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...?


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