Monday, March 30, 2009

Eric's Philly Phyler Men's D Report

The team assembled in Fairmount park for another stellar race in the city of brotherly love. A mild but rainy TTT was ahead of us. Nick A and I were readying ourselves for the TTT and then Christian also wanted to partake. Awesome! Our team was 3 again. We embarked on the journey into the fog and gingerly made our way down the hills to the racing tarmac. Filed in TTT position we take our scheduled pulls and begin to work like a team. After the first turn around the pace got blistering and we tugged on without the support of Nick. He had a couple great pulls in him but TTT are intimidating to say the least. Christian put in some awesome efforts and worked to carry the rest of the pace. We managed to have some fun along the way by celebrating with fellow racers the joys of cycling and giving advice to a flock of geese that wandered into the road. Our last efforts up the hill were epic to say the least. We coached each other up the hill and crossed the line in perfect fashion. I wish there was a picture it was teamwork at its finest. Next time we can work on our speed but it was clearly a fun time. 18th place we took with an average just nipping 21mph. Great effort. I look forward to more TTT's with the team.

The stage was set to have a fun crit. Unlike the previous couple weeks, the crit was a real crit. 3/4 turns, flat, fast and fun. Mine and Nick's third row start wasn't the best but there was plenty of moving to be done throughout the pack and the course was very accepting of this. The pack stayed together for a while as separations were made. I continued to relax through the race and basically gap any breaks in the pack just so I didn't have to bridge up later on. This proved to work out really well as I made my way to the front (yes first wheel) with 3 to go. I know the winner of field sprint crits rarely come off the front so I took my pull and retreated to 4th/5th wheel and waited for my move. Last lap came and so did an attack after turn 1, I was reluctant to attack which proved to be my demise. I let them go and I sprinted the final straight to catch some more victims to finish off with 7th place. My first placing in the points but disappointing because of my poor late race tactics. Nick finished up his D race with a 50th place finish, I have no doubts he will be contesting the front of the pack in no time. Great weekend had by all, yea Philly!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blue Hens RR - Men's Intro - The Importance of Communication

If there is to be a first race report for the Men's Intro RR, this past weekend at UDel deserves the honor. 

The past two weekends, the Rutger's Intro Men riders have taken to the field and left their mark. After learning how to properly corner, ride in a pack, and the dynamics of racing, the UDel road race was the time for us to shine and put our handy skills to work. We previously learned at Columbia the importance of starting in the lead pack and getting a good start early on. As I quickly jumped to the front, I found myself leading into a long hill, and doing most of the work, which was probably not the best tactic at the start of a race. As I realized I wouldn't be able to conquer the hill alone, I quickly fell behind my teammate Doug, and working together we got past the hill. For the rest of the race, Doug and I worked together like brothers, staying in the lead pack for the rest of the race. 

As we rounded the last corner, and the  anxiety of the last sprint started taking grip, I took to the lead starting the sprint, knowing that Doug was behind me. Two weeks ago Doug and I had practiced doing lead-outs with the team, and now was the time to bring it to the next level. Racing to the front, Doug caught on and the final field sprint began. The only problem now was  sustaining the sprint for over 600m! Starting too early, I quickly pulled off letting Doug take the lead. As he flew by me, I saw that right behind him, feeding off our lead-out, was BU rider. As I yelled "Go Doug, Go Doug, Go Doug!", he though that I had caught behind again for the last 100m, and pulled off for me to take the lead, but instead gave BU the last push to victory. Although the Rutger's men didn't pull off the big win, 2nd and 3rd would have to suffice for this week, and a very valuable lesson of using clear communication was learned. 
On our 3 1/2 hour ride home, Doug and I spoke nonstop about our dream bikes, racing tactics, and the next weekend. We decided that it was time to leave the intro men behind and move up to a new world. So long intros, and D Men, here we come!

Wear Rudy Project

Our go-fast guy in the Men's B races, the venerable DK, was in perfect position with 300m to go. CaptainChaz was leading him out, and they were rocketing towards success. Charlie already wrote about the ensuing crash, and I can only echo his disappointment and frustration.

Having started the lead out, I was behind the melee, which gave me a front-row seat to the horrific tumble. I was sure that DK would be carted off in an ambulance... imagine my delight when he turned out to have suffered nothing worse than some road rash!

His head had hit the ground with a violent impact. Here, in his own words, is DK's description of the butcher's bill:

Blue Hens RR - Mens B - so close, yet so far from cycling glory

At Columbia, we learned that one needs to start fighting for position quite early in the B field, especially with UVM's huge team. This week, we were prepared for the challenge. Each of us knew our role: Don would patrol the front and try to get into any promising breaks, when the efforts got harder, I'd join Don near the front to make any selections, and DK would be our man for the sprint.

After 47 miles of scenic, rolling, not-too-difficult spring riding, it was clear that there would be a sprint finish. Don did an amazing job working hard in the last 4 miles so that we'd have good position going into the last two right hand corners, and he got me and Dave up to speed as the sprint wound up. UVM was going up the right side, and space was opening to the left. I jumped to a Millersville wheel there, and the pace kept creeping up. Part of the UVM lead out was decelerating into our lane, Millersville slowed. Feeling the raging pack behind me, I knew I had to keep accelerating around the right of Millersville. The yellow line and disqualification awaited to the left and slowing promised a giant pile up. Dave's wheel grazed mine and - CRAP - CRAP - CRAP!!! I kept it going to the line as the only hope for RU and got to the line in 3rd.

(Photo: Velocity Results)

It should have felt sweet to get such a result in this field, but my job was to launch DK to the finish, not fight for the line from 400m out. His explosiveness could possibly have carried him the 4 bike lengths ahead of me to the win. So, we were left with frustration, shame, yet thanksgiving. The frustration of being denied the chance of challenging UVM with our three man team, the shame of being involved in the nucleation of a crash, yet being thankful that DK was alright and we'll be able to fight for the finish line another day.

I couldn't stop replaying that finish in my head on Saturday. I don't want to pass blame (you clearly see my involvement above), but to help keep us safer in the finishing straights, can we have our lead-out men pull off towards the gutter, keeping as much power on as possible 'till the line, and can we please have two lanes for the sprint?

Friday, March 20, 2009

The New Kid Races...

So for the past two weekends, my life has belonged to Rutgers Cycling. Actually, just weekends isn’t really accurate. It’s sort of a lifestyle change as race season starts. By mid-week I’m anticipating the weekend not because I’ll get to relax, but because whenever I think about it, adrenaline starts pumping. I'm spending more time riding than anything else, stretching, doing recovery swims, practicing handling skills and reading everything I can find about cycling.

I’d love to be able to say that the past two weeks- four races in total- have gone smoothly, but that would be inaccurate blogging. The first race- the Rutgers Time Trial- was bad going in- my muscles started cramping before the race, and by the end, I had to lean on my bike just to walk. Still, I was in the top half of Intro Women, so I wasn’t totally upset. I couldn’t do the Princeton Crit that afternoon, though I did have an amazing time screaming my head off cheering for my teammates.

The next day, my legs were feeling better for the Circuit Race at Rutgers. However, the cycling gods were not smiling on me, and when a girl from the University of Delaware crashed, I went down with her in a massive pileup. I recovered from it and, bleeding profusely and road-rash covered, made my way to the finish, ending in a sprint that made me (and my parents and sister, who came to cheer) very proud. I’m still healing from that, since for some reason, my body isn’t healing bruises or cuts very well lately. I have bruises from two months ago on my legs!

Midweek, we did a 50 mile base mile ride, and I realized, as I was riding with 15 or so people I now consider to be my friends, that for the first time, I feel like I’m in college and I love it.

I had high hopes for the Grant’s Tomb crit the next weekend and started out strong, riding alongside or directly behind Karina, who is turning out to be an amazing racer. The last half of the last lap, I got a cramp, so the sprint ending wasn’t exactly my strong point, but I finished mid-pack. Still, I had a great time and I realized just how amazing it is to have a whole team cheering for you!

Sunday was a crit at Stevens Institute of Technology, and I knew right away that it was going to be a terrible race for me. There was a sharp downhill that curved at the top, followed by a sharp right at the bottom. The saving grace was the hill to the finish. I spent the few laps that Intro Women raced braking too much on the downhill and catching back up on the uphill. Had the race been longer, I may have gotten more comfortable with the downhill, but with only four laps, that never happened. The sprint finish was pretty great though- in the last hundred or so yards, I passed at least five other racers on the uphill, thanks to my Dad and half the team cheering me on.

I’m learning a lot and getting more comfortable on the bike, and most of all, I’m having an amazing time with amazing people. I’m missing this weekend so I can run a marathon, but next weekend I’ll be back on the saddle for racing in Philly!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grant's Tomb B report

note: This report was generated using a template, which may not be the best idea but it sure made the tone snarky.

Yesterday I drove with Molly, Charlie, and Mark, to Columbia to race the Grant's Tomb Criterium. Based on the way my rides have gone this week, and where I am in my training cycle, I was not expecting much. Looking at the list of registered competitors, I saw that UVM and MIT, both of them very fast and big teams, were signed up, but I tried not to worry about it.

I got on the trainer and warmed up. My legs felt surprisingly snappy. Before I knew it, it was time to line up at the start.

The official gave the command, and we were off. It goes without saying that it was a crazy start. Why can't people clip in without swerving?

Colgate warmed up with a riser made of library books.
I think that's awesome.

Needless to say, somebody tried to attack right away. I sat patiently in the pack because I knew the break would be caught, and I just wanted to wake the legs up.

The other racers were so sketchy. How hard is it to hold a line through a corner? Anyway, it was that other dude's fault that he almost crashed. Not mine. I did nothing wrong.
This isn't a photo of the race. Instead, it is a photo of Matt and Eric, and of their sweet facial hair. Isn't that even better?

It was finally time to sprint. Some guy from some other team totally changed lines through the last corner, so I couldn't unleash my massive wattage. I was pretty disappointed to finish mid-pack, because I know I could've done better if not for that guy.

I drank too much last night, and I couldn't get to sleep afterwards. Also, I didn't get enough warmup, and then I had to spend too much energy closing gaps that other people were opening. Other people almost crashed me a lot, which was frustrating. Finally, I have been training too hard, so I'm burned out, but also I didn't train enough this week, so the legs weren't open.

When all is said and done, I can look back on this race and honestly say I gave it everything I had, but also I had more to give. The result I got is satisfactory, but I still want more. On the other hand, it's just bike racing, and there are so many more important things in life! Even though I'll be reliving every moment of that race obsessively for weeks to come, I assure you: I'm not letting bike racing stress me out.

I can definitely say that my mediocre finish was in spite of the totally sweet bike I ride. It's a stiff and light Speicalized frame, with superlight Ritchey components. The guys at the Efinger Sporting Goods shop did a great job wrenching it, and of course all the fuel in my belly was provided by Gu energy supplements, which are as delicious as they are viscous.

As always, it was a ton of fun to race with my teammates, Captain Chaz and DKizzle, who are as awesome as they are strong.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Spirit of 1869 RU-Princeton Report - Men's C

The Rutgers Mens C team rolls deep. Part of the problem is that at least two of us would like to be in the B's, but have been denied a Cat4 upgrade.

Princeton Crit
On a previous training ride, FroJoe and I decided to attack the crit from the gun. I took the helm for the first few laps and the field was successfully split. Two UPenn riders must have had a similar idea, countered FroJoe, a Temple Rider, and me, and got away. The three of us worked together for a bit, but we were not able to bridge up. Temple went back to the chase group, and Joe kept at it, keeping the hope to bridge up alive. I tried to stay away from the chase, but with about three to go, the chase seemed so close that my desire for their draft overcame my sense of heroics. In hindsight, I should have gone for it, because the chase wasn't moving too fast, and the two laps with them weren't long enough to recover for a sprint. Poor choice, but still a great race for Rutgers. FroJoe stayed away with a truly amazing display of fitness, securing third place, and the majority of the rest of our team was in that chase group. The Rutgers C mens squad took four of the top ten spots, with the performances of C$ and Matt B in 7th and 8th, while I came home in 9th.

Rutgers Circuit
On Sunday, my legs were a bit worked, but they warmed up as the race went on. McGill and a number of other schools were making sure that no breaks were getting away, so I sat in 'till the last two laps. Me and a UPenn guy from Saturday's break had a bit of a gap with 1 1/2 to go. I asked him if he wanted to go for it or wait for the sprint finish. He wanted to wait - my legs were glad to hear that response. FroJoe took a big dig at the begining of the last lap. He inspired a series of other riders to keep it lined out for the majority of the last lap. Going into the last corner, it was the UPenn winner from Saturday, the Temple Rider from Saturday, Matt B, and then me. A gap opened behind the Temple rider. I surged to try to cover it. My surge fell short of bridging the gap, but opened a big gap to the rest of the field. A bit of terror overcame me as I realized I'd have to fight into the headwind the entire length of that long finishing straight in no-man's-land. Stand up, sit down, spin, stand up, sit down, spin, stand up for the finishing sprint... held off the field by about 4 inches!!! The second third place for RU this weekend, not bad.

(photo: Velocity Results' finish camera)

Smilin'Kyle came out of the bunch, propelling himself to a 6th place finish. We've seen his explosiveness on the training rides, and it was great to see it in a race today. Of special note, I'd like to thank FroJoe for getting the pace of the last lap up so that it wasn't crowded at the front, thank Matt B for delivering me safe to the finishing straight, and congratulate Ray for excellent work in the field and a great 17th/48 finish.

Rutgers C mens team... rollin' deep, and getting some results. Hopefully, we'll be able to spread some of us into the Mens B squad by next weekend, relying on the rest of the C team to keep the results coming, while supplying some more teammates towards the B mens effort.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

RU Cycling on RUTV

Rutgers Cycling was featured in the latest episode of Sports Knight on RUTV. Featuring interviews with Chris, Nick and Vlad, this segment has the dual effect of raising the team's visibility on campus and making us look pretty freakin' awesome. Enjoy!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Prospect Park Race | 2/28/09, Brooklyn NY

Who does a bike race at 6:30 AM in Brooklyn in February?

Lots of people, apparently.

At Rutgers, we're eager to sear our lungs and cause widespread cellular oxidative damage to our legs as soon as possible. Our usual March race just isn't early enough or cold enough anymore. We've grown callous over the years. Ergo, Prospect Park in February. The revolution will be categorized:

Unless otherwise stated, images courtesy of DAVID PEREZ SHADI

Cat 5.
Eric R. flew the Rutgers flag in his road racing debut. If I may quoteth a wise sage: "Eric had alluded to pre-race jitters, as is customary before one's first-ever road race. He would be using this race to gauge his fitness and skills, but he had no ambitions. Well, Eric got 7th in his race. How's that for a gauge?"

Eric in his debut.

Cat 4.
Don, FormerBucknell Jason, and Dave took to the line in an 84 man cat 4 field. I didn't see the race firsthand, but rumor has it Jason pulled for the first half of the affair, before having to stop for a mechanical. Dave and Don made bank in the field sprint, placing 5th and 6th, respectively. When asked about the source of their strength, both riders cited DOING A CENTURY EVERY WEEK ALL WINTER as a large contributor to success.

Don stalks his prey. Image courtesy of Andrew Kozak, from

Jason lives in pain land.

Cat 1/2/3
Chris and your author, whom I shall refer to as Will, battled 110 eager beavers in the 40 mile 1/2/3 race. The pack rode the small hill of the race quite easily and bombed the downhill at anaerobic speed. 8-man-breaks rolled off the front and were pulled back for the whole race. Predictably, an 8 man group escaped at with a few laps to go and stayed away. With 60+ people left for the sprint, Chris and Will saw their collegiate seasons flash before their eyes in an whirlwind of sketch and bonk. They both thought it best to sit up, call it a day, and save the sprint theatrics for the ECCC.

Chris sits in the wind, "because racing isn't hard enough for me otherwise"

Will crests the hill. You know the climbing is slow when I make it over with the pack.