Tag Archives: mitcycling

X-Pot 3D Race Report

This past weekend was MIT’s ECCC race weekend out near Mount Wachusett. I wasn’t able to get out for the crit on Sunday but I was able to go out for the road race and TTT on Saturday.

The day started out very early, leaving the house at 5 am to head down to MIT and pick up people and bikes to drive out to the venue. We were on our way roughly on time and made pretty good time out to Westminster. I got my race numbers, pinned them and got ready. First event of the morning was a team time trial so I headed out with my team to pre-ride the course as a warmup. As we warmed up, it was colder than I thought it would be so I was glad I had grabbed arm and leg warmers as I left the house. We mostly got into a groove and got back just in time to line up. A little bit of waiting later and we were off. Being on the new bike with a new pedal system, I was a little slow to get clipped in, but I don’t think I slowed us down too badly. We rode hard and I enjoyed it… final time for the 7 mile course was just under 18:30 giving us sixth place.

Then a cool down and stood around a little bit to wait for the road race. Did something of a warm up (aka climbed a few of the close hills) and lined up. Ended up standing lined up long enough that the warm up probably didn’t matter. The start was a neutral rollout with a large field (56 riders). As we went down the first hill, the sketchiness began — between the riders, the potholes and the oil slicks (!), it was a bit nuts. As the pace car pulled away, the field started to stretch a little. Still lots of sketchiness, plenty of disregard of the yellow line, and watching people moving into the other lane with cars coming in the other direction. I picked a semi-safe spot, but wasn’t really able to move up with the way the pack was working.

As we reached the fourth mile, we turned onto a road with a sign mentioning the Wachusett ski area. And at this point, the field blew apart as we began the climb. I was moving forward but the front of the pack had surged forward. I tried to bring along one of my teammates (Zach Y) but he was in pain so I kept moving. As I reached the top, I pulled together a small group and started urging them to work together so that we could catch however many people were in front of us. I didn’t know how many there were, but I knew working together was our best chance. To some extent, this was successful as a few of the people eventually fell into working with me in a pace line. And we caught up with some more people. But as we moved forward, the pace line began disintegrating. By the beginning of the second (of three) laps, it was largely to myself and one other guy working together. But we kept at it. Unfortunately, on the hill on the third lap, my left leg cramped in a major way. A combination of the heat and a lack of drinking much through the race were the probable causes. But in any case, I fell off my little group and limped my way up the climb. From that point, I basically soloed the rest of the course. As I came to the final finishing climb, I started to cramp again, but as an RIT guy who had originally been in my little group but not working much started to pass, I dug deep and sprinted for the line. End result of 33rd. Not what I had hoped for, but there were definitely some good parts from a learning perspective. Hopefully I can put some of them into practice soon, maybe even this weekend at Blue Hills.

After the race, changed and then got to work for my task of shuttling marshalls around to their posts. I was kind of glad to have a job that let me sit in the air conditioned car as the temperature was above 90 degrees at that point. Then, eventually back to Cambridge and then home.

A well run race weekend and a good chance to get out on the new bike and see how it performs. Answer is that I’m pretty happy with it. Now just to work on racing smarter and not missing when the front of the pack goes off rather than being towards the middle and falling behind.

First race of the season

Made a last minute decision (yesterday) that I wanted to go ahead and get some racing in, so went down today to Plymouth to race in the 4/5 field at Charge Pond. The race is held in the same state park as the Myles Standish Road Race that was my first race of the season last year but it’s a month earlier, it’s a 4/5 field and it’s a much shorter circuit (1.1 miles vs 7-ish miles). Kara had class today, so I talked Kate into going down and she talked Jon into driving for us which was awfully nice — he also played the role of photographer for the day.

We got started early enough and pulled into the parking lot at the park right after 9 for the 10 am race start. I got out and registered and pulled on the appropriate clothing for the fact that it was about 35 degrees out. We went for a few laps around the course to warm up and also do a bit of recon work. Overall, the road was in good shape; there was some sand on the edges, but that was about it. The end of the course had a pretty good corner after a downhill that was a little tricky… it was even trickier in the pack as everyone slowed down for it (including me) — definitely need to work on cornering more.

As we lined up at the race, there were about 8 other Quaddies present as well as 4 other guys from the MIT cycling team in the field of 50+. So went in with a good number of friends in the field. The first lap was very very mellow. Not sure how mellow, as the one thing I left at home was my GPS/computer. On the second lap, Kenton came up around the outside and began pushing the pace. That set the tone for pretty much the rest of the race. Someone would go up the side, push the pace, and then things would pull back together. I tried staying in the front part of the pack to varying degrees of success but it was good to get back to riding in a pack.

With what ended up being seven laps to go (wasn’t sure, they weren’t showing lap cards yet), Charles decided to follow a guy up the road and tried to get me to go with him. My legs didn’t feel like they could bridge the gap, so I instead stuck back and tried to control the pace of the pack so that he could get away. It was successful for a little bit, but then Charles ran out of steam. Was fun to try to do, though. The effort sent me to the back of the pack, though, to regain something for the end

Coming up the hill on the back side of the course with just over two laps to go, the guy in front of me had someone cut in front of him and he then went down. I was right behind him and so had no choice but to slow down a lot and then basically go over the guy. I went over the handlebars but the only real damage was biting my lip, a little bit of skin on my left knee, a bruise on the right knee and the nose of my saddle coming off (that may have been from the guy behind me who also went over us). Shook me up a little, though. So I mostly got out of the way and tried to calm down until the race ended not long after. Then I did a cooldown lap slow and relaxed with Kenton and also to stretch out the muscles.

Overall, a fun time even with the jarring and unintended ending. The big positive is that my legs mostly felt pretty good keeping up in the pack, so hopefully that can continue and translate into having a good time the rest of the racing season. I’m definitely getting more into the racing spirit, which has been a little bit of a hurdle. Hopefully the new bike will help get me the rest of the way there.

I am though now looking at saddles to replace what I was using (a Specialized Toupe). I’d been thinking about trying something new so this seems like a reasonable excuse. Suggestions welcome. Right now, I’m trying out a Fi’zi:k Antares and from the two miles I did on it, it seems okay but the real test will come tomorrow when I put 50-60 miles on it.

Starting to feel like it’s near racing time again

It’s been a long winter of base training, but in the past couple of weeks, I’ve started to feel the twitches that make me think that race season is coming soon (and it is). While I’ve been perfectly happy to go along nice and easy both on my commute and on my training rides for the past few months, a couple of weeks ago I had someone pass me on my way to campus and I felt that it wasn’t right and so I had to sprint forward and then drop them. And the frequency of it has been increasing. I see someone up the road a little bit and I need to jump forward to catch them and pass them.

So how do I think the base training has gone? Pretty well, overall. I haven’t quite hit what the MIT plan was but I’ve done pretty well considering I was sick a couple of times, I’m working in addition to school (unlike most of the team), and the general crappy weather that this winter has seen in New England. We’ll see how it translates into racing. And there’s not long until I’ll see — the first ECCC race weekend is a week and a half away in New Jersey and I’m leaning towards going there. Which, of course, means that I need to find some time to tune up the bike and get it race-ready. Hopefully the components and frame for my new race bike will be getting here soon, but it definitely won’t happen in time for next weekend.

How much can be packed into a weekend?

Busy, busy weekend. One thing which helped to make it more doable is that I finally started feeling better on Thursday of this week. Two weeks is the longest I haven't felt while in a long time. I still have a little bit of a cough, but I'm no longer feeling run down and the cough is far less bad. But getting back to the weekend…

Friday was spent with quite a bit of work being done for school (although Fedora 10 was done, so not much there). Last opportunity set for system architecture is due on Wednesday, so we tried to make some headway on that. Then, I headed home and worked for a while longer. Eventually, Kara and I headed to dinner and then it was a pretty slow evening.

Yesterday morning, woke up to a very cold morning — was just over 20° F and windy. I bundled up and headed down to go out on the Quad ride. It was a cold morning, but there was still a healthy number of people all things considered. Most turned around from Concord Center, but I had one person to continue on with me to get in a good 3 hours of base miles. With the new gloves (Pearl Izumi amphibs), I was able to keep warm except for my toes.

After the ride, came home, grabbed some lunch and then got some work done. Then, headed to poker night with some SDM folks. I had a great time and it was good to see everyone who made it out. Need to be sure that we also arrange some sort of end of semester thing, perhaps for after the last System Architecture class in a couple of weeks. I suspect even more people can be convinced to go for that once there's not a lot of work waiting to be done. Kara and I headed out from there a bit early to meet up with some friends of ours for a bit. Finally headed home about midnight and crashed.

This morning, woke up again to the cold and went out for another healthy set of base miles. Only about ten people, although more continued on for more than 20 miles. Got in about 3 hours again and still only had problems with my feet. After the ride, headed down to MIT for some time in the MIT wind tunnel — one of the perks of being on the MIT team is that we get to have a little bit of time in the wind tunnel to see the impacts of position, etc. It was a pretty cool experience and we made some slight tweaks to my position to improve aerodynamics.

Now trying to catch up on some things to get a head start on the short week beginning tomorrow. Into the final stretch of the semester for real now. And then, I'm halfway done with SDM. Hard to believe — time flies when you're having fun.

Racing season over

As of last Monday, the road racing season is completely over for me for the year. As I did last year, I went back to Jamestown, RI to race in the Jamestown Classic. This year the weather was a lot better than last year and I felt a lot more confident having had some races under my belt. The pace was a little faster but I felt a lot more comfortable hanging in with the pack, but unfortunately, didn't manage to turn it into any results as I fell back a little bit on the final climb and didn't manage to make up the few seconds rounding the corner. Thus, I ended up finishing seven seconds back. But was still a good finish basically with the front of the pack.

That down, I sent in my request to move up to a Cat4 for next season which was approved. And while I'm looking forward to next season and races that start a little bit later in the day, I'm also glad that it's now to sort of the down time. Over the weekend, I rode with Quad on Saturday and did a bit of sweeping and just taking it easy. Then, on Sunday I went out with some of the MIT team to catch some of the 'cross race in Canton and also to just get some riding in. Both days, I rode without my heart rate monitor and just had fun. Especially when we climbed to the weather observatory in Blue Hills 😉

Probably will do a few more weeks of just taking it easy and just making sure I have fun. And then, I'll probably be starting to do some actual base training and get a reasonable overall training plan to maximize how well I do next season, especially given how early the collegiate season starts.

More racing skills

Both days of this weekend had a skills clinic for the MIT racing team and I went to both. Again, the clinics were held down at the Wells Ave office park. I think at this point, I have the way from MIT to that part of Newton etched into my memory. Which also means I can get from MIT to various points around Brookline and Allston with relative ease.

Yesterday's clinic was focused on improving cornering skills. This is something which, especially after going through it, is incredibly useful and an area where I really had no clue what I was doing technique-wise. Sure, you can turn the bike and go around a corner, but being able to do so in a way that's both fast and safe is an entirely different story. There's quite a bit of technique to it. But it's cool to have a better idea of how the pros manage to severely tilt their bikes when going through corners of a crit at speed. It's an area where I'll want to spend some time practicing the technique to really get it down to where I don't have to think about it. After that, we followed up with another rousing game of Death Bike. Which was, again, a good time.

Today was focused on sprinting and riding in a pack. Again, a little bit of being told a “good” way of doing things seems like it will go a long way. But sprinting form feels like it's going to be a lot more difficult for me to get “right” just due to having to break bad habits. Luckily, sprint intervals are a pretty easy thing to do and a good way to work on the form. For riding in a pack, there was a bit of focus on moving up and how to do so quickly and efficiently. The fact that we were doing this at Wells Ave was interesting; I've raced there enough times that I know how various things feel and so it was interesting to do things in a different way. In the past I've mostly moved up by going to the outside, applying some power and getting to the front. While this does work, it's pretty inefficient as it ends up meaning I leave the draft. I've now got a much better idea on how to move up through the pack and save energy. Which should end up helping at the end for the sprint. We finished out the day with a game of Bike Capture the Flag which ended up being pretty fun as well.

All in all, a good two days of work. And although my distances were lower than my normal for a weekend, I feel like I got quite a bit out of both days and am pretty tired from both as well. This week will be an easy-ish week on the riding side so that I can be in good shape for racing at Jamestown next Monday. But that's okay, as it's a busy week on pretty much every other front. Especially since I didn't do any homework this weekend. So, it'll be a bit of a scramble to get that taken care of, but it doesn't look like it'll be too bad.

Progress with the end of seasons

This was the last weekend of summer and on Saturday, it actually felt a bit like fall was already here. I went out with the MIT cycling club on their ride to Dover (MA). Was a nice route and largely in areas that I had never been before, which was good. Relaxed pace and a good opportunity to talk with and start to get to know some of the other people riding. Was glad that I had picked up some knee warmers, though, as they were pretty much the perfect extra layer. Yesterday, though, felt more like summer again as I went out on the Quad ride. Again a beautiful day, though, and nice to get some more good riding in.

Today brought the actual beginning of autumn and waking up to it being kind of dull, gray and cool was not the way I had hoped to start the morning. But I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the office for a day that I had somewhat booked already with meetings.

Between them, managed to get the serial cable hooked up to the OLPC in the office and started with trying to track down kernel things again. And finally started getting somewhere. After a week (plus) of dead ends, I happened upon the right avenue and was able to confirm that the problem was OpenFirmware loading the initrd into RAM where it shouldn't have been. Wrote up a good description of what was going wrong, sent it off, and Mitch Bradley (aka OFW Ninja) had me a fix in about an hour. I didn't see it for a while longer due to other meetings, but it was in my inbox.

So, after getting home and having dinner, I tried it out and was greeted with success. So modulo fixing some more “normal” kernel problems, it looks like we should be well on our way to having the XO able to boot with the regular Fedora kernel. And this means that having an XO run just any old Fedora live image is now a very big step closer to reality…

MIT Racing Skills Clinic

One thing that I've told myself I'm going to try to take more advantage of than I did in the spring is some of the other things that MIT has to offer. This includes trying to make a point of going to some random lectures on random topics (… that seem interesting) but also doing some riding with the MIT cycling club/team. I went on a few of the Intercollegiate Ice Cream rides over the summer and the people seemed nice enough. So I went to the first meeting of the semester on Monday and decided that I am going to do some collegiate racing for MIT in the spring. I figure that a) it's a good chance to get some more riding in b) a good chance to meet some more people from different parts of MIT than I usually interact with as an SDM-er and c) the MIT racing team is good. Very very good. As in, nationals champion good.

Anyway, the first skills clinic of the year was held yesterday so I went down for it. Not a lot of mileage put in, but a good workout. And lots of good work. The MIT team is coached by Nicole Freedman and it's pretty obvious even after one skills clinic that one thing that has helped the team succeed is a good coach. The first skills clinic was a lot of fun — some things to help focus on relaxing (somewhat ironic, yes), some skills drills and then some “getting comfortable riding really really close to someone”. The latter culminated in a fun game of Death Bike. Yes, Death Bike is as much fun as it sounds and I'll have to be sure not to miss the first skills clinic next year so that I can do it again 😉 Looking forward to the future clinics as I think they'll be very helpful to me in getting to be a better rider and racer.

Today brought rain and quite a bit of it, so I didn't get out for a ride and have instead spent the day working either on stuff for work or on stuff for school. While I would have liked to have gotten a ride in, at least I can be glad that I was productive and thus feel better if I take some time for a ride on a day with better weather 🙂