Monday, March 5, 2012

Week 1: Rutgers

This weekend marked the beginning of the ECCC season and the beginning of our teams march toward Utah for the Collegiate National Championship. Day 1 we put the hurt on a prologue time trial and survived a hilly road race. Day 2 saw us return to the site of last years points race for a race that was mistakenly categorized as a criterium (though in reality was really a series of hill repeats).

--Individual Time Trial---
The season started off with a nearly flat, out-and-back 2.2 mile time trial. We woke up at a very reasonable 4:45am and fought many of the elderly folks on the road at that hour to make it to the site to register, set up camp, and warm up for start times beginning at 7am. 

Kept dry by the team trailer and new 10x20 tent, Yale cycling warmed up for the morning TT in style.
The steady rain mixed with the high-speed course promised some interesting high speed turns at the halfway mark. However, in a shocking and uncharacteristic moment of clarity, the Rutgers race organizers decided to modify this years turnaround from an invisible point on the course marked only by a marshal (that failed to identify the turnaround spot to most riders), to a much wider 180 degree turn around a peninsula in the road. On the women's side, Alli racked up massive points in Women's A with a 6th place finish despite failing to don a TT helmet. In Women's B, Ashley Hurst and Hannah Garrett threw down in their first races at B's finishing 7th and 9th, respectively. In a loaded Women's C field, Colleen Feriod finished 17th in her first ever race followed by Sonya Thomas in 20th and Rachel Kurchin in 25th. In Women's Intro, Elif threw down a monster time earning her 3rd (but would have put her mid-pack in C's!) followed by Kristin in 14th. On the Men's A side, Dan saved face and put up a time that he hoped would later excuse a poor crit/hill climb result and finished 10th. Jelle (pronounced "Yell-A" or "Jelly") and Ian (pronounced "Bambino") decided to prove that they were not simply hill climbing billy goats, and put up awesome times finishing 15th and 16th, respectively. In Men's B, Nicky Geiser embodied his inner Tony Martin, finishing 12th. Chris Miller, rocking a set of Zipp Wheels from the Reagan administration, made his return to the ECCC in 20th. In Men's C, Yale was proud to introduce OUR Levinsohn (Jon) to the ECCC. Although he broke the family tradition of sandbagging Men's D for a year and winning by minutes, Jon put up an excellent time in his first race finishing 7th. Adam Trexler, fresh off an upgrade this season to C's, channeled his inner tri-athlete (and questionably legal slammed-forward saddle position) finishing 17th. In Men's D, Will Redden decided to try keeping it rubber-side-down for the entire race and unsurprisingly posted a great time finishing 19th in a big field. Lastly, but not least, Nathan Knapp and Danny Schlingman made their intro into racing in the aptly named Men's Intro category. Despite a formidable stack of steerer tube spacers bringing the bars to eye-level, Nathan ignored the laws of physics and principles of aerodynamics, and ate the competition (and a chestful of air rushing by) to finish 3rd. In a valiant effort to uphold the reputation of "Dan's" on the team, Danny ripped up his first collegiate race finishing 12th.

--Road Race--
In a somewhat exaggerated response to complaints of too few/short road races on the collegiate calendar, the ECCC decided that the first week of March was the perfect time to host the first road race. In the early session on the road, our Men's C team set out to tackle 3 laps of the 13 mile course marked by sections of wet, oiled asphalt and corners with substantial standing water. Proving that his time on the trainer was worthwhile, Adam ripped apart his drivetrain using nothing more than his legs. One destroyed derailleur hanger and mangled cassette later, Adam's day was done. Jon hung tough with the front group for the first 2 laps of the race, but ultimately elected to cut his day short in lieu of increasing sketchiness from fellow racers and a slew of crashes along the way. In Men's D, Will quickly became bored of riding up right and decided to add a horizontal element to his race. Aside from adding some battle scars to his steed and some oil/dirt from the road to his kit, Will was ok and ready to ride again the next day. Rounding out the Men, Danny and Nathan rode smart together finishing their lap only seconds apart in 18th and 20th, respectively. On the Women's side, the Women's C field shattered immediately after the start. Sonya rode with the first chase group for a lap before attempting a solo bridge on the second lap. Although she stayed away for 12 miles, she was ultimately brought back at the end, finishing 19th. Colleen and Rachel found themselves feeling strong, but without fellow racers to work with. Both rode the 26 mile race essentially solo (inevitably getting some excellent training) finishing 23rd and 28th, respectively. In a Women's Intro field separated only by 5 minutes, Elif backed up her ITT time finishing in 5th followed by Kristin in 17th. Next on course were the Men's A, B and Women's A/B fields. In a Men's A field of 61 racers, the team decided to ride for Jelle as our protected rider.

Men's A team starting in the mud, ready for a blistering start to the 65 mile road race. 

After a roubaix-inspired dirt road start, the Men's A field crushed it for the first 20 minutes, spitting rider after rider out the back of the peloton. Shortly after the halfway point of the first lap, Dan took a flyer in an attempt to further string out the field. Joined by a UVM rider, they opened up a 45 second gap heading into the 2-mile climb. However, the breakaway (and glory) was short-lived and was caught at the end of the climb, giving rise to a counter-attack that rapidly shed riders dangling off the back. The peloton held together until the beginning of the 4th time up the climb, when attacks and counter attacks detonated the field. Ian covered multiple moves at the front giving Jelle the legs to make the second chase group. The field remained shattered coming into the line on the 5th and final lap. Jelle came up to the finish climb in 2nd position in his group and then crushed the souls of his fellow chase group, winning the sprint and finishing 10th. Despite bleeding his energy reserves covering moves, Ian finished a very respectable 21st followed by Dan in 35th. In the Men's B race, Nick and Chris were sitting comfortably in the peloton until Chris found himself with a backseat view of a crash and endo at the end of the second lap after a rider seemed to intentionally attack a roadside ditch (classic Men's B tactic). Chris averted disaster but went down. Nick rode a smart race, finishing with the peloton in 19th. In the Women's A/B race, the race detonated from the start, and Alli, Ashely, and Hannah quickly found themselves on three separate 52-mile time trials. Though road races aren't her "jam", Alli kept the pace high and constant coming in 8th in the Women's A field. Ashley decided that 52 miles was simply not challenging enough and decided to attempt a lap without air in her rear tire. Not one to make excuses, Ashley literally tore up the rolling hills of Dirty Jerz and finished the race with the back end of the bike sliding back and forth uncontrollably. Super awesome.

Normally the highlight of the weekend for all (mildly biased view), Rutgers decided to make their race the "New Jersey" of criteriums. With a "rise" that forced even riders in Men's B to shift into the little ring on every lap, the criterium course shed the usual suspects, and instead favored riders that salivate from the idea of hill repeats. In the Men's D race, Nathan (upgraded from Intro the previous day) averaged about 130 rpms racing without a big ring and finished 12th followed by Will in 25th. In Men's C, Jon attacked early, splitting the field. He then recovered, sat in, and threw down a nice sprint at the end finishing 7th. Adam (the guy who just annihilated his bike the previously day with a pedal stroke) tempted fate, laughing in the face of danger and decided to mount Will's bike which has a seemingly magnetic attraction to the asphalt. Though he undoubtedly was white-knuckling every decent, Adam hung tough and finished 20th. In Men's Intro, Danny came away unscathed in his first crit finishing 20th. In Women's C, the field broke apart immediately, scattering groups of 3-4 riders across the road. Although it was easily the most difficult race to keep track of, according to the results page, Colleen came in at 17th, Sonya in 20th (after recovering from a wreck) and Rachel in 27th. In Women's intro, Elif had her swan song in the category and barely missed out on the victory salute finishing 2nd followed by Kristin who also kept it upright finishing 12th. 

Team mechanic Matt Feiner and our three fearless intro riders ready to ride.

 Chris rode a smart race in Men's B, hanging in the peloton until it broke into several small chase groups following an attack by one of many sand-bagging MIT riders. Chris finished 30th in a race that saw over 1/3 of the field pulled or DNF'd. In Women's A/B, the usual field detonation took place nearly immediately. The challenging course led to constant lapping with racers in the field lapped up to 5 times. Hannah beasted the "rise" numerous times and racked up serious points finishing 11th followed by Ashley in 17th. In the final race of the day, the Men's A race was marked by a blistering pace from the gun. After putting a foot down avoiding a crash on a curb, Dan found himself OTB chasing (and stupidly not taking a free lap). Ian and Jelle owned the course, covering moves by the pro riders in the field and holding the peloton on numerous accelerations. Jelle joined what looked to be the winning move of the day (in a group with all the heavy hitters), but the group was brought back by the peloton after 2 laps. Friend-of-Yale-Cycling Erik Levinsohn and an MIT rider made the actual winning move of the day, counter attacking the previous move by Jelle's group. Erik missed the win by 2 meters taking home 2nd! After tail-gunning the final 6 laps, Ian put in his patented uphill sprint attack on the final ascent of the mountain on the course, and rubbed elbows with the pro's, bringing home the bacon in 8th!

Overall, incredible first weekend of racing. The team looks posed to make a strong run at the Ivy League Trophy and a potential team qualification for Nationals! Congrats to everyone this weekend.

Next Weekend: Columbia and Stevens.

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