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MIT X-Pot 2013 Race Report

MIT Race Report by Tom Calcagni

This isn’t one of my typical race reports, but rather a list or complication of notes that I’ve gathered from this weekend of racing. Take what you can from these notes and feel free to discuss anything that I write.


  • It’s important to know the course for time trials. Usually you don’t have an opportunity to pre-ride the course for various reasons. However, if you want to do well then you need to study the layout. Know the elevation changes by reading the race flier, look up the course on google maps, go into street view to get an idea of what the road looks like or know where the turns are. Ask the lower category riders about the course when they finish- I learned that there were a couple descents that could be used to recover or to make up lost time.
  • Warm-up before the ITT. I can’t stress this enough. I hadn’t warmed up properly (actually not at all) before the ITT, so when I began climbing, my muscles tightened up and I couldn’t put any power into my pedals.

The ITT was easier than what I expected—I definitely thought there would be more climbing and the finish line came up unexpectedly. The West Point hill climb was much tougher than this one. Fortunately, this one had two descents where one could rest, while the West Point one was entirely uphill.


  • STAY OFF THE FRONT, GET BEHIND SOMEONE ELSE. All too often I see a teammate setting the pace of the peloton. All you’re doing is losing. Yes, you are losing if you’re at the front for the first couple laps. You’re wasting precious energy doing work that doesn’t need to be done. If there’s a breakaway, don’t chase it down. Let the larger teams expend their resources chasing it. If we had a large team, then we would send one of our teammates to the front to chase the break while multiple teammates sat behind wheels waiting for the final sprint. BUT we don’t have this kind of team. Save your breath and grab a wheel. Fight to be near the front, never at the front.

The course was beyond sketchy. Two sharp ~150° turns with gravel, melting snow, and mud that lined the inside. There was a nasty hill each lap that probably has an average gradient of 12% that strung out the rear end of the group. The descent had plenty of bumps that slow you down just enough to skid around the sharp turn at the bottom. Glad I made it out of that crit alive with only 5 laps to go.


  • When it’s your turn to pull through in a pace line, don’t surge ahead. You just end up dropping the teammate behind you. Everything should be a smooth transition; 1st rider rides pulls for 30 seconds, 2nd rider gradually pulls through, etc.
  • If you’re a 3rd or 4th person in a TTT, always finish the race even though only the first two are scored. You don’t know what happens up the road- someone could get a flat or crash and you will be needed to finish the race. If not, then it’s always a good warm-up for your next race.

This was a nice and short TTT course with a couple gradual hills. I decided to keep going after getting dropped by Joey and Dan.

Road Race

  • I definitely learned from my mistakes at the Phlyer, so for this road race I brought 2 bottles of water, a cliff bar, and shot-blocks. The road race at Shippensburg will be much longer and probably tougher than the one at MIT. For road races, always carry at least one spare tube, pump, multi tool, and tire levers in your back pockets (my understanding is that saddle bags are not allowed?). If you get a flat while off the back of the main group, it could be awhile until the “broom wagon” picks you up—or there may not even be one.
  • If you’re riding off the back of the pack you basically have to abide by the rules of the road. Me and a West Point rider had to navigate carefully around some traffic and kept our distance from cars on the road. When we approached a crowded intersection, we slowed down to a near stop, made sure the police officer gave us the okay to cross, and then we continued with the race.

This was a really tough road race. The neutral start was nerve-racking; constant shouting of “Slowing!” or “Stopping!”, there were many instances where I had to ride off the road and into the dirt because of nearly ramming into the riders in front of me. Then after the neutral start we began a long descent with plenty of twists and curves. I kept my distance and eventually lost contact with the group. Me and 2 other riders worked together for awhile until we got to the first hill where we dropped one rider. On the second hill, I got dropped and was alone. The last climb was the steepest, but was relatively short. Also it really helped that there was a 1k to go sign on the climb so that was kind of motivating to see.

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Page last modified on April 03, 2013, at 07:23 PM