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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!

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.