Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 3: Philly

This weekend 16 Yalies descended upon the city of brotherly love to bring the pain to the ECCC and extend our lead in the chase for the Ivy League Championship.

So it turns out that it is NOT always sunny in Philadelphia. In fact at 5:45 am, it was quite dark.....and chilly.  After setting up our own version of Occupy New Haven (a 40'x10' monstrosity of black tentage), our racers had a very brief warm-up before heading out for 2 laps of a 6.3 mile time trial course.  The course consisted of a flat, technical 'upper' section which lead to a short downhill which was followed by a 2 mile flat stretch to a 180 degree turnaround. After the turnaround, it was 2 miles back and then up a short kicker, around a roundabout and then down Philly's version of the Champs-Elysees. Then repeat.

First off were our Women's C (Rachel K. and Kristin K.) who took 1st and intimidated all other Women's C teams from even starting the race! Next Men's A (Dan B., Jelle, Ian, and Nicky G.). Decked out in matching bikes, skinsuits, and aero helmets, our men lined up for the race practically begging to be heckled (haters gonna hate). However, unlike the Yale Men's A team of yesteryear, this year's incarnation was resolved to place somewhere off the bottom of results list. When the results were finally posted, our men placed 3rd out of 12 teams with a time of 27:39!! and only 1 second off of 2nd place.  Next up, Adam, Brian, and Nathan flew the flag in Men's C.  In a stacked field of teams, our men came in 4th in Division 2 with a time of 31:52, bringing home some team points! Next on course were Alli, Erica, Hannnah, and Marina in Women's A. Relying upon the familiarity they gained from riding with each other throughout the winter, our ladies rode awesomely, finishing 2nd and only 35 seconds behind MIT! Nasty, nasty Nationals Points! Last on course, but first in our hearts, were our Women's B riders: Ashley, Sonya, and Elif. Though they won the ultimate race before the race (scaring away potential competitors with their pro-ness), our ladies raced against the clock....and dominated it. To summarize: our women went 2nd, 1st, 1st.

Unchanged from last year, the circuit course consisted of the TT course with an addition of a 1/2 climb (and descent). First up was Nathan in Men's D. After sitting in the first lap and observing the field from atop the lookout perch on his bike (created from a lowered, but still stilt-like position of his handlebars), Nathan picked his attack point on the uphill 'kicker' coming into the roundabout and hammered like a mad man down the finish stretch to come in 3rd! 

Next, our C Men attacked their 75-man field for 3 laps of the 6.3 mile circuit. Positioning himself perfectly throughout the race, Adam finished with the pack and took home 9th in Division 2. Brian rode in the first chase group for the first lap and solo'd the second lap like a boss to come in 18th in Division 2. 

Next on course was our formidable team of Women's C's. After enduring a week of hill repeats that saw her finally climb and attack out of the saddle, Sonya broke out her angry eyes and took 10 lbs of flesh out of the field, attacking brutally and mercilessly at the base of the final climb, building a 75 meter gap that she would hold through the finish for our team's first win of the year!! Not content for the team to simply take the top step of the podium, Marina, Elif, and Rachel continued the assault the field to take 9th, 12th, and 13th, respectively.

In Women's Intro, Kristin continued to polish her form and showed that racing is the perfect recipe for fitness building finishing 6th! 

Nicky G was next up on course, racing 4 laps of the course in Men's B. In a race that saw numerous failed attempts at breakaways, the race came into the final climb gruppo compacto. Though he rode at the front of the peloton for the duration of race, Nick got boxed in as the accelerations started and was unable to unleash his sprint until the eventual winners escaped, finishing with the pack in 23rd. 

In Women's A/B, the field broke up into approximately 6 groups within the first of four laps. Anxious to relive the glory of their TTT's, Alli and Erica rode together and Ashley and Hannah rode together. Both duos would finish consecutively with Erica and Alli in 6th and 7th in A's and Ashley and Hannah in 15th and 16th in B's. 

Last up, the 57-man Men's A field and 5 laps of the circuit.  In a race marked by ridiculously bad bike handling and 3  big crashes, Dan and Ian went down in an inexplicable wreck when a rider attacked a hay bail with his bike and took down nearly 1/3 of the field.  After hearing the crash, the peloton predictably attacked, trying to definitively cut the field down dramatically. Dan B. burnt every match in his proverbial matchbook and eventually TT'd back onto the peloton after approximately 5 miles of chasing. Ian, who was positioned directly behind the kamikaze, unprovoked hay-attacker, found himself stuck in the pile up and was not able to bridge back on. Though Dan made it back into the group, his view from the back (particularly the view dangling 10-40 meters off the back of the peloton) would become a theme of his day as he would be neither a helpful teammate to Jelle nor relevant at all in the race (except for being that guy everyone had to go around as he pack-slid through the peloton on every hill). Jelle rode at the front and responded to the repeated attacks and accelerations. Though he had the legs and positioning to contest the final attack, he (like the rest of the field) was watching the pro riders and the Maillot Jaune and did not immediately respond to Erik Levinsohn's (friend of Yale Cycling) attack on the downhill. Erik would stay away and celebrate in EPIC and appropriate fashion with an awesome win. Jelle and Dan finished in the pack at 20th and 32nd, respectively.


In the weekend's final festivities, we drove through some of the more 'colorful' and 'up-and-coming' neighborhoods of Philly to arrive at the 4-corner crit on the Temple campus. Due to construction on campus, last year's course was shortened and a smooth, wide, and relatively flat section of road was substituted with a downhill, pot-hole laden, torn-up section of concrete/dirt/asphalt that ended into a 90 degree corner.

The theme of the day would be crashing and/or bonking.

Men's D: Nathan continued to improve in both his handling and fitness, riding at the front of the field and taking 2nd in the second prime of the day. However, despite the bird's eye view of the course from the crow's nest on his handlebars, Nathan was unable to negotiate the downhill corner on the last lap and decided to test out the durability of his kit and skin with a slide on the wild side. Too bad, because he looked strong!

Men's C: Adam and Brian rode strong and rode together, but were unable to make the split in the field. They rode a crash free race and finished 29th and 33rd in a field of 56.

Women's C: Elif started out the excitement as she decided to try out Nathan's line on corner 2 and made a tasty taco-shape out of her front wheel. Elif, scraped herself up off the pavement like a champ, mounted a pit bike (thanks Dave McCormick) and rode strong the rest of the race. Though Sonya looked poised to back up her victory from Saturday (racking up 3 prime points early), she was also bitten by urge to trade paint with pavement and was body-checked by a sketchy rider into a vertical hay bail on the 3rd corner on the final lap. Marina, on the other hand, rode crash free and led the charge finishing 8th followed by Sonya, Elif, and Rachel in 10th, 12th, and 15th, respectively.

Women's Intro: Riding like a beast (and most importantly riding safe), Kristin finished 8th overall and 5th amongst collegiate racers.  Interestingly, according to the results, she also finished 12th. Super awesome.

Men's B: Determined not to get boxed in again, Nick planned his attack nearly perfectly, attempting to bridge to the solo leader going into the final lap. He hammered down the front stretch alone and almost bridged before being swallowed up by the peloton in the 3rd corner in the final lap. Nick pack finished in 25th.

Women's A/B: After a brief reprieve at Columbia, the A/B category was back to its usual shenanigans this week with field detonation on the first lap. In a course that lent itself to breakaways and lapping, the race consisted of 4 smaller sized groups and a handful of solo riders. Given the duration of the race, lapping was constant and lapped riders took advantage by intermittently joining those passing for as long as they could hold. Leading our team, Erica rode in the main chase group and threw down her patented sit-down hammer-fest sprint and edged an F&M rider at the line for 6th place (and 5 additional points!). Alli finished 9th followed by Hannah in 12th in B's (though scored as 12th in A's....a mistake that we hope slides) and Ashley in 13th.

Men's A: Dan/Jelle/Ian: flat/flat/crash. To elaborate.....after having the gall to talk strategy with a co-belligerent from another team prior to the race, Dan B. found himself unable to execute the shared plan of attacking following the second prime as he was so far off the back by the second prime that the officials were no longer ringing the prime bell for his group.  In his defense, he flatted on lap 4 in the lead group, but was restarted by the race official into the chase group and was unable to bridge to the leaders due to the ridiculously nasty/unfriendly/brutal pace and his stupidity of not burning his matches immediately to bridge the leaders when he had the legs. Ian actually executed his race plan....well at least the first part of it. After attacking off the start line, Ian's new-found position at the front of the field with the pros got to his head within one lap and he made himself known to the field in dramatic fashion--taking the Nathan-line and adding an additional 10mph onto it. Though certainly not good for re-sale, Ian accomplished an impressive feat: cosmetically damaging nearly every part on the bike without functionally damaging anything.  Not to be left out, Jelle also did his best to ride irrelevantly, missing the split in the field and riding 60 minutes at lactic threshold, yet constantly losing ground on the leaders. To top off his spectacular day, Jelle flatted with 4 to go (no free laps). In the end, Dan finished 23rd followed by Jelle in 34th.  Let's never talk about this again.

Next week???  Plug your nose, lather on the bronzer, and slick back your hair--we're goin' back to Dirty Jerz.

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