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


Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Road Series: NYC Metro Showdown (3/31-4/1)

For Easter weekend, the team took a trip eastward into the Garden State of New Jersey for the NYC Metro Showdown, hosted by the teams of Rutgers, West Point, Columbia, and NYU. 
Harry at the line for his first bike race

The first set of races was on Saturday, which saw a short 3.7-mile circuit race around a body of water in a state park. It started with Harry Huang, a new member of the team racing in the Men’s E class. To save time, the conference combined the E and D fields. Harry fought hard for his first ever bike race and pushed himself into the red. Even though, as expected, the D field had pulled away into their own group, Harry found himself placing well among his own racing category. Having a self-described sense of fulfillment, I think we are going to be seeing Harry at future races.

Next up were Matt McGauley and Andrew Schlicht in the Men’s C field. Plagued by narrow roads, the occasional obstacle in the road (some genius parked their vehicle in the road during the race), and potholes, the race paid homage to its last year prepubescent acts. There were crashes on the climbs, crashes on the flats, and crashes on the descents. All combined to make it a treacherous race despite the perfect weather conditions. Thus, it was difficult to move up safely and position yourself well for the final sprint. The two riders for the team finished in the middle of the pack with frayed nerves.
Finish of the Men's B race (Eli is on the far right)

            To finish the day was Eli Bravo in the Men’s B race. This race too had its issues. Being lapped by the USAC 3/4 riders, who were also on the course, forced the riders to be neutralized for half a lap and cut short. With less than half a lap to go, Eli was sitting pretty in the top 10 with the peloton strung out, perfect for a final sprint to overtake riders. However, the riders at the very front decided to ease the pace at this crucial moment, this allowed for the riders far behind to catch up and force a clustered bunch sprint. Eli finished the race in the top half.

            Sunday brought about similar weather patterns to Saturday, a thin layer of clouds permitted rays of sunlight to warm the earth below to a cozy 50 degrees in Freedom Units. To students who have been stuck inside all winter due to high winds, below freezing temperatures, and feet of snow, this was practically shorts weather.

            Before the races, the team showed up to Rutgers campus and was blocked by 3 cops setting up the course. Having been told originally to wait, we decided that wasn’t happening. So we bribed them with Whoopee Pies to let us around them. Another cool thing that happened this weekend was that we had the opportunity to drive the University’s Dodge Sprinter. This is a vehicle so large that you can stand up in it. Labeled “Bucknell University” on the side and having the entire team in one vehicle, we couldn’t help ourselves but feel rather pro when stepping out into the open to warm up and race after getting fully kitted up inside.

Matt and Schlicht receiving words of advice
from Eli and The Dave Board
First off the line were the Men’s C riders, Matt and Schlicht. A strong start from the two saw Schlicht go off the front and later lead the pack for a few high paced laps. As Schlicht however settled into the peloton to recover, a sudden flat forced him off the course. Fortunately, Eli had done Cross Country running in High School and was able to retrieve a spare wheel from the van and replace the flatted equipment before the free lap had passed. Once in the group again, Schlicht was unable to find his stride again and return to the front. Matt however sat comfortably near the front the whole race, getting his positioning down to a science. A stellar showing resulted in Matt earning 1st in a prime and a high placement at the finish. This puts Matt close to upgrading into the B field. Less than 5 points to go!
Schlicht off the front with a rider from Yale. Yes, I made a picture of myself the largest one, what are you gonna do about it?

Matt moving up in the crit
            Followed a few hours later by Harry, who would find himself rounding the 0.78-mile loop for 30 minutes. A small incline to the finish preceded by a sharp lefthander made for an interesting set of race dynamics. With wind not playing too much of a role and the majority of turns being wide enough to take without tapping the brakes, the occasional break away (primarily solo) would happen but then would be swallowed back up by the pack within a few laps. Despite there being a few in Harry’s field that should have been in an upper category, Harry gave it his all for the duration of the race and finished strong.

Harry all smiles before his crit race, not sure what
Matt is doing

Eli digging deep for the prime
            To wrap up the weekend, was Eli in the Men’s B race, 50 minutes race time. Off the front for the first lap or two he soon found himself sitting pretty near the front of the field. Thus enabling him to come 3rd in a prime and earn a few points. For the duration of the race, he hung out near the front, prime positioning coming into the final lap. However, the pressure applied by the back of the pack at the very last lap proved too much as he slowly started to slip and lose ground. Eli finished the race with the rest of the peloton.

          A special thank you to the 100% parental participation in this weekends race! The Huangs, Bravos, McGauleys, and Schlichts (+Pekots) all came out to show their support for the team. They brought with them coffee, snacks, a new family whip (car), and an undying level of support. It was all greatly appreciated and much loved from all on the team. Because of the pleasing results this weekend, we have decided to coin the term “The Parental Effect.” Believe in the strength of your parents!

          Catch the team next weekend in its own neck of the woods as we head over to Juniata and Shippensburg for another round of races.
Quote of the week originating from providing Eli with an Easter Egg feed containing a Twizzler: “You guys are too silly. Imagine how you would do if you took racing seriously.”
Dave Bravo

A black cat (black spot in middle) crossed the course in front of Harry as he came towards us. Anyone superstitious?