Tag Archives: 2014

Road 2014, Week 8: Easterns!

After seven straight weekends of travel, bikes and listening to conference director Joe Kopena’s sweet yet cruel words of “Be smart, race fast” at each race’s start, it seems hard that the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference could put forth a memorable final weekend. Brown University, Providence College and Rhode Island School of Design united to host the Eastern Conference Championships to blow everyone’s expectations- and race predictions- out of the water.

The criterum finish line being deployed!
The criterum finish line being deployed!

Scituate High School, Rhode Island, was the staging for Saturday’s races. “Scituate” pronounced “sit-CHOO-it.” Don’t lie, only the thirty people who are actually born and raised in Rhode Island know how to pronounce it. The day’s races- a team time trial and road race- would be complimented by the usual weather collegiate racers have been forced to know and love: cold, mud and rain. The weather was so unforgiving that racers described the day as a “battle of attrition” with each other and themselves, as everyone struggled to stay warm and race fast on the bike. Such harsh elements however would not deter Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) men’s and women’s teams from going aero and storming ahead to take the fastest times of the day: 35:51.92 and 42:04.01 respectively for the rolling 15 mile course.

The morning rain eventually managed to die off, just in time for race officials to decide to stage the road race. Not because collegiate racers cannot handle getting a little damp, but a decision had to be made to evaluate if the two miles of dirt section in the 23-mile race loop had held up through the water run-offs. The dirt hills- the first feature of its kind for the 2014 season- were the most defining and significant feature of the course. With each lap, closeted mountain and cyclocross riders were given their time to shine and they cruised ahead of roadies used to the ease and comfort of hard pavement. In the men’s A race, Bentley University graduate student and professional cyclocross racer Craig Richey made the mud climbs look easy as he pulled away from the field with each section. In lap two of three, Richey’s limbs proved to be harder than a pack of racers’ legs combined as he pulled away for a seven-minute victory. For the rest of the field that decided to brave the hypothermic-inducing conditions, it was Kai Wiggins of Middlebury College and race organizer Thomas Barnett of Providence College that took the bunch sprint to round out the podium.

Jules Goguely, race promoter from RISD, watches the pack split on one of the road race's long, wet, dirt rollers.
Jules Goguely, race promoter from RISD, watches the pack split on one of the road race’s long, wet, dirt rollers.

There was a surprise contender in the women’s A/B field. The top two tiers of elite racing on the ladies side have always been combined to give the lower rated riders a chance to learn from the best, and race reports on this site have tended to focus on just participants in the A field. Taking everyone to school however was B racer Rebecca Fahringer (Brown), in her debut appearance this collegiate season. A doctorate candidate at school and a cyclocross elite racer, Fahringer was a class ahead of the field at each dirt section. The A/B field splintered on the first of two laps at the first steep climb, and then settled to Fahringer and three A racers: Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia University), Michelle Khare (Dartmouth College) and Megan Northey (University of Delaware). Fahringer would take the field sprint and the day while Davis-Hayes, Khare and Northey would be top three for the women’s A field.

Sunday’s cloudy race- the last for the 2014 road season and seniors- was the Providence Criterium by the city waterfront downtown. Thankfully, the course was textbook: flat, wide streets for cornering and the smattering of potholes. Thomas Barnett’s appeal to get the course up and down Providence’s killer side streets was denied on the grounds that it would actually kill less experienced riders ascending and descending during a race. Whether or not such a course feature would hinder Cecilia Davis Hayes’ rampage for the sprint points, we can probably guess “not really.” The Columbia Lion was roaring through in front of the pack to pick up uncontested first for each set of sprint points and lock up the sprint leader title for the overall season. Davis-Hayes would take first in the end for the women’s A win- but behind B racer Rebecca Fahringer, who played the careful game to keep the home turf presence  strong and win. Keeping pace with Davis-Hayes in the A field was Shaena Berlin (MIT) and Michelle Khare (Dartmouth), taking second and third respectively. Berlin- who had a mechanical the previous day that kept her out of medal contention-  still finished the season with enough points to be crowned the 2014 season’s points leader.

Left to right: Rebecca Fahringer (Brown), Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) and Shaena Berlin (MIT) finish Sunday's criterium underneath the pink Providence banner
Left to right: Rebecca Fahringer (Brown), Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) and Shaena Berlin (MIT) finish Sunday’s criterium underneath the pink Providence banner (Photo by David DeWitt)

Representing the home course must have been foremost in the mind of Barnett. In the men’s A race, the Red Friar was involved in three major attacks on an otherwise complacent field. The first was a three man break with double jersey holder Daniel Holmdahl (Dartmouth College) himself, the second was a solo attempt for glory- but the third time was the charm. Craig Richey (Bentley), Gregory Ratzell (Pennsylvania State University) and Barnett managed to get away and find the energy to build a 28-second gap on the rest of the field. Barnett’s attacks netted him four out of six sprint victories, and was all but poised to make it a double victory in the elite criterium races. The final finish however was not to be, as Ratzell came across first with unmatched speed to take first for the day. Not bad for a freshman rider, albeit a young Category 2 rider. For the rest of the podium, it was a photo finish decision that gave Barnett second and Richey third. With Zachary Ulissi (MIT)- both the sprint and overall points leader for the first half of the season- sitting out the criterium to rest up for Nationals, any last-minute threats to take away Daniel Holmdahl’s (Dartmouth) double jersey domination was gone.

To tie in to Holmdahl’s victory, Dartmouth finished first for the championship weekend omnium with 410 points. Second was MIT with 408 points, followed by a tie for third between Columbia and Northeastern University with 246 points. For ECCC and Nationals overall school standings, MIT and Dartmouth were both first and second: 2112 points to 1495 points, and 2046 points to 1419 points respectively. Third in the ECCC season overall was the University of Vermont with 1260 points; Columbia was third in National season overall with 1236 points.

Gregory Ratzell (Penn State) raises his arms in triumph as he wins the elite men's criterium, beating out Craig Richey (Bentley, center) and Thomas Barnett (Providence)
Gregory Ratzell (Penn State) raises his arms in triumph as he wins the elite men’s criterium, beating out Craig Richey (Bentley, center) and Thomas Barnett (Providence) (Photo by David DeWitt)

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

 

*Feel free to e-mail the blogosphere race pictures or report corrections. There is no way that after such an epic weekend of racing that people do not have pictures to send in for race reports- or that this  was written with zero errors or mistakes. All related goods can be sent to ECCC writer Benjamin Kramer, who wishes cyclists headed to Collegiate Nationals to “be smart, race fast.”

Headline photo by Kristine Fong, series leader Shaena Berlin (MIT) in the road race.

Ride your bike: maybe it can cure what ails us?

As the entire Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference girds itself for the last epic weekend of road racing for the 2014 season, and looks to the start of the first full track racing season, there will be plenty of emotions abound— as there should be. Let’s set aside the nostalgia of those with college in the rearview mirror as they drive into adulthood and the real world. ECCC ‘14 has been incredible in the sense that the conference made strides towards improving itself, from an open women’s forum to improve the state of bike racing to official steps to include riders all across the board to race bikes on the weekend. Let’s not forget the ECCC declaration of  “2015: go big or go home-” the long term mission to solve some of the problems that plague the state of bike racing.

The state of bike racing. For the week after the Eastern Championships, getting on your bike for more pain and pleasure might be the furthest thing on your mind. Giving your body a rest after eight straight weekends of travel and competing notwithstanding, a lot of people will not think about racing bikes until next season. Then, starting at the November 2014 meeting, it will start all over again; the excitement at the upcoming season, the endless plans and preparation, the head scratching on how to improve the bike racing experience in the Northeast.

It is an incredibly hard thing to streamline and troubleshoot hosting major events for twenty schools with twenty different schedules in the Northeast during one of the most troublesome weather periods of the year- I can count the number of times I did not have to lather on layers or Embrocation for a race and weekends my team did not have some racing-related incident for this season on one hand. Despite all of the discomfort or frustration, I would not trade those experiences for anything. Invaluable bonding aside, those experiences are important lessons we all learn from to better ourselves for the future. Heck, call it ‘stretching things’  a bit, but arguably the skills you learned on and off the bike will be useful down the road. Probably the most valuable lesson I have ever on a bike is struggling during a race and telling myself, “Suck it up- everyone here is dealing with the exact same problems you are.” Talk about epiphanies of a shared humanity while deep in the pain cave.

We can learn a lot from bikes, in and out of the race. Eight weekends is only so much time to take it all in and absorb as much as you can. Shame there’s no other period of the year that has organized bike racing to participate in.

So, sarcasm aside.  As a daring and relatively unfounded statement, here’s a suggestion to everyone that wants to improve the biking experience in the saddle or behind the racing scene: get involved this summer. Go to Bikereg.com and sign up for some summer racing. Get involved with some biking community and see how they do things. Volunteer at a biking event, and appreciate just how much work race organizers do and more for us. Organize group rides, bring along someone new to biking and show them how great the sport can be. Have some amazing bike epiphany and write about it on the ECCC blogosphere. You put in this much time invested into collegiate bike racing, you certainly can afford a bit more to go hang out with other people on bikes.

If there is a ‘cure-all’ solution to improving the state of bike racing, it would be a pretty impressive one to tackle all of the usual problems; race organizers not going broke, creating a better pipeline to teach riders racing skills, addressing how latent sexism in a male-dominated culture hurts the state of bike racing.  Yes, whether you like it or want to argue the semantics, these are problems that hinder the process of bike racing that we as a conference are trying to solve. Eight weekends is not enough time to observe and test new solutions. Strong racing ability and a better spring racing experience is something everyone can work on and realize during the summer. You can learn something new to use in your next ECCC or USAC bike race. Who knows, maybe from your summer experience you will realize the ‘cure-all’ solution to ECCC’s “2015: go big or go home” challenge.

America! Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
America! Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

At the very least, enjoy camaraderie of  being on the bike with others while not freezing in the March rain.

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!

Road 2014: Week 6, New England Sufferfest

Another springtime weekend, another set of bike races. The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference headed to the far northern New England for bike for a time trial, criterium and road race. The sixth weekend of racing hosted by Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont (UVM), looked to be an exciting episode of fastest bike racer in the Northeast.

Sunny skies and fair temperatures greeted racers as they assembled for the day in Hanover, New Hampshire at Dartmouth campus. The 2.7 mile time trial was the first event of the day, featuring power climbs, fast flats and a wall of a finishing hill. Taking the fastest time of the day was Dartmouth’s top male rider and race coordinator Daniel Holmdahl, powering through the course in 7:38.42. Rounding out the podium was Zachary Ulissi of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and David Ziehr of Harvard College, finishing the course with times of 7:42.86 and 7:50.50 respectively.

On the women’s side, it was Columbia University’s Cecilia Davis-Hayes that beat all the collegiate ladies- and a lot of collegiate gentlemen too-, taking the morning’s race in 8:52.29. Behind her was Michelle Khare of Dartmouth and Shaena Berlin (MIT), in 9:04.26 and 9:09.06- the former defending her home race, the latter the conference points leader’s jersey.

Teams packed up and moved camp to the other side of campus for the infamous Frat Row Criterium race, where wide roads and smooth corners let racers try all tactics to win on their terms. Terms, that Elizabeth White of UVM, decided would be of her choosing. White jumped at the gun and built up to a fifty-second lead on the women’s A field for most of the race to collect three easy sprint victories for herself. The field seemed content to let White think she had the race. Halfway through, they decided to put pedal to the metal, catch a tired White and eventually drop her. In an exciting show of dueling racers and finishing finesse, the wily veteran Rose Long (Icahn School of Medicine) surged forward to win the bunch sprint, ahead of Khare (Dartmouth) and Davis-Hayes (Columbia). Davis-Hayes had- surreptitiously, with most of the focus on White’s breakaway- won all pack sprints and points to claim the green sprinter’s jersey, taking back the lead from Berlin.

The field in the men’s A however would not let any rider imitate White’s breakaway performance. Several riders put out strong moves, and every time the pack would let them wear their legs out for a lap before bringing them back into the field. The sprint points was a battle of Dartmouth’s lone wolf Holmdahl versus the MIT men getting their man and conference sprint leader Ulissi- not to mention the rest of the bloodthirsty men’s field, in the hunt for glory and points. Holmdahl would take an impressive 25 points for the day over Ulissi’s 9- enough break Ulissi’s six-week stranglehold on the sprinter’s jersey. The final few laps saw solo riders still making attacks in attempts to break the field, but to no avail. In the end and coming out ahead of the pack was Jules Goguely of Rhode Island School of Design. Strung out behind him was Mathieu Boudier-Revéret  of the University of Montreal, and Cory Small of UVM.

Sunday morning’s weather was at odds with riders’ experience from the previous day. Cold, rainy and blustery winds- all the elements New Englanders have come to expect with the unpredictable spring weather. Racers had little choice but to bundled up on rain gear and lathered on warming cream to for UVM’s road race up near Burlington, VT. The uncooperative weather was not enough to have the planned finishing climb up Mount Philo, instead forcing race organizers to pick one of the many climbs and false flats for the finish. Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) was up to her usual tricks, and went out hard to put an eleven minute gap on the women’s A pack. The only one to go with her and match her pedal-for-pedal was Shaena Berlin (MIT). Davis-Hayes however would burn Berlin on the final climb and win the race in 2:39:04. Berlin- in no less of an impressive show of fitness- would finish second, only thirty-four seconds back. Coming in third and ahead of a very splintered women’s combined A/B field in a time of 2:47:26 was Michelle Khare (Dartmouth), putting out three for three in podium appearances for the weekend.

Midway through the day, and second wave of races, the sun broke out and temperatures rose from mid-thirties to high fifties. In the men’s A race, the weather change and race course did little to break up the bulk of the field. Thomas Barnett (Providence), David Ziehr (Harvard) and Samuel O’Keefe (Middlebury) would turn on the after burners and take the race for themselves. The three would finish in order, in minute gaps, ahead of the field a commanding show of race ability and grit.

Thomas Barnett of Providence (left) and Jules Goguely of Rhode Island School of Design posing together Sunday. Both had victories in races, and are hosting the ECCC Championships on 4/26-27/14
Thomas Barnett of Providence College (left) and Jules Goguely of Rhode Island School of Design posing together Sunday. Barnett won Sunday’s road race, and Goguely won the criterium Saturday.  Their schools, along with Brown University, are hosting the ECCC Championships on 4/26-27/14 (Photo by Thomas Barnett)

The weekend omniun was won by Dartmouth College (255 points), breaking MIT’s winning streak of six weeks for overall points. MIT was second with 235 points, followed by UVM with 174 points.

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

*feel free to e-mail ECCC writer Benjamin Kramer  pictures for race reports, corrections or for bike rides- All things everyone could do more with*

Road 2014: Week 5, Army Spring Classic

The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference got a reprieve of foul weather with a treat of sunshine and above freezing temperatures for the Army Spring Classic. The fifth weekend of racing, hosted by and held at West Point College, featured four races: a hill climb, a criterium, team time trial and road race.

Dawn broke clear over the exposed slope of West Point’s campus, where a 2.6 mile individual time trial would present a fairly challenging climb. Going for the consecutive time trial win was Erik Levinsohn (Yale), taking the fastest time of the day with 10:37.12. Taking second was Craig Richey (Bentley University) in 11:21.11, followed by Dominic Caiazzo (Northeastern) in 11:25.77.

Back on top and in form was Shaena Berlin (MIT), fastest woman of the day in a time of 13:56.4. Right behind her was Michelle Khare (Dartmouth), back only by 5.13 seconds. In third was Monica Volk of Penn State Lehigh Valley, with a time of 14:14.44.

The day grew overcast but the weather held out for the afternoon criterium. Held at Campground Buckner, the course featured a windy highway stretch, gradual slopes and curves- perfect for a fast showdown. Levinsohn however decided to turn the screws on partway through the Men’s A race and gap the main field for the win by 40 seconds. The only racer to successfully follow Levinsohn was Daniel Lazier of Bucknell University, who was nipped at the line by two seconds. Winning the pack sprint was Julian Georg (Syracuse). While pulled early from the race, Daniel Holmdahl (Dartmouth) managed to pick up five sprint points, putting him two points behind taking the green jersey.

There would be no breaking away in the Women’s A race however; the group stayed fast and tight from the bell to the line. Taking the field win in a fast face-off was Katherine Wymbs (MIT), followed by Rose Long (Icahn School of Medicine) and Elspeth Huyett of Kutztown University. The four different sprints and four placings were split between six women- no doubt a sign of calculated determination to bridge the gap on Berlin’s pacing from the rest of the field. With three weekends of criteriums and sprint points left, there is still plenty of ground to be made up.

Sunday’s races- the team time trial and road race- were staged and held at Lake Harriman and Lake Welch Parkway. The morning time trial was fraught with some typical misfortunes; flats, crashes, lost riders. A particularly unfortunate example among them was MIT Men’s A team- with one rider getting a flat at the start and the rest of the team later crashing out on a sandy turn. Taking the victory for the day was Northeastern University, in a time of 17:54.75, followed by Dartmouth College (18:28.1) and the University of Delaware (19:19.22). On the women’s side, MIT went three-for-three in team time trials for another victory, in a time of 21:26.63. Trailing was was Columbia University (22:51.98), and Yale University (23:22.15).

The afternoon sun and temperatures rose for the road race- the first one successfully held this season due to bad weather shortening the other planned races earlier in the season. Showing his trademark strategy- make a break and make it stick-, Levinsohn once again turned on the engine and won a third straight individual race in dominating fashion, finishing the 70 mile race in 3:13:54. Levinsohn’s flawless, albeit time trial-esque, weekend was enough to move him ahead into first overall in season points. Second in the road race was Brett Wachtendorf (Pennsylvania State) in 3:15:01 and Holmdahl (Dartmouth) in 3:15:06. Holmdahl’s work put him into third overall in the men’s standing, putting him in the precarious position to take both the sprinter’s and leader’s jersey by season’s end.

The Women’s A race, on the other hand, was a more familiar story with road races: a suffer march of last (wo)man standing takes all. That day, it was Khare (Dartmouth) that took the victory in a time of 3:00:44- more proof that the Big Green’s tough legs and tougher riders deserve to be ahead of the field. Back by one second for the next podium step was Volk (Penn State Lehigh Valley), followed by Semian Bailey (Kutztown) in 3:00:58. At the end of the weekend, Khare and Wymbs (MIT) were the ones to consistently to work the gap on Shaena Berlin’s double- and potentially insurmountable- hold on the sprinter’s and leader’s jersey.

The weekend omnium was won by MIT (327 points), followed by Dartmouth College (296) and Yale University (216) With the conference traveling north to a joint hosted event by Dartmouth and University of Vermont next weekend, racers look with baited breath to see who will snatch the coveted points for the season’s overall standings

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

*feel free to e-mail ECCC writer Benjamin Kramer  pictures for future, timely race reports. Apparently waiting  long enough will convince other people to post just the pictures, but Kramer is more than willing to cooperate to compensate his camera-less-ness*

 

Road 2014: Week 4, Monsoon Massachusetts

The last weekend of March racing in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference was hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the current conference team leader. With tour de force racers Zachary Ulissi and Shaena Berlin-both owning the sprints and leader’s jerseys- representing at their home races and imminent foul weather incoming, it looked like the stage was set for a memorable event.

Saturday morning broke to clear skies and warm- as warm as you could hope for chilly New England- temperatures for the time trial up Mount Wachusett. Taking the fastest time of the day was Erik Levinsohn (Yale), blazing along for a time of 15:17.58. Back 24.4 seconds was Ulissi, followed by David Ziehr of Harvard with a time of 15:47.10 to round out the first podium of the day.

In her debut individual time trial, Cecilia Davis-Hayes of Columbia University stormed up the mountain in 17:53.74, decisively beating the women’s field by nearly eighty seconds. Berlin was second with a time of 19:14.36, edging out Michelle Khare (Dartmouth) by 0.6 seconds.

The afternoon criterium- precisely engineered by MIT to break any rider’s spirit with two 120o turns and a wall of a finishing climb- looked to be another exciting episode of “Who Gets the Green Jersey?” to watch. It ended up being Lenore Pipes (Cornell) and Davis-Hayes making this week’s edition featuring just them, as they broke away early to take charge of the coveted sprint points. Davis-Hayes took three of four sprints to take away the green jersey, but it was Pipes that lead up the final climb and stayed in front to take the duel and the victory. The two’s move shattered the women’s A field into small rider packs. Shaena Berlin was in the first pack and she surged ahead in the end for the last podium spot, breaking ahead of Khare and Leslie Lupien (Dartmouth).

The weather had turned threatening mid-day, started drizzling mid-afternoon and became officially rain just in time for the Men’s A field for the final race of the day. Despite repeated best attempts, no group or rider was able to properly break away. Daniel Holmdahl (Dartmouth) however managed to secure four out of six sprint preems and second in a fifth to chip away at Zachary Ulissi’s seemingly large sprint leading. In the end, Northeastern riders Dominic Caiazzo and Ford Murphy managed to put the one-two punch on the field in a hard surge that kept them up front and away in the last laps for the win. Leading the charge of the field for the final podium spot was Jack Kissebereth (Tufts).

Sunday morning broke to cold, wet conditions. So wet unfortunately, that the planned road race course and the back-up course were flooded beyond levels safe enough to race. USAC officials however managed to put together a fast seven-mile loop for a circuit race with quality climbs and a fast downhill straightaway for a finish- perfect for a final showdown for racers. Cecilia Davis-Hayes however seemed determined to prove that bunch finishes are not her modus operandi. With legs bare and guns blazing, Davis-Hayes took off and never looked back as she put an eight minute lead on the field for a second and cold victory of the weekend. Taking the field contest was Lupien (Dartmouth) and Semian Bailey of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. After this weekend, Davis-Hayes is the current sprint leader in the women’s field and is snapping at the heels of Shaena Berlin for being the overall points leader.

In the men’s A race, it was Tom Barnett- the Red Friar of Providence himself- winning the exciting showdown of a race that splintered half of the field. Coming in hot right behind Barnett to round out the podium was Jonah Mead-Vancort (Killington Mountain School) and Zachary Ulissi. It is worth noting that Ulissi and Mead-Vancort are one-two in the overall points for the Men’s field, and currently are trended to stay that way if not stopped. It is also worth noting that Lenore Pipes- third in points for the women’s overall- seemed uninterested in wanting to time trial with Davis-Hayes and raced in the Men’s A race, where to no small relief, she did not win.

The weekend omnium was won by MIT with 236 points, followed by  Dartmouth College (193 points) and Northeastern University (173 points). With the season officially halfway over and only four weekends left, the rest of  2014 ECCC racing looks to be very exciting.

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

 

*feel free to e-mail ECCC writer Benjamin Kramer  pictures for race reports, as he spends way too much money on his bike to buy his own camera*

Road 2014: Week 3, Cool Times in New York

The third week of racing for the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference headed last weekend to eastern New York, with Bard College and RPI hosting a joint weekend of racing. Chilly temperatures and threatening snow were at odds with the first ‘official’ weekend of spring, as collegiate riders bundled up for a criterium, team time trial and road race.

Saturday’s race was the Bard Campus Criterium, featuring a paved loop through the heart of Bard College that allowed spectators to view nearly the entire race from the finish. Sara Giopannetti took first blood in the Women’s A race, as she made a solo breakaway in the later laps after a small crash in the field. Giopannetti managed to hold off a charging field in the last hundred meters as Rose Long (Icahn School of Medicine) surged to the front for second. Leslie Lupien (Dartmouth) managed to nip her teammate Michelle Khare at the finish for the final podium spot. While removed from overall contention from the late race crash, Shaena Berlin (MIT) still managed to collect first in three out of four sprints and keep the green jersey.

Daniel Holmdahl (Dartmouth) leading the pain train
Daniel Holmdahl (Dartmouth) leading the pain train (photo by Tom Nguyen)

In the Men’s A race, it was a familiar story of “start fast, breakaway early,” as a four man team worked together and succeeded in lapping the main field. While another group managed to put more distance on the main pack, they never managed to come around to the leaders. Taking top honors was Cameron McPhaden (Queens), with Zachary Ulissi (MIT) and Max Rusch (RPI) beating out Dennis Cottreau (McGill) for the podium steps. Ulissi picked up points in five out of six sprints to further secure his hold on the green jersey, leaving the rest of the ECCC to wonder who will relieve MIT of their duo sprint standings.

Frigid spring temperatures were unhelpful in thawing ice on the roads, causing race officials to make a difficult decision to scrap the afternoon road race. Instead, Sunday consisted of two time trials through the rolling Rensselaer County. The morning team time trial was won by Queens University’s quick men and MIT’s fast females. In the afternoon, it was Ulissi and Berlin of MIT taking top honors and propelling their team to first for the weekend with 186 points. Queen’s University- for their final weekend of racing in the ECCC- took second with 173 points, followed by Dartmouth College with 142 points.

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

*feel free to keep e-mailing ECCC writer Benjamin Kramer  pictures for race reports, as his camera is currently nonexistent* 

Road 2014: Week 1, Stevens Duck Country Apocalypse

The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference kicked off 2014 racing this past weekend with the Stevens Institute Duck Country Apocalypse, featuring a Team Time Trial, Road Race, and Circuit Race in northern New Jersey’s Watchung Reservation. With snow on the ground but sunshine and comparatively warm temperatures, many racers made their first outdoors bicycle foray in weeks and were shocked to be reminded what it means to go uphill.

Columbia University and Pennsylvania State University teams took first honors, with their women and men respectively pipping the MIT machine for the first team time trial victories of the year.

Erik Levinsohn (Yale) crushed the Men’s A road race with a solo breakaway from the start to claim the win. On the women’s side, Lenore Pipes (Cornell), Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) and Shaena Berlin (MIT) eventually broke from the pack and rode to a final sprint in that order in the Women’s A road race.

Erik Levinsohn (Yale) wins the Men's A road race.
Erik Levinsohn (Yale) wins the Men’s A road race.

Sunday’s circuit race was a frenetic affair, featuring a short course with a very narrow high speed double chicane, and sprint primes knocking the lap times down almost 20% in the upper categories each time the bell went off. Late in the Women’s A race, Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) and Lenore Pipes (Cornell) eventually broke from the field and rode together to a sprint in that order. However, before that split Shaena Berlin (MIT) was able to take enough prime placings to claim the green jersey as the inial 2014 sprint points leader, in addition to 3rd place on the podium.

In the Men’s A race, Zach Ulissi (MIT) had barely let the other racers warm up before attacking and going on an ~25 mile solo time trial for the victory, along the way claiming the top spot in all but one prime and ensuring MIT took home both green jerseys.

With a victory, second place, and sprint points, Lenore Pipes (Cornell) just barely edged out Cecilia Davis-Hayes (Columbia) for the initial women’s season omnium yellow jersey. Coming down from the frozen north, Etienne Moreau (Queen’s) took the field sprints for 2nd place both days, taking the men’s season omnium yellow jersey to Ontario for the first time. Queen’s University just missed being the first Canadian team to win an ECCC weekend, finishing a mere 4 points short against MIT.

Full results are available from the ECCC calendar.

2014 MIT power couple Zachary Ulissi and Shaena Berlin.
2014 MIT power couple Zachary Ulissi and Shaena Berlin.

2014 Road Season Arrives!

After a long, hard winter, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference 2014 Road Season has finally arrived! There’s a lot going on this season, so here’s a quick recap of what to look forward to.

2014 Road

On deck are 8 full weekends of collegiate racing, featuring:

March 8/9 Stevens Duck Country Classic Mountainside, NJ
March 15/16 Philly Phlyer Philadelphia, PA
March 22/23 Bard Campus Criterium and RPI Uncle Sam Road Race Annandale-on-Hudson and Pittstown, NY
March 29/30 MIT X-Pot Sutton, MA
April 5/6 US Military Academy Spring Classic West Point, NY
April 12/13 Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord and UVM Mt Philo Road Race Hanover, NH and Charlotte, VT
April 19/20 PennState Nittany Cycling Classic State College, PA
April 26/27 RISD/Brown/Providence Eastern Conference Championships Providence, RI

Racing kicks off this weekend with the season-opening Stevens Duck Country Apocalypse. For the first time in 15 years, if not ever, the opening event will be a team time trial, with five more to follow throughout the season. Stevens will follow that up with both a road and circuit race for an uncommonly high-mileage season opening weekend.

Immediately after that is the now-classic Philly Phlyer, now in its 9th year and featuring its gorgeous riverside TTT, circuit race, and Temple University campus criterium. The Bard campus criterium then returns for its 2nd year, now paired up with a brand new RPI TTT and road race.  MIT will then wrap up March with its challenging X-Pot weekend, featuring the insanely hilly GLV Purgatory road race.

April will kick off with the USMA Spring Classic, once again headlined by the majestic Harriman road race. Dartmouth follows that up with its frenetic Frat Row criterium, paired up this year with UVM and its newly restored Mt Philo road race, featuring a brutal finishing climb. Penn State will echo that action in the south, with its Nittany weekend including both the technical, spectator-friendly Frat Row crit, and the mountainous Black Moshannon road race.

Finally, the season will conclude with the Eastern Championship weekend, hosted this year by RISD, Brown, and Providence College. With a spectacular debut in 2013, this weekend will again feature a rolling, long road course replete with significant dirt sections, and an amazing, flat, hyper-short downtown Providence criterium to end 2014 road racing on a super exciting note.

Colby Samstag and The Men's A field in the 2013 Columbia criterium. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Colby Samstag and The Men’s A field in the 2013 Columbia criterium. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Go Big or Go Home

Behind the scenes, the ECCC has embarked on a significant program of raising its operations to a new level. The Road Coordinator role has been expanded, with Alan Atwood working closely with all the promoters to ensure even higher quality events as well as helping to control the ever rising costs of bicycle race promotion. Forrest Parsons, recent UVM alumni, will also be following up on his performance as part of the season-long officiating crew in the 2013 MTB season by overseeing all registration throughout the 2014 road schedule. Though mostly invisible to racers, these and other changes are taking the conference to a new level of consistency and stellar execution as part of a multi-year agenda to push one of the best race series in the country even farther ahead of the field.

Women

Another development for 2014 is the exciting addition of a Women’s D category. Roughly half the season will feature 4 fields of women’s racing, from the pros and experts in Women’s A to the beginners in Women’s D and Intro. The remaining smaller weekends will fold Women’s C and D into the same field on course. This makes each ECCC race one of extremely few events to feature category parity between men’s and women’s racing.

The conference is of course also continuing its very successful Women’s Intro program, featuring off course clinics and its innovative coached format in every race. This category continues to be open to all new women’s racers, not just collegiate racers, with many women coming out over the past few years for their first foray into competitive cycling.

Laura Ralston and Shaena Berlin TTT away from the field in the 2013 Providence crit. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.
Laura Ralston and Shaena Berlin TTT away from the field in the 2013 Providence crit. Photo by Jan Valerie Polk.

Juniors

Last but by no means least, in 2014 the ECCC is also expanding its fields to encompass all high school juniors. Many young riders from organized high school clubs have participated in the ECCC over the past several years, with great success. This year the conference’s full schedule of great racing is open to all high school age juniors, irrespective of having a formal club at their school. Excitement and interest are high, and many racers are expected to come out over the season for what is now one of the largest, highest quality juniors series in the nation, presenting excellent racing opportunities for young riders at all levels of ability and experience.

Racers to the Line!

With these and many other developments rolling out, the 2014 season is expected to take Eastern Conference racing to all new levels. With a large number of TTTs, challenging road races, and dramatic downtown criteriums on the docket, there is plenty of miles and exciting racing ahead for all our riders!

The full season schedule and nearly all race flyers are already available on the ECCC calendar. Pre-registration for all events is on BikeReg. Much general information is available on the ECCC website, and feel free to contact Road Coordinator Alan Atwood or Conference Director Joe Kopena with questions.

See you out there!

PennState riders Wes Kline, Wyatt Stoup, and Jeremy Shirock, after claiming the 2013 yellow jersey (season omnium winner), the championship criterium, and the championship weekend at the home race in State College, PA.
PennState riders Wes Kline, Wyatt Stoup, and Jeremy Shirock, after claiming the 2013 yellow jersey (season omnium winner), the championship criterium, and the championship weekend at the home race in State College, PA.

Headline photo above by Tianle Chen.