Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2018 Road Series: MIT Conference Championships (4/21 - 4/22)

The team for its next and final weekend adventure of the ECCC road racing season made its way to Western Mass for the conference championships hosted by M.I.T.
Absorbing the view of the Connecticut River (L --> R: Max, Steven, Matt, Harry, Evelyn, & Eli)

Harry, taking pointers from Eli
Evelyn in the road race

Saturday morning was a day for the climbers. A set of undulating hills featuring a 1.7-mile dirt climb of over 500 feet of elevation change awaited the racers. Thankfully, after the long drive we were allowed to sleep longer than usual. The first racers were off at 10:15; these were the Men’s C riders Matt McGauley and Andrew Schlicht. The Men’s D rider Max Skirpan was then off after 5 minutes had passed. Goal for the C riders: not get caught by the D field. Goal of the D field: catch the C riders. The races were fast paced. Fresh legs, not yet touched by the climb, made cause for attacks and long pulls. In the C field, Andrew was unable to hold onto the blistering pace set by Matt and others at the front of the peloton when the field made its way up the hill. Andrew had to settle for a top half finish while Matt was able to finish with the top ten after 2 laps of the course. Max meanwhile was holding firm to his ground. He found himself with the front group up the big climb, until for him too, the pace proved too much. By the time he crested the hill the group had split into two main groups. Caught between them and unable to claw his way to the front group, Max remained with this second group until the hill returned again, at which point he found himself breaking away with 2 other riders till the finish to once again place himself between the first and second groups of riders.
Eli in the road race
Harry then took his turn at tackling the course with the Men’s E field. Despite losing the group rather quickly, Harry was not going to give up. He continued to push himself up the hill and caught a pair of riders. Passing both of them, he stayed ahead for the remainder of the race. Then it was time for the Men’s B race and Women’s A/B with Eli Bravo and Evelyn Korbich each racing in their category respectively. With Eli unable to keep pace on the second lap, he paired up with another B racer and they pulled themselves. Fast-forward 40 minutes, Evelyn has since pulled herself from the race after three laps. However, the officials told all three, Evelyn, Eli, and the other Men's B rider that there were points still available. So, the three took to the course for one last lap. Followed by Steven Robare, a 4 year racing team alumnus, and President Andrew by car, the three racers finished their races and did indeed earn points for the team.
Steven taking over the grill

Max all bundled up for the crit
For the next day, the team made the quick drive to Turner Falls, MA for a short kilometer loop with a 14% kicker partway through it. Along a raging Connecticut river, the course surrounded a park, making for a rather scenic race day. To kickoff the day was Max in the Men's D race. After a few laps, it was made apparent to Max that he found himself at home on the short climb. Making up spots on said climb and retaining his place in the descent made for a good combination Max greatly benefited from all the way to the finish. Next were Matt and Andrew in the Men's C field. The 40 minute race began and the two riders went round and round with the pack. For Matt, the beginning was horrendous. At the top of the climb is a U turn, a touching of wheels at this turn led to Matt hitting the deck on lap 2. Fortunately, he rallied to rejoin the pack with another two laps. Both riders remained with the pack for the remainder of the race to the finish line.
Eli breaking away
After a nice interlude of the team exploring Turner Falls, trying out the local skatepark, and visiting a local coffee shop, it was time to race again. In the crit, Harry found himself a part of a small field. A well rested Harry made his way around the course. Conquering the climb with each passing lap, he was able to pair up with another rider and beat them in the final sprint. Next came Eli in the Men's B race. An action packed 50 minutes of riding in circles, Eli was able to hang with the pack each time they completed a lap. Playing a conservative game, Eli poked his nose into the wind rarely and rode in the middle of the pack. After a little quarrel with another rider in the field, Eli finished with the pack. Finally, to wrap up the season, the teams only female racer this season was Evelyn in the Woman A/B race. After a quick start line photo-shoot that placed her on the front of the conference Facebook page, it was her turn at the course. With the group the first handful of laps, Evelyn made it known that the field was going to have to turn up the heat if they were to lose her. The field did pick up the pace and Evelyn could unfortunately no longer stick around. Pulled from the race a few laps from the finish, Evelyn concluded her season happy with the results after a string of hard fought races.
Evelyn racing the crit

Weekly observations:
1) Time has no feeling; if you know what I mean
2) I just went numb; if you know what I mean
3) Donuts are tasty in reverse; if you know what I mean
4) Harry slept through his medal award ceremony and went over 75 miles per hour, a personal record; if you know what I mean
5) You can easily fit 7 pretzel sticks under a cars windshield wipers without anyone noticing; if you know what I mean
6) Someone needs to start taking photos of Andrew and Matt racing, if you know what I mean

A massive thank you to all our sponsors, who made it possible for the team to continue thriving. Bucknell Cycling covers transportation, lodging, race fees, and some food for all its members, in an effort to make the sport more accessible and affordable, especially to new riders - and it is our sponsors that make this possible year to year! These sponsors include: Earl’s Bicycle Store, Matty’s Sporthouse Grille, AMSEC, Giant Bicycles, Sun Orthopedics, Grimes Group, Amami Kitchen & Espresso Bar,  Giant Food Stores, and Terry Howson. Thank you!

Harry crossing the crit finish line
Always a huge thank you to Gary Kahler (aka, Papa K) for his very necessary and very loved role on the team - hauling-van driver, grill master, jacket-holder, photographer, observer, race info binder-keeper, and more. The team would be a mess and a half without him and struggled a little with each weekend that he wasn't present! Thank you also to our advisers/coaches, Ron Marquette and Eric Grimes! They have been gracious enough to offer their services of fundraising, bike repairs, and networking with the community more than you could imagine. Thank you!
Matt and Andrew exploring Turner Falls

Thus concludes the ECCC Road Racing season for Bucknell Cycling. This summer we have big plans to continue racing and strive for more upgrade points. The team also has experienced a rejuvenation of the desire to host a return of the Bucknell Cycling Classic. This time round, we know what needs to happen when and with a course in mind, things are looking good already. Keep your ears open, for you may just hear the sounds of a bike race in the Susquehanna Valley!

- Schlichty

Eli rounding the U Turn in the crit

Max taking it easy in the sun

The team taking the time to watch the Men's A field

Eagerly awaiting at the finish line or looking into the future...?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

2018 Road Series: Hostetter-Wagner Road Race & Route One Rampage (4/14-4/15)

Matt (5th) and Andrew (3rd) in Sunday's Crit. We'll get to this race later.

The winter of 2017-2018 continued to take its toll on the North East of the United States. Dartmouth was scheduled to share a race with University of New Hampshire this weekend. However, due to inclement weather, Sunday’s race was cancelled. The team, receiving this news as the weekend approached, made the decision to go south to race in a neighboring conference, the ACCC. University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins would be hosting a Saturday Road Race and a Sunday Crit. 

Adam showing off his roller skills
Yiwei making his way around Saturday's race course
Max in the Road Race
Saturday’s race was forecasted to be beautiful, and what a beautiful day it was. Starting out with a balmy 67 degrees in the morning, before sunrise, we were more than happy to be away from the bitter cold of central PA. The race was a 7.8-mile loop of rolling hills through the countryside of Hunt Valley MD, with a steep and punchy hill just past the halfway mark. It started with the Men’s D race featuring Yiwei Wang, Adam Workineh, and Max Skirpan. Their first loop was an ominous omen to the rest of the team as it was made clear no pack had been maintained because riders started to trickle past the start line. How bad was this hill? It turns out the hill had a 19% kick. With a gradual start, there was no way to carry any momentum into the steep section. Despite it being short, it was easy for the hill to take a toll on the legs. Each of the 3 riders made their way around the course in the early morning light, dodging the heat that would late come, each placed well throughout the field.

Evelyn Korbich in the Woman’s A/B race departed the start line next. Exploding on the infamous hill after repeated attacks, Evelyn worked with another rider for the next lap and made a solo effort for another lap. With thoughts of tomorrow’s crit in her mind, she decided to pull herself a lap early. Following Evelyn’s start by 5 minutes were Matt McGauley and Andrew Schlicht in the Men’s C race. Sitting comfortably with a fairly lazy pack for the first lap, the two took the time to get a feel for the different conference riders and course. It was the second lap that things heated up. Matt and Andrew sat at the very front of the group and dropped the hammer. This split the race in two groups: those that could hang with the ECCC riders and those that couldn’t. Matt and Andrew powered the break away of 6 other riders for almost the remainder of the race. A brake check leading to a crash prematurely cut short Matt’s time in the break away, leaving Andrew to finish the race with the remaining riders. Matt rallied after his crash and finished the race with the following pack.

Eli being bored at the start line
Eli Bravo, with the combined knowledge of all the previous riders, then approached the start line to wrap up the day in the Men’s B race. What was originally a chill race, quickly changed at the base of the hill. Pace lines at 25 miles per hour and dropped hammers up the hill forced Eli to ride in what became a chase group for the remainder of the race. The biggest tragedy of this race was the fact that Eli’s hamburger feed didn’t work out. He managed to grab a bun, but not the patty. I suppose the team will  need to start doing feeding practice. Tired from the race-day, sunburned from the sun, and exhausted from the 80+ degree heat, the team settled down for a well-earned sleep.

Adam in a straightaway from the Crit

Sunday, the team started the day with the Men’s C race at the beautiful time of 8:00 AM. What was a grueling first few laps for both Matt and Andrew, ultimately resulted in the field splitting apart within a handful of laps. Finding themselves with 4 other riders, Matt and Andrew assisted in powering the lead group around the 8 corner dead-flat course. Taking a couple of points as the prime laps flew by, it was the end that had people on the edge of their seats in anticipation. The group of 6 came flying around the 2nd to last corner and Matt kicked for the sprint, making a gap between him and the rest. Rounding the final corner Matt sent his bike into the gutter, sending a jolt through him and the crowd, but he managed to stay upright and held the lead to the finish! Your one and only Matt McGauley with the Bucknell University Cycling Team jersey on his back came in first! He managed to beat second place by 1 inch, but a win is a win, no matter how slim the margin. This high carried on for the rest of the day.
Max in the Crit

Yiwei in the Crit
In the Men’s D field, Max, Adam, and Yiwei made themselves be know. Max and Adam hung tightly to a group that made its way around the course lap after lap while Yiwei worked with a collection of UMD riders just behind to make his way around. Max found his way to the finish line with the front group while Adam and Yiwei pushed themselves till the last lap. Having a strong team presence in a field makes any and all races more enjoyable. The mental and physical support that can be received from having a teammate by your side is one that often goes unnoticed by the crowd. Even though cycling is one of those sports where each person is making their own effort, there is something about being with a friend on the course that can’t easily be put into words.

Regardless, Eli in the Men’s B field was next to the start line. His field too, much like the C field, split apart within a few laps. Fortunately, Eli found himself in the front group and consequently picked up prime points with every couple of laps. As his race progressed, rain began to descend upon the road. The slippery conditions made everyone slow down for the corners, but no one let up on the straights, resulting in the pace remaining high. After some minor confusion involving a fire truck on the course responding to a fire alarm at a nearby frat house, Eli remained one of the 4 in the front group and finished with them out of a field with over 20 riders.
Eli rounding a corner in the crit (before the rain)

To finish the weekend was Evelyn in the Woman’s A/B race. With rain still hitting the asphalt and a strong bone chilling breeze, it was a miserable start. But the race quickly heated up. A rider from Duke attacked extremely early, giving cause for a chase. Evelyn would help power a chase group of 5 riders until she could no longer keep up. Riding with a UMD student for the next few laps, Evelyn was able to find it within herself to drop the UMD student with 3 laps to go and solo to the finish. Over all, a mighty fine race day in my opinion.

This weekend, several stops were pulled from the ground to support the team. A pair of alumni, Ward Prescott and Alex Breakstone, made a appearance at both race days. Their attendance was greatly appreciated by all on the team as they provided excellent advice, support, and laughs. Another thank you goes out to the Schlicht/ Pekot family. They were kind enough to house and feed 7 college students Saturday night and Sunday morning. The baked ziti from Saturday evening will be praised for ages to come.

Saturday Team Dinner (Left to right: Evelyn, Eli, Yiwei, Adams mother Taitu, Adam, Sous Chef Ray, Matt, Max, Andrew. Behind the camera: Head Chef Mary)

Unfortunately, Papa K was unable to provide his services for this race weekend, but as you may know, this does not stop the team from making a few observations.

1) No hot tub at the hotel. We’re disappointed.
2) Max needs to focus on the race, not giving thumbs up for the camera
3) There are dedicated lanes for hazardous materials on the interstate. How many dangerous chemicals are being transported around here?
4) Either Matt needs to wear Evelyn’s sunglasses more often, or he needs to start removing his valve stem caps.
5) UMD looks like Bucknell, but bigger.
6) Max is not shy.
7) “Why is the hauling van losing power?”

- Schlichty