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2014Calcagni

West Point, Penn State, and RISD/Brown/PC Race Report

By Tom Calcagni


I. West Point

Saturday ITT

The individual time trial was a short (~3mi) hill climb and the route was different from past years. The morning was still chilly, but the sun was shining along the Hudson. I chose not to race since there was no official route map and many of the riders who started earlier made wrong turns and went off course. It wasnít really worth my time getting ready. Plus I was still really tired.

Panorama of ITT start. Photo by Tom Calcagni

Saturday Circuit

Grey clouds took over the sky which made the afternoon cold and windy. I warmed up as much as I could for the circuit race and scouted out the course. There werenít any hills, just a simple loop with a long stretch along a windy highway. The road was riddled with cracks and holes and some road edges were puddle-filled craters. The C field was really sketchy during the race especially making the awkward righ-hand corner onto the narrow bridge. No one wanted to fall off the bridge from someone taking things too fast, so people would cut wideónarrowly missing the spectators in the parking lot to the left. While the pack would get bunched up in areas (since the roads were narrow) I found certain spots where I could gain positions by riding off-road or directly through some of the holes along the side of the road. No one else would bother riding through these so it was like a direct path to the front of the group. With about 3 laps to go I had to make a choice: stay in the pack for the sprint or attempt a breakaway. The stretch of road leading up to the sprint was weaved left and right, I also had a few close calls and nearly got crashed out in corners. I didnít want to risk a sprint at the end. With two laps to go just as the field of riders slowed down and bunched up across the entire road, I was at the back of the group. The only opening to the front was the gravel and crater puddles. I went full-power off road and showed off my cyclocross skills for everyone. The crowd was cheering as the muddy water sprayed into the air. Everything felt like it was slow-motion except for my racing heart as I dashed off the front. I didnít make it far, but boy did that feel great. It was a huge rush and I think thatís why I got worn out so quickly. Everyone passed me just after the final lap started. I was disappointed that I couldnít catch back on with the pack, but couldnít stop smiling.

After my race I put on some warm clothes, ate food, and watched the rest of the races.

Menís B Race. Drexel team pictured (from left) Joey, Vince, and Neal. Photo by Tom Calcagni

Sunday TTT

I had about two cups of coffee to start my day; most of our team didnít race until the late afternoon. I think we all skipped the team time trial.

Sunday Road Race (3 laps, 42 mi)

Panorama of the road race start. Photo by Tom Calcagni

This road race was probably one of my top 3 road races. Itís one of the few long hills that Iím able to hang with the group because it lacks any steep gradients. On the first lap I managed to stay with the field for the entire loop. I was actually surprised with my ability to do this. Coming through the finish line for the first lap, I started eating my snacks. I was having a lot of fun just chilling at the back. We descended and began our second ascent up the hill, but thatís when my legs gave way. My thighs tightened up and I quickly got dropped. After pedaling with one leg and stretching the other leg, I felt a bit more loose and began powering back up the climb. There were about three other riders who were popped off the back who grabbed my wheel in an attempt to catch back up to the field. The four of us began working together along the rolling hills on the backside of the course. Every mile or so, we picked up another rider. Our group grew into a field of about 20 or so, but there were still many riders ahead of us. On the final lap up the climb our pack broke up again. I had to take things slower this time since I was getting tired. Overall it was a great race and even better training. Even if you arenít in contention for the win or even the top 10, just keep riding; itís great exercise and training for future races.


II. Penn State

Saturday Road Race

My all time favorite road race. Iíve never had a good result at this course, but Iíve always enjoyed every painful pedal stroke climbing that mountain of road. On the first lap (of 2) I took to the front as we descended the hill. I wanted to be away from sketchy riders who donít know how to handle their bike downhill. As we approached the sharp left turn at the bottom, I switched into my small ring, but realized I donít need to slow down that much and switched back into my big ring and failed. Chain dropped off the outside and began getting caught on the crank-arm. I managed to stay upright and shift the chain back onto the cog, but the entire field flew right by me. I had to play catch up, but never caught up. I ran out of water eventually and stopped at the natural water spring at the top of the climb. It was ice cold and really helped me make it back to the finish on such a hot day of racing.

Climbing the big hill, I passed maybe one or two riders, so I knew I was near-last place. I continued on for a second lap and still didnít pass anyone. After finishing the race, I found out that I placed about 28th or so in a field of about 40. ALWAYS keep riding even if you think youíre last. I ended up with a fairly good result despite passing only about 3 people total. A bunch of riders quit after the first lap.

Sunday Criterium

You need to start at the front for this crit course. The chicane (sharp S-bend) stretches the field out to single-file. It was tough staying near the front since everyone would bunch back up at the start/finish line. By mid-race I began drifting back since it was tiring fighting for position every lap.I had to move back up especially with only a few laps to go. With 2 to go I was in the back, but since the field was bunched up I moved to the left of the road and began making my way up to the front. As I was doing this the moto ref squeezed between me and the curb scaring the shit out of me. I became furious and flung my arm into the air yelling at the guy for pulling a move so close to the riders. Engulfed in rage I chased after the moto. I wanted to catch up to him and yell at him some more. I knew the motos canít take the corners as fast as bicycles so I had an edge. I just kept powering down as hard as I could and didnít give two craps about who was on my wheel. I expected the entire field to be behind me but I didnít care. I didnít even look back, I just wanted to make the last lap painful for everyone behind me. On the last lap I heard someone telling me to keep going. ďTom! Letís go! Keep pushing, we have a gap!Ē or something along those lines are what I heard. I glanced back out of the corner of my eye and saw Chris. I let him continue forward and intended to grab his wheel. We had a 2-man break going and the field was charging from behind. I had no energy left to sprint as I saw one rider make an attempt to catch up to Chris who had passed me entirely. The final straight, I couldnít get out of my saddle to sprint ahead of the 9 riders behind me, so I stayed seated and continued to put on the hurt. I finished 10th place and Chris took an amazing 2nd place. There had been a one-man break earlier in the race who had a considerable gap on the field.

Tom (left) did his work for the day and launched teammate, Chris (right) to 2nd place. Courtesy of http://craighoutzphotos.photoshelter.com/portfolio


III. RISD/Brown/PC Race Report

Saturday Road Race

This road race had some terrible weather; lots of rain and even more cold. The start was basically a long straightaway with some rolling hills. There was a lot of hard braking and a few times people had to ride off the pavement just to not slide into the people in front. Then there were some sections of dirt roads, but in this rain it was just mud. I used up a lot of my energy in the dirt sections trying to gain back positions and I pretty much blew up and couldnít pedal faster anymore. I had to chase for awhile and then I lost sight of the pack. I came across an intersection and noticed a few riders down off the side of the road. One of them was Chris. He was checking his bike to make sure it was okay. It had a flat tire, but there could be more damage. Without wasting any time I hopped off my bike and told him to take it. Just go and try to catch back up. He continued on with my bike. Looking back I could have just given him my front wheel, but since he was in a crash we didnít know what else could have been wrong with the bike. I think it was our best option knowing what we did at the time. I got to sit in the back of a police car at the intersection so I could warm up and stay dry as I waited for Brendan to pick me up to take me back to the parking lot.

Sunday Criterium

This was a really fast course with wide roads and chicane. Similar course to the PSU crit, but slightly wider. We were about 2 or 3 laps into the race when there was a crash at the chicane. I came to a complete stop, did a track stand and looked for a way around the pile of bodies and bikes. I was basically game over from here. I used up so much energy trying to catch back up. I made it within 25ft of the pack but that was as close as I got. I continued on alone taking the corners as fast as possible, trying to make up as much space as I could to catch back on. I got pulled with about 20 laps to go.

Tom navigating through the entangled riders after a crash. Courtesy of http://www.yellowjeepphotos.com/CYCLING

The look of defeat. Just after recovering from the crash we all know our race is over if we are unable to catch back up to the field. Courtesy of http://www.yellowjeepphotos.com/CYCLING

Determination. My attempt to catch the group ahead. Courtesy of http://www.yellowjeepphotos.com/CYCLING

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Page last modified on June 11, 2014, at 08:19 PM