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PSU Eastern's Race Reports

By Tim Manzella

As some observations from this past weekend, you guys missed a great Men's A race to watch. Even though you don't have anyone racing, it was an exciting race to watch and you guys probably could have learned something from it. The finishing straight was lined from the last corner to beyond the finish line on both sides pretty heavily. If you wanted to see how valuable working as a team is, especially when a very top level racer sacrifices himself completely for a teammate, this was the race to see it. I learned a lot as a freshman just from watching Joe, Stefan, Adam and Chris racing in the upper categories.

As a note, since I pretty much haven't written any notes about what I observed this year, if you have two riders in a front group of a race that is under a dozen riders, one of those riders should not be doing any work and just should be sitting on the back. By having both people working, both of you are getting tired, and I know from watching that some people in that group were not doing any work and had no teammates. Especially because the groups came back together near the end, that put you guys in even more of a disadvantage.

Also, if you are not A: attacking, B: blocking/chasing a breakaway, C: doing a 15 second pull in a small group, and/or D: sprint for a win, you should not be on the front. Though its great to see Drexel on the front of the race most of the time, to constantly seeing you on the front is not a good thing. Take Calahan as an example of what to do; he was in a small front group of a little over a dozen riders, and never did any work. He just stayed in the middle and made sure not to take very many pulls. That is the smart way to play your cards.

I know these observations come at the end of the season, but it can be useful if you are racing over the summer. It was good to see Drexel have solid numbers at every weekend, and for the most part everyone having fun and enjoying racing their bikes in addition to taking part in the social environment that the ECCC fosters.

And on that note, if you didn't know, you can race in a Drexel Kit during normal USAC races since Collegiate Club licenses allow for a rider to register their full USAC racer license as their collegiate club.

By Brett Houser

Tim's right about the A race. Not to belabor the "you-missed-out" point, but it was a lesson in race perfection! Wyatt Stoup's tactics and absolute shelling of himself in the final laps led not only to his teammate Wes Kline's victory, but also to teammate Jeremy Shirock's continued hold of the conference's overall leader's jersey. All that and Wyatt still roll through last across finish line.

In retrospect, witnessing Wyatt's efforts wasn't so much a lesson in race tactics but, rather, a lesson in team dynamics through notable humility. Our favorite cycling celebrities are famous for just this reason; they're the super-domestiques. The men and women with humility so great as to humble the huge egos of their racing counterparts and competitors. As celebrities, we wish we could be as cool as them. We sometimes forget that the enormity of their effort is spent on teammates that might not even be as well-rounded cyclists as the domestiques themselves are. And as celebrities we focus on the cool-factor of the individual. Take Jens Voigt, for instance He's awesome, memorable, super-strong, and is known for doing anything during a race. But his actions (and the literal understanding of "doing anything" during a race) are always for the team. True, that may be his job, but his glory lies in his ability to be humble. And in so doing, this actually makes him cooler! Because, let's face it, no one wants an egotistical strong-man or strong-woman as their role model. Regardless of how independently-driven the efforts of competitive cycling are, outside the realm of simply riding, the real glory lies in the humbling circumstances of racing for a team and assisting in an overall win. That is cycling. Otherwise, it's just a race. Wyatt reminded me of that this weekend* and I was happy to be there as witness to his efforts and the glory that accompanied them.

*Other races this season have seen teams utterly bury themselves on the hopes of leading a lone teammate to victory. Personally, I have witnessed Vinny DePalma (University of Pittsburgh), the women of Dartmouth, and nearly all of MIT do this on more than one occasion.

Lastly, by no means am I implying that racing for ones self doesn't constitute true cycling. Far from it! I simply mean to convey the importance of racing for the greater good when one races under the mantle of a single team or race organization.

Also, Joey, please do not read too much into my last message. Though we talked about the team dynamic after your race on Sunday, it was not until after the day's later races that I really felt compelled by what I saw during them to write that report. Your efforts were strong and valiant in a field -- and on a course -- where big legs stood chance to prevail over smart minds and cunning tactics. And on that day you made huge strides to see your efforts rewarded. I wish everything had panned out the way you'd hoped. You still raced well, good brother.

By Tom Calcagni

Black Moshannon Road Race (43mi)

The whistle blew for the race to start and three riders immediately broke away. Our field of about 70 people strung out along the flat road before the descentóit was impossible to move up. I stayed at the back going down the hill since I donít trust the way many riders tap their brakes on the descent where itís not needed. At the first small hill I managed to stay with the group, but I could already feel a weakness in my legs. I merged back with the group just after until we reached the second small climb. Joey passed me and I couldnít keep up. I attempted to catch up on the short descent; however, I wasnít able to give it my all because of the impending mountain just a mile up the road.
Finally I began the big climb. There were maybe 2 or 3 people around meónone of us were close enough to actually work together. I think we were all in pain and just wanted to put our minds into cruise control. It was hella hot out and this was the first race of the year that I had to unzip my entire jersey just to get some air. It was also kind of eerie not seeing anyone cheering at the top of the climb and no one at the feed zone. The undulating road of the mountainís top was desolate. Silence was the only sound to be heard.
I formed up with 3 other riders on the descent just before the lake. We worked together for a couple miles until the brief uphill going into the big descent. Then they all put the hammer down and left me for dead. What they didnít realize what that I was ready. I hit the descent with such force that I flew past one, two, and threeÖ.four, five riders, then another two near the bottom. I sprinted down the hill and pedaled until I ran out of gears. I wish I could have captured their dumbfounded expressions as I dashed by, but everything was a blur. I donít know if my eyes were tearing up because of the speed I was traveling or that I was just having so much fun. Too bad I wasnít able to carry that speed through the next short climb because they all passed me going up it.
I was now by myself for the rest of the race. In the searing sun I wrestled my crank to power me up the hill. There was no more silence- I could hear the hissing of the lost souls, the growling of the demon dogs, and the high-pitched screams of the cacodemons. Hell is beneath my tires and Iím climbing 2,500 feet to get over it.

Frat Row Criterium

I got to staging early and parked myself in the second row. I knew from years past that the field (especially one this large with 60+ riders) will immediately break apart. The crit was my last chance to score any points this season. ďThis is itĒóa phrase uttered by a spectator before the race started. It was like a switch was turned on. I immediately became focused and knew that this was my last chance of the collegiate season. The whistle blew and off I went. I fought to stay in about 10th position for a good number of laps; however, I couldnít maintain that speed. My legs werenít there to stay in the race, but my mind was. Despite dropping back quite a bit I managed to let out everything that I had just to stay in the race for as long as possible. I never touched the brakes and I pedaled through every corner. The crowd seemed to admire my cornering style and cheered when I struck my pedal in the turn. I never scored any points, but Iím okay with that now. It just motivates me to do better, to work harder, and to go all out in every race.

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Page last modified on May 01, 2013, at 09:37 AM