Thursday, September 13, 2018

August Updates and the Annual Milton Harvest Festival Bike Race

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Bucknell Cycling Team blog! My name is Matt “Matty McG” McGauley and I will be the president of the Cycling Team this year. If we’ve never met before, I’m a Junior from Exton, Pennsylvania and I’m studying Biology here at Bucknell. I was loosely involved with the team at the beginning of my Freshman year (big mistake) but ever since my first season of racing in the Spring of 2017, I’ve fallen in love with cycling and this team. I started as a Men’s Collegiate C in 2017 and got dropped by the field in every race except for two. It was frustrating coming from a running background because I thought that my fitness would translate to cycling quickly and that I would be successful right away. I quickly learned that there’s so much more to this sport than just fitness. After a couple of seasons of training, learning, and racing, I finally feel let I get the hang of it. As a result, I will be racing in the Men’s Collegiate B category for the 2019 season. I’m looking forward to accomplishing a lot of big things this year. The first of those is to assist our former President, Andrew Schlicht, in bringing the Bucknell Cycling Classic back to Central Pennsylvania. Secondly, I want to make cycling an approachable and inviting sport for new riders in the same way that the former executives of the team did for me. And finally, I want to encourage new and returning riders to take full advantage of the opportunity to race for the Bucknell Cycling Team. It is truly a privilege and honor to do so. That’s enough about me, here is what we have been up to for this beginning of this semester:
August 2018: On Friday, August 24, we had our first Friday Ride of the year. What a turnout we had; more than 20 people came out for the ride! On the returning side, our executives Andrew Schlicht, Eli Bravo, and Evelyn Korbich were in attendance. Sasha Weilbaker, Elyza Agosta, Harry Huang, Peter Kaladius and Mitch Warner also came out for the ride. Our returning riders are all feeling strong and excited for the year after a summer of training. Our new members represented every class year! From the senior class we were joined by Paul Lego. Juniors Evan Fillion and Sierra Meggitt were in attendance. Sophomores Conor Vogt, Arshnoor Amin, Devyn Myers, Tim Chilemba and Dan Heffernan came out and rode with us for the first time. And last but not least we are excited to welcome our freshman recruits Sebastian Ascoli, Khoi Lam, Giovanni Matarrazo, Nick Fardone, Jon Tze, Luka Baramidze and Eleanor King. Local JR Riehl was also in attendance. Tim was enthusiastically quoted during the ride saying “This [was] the most fun [he’d] had in a long time!” Overall, we had a great first ride together. The new riders are quickly learning the quirks of cycling and getting a good feel for the sport. We also revived a forgotten team tradition: Flapjack Friday. After Friday we gathered at Schlicht’s house and enjoyed some pan-fried bacon and delicious chocolate chip pancakes. It was a great way to hang around and get to know each other! Schlicht has been hard at work to get the Bucknell Cycling Classic approved for the Spring. He is making very promising progress! He recently attended township and county meetings to gain approval for his proposed Criterium and Road Race routes. The next steps will be to finalize plans for the race and get the proposal approved by the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference in early November.

Beautiful day for our first Friday Ride of the year

Milton Harvest Festival Bike Race:

September is one of the best times of the year in Central Pennsylvania. The weather starts to get cooler (every year except this one…), the trees turn beautiful colors, and the Milton Harvest Festival 28 mile Bike Race happens. This year we had an amazing turnout for the race. We brought a small herd of 17 bison who were eager to race. New riders Tim Chilemba, Luka Baramidze, Dan Heffernan, Nick Fardone, Eleanor King, Sebastian Ascoli, Arshnoor Amin, and Conor Vogt got the chance to dip their toes into their first bit of competition. All of them did a great job completing the tough, hilly course. Unfortunately Nick and Luka suffered flat tires early in the race, but both of them still had a great experience and are eager to continue riding despite their misfortune.

Evelyn Korbich, Sasha Weilbaker, and Elyza Agosta had a strong showing in the Women’s race. Evelyn was the second place female overall and Elyza and Sasha finally broke their Milton-course-curse and set personal records by over two minutes!

Harry Huang and Peter Kaladius continue to show vast improvement from last year. I can remember just last year when Peter struggled on Friday rides and now he is riding like a true veteran. His persistence and work ethic are impeccable. Same goes with Harry, just last year he wasn’t even riding with the team, but now he is riding strong and working on his racing tactics. I hope that the new riders can learn from their example of how hard work pays off! I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes these two. Mitchell Warner also had a great race despite feeling under the weather. It’s great to see him still coming out to ride with us even though he has a very busy schedule with ROTC.

Andrew, Eli, and I were able to stay with a chase group throughout the race. We all made it safely over the Follmer Road wall and through the rolling hills of Mexico Road. The group we were in for the beginning of the race fragmented on the climb up PA route 54, but the three of us were able to work hard on the hill and join a group of riders that survived the gruelling and fast climb. After the descent down to PA route 642, one man broke off from the group and stayed away for the rest of the race. Props to that guy because he soloed for the win for almost half of the race, broke the course record (handily), and according to his Strava was just using the race as “Little more of an opener than [he] had intended” for the USA Crits race in Doylestown (Sept. 9). The three of us were able to work with the Shipp train at the front of the pack and stay with the group for the rest of the race. In the end we sprinted in with the group and finished the 28 mile course in about ~1:06:40 (still under the previous course record). It was an exciting showing for the three of us especially considering that we will be racing together (along with Freshman Jon Tze) in the Men’s B field for the 2019 Collegiate Racing Season.

Afterwards we rode back to Lewisburg as a team and enjoyed a delicious lunch with one of our generous sponsors, Amami Kitchen and Espresso Bar.

A special shoutout to Papa K, Angie Fritzges, Eric Grimes, Mr. and Mrs. Schlicht, and my Dad (Mr. McG) for coming out to the race to support the team.

See below for Results and Pictures from the race!

Here's how our riders did according to the official results:

Evelyn Korbich   1:16:52.3   6th place female
Sasha Weilbaker   1:21:08.7   7th place female
Elyza Agosta   1:38:24.7   15th place female

Eli Bravo   1:06:19.7   8th place male
Matt McGauley 1:06:25.1    13th place male
Andrew Schlicht   1:06:29.0    15th place male
Mitchell Warner   1:13:36.3   52nd place male
Peter Kaladius   1:17:46.2   77th place male
Harry Huang   1:20:58.5   87th place male
Conor Vogt   1:36:49.8   120th place male
Tim Chilemba   1:49:21.1   127th place male
Arshnoor Amin   2:16:28.9   133rd place male

What a squad! 17 strong!

(L to R) Andrew Schlicht,  Luka Baramidze, Matt McGauley, Nick Fardone, and Eli Bravo after the race

That's all for this post. Can't wait to share more in the coming weeks!
            Ride on,
              Matty McG

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...?