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?


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