Thursday, March 19, 2015

Race Report (& Winter Catch-Up): 2015 ECCC Road Season Weekend 2 (3/14-3/15)

This past weekend, Bucknell Cycling finally emerged to start off the 2015 ECCC road season following a cancelled first weekend - what would have been the Garden State Collegiate Weekend hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology.  Before we jump into the post, we remind you to follow the Bucknell Cycling Team's Facebook page for the most frequent team updates and cycling news.

Leading up to this past weekend, a rough winter of unrelenting snow and cold temperatures unfortunately meant less long rides and more time on the trainers, though that didn't stop the team from going out on an epic Triple Bypass ride, among others.  The team also had two big weekends with Coach Bill Brunner of Highlands Coaching, new to the team this year, to ride and learn about eating, training, and race strategy.  Veterans like Daniel Lazier and Alexander Breakstone got to really dig into their data, while newcomers like Kanishka Suwal and Charlie Hanna benefited from bike fits and advice on prepping for long rides and completing effective trainer sessions.  The team also held its annual winter training competition, in which riders are placed into teams and each rider is encouraged to log the time they spend riding, up until the team's first race.  Mr. Lazier dominated the competition early on and took first in the end with a whopping 5675 minutes logged.  Breakstone worked hard for a close second place at 5166 minutes, and his team - including veteran Brian Case and newcomers Christian Ouellette and Charlie Hanna - won the team competition with 13091 minutes between them.  Among the freshmen, Charlie stood out with a sizable 2559 minutes.

"Sooo, Christian, this descent coming up usually doesn't have winter maintenance." - Caserace

Ward, Steven, and Charlie (from left to right)

For Dan, Alex, Kanishka, Ward Prescott, and Kurt Schlosser, Saturday's Columbia Rockland Lake Circuit Race was the first time to put this winter training to the test.  The 3.7 mile circuit looped around a lake, had no corners, and had a fairly flat profile, with some undulation on the back section.  While the road was messy at points, it was well marked.  A bigger challenge for the day was the cold temperatures and steady rain.  Despite a slight lightening of the rain later in the day for the A field, water and crud from the road continued to kick up, leaving riders cold and visibility low.

A combined field of Men's D1 and D2 was the first to go off, with freshmen Kanishka and Kurt riding for the baby blue.  As was not unexpected, it was a little rough; Kanishka worked hard to fight the conditions but ended up off the back of the pack, and Kurt was involved in a minor fall after being caught behind a crash.  The two rode together for a bit, though Kanishka later pulled himself out of the race due to the wet and cold.  Kurt finished like a champ - coming in as the last timed rider in the race but earning the team's first four points of the season due to a sixth place finish among the D2 riders.

Kanishka and Kurt (left to right) at the start of Saturday's Columbia Rockland Lake Circuit Race.

In the Men's C race, Ward started strong from the start, staying near the front of the pack for the majority of the race.  What could have been a top finish became a solid, fast, mid-pack finish after he was caught behind a crash leading up to the line that split the field.

Hours later but with weather conditions barely improved, Bucknell Cycling's big guns were out for the Men's A race.  Both Dan and Alex were feeling good, and both had definitely put in the training time to bring some results.  The plan was clear: Dan would work to form a winning break while Alex would keep tabs on the pack and work in the finishing sprint.  In the case of a decisive break, both would look to stay up the road.  Thirty minutes into the 1.5 hour race, Dan prodded and a break formed.  The three-man break looked great and spirits were high as the gap was extended to over two and a half minutes with a handful of laps to go.  The team was looking for a repeat of last year's Army Weekend.  Unfortunately, the break consisted of two riders from the University of Delaware (along with Dan).  With few options and in hopes of working with the two others longer, Dan took his fair share of pulls and tried the friendly approach throughout the race.  However, when the time came, the UD riders were relentless - attacking Dan one after the other and eventually breaking him off.  The hard work and cold got to Dan, as over the course of two laps he passed through no-man's land and back through the pack.  At the end of the day, the result for Dan was a P&P.

While Dan was taking off, Alex did exactly what he needed to do at the front of the peloton - covering, watching, and bringing back moves.  When he saw Dan return to the pack, however, he knew the game had changed and it was up to him to bring the team a result.  Strength and confidence throughout the race built up to a strong finish by Stone.  He took fifth in the field sprint for seventh overall and a massive 40 points for Bucknell.

After a great dinner and a good night's sleep at the Breakstones', the team set off for Sunday's Rutgers Campus Criterium.  With Kanishka out due to the onset of cold-like symptoms, Kurt again kicked the day off for Bucknell Cycling in the Men's D field.  The course was a 0.78 mile, three-corner crit that followed a long, downhill, left-hand curve into a flat back straight.  The race then turned left into the wind and onto an uphill straight, in the middle of which was the line.  It was cold, windy, and cloudy the whole day, but that didn't stop Kurt from again picking up points for the baby blue.  Though taken out after losing a lap to the field, Kurt finished seventh among the D2 riders.

The Men's C race saw Ward and Steven Robare at the starting line, the latter of whom didn't race the day before due to an illness that lasted him the entire previous week.  The race started with both Steven and Ward staying within the top five to ten riders - right where they needed to be.  Despite putting in serious time in the off season, however, Steven felt the effects of his previous week and was unable to stick with the pack.  He rode in for a P&P.  Ward, however, only felt stronger as the race went on, winning the second of three sprint laps .  From there he sat in and regained energy for the finish.  Despite a one-man winning solo off the front, Ward came through the last corner in perfect position.  Churning up to the line with a massive painface, Wardo took second in the field sprint for a third-place finish overall and a total of 18 points for Bucknell.  Starting off his second season of road racing, Ward finally got the kind of result that, for various reasons, had previously eluded him.

Ward pulling a painface while hauling in for third in Sunday's Rutgers Campus Criterium.

Finally, Alex and Dan lined up to finish off the weekend in the Men's A race, maintaining the previous day's team strategy.  Alex again showed strength and confidence from the beginning, prodding at the front of the peloton and watching for the group's strongmen to show their cards.  Unfortunately, when their cards were finally thrown down and the decisive break was made, the group of five that went up the road lacked a Bucknell representative.  Despite multiple tries by Dan to both bridge the gap and animate the pack to chase, the gap only extended.  The pack knew the five men were too far gone and slowed down.  On their second-to-last lap, the pack was lapped and all the racers finished together in a sprint.  Alex pulled out a solid third in the field for eighth overall and 31 points, and Lazer came in with the pack for eighteenth and three points.  In addition, Alex nabbed a third and a fourth-place finish in two of the sprint laps, and Dan nabbed a fourth-place in another prime.

Dan working hard in the Men's A field to make something stick in Sunday's Rutgers Campus Criterium.

Alex sitting in the Men's A field before taking third in Sunday's field sprint.
We thank the Breakstone family for their tremendous hospitality this past weekend, as well as all of our sponsors for helping us start off the season right.  Please head to the "Sponsors" page for the most up-to-date information.  Finally, as always, Papa K was arguably this week's MVP, keeping energy and spirits high with G-Mix, Twizzlers, and food fresh off the grill.

This coming weekend, the team heads out to Philadelphia for the Philly Phyler.  Everyone from the Columbia/Rutgers weekend will be returning, with Brian Case, David Schell, and Christian Ouellette making their debut for the season.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 29, 2014

One Month In - A Great Fall Thus Far!

After our first month of the fall semester, we're back at the blog to catch you up with all that has been going on with Bucknell Cycling.  As a friendly reminder, make sure to check us out at https://www.facebook.com/BucknellCyclingTeam, where you can find the most frequent team updates and cycling news.

Bucknell Cycling's new executive board for this academic year - President Ward Prescott, Vice President Steven Robare, and Treasurer/Sponsorship Chair Alex Breakstone - put in work in the weeks leading up to the start of school to ensure a big year for the team.  On the Monday of New Student Orientation, the team made sure to have a big presence at Activities Unlimited - Bucknell's annual fall club fair.  With the likes of Ultimate Frisbee, Squash, and Men's Crew set up nearby and competing for new members, Bucknell Cycling strategically utilized Papa K's tent to section off a large plot of land and make the team visible head-and-shoulders above the rest.  Also critical was the abundant supply of informational flyers, sign-up sheets, display jerseys, and enthusiastic, Bucknell-Cycling-t-shirt-clad members.  Brian Case's contribution was particularly commendable, as he spun on a Cascade trainer, in his kit, in the sun, for a good portion of the fair.  Our visibility and effort in talking to students who passed by paid off, as by the end of the day we had over two pages-worth of sign-ups.  Anyone who attended the fair knew Bucknell Cycling by the end of the day.

The following Monday, we had our first team meeting.  As expected, attendance was not nearly as high as the number of people who signed up at the club fair.  Still, old members were pleasantly shocked to see the small crowd we managed to bring up to the conference room in Academic West that evening.  The meeting went smoothly, and after all was said and done, thirteen new riders have been added to the roster for the 2014/2015 year.  While some ride more frequently than others, some are more set on racing than others, and some are in better shape than others, only time will tell.  For now, we're happy to welcome them aboard and excited to see them develop strength in and passion for cycling.

These riders are: Cole Davis ('18), Charlie Hanna ('18), Kerri Harner ('18), Stephanie Garboski ('18), Kanishka Suwal ('18), Arthur Brooks ('18), Kurt Schlosser ('18), Yang Gao ('16), David Zhou ('18), Christian Ouellette ('18), Philip Martin ('16), Ethan Pepin ('18), and Kaixiang Shi ('18).

After two weeks of incredible early-fall riding weather with the new team - weather that makes particularly enjoyable Friday afternoons, the weekend of the Milton Harvest Festival Road Race was upon us.  The attendance for the Friday Ride before Milton was unprecedented.  Among all the excitement, Breakstone slipped under the radar to take the first two sprints of the day.  After his second victory, the mood changed.  What started as a free-for-all competition soon evolved into an all-against-one mentality.  The efforts of the rest of the crew were to no avail, however, as Breakstone emerged victorious in the final two sprints, winning the mailbox sprint despite a strong, unforeseen attack coming just before the final turn.  This final sprint was hotly contested - a good sign for the next day's race.

Saturday's weather in many ways channeled what you would expect from a spring classic; rain and wind were key factors in the Milton Harvest Festival Road Race.  Bucknell Cycling had a huge showing, bringing ten riders from the current team in addition to alumni attendees Kevin Curran and Dan Wood.  New faces included: Cole Davis, a first-year Chemical Engineering and Management major from Colorado; Charlie Hanna, a first-year engineering major from New Hampshire; Kanishka Suwal, a first-year Environmental Engineering major from Nepal; and Kurt Schlosser, a first-year Mechanical Engineering major from Pennsylvania.  These new riders were great for braving the conditions and coming out for one of the team's long-running traditions.  At Milton, Bucknell also has a tradition of success both individually and as a team; this year's roster was highlighted by Sam Cowans and Alex Breakstone, both of whom have sealed top-five finishes in the past two years.

The race started fast from the gun, as a break containing Breakstone and three other riders formed following the first large climb of the day.  Racing among riders who were still in summer shape, Alex lost contact with the winning break following the largest climb of the day.  Once reabsorbed by the pack, Alex, Sam, Daniel Lazier, and Brian Case - the Men's A squad from last season - began to talk strategy, knowing that 4th place would certainly be contested in a field sprint.  Despite attacks of varying strength coming into Milton, the race panned out as the team had predicted.  Sam and Alex sat at the front, expecting attacks to come on the final steep climb of the course.  When the attacks came, Sam and Alex were ready, quickly reacting and maintaining position as second and third wheels.  Sam was ready to lead Alex out for 4th, but once Alex began his sprint, Sam knew they had the field sprint locked down and followed Breakstone to claim 5th.  The duo was followed by Dan, who took 10th overall.  All members finished the race, with especially strong performances by both Cole Davis and sophomore David Schell, who participated in the race for his first time this year.

Kurt Schlosser tackles the first climb of the day.

Dave and Charlie stay close up the first climb.

Kurt and Kanishka are all smiles reppin' the baby blue.

This excellent all-around showing earned Bucknell first place in the team competition.  Alex's 4th place overall earned him 2nd place in the 18-20 age group, while Sam secured 1st in the 21-24 age group with his 5th place finish.  Please note that all pictures from the Milton race as well as results and info for next year's event can be found at http://www.miltonharvestfestival.com/races/bikerace.php.



Ward and Alex accept the 2014 Team Championship for Bucknell Cycling.


Since Milton, the team has continued to rack up the base miles and show the new riders what it means to ride for Bucknell.  The next Saturday after Milton, Brian, Steven, and Cole went out for the first Saturday ride of the year, enjoying the morning's weather and riding Highlander at a steady pace.

This past weekend saw three days' worth of excellent riding with parents and alumni who were on campus for Family Weekend.  Thanks to Ron Marquette - Bucknell Cycling's hard-working, sage, and kind-spirited team adviser - we were able to offer eight rides to visiting families.  On Friday, we almost doubled our typical attendance with parents.  The atmosphere was very casual, and the team truly enjoyed spending time with and getting to know those who came out.  President Prescott was also an MVP this weekend, as he hosted all the road bike rides - two on Saturday and the 50-mile Jack's route on Sunday.


The crew on the Saturday of Family Weekend, led by Ward and featuring Dave and Cole.

Sunday's Jacks crew, again led by Ward and featuring Case and Cole.
In the coming weeks and months, the team and execs will continue to be busy with a lot in addition to riding.  First, as in prior years, we are ordering t-shirts that read "Bucknell Cycling" on the front and have our sponsor logos on the back.  We are offering orange and navy blue varieties, with white print.  Based on an estimate of quantity, expect to pay $10 (plus $2 for shipping away from campus).  Please submit the order form electronically by clicking here, and contact Daniel Lazier at ddl008@bucknell.edu if you have any questions.  The deadline for ordering is Wednesday, October 1st.  Later in the fall, we will also start kit and clothing sales for the coming season.  We are again working with Panache, as they provided a great experience and great clothing last year.  Rumor has it, though, that Dan, Brian, and Sam will be going out with a bang, designing team kits for their senior year totally different but drastically cooler than any before!  Look out.  Again, contact Dan at ddl008@bucknell.edu if you are interested in ordering clothing.

Secondly, we are planning Canada for the 25th of October and would love to have as many alumni there as possible.  This is a true team tradition that is made even more special for new members when alumni return to attend and participate.  If you are at all interested, please contact Dan at ddl008@bucknell.edu and sign up electronically by clicking here.

Finally, as many of you may already know, Bucknell Cycling prides itself on being one of the very few collegiate teams that requires no dues and pays for every rider's transportation, lodging, and race registration.  We try to make it as easy as possible for students to try cycling and hopefully find a life-long passion for riding and racing.  Many first-time cyclists also rely upon bikes that the team loans out for free to interested new members.  With a team that has doubled in size this year and a far-from-unlimited budget, we truly appreciate all the support we receive from parents, alumni, and friends of Bucknell Cycling.  Anything you can contribute is put to good use and directly affects our team's ability to ride, travel, and race.  If you love Bucknell Cycling as much as we do, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution through Bucknell University by clicking here.  Also remember that any time you are asked to donate to the University, you can specify that your money go to Bucknell Cycling.