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, 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

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 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 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 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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

We're Back! - 2014 Road Season Recap

Hopefully you've been following us on, but if you haven't, we're back at the blog to catch you up with everything that's been going on, starting with the 2014 racing season.

The team started spring break off with the first race weekend of the season, hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology.  We were (and still are!) super thankful to the families of Alex Breakstone and Dominique Ruszala for taking us into their homes and providing beds, support, and superb meals.  Appearances by Harry Chen, Brian Tino, and Rebekah Morris - alumni of the team - made the deal even sweeter (below).

Most of our boys finished Saturday out solidly mid-pack, with the standouts being Daniel Lazier and Brian Case, who cracked the top 15 of the Men's A and B road races, respectively, and earned some of our first points of the season.  Dominique's effort in the Women's C race was also commendable, as nobody really knew beforehand how competitive that field would turn out to be.  In Sunday's circuit race, Daniel Lazier was again in the points in Men's A, and Alex Breakstone was one place off from the points in Men's B.  Breakstone also nabbed first in his first sprint lap of the season, earning a solid five points.  Dominique was more comfortable Sunday racing in the D field and finished one place off from the points with a P&P.  For having never raced road bikes before, Steven Robare and Ward Prescott had a very respectable weekend in Men's C, showing strong teamwork in the TTT and the circuit race.

Dominique lines up, decked out and ready to race.
Brian, Alex, Dan, and Sam warm up at Stevens.
The next weekend was the Philly Phlyer, and the team was lucky to again have the hospitality of the Tino family.  Well rested and well fed, the team showed up Saturday ready for the TTT and road race.  Alex Breakstone put in work in the Men's B road race to grab sixth in the finishing field sprint (to the elation of family and friends who came out to support the team), and Brian Case flew in a second behind to finish in the points, at fourteenth.  In the Men's C road race, Ward saw his first (of many) mechanicals, resulting in an unfortunate P&P.  Sunday was the season's first four-corner crit - a fast course through Temple University's Philly campus.  It was a tough race, and riders were continuously dropping off the back.  Dan and Brian hung on to finish in the points in the Men's A and B criteriums, respectively.

Steven and Ward work together to hang in the Men's C criterium in Philly.
The third weekend of the season was split, with Bard College hosting a criterium on Saturday and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hosting a TTT and a road race on Sunday.  Alex, Steven, and Dominique missed out on this weekend, but the space was filled in part by David Schell - a freshman who entered in Men's D.  Despite a nice criterium course, the team's performance on Saturday wasn't the best; a hill midway through left all but the best climbers off the back.  The odd mixture of racers from different categories led to no TTT teams being entered on Sunday.  Perhaps more critical was the poor weather and road conditions, which turned RPI's road race into a short ITT.  Lazer finished twelfth in the Men's A ITT for some points.

The following weekend, Sam, Alex, Case, and Ward shipped up to Boston for the MIT XPot, serenaded the whole 6-hour drive by the Bucknell Softball Team's warm-up CD (a jumble of high-tempo pop and terrible country that the team fondly referred to as "an emotional rollercoaster").  As Ward said on the Facebook page, "Any race weekend with the Sprinter Van is a good race weekend!"  He certainly proved that in the Mt. Wachusett Individual Time Trial with a time that placed him eleventh in Men's C and earned him his first points of his collegiate racing career.  This time also beat Sam and Alex's times on the same course and would have placed him mid-pack in Men's B.  Later in the day, Ward came back and killed it in the climbs, staying with the top guys.  He would have landed another scoring result in the criterium if not for a mechanical two laps from the finish (below).  Sunday's road race saw three course changes as a result of awful wet weather, but, in the end, the show did go on.  The team performed well with all three competing riders scoring in the points.  The great Sam Cowans was now in the hunt for Nationals, and Alex and Case didn't feel too bad either with seventh and twelfth place in B's, respectively.

Too much power? Or does Ward just destroy bikes...
Held on West Point's beautiful, Hogwarts-like campus overlooking the Hudson River, the Army Spring Classic saw Lazer, Sam, Alex, Brian, Steven, Dave, and Dominique race in what would turn out to be a great weekend for Bucknell Cycling.  Saturday started off with the legendary Stony Lonesome Hill Climb.  This was anyone's game; the Men's B points started at a time of 12:57.19 while the Men's A points started at 13:24.80.  Dan and Sam felt good and both earned points, while Alex and Steven were left waiting and pacing themselves for a wall that never really came (as the older guys said it would).  All racers finished the long ascent.

"Any race weekend with the Sprinter Van is a good race weekend!"

Case lookin' good in his white Panache skinsuit going up the first section of the hill climb.
That afternoon's circuit race was where the real magic happened.  Springboarding off of last week's performance, Breakstone entered in Men's A alongside Dan and Sam.  Fairly early in the race, Yale's Erik Levinsohn (the race favorite) turned up the heat to pull away from the field, and Lazer was the only man to jump on his wheel and stay with it.  The rest of the race was all about maintaining the gap, and Lazer had the strength and finesse to do it.  Though the field brought the gap down to almost 20 seconds at one point - and despite the formation of multiple chase groups at various points in the race - they couldn't push hard enough or organize well enough.  A monster 40 second gap built up by the end of the race, and Lazer flew in for second place and a whopping 64 points for the team.  Due to his position, he also got three firsts and two seconds in the sprint laps, netting another 21 points.  Dan's performance meant he was featured in both the ECCC's recap and USA Cycling's recap of the race weekend.

And that wasn't all.  Breakstone came out for his first A race looking to taste blood and make a name for himself.  One could say he took no prisoners.  Letting Dan do his thing off the front, Alex man-handled the rest of the field.  He took second in the first sprint lap and beat the rest of the field out (for third overall) in the fourth, fifth, and sixth sprint laps.  Placing seventh overall, Alex took a grand total of 45 points and guaranteed his ticket to Nationals.  To keep the theme alive, Sam charged in one second later to claim fourteenth-place.

A very happy Daniel Lazier taking a celebratory chomp of a Twizzler.

Alex off the front of the Men's A pack.
Sunday morning started off with a hectic TTT; lack of marshals left teams lost, frustrated, and slow (after going miles out of their way).  The later road race was long and featured tons of elevation.  Results Sunday weren't the best, but grilling, tons of G-Mix and Twizzlers, and afternoon sun kept spirits high.  Compliments and awestruck glances at the Sprinter continued to roll in throughout the weekend, too.

David lookin' serious prior to his road race.
The Army weekend crew, with another appearance by Harry Chen.
Week 6 of competition started with an epic drive up north to Dartmouth.  The crew was limited: Sam, Brian, and the reunited C-men, Ward and Steven.  Snow piles still lined the roads for Saturday morning's ITT, which climbed through grey mist and around towering evergreens to a wall of a finish.  The sun came out for the afternoon's four-corner Frat Row Criterium, and Brian entered the Men's A race with Sam.  It was a very fast race, with the lead guys relentlessly pushing the pace.  A small rise up the back straight proved killer for many.  Results for the day were lackluster, but the grilling was superb thanks to Papa K.  Sunday morning was cold and wet for the Men's C road race at UVM, but the A race saw skies clear and temperatures rise as the miles racked up; racers stripped new layers off each time they came around the feed zone.  After a few riders off the front came through the finish, Sam appeared, ascending the final rise with the nastiest painface the ECCC has ever seen.  He finished what he went out there to do and came in eighth overall within a small field sprint.

Week 7 was Penn State's Nittany Cycling Classic.  Saturday morning, the team put on some of their best TTT performances of the season.  On the hilly, fast 9.5 mile course, Dan, Sam, Alex, and Brian's power and form earned them a second-place finish and 92 points in Men's A.  In his first TTT ever, David Schell worked with Ward and Steven in Men's C for a fourth-place result and 18 points.  The C-men's finish saw Ward and Steven break from their pace line, stand up, and absolutely crank the last few hundred meters through the finish.

Later in the day, the team faced the infamous Black Mo' Road Race, and alumni Dan Wood and Kevin Curran made an appearance, keeping spirits high.  Each 21.5 mile lap featured a total of 1500 feet of climbing, much of which occurred over the grueling, 5+ mile ascent of Black Mo' itself.  Lazer finished fifteenth for nine points in the Men's A race, which was three laps.  Black Mo' was hard on everybody, and Ward and Steven were glad just to complete their two laps; it takes a lot to go up Black Mo' once then start another lap, knowing what lies ahead.  David had his helping too in Men's D.

Sunday was Penn State's Frat Row Criterium.  With a fast pace and a tricky chicane out back, this course was anybody's game.  In the Men's A race, strategy and timing were key, especially with seven Penn State racers on hand to make moves and control the field for the home team.  In a strategic move that didn't quite work the way he hoped, Dan showed strength staying off the front of the pack for a while.  All the winning moves happened within the last lap of the race, but Sam was able to hang in and crack the top ten while Dan earned the sixteenth spot.  Perhaps the biggest news of the day was for Case, who, after crashing, denting his bike, and tearing up his shoulder and hip, was able to jump back in the shuffle to claim 20th place - enough to put him in the points and earn him a ticket to Nationals.

Lazer putting some hurt on the Men's A field.

Case, Sam, and Dan in the Frat Row Crit.

So suave Mr. Prescott.

Week 8 finished up the regular season in Rhode Island with the ECCC Championships, presented by Rhode Island School of Design, Brown, and Providence College.  Only Sam, Alex, and Brian attended this weekend, so Bucknell did not field a TTT team Saturday morning.  Later in the day, the boys faced a rainy, muddy road race.  Results weren’t superb.  In Sunday’s criterium, however, Sam was out to race; he was aggressive up until the very end.  Though he ran out of gas for the field sprint, he finished with the pack.  Alex raced using only his front derailleur (as his rear shifter broke), and he and Brian were pulled and placed.

In proper fashion, Bucknell Cycling closed out their season with the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships (for the first time since 2011).  Alex, Brian, Dan, and Sam all qualified, and thanks to the relatively close proximity of Richmond, V.A. to Lewisburg, all four were able to attend.  The weekend was unfortunately sandwiched by final exams, making three of the four unable to compete in the ITT on Friday and Bucknell unable to enter the TTT that same day.  As the sole representative of the baby blue on Friday, Dan took an impressive 21st on the National D2 stage (and eighth among D2 ECCC riders in that event).

Brian and Alex.

Dan and Sam.
The rest of the team arrived later Friday (traveling, of course, in the Sprinter van) and bunked up at Ward's house.  Joining the team was Brandon Knettel, Lehigh’s sole qualifier and a friend of Bucknell Cycling.  Saturday brought the criterium, hosted in downtown Richmond on a tight, fast, 6-turn course that featured a sizable downhill segment, a quick turn, and then a gradual uphill.  The roads were smooth, but the topography was enough of a challenge in the 100-man race.  The team was out to win, but the size of the field made it difficult for anyone but the front twenty riders to make moves; massive yo-yoing occurred at each turn, especially out of the downhill.  Dan was the best Bucknell finisher at 48th.

Sunday brought a hot, Virginia day and a hyped-up road race around the city of Richmond.  Much of the hype surrounded the fact that this course resembled the course to be used for the 2015 UCI Championships, to be held in Richmond; the city was using these collegiate races as test-runs for one of the most important cycling races in the world.  The six grueling laps featured one particularly gnarly cobblestone climb that attracted crowds of onlookers.  Bucknell went out strong, and luckily the length of the race eliminated many of the problems faced in the criterium.  The race was blazingly fast, however, and Brian, Alex, and Sam did their best to hang on for two laps.  Our resident climber, Dan, kept pushing, looking cool and composed for his first four laps.  Dan lasted an impressive five laps before being dropped, earning him 42nd out of about 100 racers.

With an incredible weekend (and season) of racing in the books, Papa K treated the team to his famous burgers, grilled fresh beside the Sprinter van.  This weekend was an incredible experience for all four of the gentlemen who qualified.  They competed against the best racers in the nation on a truly world-class course.  As all four are returning next season, they hope use the knowledge gained this year to break the top 25, or top 15, in Asheville, N.C..

The 2014 team minus Ward following the standout Men's A performance in Army's Circuit Race.