Friday, November 15, 2013

Seen The Posters Around Campus, More Info Here

If you have seen the flyers around campus and they have brought you here, you are one step closer to becoming a member of Lehigh cycling. If you have any specific questions feel free to email our club leaders:
President: Brandon: blo214@lehigh.edu
Captain: David: dad315@lehigh.edu

The information session is tentatively on Tuesday November 19th at 6pm in Hawks Nest. All interested in becoming part of the team must either come to this meeting or email Dave and he will contact you with more info.

First off, you do NOT need a road bike to start off with the team. Winter training will start in November, with spin sessions 1-2 times a week in the spin room of Taylor Gym, for more info on winter training, follow the jump here. This is the perfect time to start getting in shape, and to slowly build a base up to what is needed to win races which start in March. As long as there is no snow on the roads, there will be someone going on rides, and the opportunity to ride in the winter is there. Around February (depending on snow and weather) is when we will start to go outside and work on skills like pace lining, group riding, and race tactics.

The one thing that is important to know is that all of this training is recommended but highly optional. The wonderful thing about the ECCC (Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference) is that it is as serious as you want it to be. The races are categorized by INTROS, D, C, B, and A so whether you want to have a casual race or mash the pedals like Mark Cavendish, you will be accommodated.

Regardless of how hesitant you may or may not be to try cycling. We highly encourage you to come to the first meeting and open spin sessions. Meet the team members, and learn about what the program has to offer before you make up your mind.

"My favorite part of joining Lehigh Cycling was the camaraderie in the team and the sense of accomplishment from racing. I had never raced bikes before and I did not realize how rewarding it was to see all this hard work pay off in the races. Not to mention... The UVM guys are a bunch of rednecks at heart and it is always funny to see what they have in store for the races"- member of Lehigh Cycling

Monday, June 24, 2013

Incoming Freshmen

Welcome!

On behalf of the entire Lehigh Cycling team, I would like to thank you for coming to check out Lehigh Cycling, and considering joining the Lehigh Cycling family. We sincerely look forward to meeting you and telling you more about the club.

First things first, if you have any questions at all, please email either myself of Brandon Onopa, formally known as other Brandon. We would be happy to address anything you want to know. But first read below.

Dave DiFrancesco-  dad315@lehigh.edu 
Brandon Onopa-      blo214@lehigh.edu

First Things First: Bring your bike no matter what!

The most common mistake made by freshmen is not bringing their bike and not having it for the first rides, whatever they are. Don't worry about having a place to put it, myself and Brandon will be on campus long before you all, and will be able to get your bikes as soon as you move in and bring them to the team's designated bike shed.

So, now what?

So you have a bike on campus, what are you expecting to do with it? That is completely up to you. Lehigh Cycling will be featuring three different riding styles this year (more on this later). It can be as relaxed as you want. Whether you like riding slow, fast, through trees, on gravel paths, or on paved roads, you can be sure to find a group who likes your style. Oh, and we get free (or heavily discounted) stuff.

What is Club Sports?

It is the level of competition between Intramural and Lehigh Varsity. Think high school varsity, but completely optional. It is as serious as you want it to be, no pressure to do anything, and a great way to get involved. Cycling is a little different though, since there is no Varsity Cycling Team at Lehigh. The best of the best ride with us. That being said, don't be intimidated; we have all levels of abilities in all disciplines. 

What do I want to ride?

There are three main categories of riding:

Road: Skinny tires, light bikes, no suspension, high speeds, pavement, loads of fun and the best cardio workout ever... This is the only time you will be able to whiz at over 20 mph under your own power. 

Mountain: XC, DH, STXC, CycloCross. Fast between trees, jumps, cliffs... however big you want to go, we accommodate (neither confirming or denying that the edit is through Leigh's campus) Plus Lehigh has its own large network of mountain biking trails.

Recreation: Looking to get in shape or just something to do, do it with friends. Ride bikes down paths, through town, whatever goes. Mellow paces, food stops encouraged. Any bike goes. Childish behavior recommended.

I don't have a bike, but want to!

It is certainly an investment, but also one of the best decisions you can ever make. Whether you want an entry level or serious bike of any kind... Email us whenever. We will help you out in making your decision. If you (or parents) need any convincing to spend your (their) dollars on your bike, we also do that.

How do I Club Sports?

Look for us at the club fair, we'll be the ones with bikes!





The Army Spring Classic

For those of you ever given the privilege of racing in this historic race, take it. 

The Army Spring Classic, held at The United States Military Academy, is unanimously thought of as the greatest race the ECCC road season has to give up. A crushing 66.5 mile road race for the A riders on day one, three mile hill climb on day two, and it is all capped off on day two with The Shea Stadium Criterium. The only crit where you can see a whole laps worth of carnage from one spot.... and there was blood.

---Day 1----

All of Lehigh's riders agreed upon the outcome on the road race, "It sucked....hard." Even though only a few of Lehigh's brave survived the entire distance, we were ecstatic with the results. Both Brandons pulled in huge finishes, especially Brandon K, who contested what was probably the fastest field sprint of the year Read: 50 mph, for a 4th place finish in A's. 

When asked about how fast he was going, all he was able to say was , "If I looked at my speedo, I would have probably died."

---Day 2----

While day one brought much misery on unparalleled levels,  day two also promised a sufferfest. Dave who babied out the first day luckily had fresh legs and was ready to take on the hill climb ITT. With a fantastic result of 7th place, and Brandon O. Close behind in 11th. We were all ready for the crit.

With the A's being speedfreaks, B's being lazy A'riders, and C's being a bloodbath. The crit was sure not to disappoint. First C's

After watching an epic crash right before going off the line, the riders were definitely a little shaky  Dave managed to keep good position at the front the entire race, but took a bad line at the end and was boxed in at the finished. Nothing he could do... Except maybe ride a little faster

B's: Fast as hell, close as hell, and with Riders constantly breaking away; the pace never relented. Kevin held in there and gave it his best effort. But in the end eventually had to toss in the card's.

When asked for a comment, all he could muster up was some heavy breathing.

A's: As always, Brandon further impressed us with his riding. He was able to keep towards the front for the entire race, and was again in contention for the gut wrenching field sprint. In the end, no podium, but still a great result for a brand new A rider. 8th!

This race is always one to be remembered, and is always a pleasure to attend. All-in-all the best weekend of racing this year. (Besides Road Natties that is)
Shea Stadium Criterium, Dave at the front. | Photo by Kris Flynn

Friday, May 10, 2013

2013 Collegiate Nationals Road Race Recap - Ogden, Utah

Today's theme at the nationals road race was much the same as yesterday, lots of fast guys fighting for position, some big attacks, and a big group battle leading into the finish.

The road race course was a 77+ miles crossing the mountain ridge East of Ogden. The first 50 miles consisting of smaller, flatter loops, followed by an amazing descent through a rocky canyon past a waterfall, a long and grinding climb up to 6000 feet of elevation on Ogden Canyon Road, and finally a short descent into the finish.

The first 50 miles of short loops were flat and fast from the start, with several riders attacking to try and get gaps off of the front, only to be pulled back after a while by the bigger, stronger teams including Duke (team time trial and crit champions), Air Force, and Mars Hill.

Finally, after one of the more fun descents I've ever done through a canyon into Ogden, the climbing commenced. As a larger rider, long climbs have never been my strong point, so I knew this might be a rough day for me. Still, I tried to stay near the front and give myself a shot at a good finish. As we neared the final two (and largest) climbs of the day, a couple of riders were still hanging off the front. One the first climb Zach from MIT, one of the stronger riders from the ECCC, went to the front of the pack and put the pedal down, sweeping up the last riders and making life miserable for everyone.

After a short respite, we hit the biggest climb, climbing more than 1400 feet over 4 miles at an average gradient of well over 7 percent. By the end of mile one, it was clear that I had made a poor choice of gearing and wasn't prepared for the steady slopes. I popped off the back of the pack, now down to about 30 riders, and started the slow, lonely grind to the top. At this point, I would like to say thank you to the dozens of awesome people who poured cold water on me, shot me with squirt guns, and yelled encouragement over the next 3 miles of miserable, painful climbing. These things might not sound enjoyable, but when your heart rate is hovering around 200, a blast of cold water can be a life saver.

Anyway, I eventually rolled over the top and began the wide and fast descent back toward the finish line. Fortunately, I had driven the descent by car before the race and had some idea of what I was up against, so I was able to catch several riders in the closing miles. Still, I ended up right near the middle of the pack in 40th place. This was good enough for 19th place on the weekend omnium, which again, was a result beyond my wildest dreams.

To wrap up, once again I'd like to thank all of our awesome sponsors for their support this season. Cutters Bike Shop in Bethlehem once again provided us with some great Specialized gear and lots of top-notch maintenance. My new CycleOps Fluid2 trainer was a huge upgrade from my previous non-existent trainer. Additional support from Barb Turanchik, Doug Strange and Campus Athletics, Rodale/Bicycling Magazine, Around Town Bikes/Rich Adams Custom Frames, and LU Cycling alumna Kiki Schuck helped to keep the team rolling this year and fund our travel. You are all much appreciated!

-Brandon K.

2013 Collegiate Nationals Criterium Recap - Ogden, Utah

After a crazy week of mountain roads, near-crashes, and very FAST racing, I'm happy to be back in PA in one piece. My weekend in Ogden began with the long flight to Utah on Thursday, where I met up with an old friend in Salt Lake City for a late dinner. On Friday, I decided to skip the individual time trial (never my strong suit) but still had a chance to ride for a couple of hours and test my legs at altitude.

Before travelling, I made the mistake of checking the altitude difference between my home in Philly (a massive 36 feet) and the top of Ogden pass, where we would be finishing the road race (over 6000 feet). This difference was very obvious on my warm up ride, which generally consists of "openers" a relatively easy 2.5 hour ride with about four hard 2-minute efforts mixed in. On those short efforts, I was quickly gasping for air, trying to convince myself that my legs were just feeling dead from the flight.

Saturday marked my first day of racing, which consisted of running laps for 75 minutes on the 8-corner, t-shaped criterium course in downtown Ogden. As if riding in my first national race wasn't intimidating enough, looking at some of the amazing team trailers, thousands of dollars of carbon fiber gleaming in the sun, and spotting several "stars and stripes" logos on jerseys indicating that the rider was a former national champion, it was pretty clear that a couple of the other competitors had been doing this a little longer than me. Nonetheless, I was ready to give it my best shot. I found a couple of fellow ECCC riders warming up on the course before my race and got some motivational last words from a few of the guys who had raced at nationals last year: "It's a huge field, plus everybody is fast and motivated and sketchy as hell. If it gets as bad as last year I'm probably going to pull myself." Super.

So I finished my normal pre-race routine of slamming an enormous coffee and eating copious amounts of carbs, got a few last warm up laps, and headed over to staging. This was also my first experience with "call ups," where each rider gets announced before the race and rolls up to the start line. With a pretty big crowd of spectators and hearing "From Lehigh University..." over the loudspeaker, I have to admit I was pretty pumped up for the start of the race. Apparently the other 80+ riders in the field were pumped up too, because the first five laps of the race were insane.

The course proved to be less technical than I thought, with generally good pavement and very wide streets and corners. I quickly realized that this would be a very fast 75 minutes, with our speeds in the straightaways consistently well over 30mph. In bike racing, and especially criteriums, you get used to occasionally making contact with other riders at high speeds - bumping elbows or shoulders in the corners. However, I made more contact in the first five laps of this race than I did in the rest of my season combined. It was a constant battle to stay near the front of the field and there were the usual idiots diving into the inside path on the corners, putting everyone else in danger.

After about 20 minutes of chaos, I started to feel frustrated and claustrophobic, so I decided to move to the front and stretch my legs. I used some of the longer straightaways to move forward, eventually to the front of the pack. One of the first rules of racing bikes is to never use energy unless you have a good reason for it. My reason to be on the front of the race here was to push up the pace, hopefully encouraging some attacks and stretching out the field to keep it more safe and predictable (on a side note, it was also pretty cool to hear my name get mispronounced over the loudspeaker and, I later found out, to get a Twitter shout out from USA Cycling). Luckily, my tactic worked and the first attacks started to go off the front. I was able to drift back to about 20th place and let the bigger teams do the work while I sat in more comfortably.

As the race wore on, several more attacks went up the road and were pulled back. About two-thirds into the race, I could see that the pack was getting smaller as several riders fell off the back and some of the guys around me looked pretty exhausted. I felt ok, so I decided to try my own attack. I saw a strong-looking rider from Western Washington U move make a move, so I followed, stood on the pedals, and jumped as best I could. We got a quick 5-second gap on the field with one other rider and slowly started to pull away. After one lap we were joined by three additional riders, we worked and rotated together fairly well, and the gap started to grow bit by bit. However, once we had reached about 10 seconds, the field seemed to get alarmed and started to chase. After about 3 laps off the front, we were caught. I quickly noticed how exhausted I felt and wondered if the altitude and speed were catching up to me. With about 15 laps to go, I decided to sit in and wait for the sprint.

An important key to finishing a race strong is following a strong, steady wheel. When I drifted back to the pack, I was lucky to find a big rider from Mars Hill College, widely known to be one of the best teams in the country. The rider was sitting about 15th, seemed to be rolling steady with little effort, and had stars and striped on his sleeve. Perfect. I latched on to his wheel and battled like a honey badger to keep it for the last quarter of the race.

The last five laps of the race were even more insane than the first five. There was more bumping and two big crashes in the last two laps. If you haven't heard the sound of carbon fiber slamming across pavement at 30mph, consider yourself lucky. With half a lap to go, we were absolutely flying. I waited for the guy in front of me, who still looked steady, to start moving up...nothing. Quarter lap to go...nothing. Shit. Wrong wheel. I jumped around him on the second to last straightaway, scrambling to find shelter in the top 10 before the sprint, but I had waited too long. I blasted through the last corner and into the wind way too early, was able to pass a couple more riders, but was only able to manage 15th in the end.

I wanted to be disappointed, but I had to put it in perspective. At the start of the season, it was a huge leap to think I would even qualify. Now I had just cracked the top 20 at a national race, I was safe, and I was happy.

-Brandon K