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Duke - ACCC Race Weekend #3

Race Results

Saturday's Road Race

  • Men's B
    • 17th - Brett Houser
  • Men's C
    • DNF - Brendan Diener
  • Men's D
    • 15th - Tom Calcagni
    • DNF - Calahan Kirkner

Sunday's Crit

  • Men's P/1/2/3
    • 13th - Tim Manzella
    • 27th- Brett Houser
  • Men's Cat 4/5
    • 24th - Tom Calcagni
    • 39th - Brendan Diener
  • Men's C
    • 38th - Brendan Diener
  • Men's D
    • 8th - Tom Calcagni
    • 10th - Calahan Kirkner

Race Report

Well, since none have been posted yet, here's my report from the weekend which is a cross between a report and notes about things I saw. We'll start of with the notes.


  • For what everyone says about the ACCC being not as well run, that's

really not as true as people make it seem. Okay, I'll give you their registration process and results need improved, but the race overall was on par with any ECCC race. Despite Brendan's complaint about marshals not doing anything at a turn (see next note) the race was very well put on. The only real issue I had was that there wasn't enough toilet paper either day and the funny thing is that something like that is what people will remember, not the great race courses that were there that weekend. They had plenty of marshals around the course, the courses were fun to do and are worth doing again and it seems the all the teams stick around to watch the finish of the A race and the majority of the racing during the crit. Duke seemed to have their act together with putting on the race with everything going off on time for this apparently being the first time they put on races on these courses.

  • Brendan complained that he made the turn to the finish when he wasn't

suppose to because the marshals didn't stop him at the corner. As much as I sympathize with him, it's not all their fault. If you get dropped from the field, its your responsibility to get around the course and to follow the rules of the road (most courses should be marked and this one was and I was able to follow it no problem when I was riding around without a map of it). For a road race its important know the course, or at least how it is set up. For this one there was a loop that you did multiply times before you went back to where you started to finish. The marshals at that corner we're probably told to just stop traffic when the field went by until the USAC official at the that corner who was counting the laps told them to close the other side of the road. As a racer you have to know what lap you're on and how the course is run so that you don't have to rely on the marshals for everything since they are probably parents of students and might not know everything.

  • Speaking of marshals, when I was riding around the road course I ended up stopping at a corner to let the fields pass me and ended up talking to the parents who were at the corner marshaling from about 20 minutes. It turns out they came from 7 HOURS away to help out for the weekend, let me repeat that 7 hours, that's as far as we drove to race. That is called Duke doing a good job at getting people out to help out with their race. From what I could tell, Duke had at least 2 people at every corner of the road race and crit in addition to police during the crit.
  • Both courses were good racing loops. The road race reminded me of

RPI from last year with a small hill in it that you only did once. The crit was similar to Iron Hill except a little shorter in length and a little wider on the home stretch. They had a good crowd come out and watch the crit especially later in the day, it looked to me that the whole home straight was lined on both sides for the A race and USAC races and much of the rest of the course had crowds on it. That's called a promoter doing a good job at getting word out to the surrounding community that an event is going on.

  • For A crit, App State who is probably the UVM/PSU of the A teams in the ACCC, they had 3 people on cross bikes for the crit, with 2 of them with actually cross gearing. One of those with cross gearing won the race out of a day long break. Why I bring this up, is something that I have pointed out to Brett H. a couple of times, pushing gears. Joe is probably the best at not doing this. Its better in a race to spin than push a heavy gear, I'm not saying that you should be spinning at 100+rpm but, in the 80/90 range. Some people will push a hard gear the whole time at 60rpm and then wonder why they aren't fresh at the end of the race or can't accelerate as quickly out of turns.
  • The pace car for the crit was a Ferrari.


The Duke weekend began with a long trip down I95 to I85 to get to the Durham/Chapel Hill area. It seems that almost collegiate race I've been to involves driving on I95 at some point for an extended period of time. Brett and I drove to Adam and Michelle's house for the weekend while the rest of the team; Brendan, Calahan and Tom, drove to the hotel. As Adam point it later in the weekend, the team as gotten weak in how they stay for weekends, it wasn't uncommon when I started with the team to squeeze 7+ people in a hotel room. Apparently, now its common to get a king size suite with multiply beds, pull out couches and even a kitchen. Weak, just weak, I guess Red Roof Inns aren't good enough for you guys anymore.

In typical Drexel fashion, Brett and I showed up to the road race on Saturday about 5 minutes before Brendan went off for the C race. I personally think that just on time and not late but what do I know. It was a neutral roll out for about 1/2 miles until the field reached the loop that was about 13 miles long. The races then end with a short uphill that led to the finish. The course was really windy in sections and was a rolling course with no big climbs, just lots of small hills and wind that made some of them seem quite big. Brendan got dropped at some point on 1st lap and ended up taking the turn back to the finish instead of following the loop. Brett and I were on the hill talking with Eric (former Yale rider now W&M rider) when we notice someone coming up the hill and as they got closer we realized it was Brendan. The best part was when we told him that he made a wrong turn, his reaction was that the rider that followed him by a couple of yards was going to hate him. Brendan was a good sport and end up doing 1 more lap before calling it a day. Calahan and Tom went off about 15 minutes after Brendan and experienced some fun moments in neutral start when there was a crash in the middle of the field. It happened right behind Tom who was witnessed to smirk when he say what happened. Ah, good old D racing. Calahan got dropped during the 1st lap and end up calling it a day. Tom ended up in the second group on the road and on their climb to the finish by a good margin for a top 15 finish. One thing that I noticed with the lower categories was that people were starting their sprint up the hill to the finish way to soon and would die, Tom just put it in a gear and instead of sprinting to the top, just gradually accelerated away from the pack who couldn't hold his pace. Brett followed in the B race and sat in the pack for the whole race and got boxed/almost taken down a couple of times in the run in to the finish but didn't give up and pulled off a good results.

After the road race, we went to Adam and Michelle's place to pick them up and go get ice cream and bbq. The bbq place was pretty good with everyone eating way more than they probably should and Brett being typical Brett and ordering every vegan thing they had on the menu while draining his bank account in the process. He did eat all of his food, so I guess he was just that hungry (though he did pass out afterwards and didn't get ice cream with us). After the bbq we went to a homemade ice cream place/dairy where they produce their own milk too. The ice cream was pretty good, but Joe I'm sorry, the creamery ice cream is better, though it does give it a good run for its money.

After scaring a sleeping Brett in my car by climbing on the roof and banging on his window from above, Brett and I went back to the house where Brett promptly slept for the next 12 hours. I ended up hanging out with Adam and Michelle for most of the night before deciding it was a good idea to get some sleep before I raced the next day. After making eggs with pimento cheese for myself, Brett and I once again got to the race right on time with only one or 2 minutes to spare. Because the race course was so short, laps for every race were less than 1:15, it meant that there would be a lot of lapping of people being down. Calahan lasted for over half the race before they ended up pulling his group from the race. Tom once again end up being in the second group on course again though they ended up getting lapped by the 5 leaders they were never pulled and Tom ended up sprinting to 8th place if I remember correctly. Brendan didn't have the best start in the C race and end up near the back of the field for the first lap. He worked his way though some of the tail end of the field but was never able to get to a safe wheel before the pulled him. I tried offering him gum drops to get him to go faster but it didn't work. Brett decided to just do the P/1/2/3 race for the crit even though before the weekend he was claiming that he would do three races that day. To make up for not following through with his boasting he decided to warm up for about 2 hours before the race. I decided to sun bath on my car instead while he was on my trainer and then got about 45 minutes of a warm up in. A decent field, probably around 40, showed up for the race with the Mt. Khakis pro team showing up in addition to the App start A squad and some local heavy hitters. I tried to stay near the front of the field for most of the race with a couple of stints in the middle, with the middle being defined as any where in front of Brett. Two Mt. Khakis guys and an App State guy got away from the field about a 1/4 of the way through the race and they would stay away the whole time though they never lapped us. Mt. Khakis did a decent job a keeping the pace high enough that no one tried to get away (this is key to blocking in a race, you don't make the field go really slow, you set a pace the allows the break to get a grab but discourages people from trying jump/pull the field close to the break). I put in a couple of turn at the front to test and see how the legs are right now and made sure I was near the front for the primes so that I wouldn't get caught on the wrong side of a split in the field. We probably did slightly under 60 laps for the race and had 11 primes, so there was one about every 5 minutes. A nice thing about having an experienced team there, is that they kept the field pace faster during the prime laps so that you didn't have a bunch of people coming forward that shouldn't be. I ended up getting in decent position for the last couple of laps to be up there for the sprint (maintained a top 10 positioning) but I didn't have the kick in my legs at this point in the season to really go for the sprint so I just dieseled it to the line and past a couple of people who died in the sprint and didn't have anyone pass me. Adam and Michelle came out to watch the P/1/2/3 race and estimated that I was probably around 15th place with Brett around 30th. The best part was after the race when I was talking with Adam and Michelle on the side of the course, I guy came up to me shook my hand and said I looked like Lance to which I replied, I am definitely not that good and laughed. Brett and I ended up not sticking around to see results and then took the long trip back up I95 to get home.

-Tim Manzella

Let us not forget Tim's crazy mishap in the race, which happened the moment we ran out of free laps!

Not looking at lap cards too often during a race with nearly 60 laps, one of the few times I looked over I saw "8" to go. Meaning I just passed my final threshold of the race, I was guaranteed to be placed, and I was still feeling strong on the back of the pack a few places from last. In essence, I felt good and had an otherwise strong finish under my belt. Then I look up to see Tim -- riding four or five places ahead of me -- wriggle, jump and then wheelie off his bike! Literally, doing a wheelie in the field. My man Tim sees a deeply recessed grate every lap of that race, but right when it is no longer "okay" to hit it, the very moment free laps are over, he finds a line that goes right into it. So I'd rather him explain exactly what he did to miss it, but from what I could gather he sprang out of his seat, kept his body in line and over the grate, while he threw his bike to the left to avoid the dip, and in the end pulled off a sweet 3-foot wheelie while entering turn 1 in a super fast race. Oh! And when his wheel was in the air and his body torqued to the right, he also turned his handlebars sideways in some sweet show of bragging points, "tweaking" his wheel while it was midair. Crazier yet, he landed with it slightly askew wheel and still managed a controlled line to ride off and immediately drop his shoulders to start the lean into turn 1 of the course. Crazy, right? Way to go, Tim. You were awesome!

I might add what I learned during that race, but I didn't really learn anything during it, only after when Tim told me what was going on and what I missed in terms of tactics. It was way harder than I expected. I was scared before the race and laid in the car right beforehand, expecting to get dropped early. But I held on and finished with some renewed confidence in my lines and handling. And I also blew out my sinuses! From breathing so heavily through my nose. Which is only ever a problem when phlegm and mucus gather near the back of my throat and I'm forced to stop using my mouth. Basically, that race literally shut me up! It didn't affect my racing at the time though, only the car ride home when I had to stick paper up my nose to keep the snot from draining out of my head like a stuck pig. Or a sieve? Whatever imagery works best for you.
I'd like to add that Tom, Brendan and Calahan gained extra "cred" on the way up by mooning my sorry face upwards of three times! Dang yo, that was rough. And an extra special thanks to Adam and Michelle for hosting my sorry ass this weekend. I accidentally almost got two of their pets killed. I still feel horrible. The weekend was awesome, Brendan did a fantastic job getting us all up there and set up, and both Calahan and Tom deserve congratulations for a great first preseason race weekend! (This was Brendan's second preseason race; that 's the only reason I didn't mention him.) You can see a bunch of the race pictures via Calahan Kirkner's Facebook page [1]. Note the lack of watermarks. Thanks, Calahan! Because you are reluctant to use watermarks I may actually look through your pictures. Insert gibe at Chat [here]!


-Brett Houser

Our departure from Philadelphia was marked with pouring rain, but it quickly diminished. Although the drive was long, I was plenty entertained along the way; Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina. Each state we passed through was more interesting than the last. Delaware had industrial factories reeking of sulfur; Maryland had a tunnel through the Chesapeake Bay; and in D.C. we caught glimpses of the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. Virginia was an interesting state--no, it was an odd state. The reason behind calling it “odd” stems from the various cities we passed through, such as “Dumb-Fries” and “Man-Asses”, but this was only the beginning. The strangest thing we found in Virginia was a Wendy’s restaurant with a public shower in their bathrooms. Many jokes were made about Wendy’s showers and the town of Manassas.
Once in North Carolina, we could all tell we had endured a 7-hour car ride since we were laughing hysterically at the stupidest things. For example: Brendan told us of a fast-food chain in the South that goes by the name of “Bojangles”. The legend is that its chicken will leave you needing not a toilet, but a shower afterwards; furthermore, there are rumors that their iced-tea tastes like urine. Fortunately, we decided that we valued our colons and went with a healthier alternative: McDonalds. One particular moment that had me uncontrollably laughing was when we were ordering our food in the drive-thru. Either Calahan or Brendan mentioned the word “Bojangles” in a stereotypical southern accent which nearly brought me to tears of laughter. I simply replied during a brief break from laughing, “This drive was too damn long.” It was one of those moments when you are so tired that anything is funny.

We finally arrived at our hotel with our food around 1:30am on Saturday. After having some trouble unlocking our hotel door, we stepped inside. My first thought, “Holy crap this is nice.” It had a flat screen TV, fireplace, kitchenette, a double bed, and a couch that transformed into another double bed. Maybe we got lucky when Brendan booked this hotel or maybe Brendan intentionally got this place because he knew he would be guaranteed a real bed this time- I don’t know, but I do know that it was way better than any of the hotels that Tim booked for us last year. I think by DFTC measurements you could probably sleep 25 people in this room. So after watching a couple episodes of Dexter’s Lab we fell asleep for what seemed like 5 minutes.

We woke up Saturday, bright and early- well, mostly early. Packed all our supplies into the car and drove to the course. Once in the parking lot we set up camp, scouted out the bathrooms, and waited for the registration table to get set up. While Brendan was starting his “C” category race, Calahan and I were prepping for our “D” race. The “D” race consisted of two 13.5 mile loops, totaling 27 miles. I did my best to stay calm and relaxed for this race. Last year I definitely had a problem keeping cool before a race, but this year I felt much more at ease. I wasn’t sure what to expect about the course layout; there was talk about a couple climbs. “No big deal; just keep with the pack and finish with the pack”, I told myself. Whatever happened during the race, I wanted to make sure I actually finished with the pack this time. Finally 9:15am came around. We began our race. It was off to a slow, neutral start- which is where the first crash happened. Everyone was going less than 10mph up a very easy “climb” at the start. Personally, I’d call it a bump, but there were some people that were struggling. Mind you, this is barely 200 meters from our starting line. So as we are climbing this “bump” in our neutral start, I hear a scraping/ grinding noise to my right. That’s when out of the corner of my eye, I see two or three people topple over each other. At that moment I glanced back and had to smile and laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and be glad that it wasn’t me. Onward we rode at a relatively easy pace of about 18mph. During this moderately-paced race I decided to take a look around at the scenery. The sun was shining bright, the air was brisk, and the bellowing of the bullfrogs could be heard. Everything was pleasant until I saw three gigantic dark-feathered vultures perched atop the leafless trees. They were there, as Adam said, “to pick up the dropped riders”. Could this be foreshadowing?
Continuing onward I made sure to take note of different landmarks, turns and hills to prepare for my second lap around. Mile 13: one lap complete. I felt good. Our field split into two groups and I was in the first group. At about mile 15 I started to drift behind the lead group (which consisted of 10 riders, including me) separating this lead group into two. The riders behind me made their attempts to catch back up, but with no success. Our group began to slow down, but I realized we needed to get back to the group. I took to the lead of this mini-group; it was my turn to pull. One of the riders who was pulling for awhile (about 5mins) snidely remarked “oh, now you have the energy?” It was at this moment that I realized I needed to do something. I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ who doesn’t do pulls. So I confidently replied, “Just grab my wheel and I’ll pull us back to the group.” I got all of us back into the group and then the group went off without me. This is where I first realized I might have made a mistake. I used up a lot of energy to pull us back, but I do feel that I made a modest sacrifice. I aspire to be that rider who is respected by the peloton, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

At mile 18 I was drifting further and further behind the lead group. I was alone, attempting to catch back up. The second group was nowhere to be found. Riding along the rolling roads, I could catch glimpses of the lead group. I was time-trialing my way to catch back up. I was averaging 25mph on the flats and 20 on the climbs- it had to be a tail- wind. At mile 22, as I continued to TT, I saw the second group slowly inching their way up to me. Mile 25; they caught me on a climb. My legs were tired from- you could say, attacking this group numerous times. I wouldn’t really consider it “attacking” because it was not the lead group; I would say that I was surging just to try to stay away from them. But they did catch me. So I grabbed their wheel and hung on. Just before the sign that marked 1000 meters to go, it became my turn to pull- so I did. I kept it slow, but there were no complaints from behind. With 500m to go we came up to the final left turn to the hill-climb finish. I was still in the front of the group. “OH CRAP,” I thought, “all I want to do is win this second group and you went and pulled for the past 200 meters before an uphill sprint!?” I thought I was screwed. I was on the far right of the road as I saw the riders behind me starting to make their moves. I knew one thing that would save me: keep this pace and I won’t lose it. So I climbed at a constant pace and passed them. I was now in front with 100m to go. To quote the movie American Flyers, “Res Firma Mitescere Nescit” (Once you get it up, keep it up). I kept my pace and beat the second pack. I placed 10th in this road race.

No one wanted to do the team time trial that took place in the afternoon. The main reason: that it would have cost $19 per rider. No, this is not per team, it is $19 per rider. So after getting finished with racing for the day we changed and drove to Adam Leman’s house. We joined up and ate at The Pig barbecue which was delicious. It was everything Brendan and Brett said it was- and more. I wish I could say more about the flavors of my meal and detail all of the side dishes, but I can’t because I inhaled all of my food. What I do remember were the homemade pickles. Later, we went for ice cream at a local creamery where I got the strawberry sorbet flavor. Personally, I find it tough to compare ice cream places unless I try more flavors. Looks like I’ll just have to keep eating more to see which place, Penn State creamery or the creamery in NC is better.

We parted ways once again. Calahan, Brendan and I went back to our hotal and watched some great movies that night: The Matrix, Swordfish, and then Hot Tub Time Machine. I fell asleep around 8pm, just as they started watching HTTM. Sunday was the criterium. Basically around a city block, this course was fast-paced. There was a slight downhill on the back stretch where you could gain enough momentum to take you up the incline. Calahan and I were the first to race at 9am. It started out fast, continued fast, and ended fast. I held on for the 20 mins plus 8 more laps before I was passed by the leader with 2 laps to go. During the race I felt strong. I knew how to make the turns without breaking, but no one else in the field did. There’s not much for me to say about this race just because it is sort of blending in with the USAC race that I did later in the day. All I that I remember is that I placed 8th in the “D” criterium.

So after my “D” race I had plenty of time to spare until the USAC race at 2:15pm. There were plenty of places to eat along the course, but the one that caught our eyes was Subway. We liked how there were lounge chairs set up facing the outside. Calahan and I ate our sandwiches in those really comfy chairs while watching the women’s races. Just after, Brett and I decided to take a walk around the course. At turn 2, a Church was giving out free coffee; this is also where Brett and I met some really nice southerners who were really happy to have us travel from so far away. We learned of a new way to prepare peanuts: boiled. They said that it is a Southern tradition to prepare them like that. I wish I could remember their names, but I do remember how humble, courteous, and welcoming these gentlemen were.

Enter the USAC race. After recently getting my Cat 4 upgrade, I was excited to do this race. Even though it was a mixed 4 / 5 field, I knew that I was part of the more experienced half. We (Brendan and I) were destined to race for 45 minutes. I hung on to the pack for as long as I could, but it was tough having one rider continuously lap us. With 17 laps to go the single break-away rider had lapped everyone 3 times. I was struggling to stay with the group. Many riders kept making wide turns- one time I was nearly pushed into the curb. Then with 14 laps to go and having just lost the group, I pulled myself from the race. We later heard an announcement that the rider who was lapping our field was a former pro triathlete who is now dominating Cat 4 / 5’s. I must make a note about this rider: he was not good in the pack. When he was in the group (after he had lapped us for the 2nd time), I was following behind him and noticed his group riding abilities- or lack thereof. I’m not saying that I’m a great group rider by any means, but I do have my experience. It’s just that I found it annoying that someone so strong and fast could be riding so terribly at the same time- and yet win the race too. It just gives me a lot to think about.

After the race, Calahan, Brendan and I left to head home around 4pm. We left before Brett and Tim rode in the P/1/2/3 race because we wanted to get home at a reasonable hour to finish some work. Our drive home was filled with many laughs. We stopped at the Wendy’s with the showers that I mentioned earlier. While there, we unwound by cracking more jokes about Bojangles; also, we laughed at a guy that was angry about receiving a large salad, but paid for a small (weird, I know). Throughout our drives to and from, we kept ourselves sane by singing classic songs such as Somebody to Love by Queen, Love Shack by the B52’s, and rocked out on the drums to In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins.
I decided to write this report to encourage new riders to come out for the distanced races such as Yale, UNH, Dartmouth, and even Penn State. I can say that last year- my first year with the team, I always had second thoughts about traveling such far distances and being away for the entire weekend. I had second thoughts because I was afraid that I would not be able to handle the work load of Drexel and miss 2 or 3 days. Right now, I can say that traveling with the team can be some foster memorable experiences. So to anyone who is considering passing up the opportunity to travel all over the Northeast, I implore you to reconsider.

-Tom Calcagni

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