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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.

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.

2012 Army Spring Classic

Garret Lynch

There is a good reason why West Point is located where it is.  The hilly terrain of the Hudson River valley 50 miles north of New York City was thought of as perfect base location, far from any possible foreign attacks.  This part of the country in early spring is breathtaking.  The roads that wind along the mountains while hugging the Hudson is the type of terrain that makes you happy to be a cyclist.  The United States Military Academy put together an impressive schedule of races to utilize the best of their back yard.

Team Time Trial

Early Saturday morning MIT continued their stranglehold on the team time trial, winning the men’s and women’s A race. Almost all of the racers were impressed with the  rolling 15 mile course.  The Cadets demonstrated there logistical prowess in a couple of ways: Camp Buckner not only more port-o-johns than one large conference could need, USMA also supplied water from a military issue trailer, had a mobile shower station and Humvee’s as pace cars for the race.

Circuit Race

The afternoon circuit race blossomed into a beautiful day with temperatures soaring into the 80s and plenty of sunshine to etch in tan-lines.  Many of the ECCC larger teams staked  claims of land along the side of the course for some serious “Bro-ing.”  UVM were out in full force along the course, in Jorts (jean shorts to the rest of you) waving more American flags than even the West Point guys.  UNH not to be outdone by their neighbors were equal to the task.  Cultivating in a “Jort Off” to highlight next weekend’s events.

Later in the day a short 2.2 mile challenging circuit race through West Point’s military training facility Camp Buckner. This course was mean.  The courser featured a straight false flat section on the highway with a strong headwind, a steep power climb, and a treacherous descent.  Numerous flats and crashes, left many riders with road rash and an  unlucky few with broken bones.  Thankfully the Humvee’s would sweep the course for fallen racers to bring them back to staging.  Samson McHugh (Pitt) won the men’s A race with powerful sprint up this finishing climb.   The women’s A/B field was won in a similar fashion by Christina Birch (MIT).

Hill Climb Time Trial

Sunday’s beautiful weather coupled with the amazing scenery of the USMA campus helped create a festive atmosphere for the on campus action.  To begin the schedule, a demanding 2.5 mile Hill Climb ITT up from along the Hudson River to the top of West Point with multiple pitches of 10+% grades.  Katie Quinn (MIT) blew away the women’s A putting a minute between her and second place, as Daniel Holmdahl (Dartmouth) edged out a strong field in the men’s A.

Criterium

As the day moved on the temperatures began to flirt with 80 degrees, but did not dampen the enthusiasm nor the pace of the afternoon’s action as large crowds created a great finale for the weekend.  The 1k three corner crit was fast and furious, with a short uphill sprint finish to keep things interesting. The A races made for a storybook ending for the host team.  In the Women’s A/B race Gabriella Allong (USMA) took the win with an impressive field sprint.  Her margin of victory was great enough so she could indulge in a two handed victory salute to her home crowd. The Men’s A race feature several attacks and small breakaways, but in the closing laps it became clear to everyone that the race was coming down to a field sprint.  Two Killington Mountain School riders lead the field into the final corner and lead out the sprint.   Only Nick Garcia (USMA) was able to come around them by the line.  He took an emphatic victory in front of a home crowd while being the race promoter.   There are few more challenging or glorious settings to win a bike race.