you’d like to practice your skills, contribute to the ECCC, become a conference celebrity, and do a lot of talking about cycling, you should contact us and get involved right away!

Outreach

Previously the ECCC has maintained the ECCC News Network and ECCC Blogosphere websites. The News Network carried official conference announcements and race reports. The Blogosphere started as a linkroll pointing to other blogs and then morphed to be a blog of its own with various writers contributing. At its height the Blogosphere had an amazing portion of the conference’s racers reading regularly, as well as a large number of family and friends. Major articles on both sites continue to get a significant number of readers, long after they were posted.

This year we’re merging the News Network into the Blogosphere. Major official conference announcements and calls are going to be made via featured articles here, and several have already gone up. In addition, all writers are invited to contribute articles and posts on a wide range of topics. Any writing related to cycling and the conference is welcome and eagerly desired. Hoped-for categories include Bike Tech, Interviews, Training/Fitness, personal Race Reports, and Storytime—more general musings and observations. Any kind of writing about cycling and racing is welcome and will find here an eager audience of the entire ECCC.

As a particular class of post, we also need a crew of authors to write short weekend recaps after each event. Alumni, family, and friends at home do read and appreciate those as a way for them to follow along with Eastern Conference action throughout the season. Just one or two paragraphs goes a long way to keeping everybody linked into the scene. Those weekend race recaps are also needed and easily reused for the weekly updates on the USA Cycling Collegiate homepage, gathering an even broader audience and putting the conference and our riders in front of yet more people.

To make all of that sing, we’re also looking for photographers to contribute. Road racing especially requires particular equipment, practice, and effort to get great photographs. Those photos though are absolutely necessary to truly capture the excitement and drama of ECCC racing. High resolution, high quality photographs are also critical to maximizing the impact and success of the ECCC’s major outreach projects, including the main website, Facebook ad campaigns, and other upcoming projects.

Contribute!

Contributing as a writer or a photographer is a great way to practice both crafts. They’re also excellent ways to meet new people and make friends throughout the conference. Absolutely no one is as popular on the circuit as our regular photographers and writers. This is also an easy way to make a significant contribution back to the conference and keep it and all its projects moving forward.

Sweetening the deal even more, we’re offering exclusive ECCC MEDIA t-shirts, seen in the artwork proof above, to anybody who regularly contributes writings and photos. There will be absolutely no better way to stand out and be a known personality at all the upcoming races than to be sporting one of these.

The 2014 Road season is coming up fast and we’d all like to hear about your training, advice, new gear, and other thoughts, so all the writers and photographers out there should contact us to get set up with a Blogosphere account and start getting your voice heard!

ECCC Kingdom Trails Adventure 2014

Following up on its spectacular debut last year, the ECCC is happy to announce that its Kingdom Trails informal summer camp is a go for 2014! This year’s adventure will be July 9th to 25th, and the sign-up sheet is already live. Current racers, alumni, coaches, and all members of the ECCC community are invited to come hang out with riders from across the ECCC and enjoy fantastic mountain, road, and cyclocross riding together at the Kingdom in East Burke, Vermont.

The Kingdom

Kingdom Trails is a unique venue that has come to the fore in recent years, widely recognized as one of the best mountain bike trail systems in the country. Rather than a dedicated private park or a single public forest, the network has been built across a patchwork of land, coordinating dozens of landowners under the Kingdom Trails Association (KTA). Almost 100 miles of trail criss-cross forests, skirt cattle pastures, and duck under maple tap lines to provide extensive singletrack and doubletrack riding across a wide variety of terrain.

Riders will need every kind of bike they have for this cycling playground.
Riders will need every kind of bike they have for this cycling playground.

That variety caters to a wide range of riders, from families doing loops around the arterial doubletrack and fireroads to expert mountain bikers doing hot laps across extensive boardwalks and down tight, twisty descents. The system is extremely well marked, mapped, and labeled with difficulty markers, from the technical and higher risk double black diamonds, to the twisty, challenging blue singletrack, and then pastoral and very accessible green routes. Few trails include features particularly hazardous or overly difficult to new riders, making the Kingdom an excellent venue for beginning mountain bikers even as veterans thrill to the flow and sheer fun.

Many of the trails are also appropriate for riding with cyclocross bikes, from the fireroad gravel access trails to the less technical singletrack.  Combined with the many long Vermont dirt roads and climbs nearby, the Kingdom offers a substantial number of miles for cyclocross riders to train on and polish their trail skills.

Not to be left out, roadies will also enjoy the amazing riding in the area. Roads are in almost all in excellent shape and easily navigable, and there are many small towns nearby for great day trip excursions, lakes to cruise around, and mountains to ride over. Roadies are even encouraged to bring their passports and make a short trip to Canada, easily within riding distance for most racers!

Another beautiful day in paradise, cruising around nearby Lake Willoughby, VT.  Photo from Blake Rubin.
Another beautiful day in paradise, cruising around nearby Lake Willoughby, VT. Photo from Blake Rubin.

Adventure

In 2013 the ECCC coordinated renting a house for two weeks with beds for eighteen, less than five minutes’ ride from the trails. MIT also set up a substantial encampment at the Burke Mountain Campground on the opposite side of the trails.  All told, over forty ECCC riders came out at various points over the two weeks to hit the trails, play games, make dinner, and furiously contest Strava standings.

This year the ECCC will be returning to the same house, just to the northwest of the main cluster of trails on Darling Hill. The sign-up sheet is live right now, and space will be assigned first-come, first-served by payment. Beds are $20 per night. MTB and CX riders using the trails will also need a KTA pass, $15/day or $75/annual. Everyone is expected to pitch in to help make a dinner during their stay, and in 2013 a great variety of excellent meals were prepared. Laundry is on-site, and the Internet access more than fast enough for streaming the Tour de France on the big screen TV to be a daily post-ride gathering. Comparatively inexpensive mountain bike rentals are available from the bike shop in town, adjacent to the trails.

Riders of all ability levels and disciplines are welcome to come join the festivities.  No specific agenda or clinics are scheduled, but the trails are very friendly to beginning mountain bikers. In 2013 a number of more veteran riders lead introductory and beginner group rides while the experts went off to party bike on more intense routes. Downhillers and adventurous XC riders may also take advantage of the freeride and gravity trails on Burke Mountain, adjacent to the Kingdom Trails system. In addition to all the mountain biking, many attendees in 2013 also brought cyclocross and road bikes, with a number of great group rides held at a variety of ability levels.

Discussing the day's many adventures at dinner.
Discussing the day’s many adventures at dinner.

Catamount

To cap off the adventure, immediately following the ECCC’s stay at Kingdom Trails is the Specialized Catamount Classic race weekend, just east of Burlington, VT on July 26th and 27th. Many ECCC fat tire enthusiasts are expected to migrate across the state after their KTA adventure to participate in and spectate at the amateur and pro mountain bike races being held that weekend at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center, itself an incredible venue with great trails and an amazing cycling community and atmosphere.

Come Get Some!

All told it’s going to be another summer of amazing adventure and great riding for the ECCC.  Make sure to reserve some dates on your calendar between July 9–25 and sign-up for space right away!

The view from the front porch, ECCC summer camp 2013.
The view from the front porch, ECCC summer camp 2013.

ECCC Expands Juniors’ Racing in 2014

With the upcoming 2014 road season, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) enters the third year of incorporating junior racers into its races, and is opening the fields up even wider. Previously juniors were required to race for teams that held USA Cycling High School club licenses. New for 2014, all full time high school students will be permitted to race in the ECCC with simply a USAC Juniors license. Those juniors will compete as an integral part of the collegiate fields, instantly creating twenty five high quality juniors races throughout the northeast US in March and April, featuring ambitious road races, exciting downtown crits, several team time trials, and multiple hill climbs and other individual TTs.

Growth & Experimentation

Incorporating juniors cycling has long been a goal for many within the ECCC, both to improve the early racing experiences for those younger riders and to better establish a recruiting pipeline developing new collegiate and then lifelong racers. Over the years a number of races experimented with separate juniors categories, particularly at Dartmouth’s L’Enfer du Nord weekend, Yale’s Lux et Velocitas, and the US Military Academy’s Spring Classic. With a diminished pool of juniors in the region though these were sparsely attended, almost exclusively by cycling teams from Killington Mountain School (KMS) and Deerfield Academy. This was further exacerbated by variances in the availability of these opportunities with the natural changes of the ECCC’s road schedule from year to year, crippling sustained growth. Similarly, several more novice juniors such as Victoria Gates (Fitchburg High School) began racing in the ECCC with the expansion of its Women’s Intro fields to all new women racers, but this left no opening or growth path for experienced juniors.

Headed toward the 2012 season, Peter Vollers, coach of the KMS team, proposed simply including the juniors into the collegiate fields at all of the conference’s races. After wide ranging discussion about USAC permits, potential culture clashes, increased liabilities, and other considerations, the effort moved forward and was an instantaneous success on the first race of the year. ECCC director Joe Kopena remarks “All those concerns basically washed away immediately on seeing how much it meant to the kids, particularly the girls, to have such a great, valid race, with a large field of other young riders.” The KMS team and Gates have since become fixtures of the ECCC circuit, competing throughout the season and even threatening to claim the vaunted ECCC season leaders’ jerseys. Tony Fedirko, Gates’ uncle and constant race day companion, says “The competition is excellent and the experience is invaluable to the juniors. All the schools have been very welcoming to us. We are also so grateful for the opportunity.”

Ansel Dickey (center) and Brendan Rhim (left) from the Killington Mountain School go 1-2 in the 2013 RISD/Brown/PC Men's A crit in downtown Providence. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Ansel Dickey (center) and Brendan Rhim (left) from the Killington Mountain School go 1-2 in the 2013 RISD/Brown/PC Men’s A crit in downtown Providence. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Increased Access

For 2014 that opportunity will be open to many more junior riders. Previously juniors were required to be part of a USAC licensed high school club to race in the ECCC’s collegiate fields. While straightforward to acquire for organized programs and highly motivated individuals fortunate enough to attend amenable schools, this presented major barriers to participation from juniors at schools with less supportive administrations, particularly the many who find themselves the sole competitive cyclist at their institution.

Beginning this season that requirement is removed, and all full time high school students with USA Cycling Junior licenses will be permitted to compete. The only additional requirement is that they race in jersey and bibs featuring their school name and/or logo, or plain cycling clothes.  Club and trade team kits are not permitted.

These racers will compete directly in all of the ECCC’s fields and are included in all of the team and individual season standings.  Notably, those fields include five categories for both men and women at all races, ranging from pro and elite racers in the A fields, to the beginners in D and true neophytes in the ECCC’s Introduction to Bicycle Racing category. The latter in particular provide an excellent opportunity for new, young racers due to their innovative structure: Each ECCC Intro race features veterans and coaches directing off-course skills clinics and course walkthroughs, followed by a coached, controlled segment on-course to teach safety and group riding skills, and concluded with a short but full-out, no-holds-barred race.

Onward Progress

Following the KMS team’s highly successful 2012 and 2013 seasons, head coach Vollers reports “I FULLY credit the awesome ECCC racing for my guys being in such great form this early in the season for crucial national team selection races like Battenkill. The conference racing is simply a dream come true for a coach trying to prepare juniors for elite level racing, or any level of good racing development for that matter. Moreover, the kids have a blast and they get exposed to all of the wonderful collegiate teams.” With so many categories offered throughout the entirety of its full slate of early-season races, and a universally praised atmosphere and excellent races, this new ECCC initiative is poised to drive significant progress in juniors racing throughout the northeast and upper mid-Atlantic.

2013-katiemaass-easterns-wc-podium

Victoria Gates (left above), takes 2nd place for Fitchburg High School in the hotly contested 2013 ECCC Women's C Criterium Championship at PennState's Frat Row crit. Photos from Katie Maass and Velocity Results, respectively.
Victoria Gates (left above), takes 2nd place for Fitchburg High School in the hotly contested 2013 ECCC Women’s C Criterium Championship at PennState’s Frat Row crit. Photos from Katie Maass and Velocity Results, respectively.

2014 Road Schedule Announced

Concluding an exciting and extremely well attended and productive annual fall meeting, the 2014 ECCC Road calendar has been set:

March 8/9 Stevens Duck Country Classic
March 15/16 Philly Phlyer
March 22/23 Bard Campus Criterium and RPI Uncle Sam Road Race
March 29/30 MIT X-Pot and NU Criterium
April 5/6 US Military Academy Spring Classic
April 12/13 Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord and UVM Mt Philo Road Race
April 19/20 PennState Nittany Cycling Classic
April 26/27 RISD/Brown/Providence Eastern Conference Championships

Full notes, including presentation slides and outcomes, have been posted to the ECCC wiki.