Tag Archives: summer

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!

ECCC Kingdom Trails Adventure 2014

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

The Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Come Get Some!

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

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