Tag Archives: juniors

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.

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.

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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.