Monday, March 29, 2010

Princeton Stevens Jersey Devil 3/27-28/2010

First you say "SHUT UP, BODY!"

Thanks Jens Voigt.

When you begin to taste blood, you just say, "shut up body!"

And that's what we did this weekend!  I could say that "mechanical failure" was also a theme of the weekend, but it didn't seem to hamper anyone, Garrett and Rob especially.  After Joe's bike was parted out for derailleur cables, Villanova Cycling rode to victory- its first ever in the B class.

Mercer County Park ITT

No real pictures from this event because well, crap, it's an ITT.  After arriving from sweet lodging at my grandparents' soon to be solar powered house in Hamilton, NJ, we rode early and chilly at the 4.2 mile ITT circuit on the 2 lane park driveway.

Not much else to report here.  We all did pretty well, especially Garrett and I finishing within .3 of a second of each other.  You know what they (I) say, "train together, finish together"

ITT Results
Justin - 5th - 11:15.71 - 12 pts
Rob - 9th - 10:58.44 - 12 pts
James - 11th - 11:02.72 - 7 pts
Garrett - 12th - 11:03.09 - 5 pts
Joe - 13th - 12:14.33 - 0 pts
Will - 13th - 14:36.42 - 0 pts 

Cadawalader Park Criterium

Woah, Trenton.  A criterium through a bombed out park?  This road was looking pretty sketchy.  A nice little setup on a 1 way driveway gave us numerous views of the course from which to partake the eventual carnage.  The C, D and Intro races went off well for Villanova.  Justin notched a career best seventh in the criterium, leading the race around for numerous "sponsorship laps" demonstrating the beautiful new Villanova Jerseys provided by Canari.  Robby and Joe rocked out in the D race, Robby notching a first place in a mid race prime sprint.  Go Robby!  In his second week in the intro class, Will Kavanagh gained valuable race experience and killer insights from the best coaches of the ECCC.

The B race was an interesting undertaking.  As we navigated across the potholes and cobblestones of the central Jersey course (I half expected to see a U Turn), mechanical failures beset 2/3rds of the team.  Garrett broke a rear derailleur cable halfway through the race, and after taking a few free laps, returned for a spectacular finish.  Rob was beset by the eternal problem of Mavic wheels... a dry freehub.  I heard the characteristic whine from 50 yards away and knew instantly that his freehub certainly needed a little loving.  We bumped and banged along to a monster last lap collision that sent me flying to the outside- no damage, no fall, except to my sprint speed.  Garrett came back into the race with only 2 speeds and sprinted to an impressive 5th place finish.

Criterium Results
Garrett - 5th - 23 + 5 pts (1st in Sprint 4)
Justin - 7th - 6 + 3 pts (2nd in Sprint 1)
James - 13th - 3 + 3 pts (2nd in Sprint 4)
Robby - 13th - 0 + 5 pts (1st in Sprint 2)
Joe - 16th - 0 pts
Will - 19th - 0 pts
Rob - 20th (with 3 full stops!!!) - 0 pts 

Skillman Circuit Race

Sunday began equally early for the first of the "mountain stages" of the ECCC.  The race ambled through scenic (and wealthy) Montgomery, NJ, starting at Johnson and Johnson's facility there.  It wandered up a big hill on Grandview Road, across to Dutchtown Zion Road, and back down on the Great Road.  I use words like "ambled" and "wandered" to describe this race's slow pace, plodding up the hill, and then breaking the sound barrier on a sweet, long descent.

After getting a great dinner from my grandmother and mother (thanks!), VUCC was ready to shock the ECCC.  Racing profoundly early, Robby and Joe tested out the course in the unseasonable cold.  Justin came next in the C class, doing prodigious work for the C class, and coming in to a solid 12th place finish, cementing his role as a contender in the C class.

And now, for this public service message- always do bike maintenance.  Specifically, CHANGE YOUR CABLES when necessary.  Thanks to Wheel Life Cycles of Belle Mead, Rob was able to make the beginning of the B race; however, severing ones front derailleur cable at the beginning of a B race is not likely to make for easy climbing.  Many thanks to Wheel Life and Knapp's in Lawrenceville this weekend for providing Villanova's neutral support.

The B race was a quiet affair, 6 laps long, 5 of which were pure jockeying for position.  The big hill started to hurt a little more each lap, providing a preview of the mountains to come at Army, Dartmouth, Yale and the like.  The race became interesting as we headed around the final corner- Garrett and Rob were set up for a sprint and I was shuffled a little bit back from an earlier pull on the backstretch.  I saw my opening as we rounded the final curve- the road widened dramatically.  I put the acceleration in at exactly the right time considering my rearward drift, and surged from 20th to 5th.  In ideal position, Garrett began to "whomp whomp" along, edging out a Naval academy rider by a hair.  VICTORY FOR VILLANOVA CYCLING!

And with some creative cropping by Will K, we have this masterpiece:

Nice work!  My pain face is clearly more awesome though.

See all the pics at:  Major HT to Will Kav.

We'll see you all next Saturday for the Bucknell Road Race; good Catholics that we are, we'll be taking Sunday off to celebrate Easter.

Circuit Results
Garrett - 1st by 0.5 inches (the FinishLynx picture is AMAZING) - 48
James - 5th - 28 pts
Joe - 10th - 0 pts
Will - 11th - 0 pts
Justin - 12th - 1 pt
Rob - 13th - 3 pts
Robby - DNF - 0 pts 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Philly Phlyer 3/20-3/21

While the men of the grand tours were running 300km from Milano to San Remo, Villanova Cycling was cementing its name as a force to be reckoned with in the E-tri-C.  In our home race, Villanova Cycling introduced a new rider, entertained numerous family and friend spectators, and lit up the scoreboard!  Under perfect blue skies that gave me and a few others a touch of sunburn, we raced to collegiate glory.

Saturday Race, TTT and Circuit West Fairmount Park

Drexel and UPenn hosted a great race on a traditional Philly course, the West River Drive circuit.  The day began with a team time trial, which Garrett, Justin, Rob and James (myself) participated in.  Unfortunately, we had a few van issues and other factors in the morning which caused us to, erm, avoid our proper start time.  Fortunately Alan Atwood allowed us to ride the course, as we had all warmed up and been ready to go.  With strong pulls by all of us, we rode into a provisional fourth place in the B class, on a team of 3 B riders and 1 C.  I knew we'd be successful- these TTT's are a great team experience and a good way to get points. Our prerace breakfast of Bagel Factory didn't exactly sit well with me, and it goes to show you- you HAVE to go to the diner before a bike race.

The circuit race was a triumph for Villanova Cycling in all classes.  Starting a wide D field were Joe Pawelczyk, Tim Higgins, and Robby Napp.  All three blasted down West River Drive to spectacular finishes, navigating the hills of Chamonuix impressively.  Tim's upgrade from Intro went well, and the ECCC should be ready for a force in the Men's D field from Villanova.

Villanova Cycling introduced Will Kavanagh, a freshman rider this weekend into the intro class.  I always maintain that intro is an awesome way to get started- the off course clinic and coached lap led me into cycling, and they're definitely a great start for most new riders.

Justin Yeash cemented his status as athlete extraordinaire, finishing a solid 7th in the Men's C field, in only his 5th race ever.  Justin looked great taking turns on the front of the pack, leading the charge through Fairmount park's new roundabout to a solid top-10 finish.

HT: Dr. Seth Whidden, our awesome team advisor, for the sweet pictures!

The Men's B race was a welcome challenge; one which the B team prepared for well.  We practiced leadouts and sprint position throughout the week, and our efforts paid off with some of Villanova Cycling's highest finishes yet.  Garrett's sprint power renders him a Cavendish-esque challenger at the end of every race, and Rob's constant improvement is making waves in the B class.  With some veteran leadership by myself, other teams are starting to take notice of Villanova: our training and tactics are giving us a great jump on the B field.

Look at that sprint finish, Garrett "whomp whomp-ing" along, standing on those pedals!

4th place, 14:30
Intro Men:
Will Kavanagh- 22nd
D Men:
Tim Higgins- 40th
Joe Pawelczyk- 17th
Robby Napp- 27th
C Men:
Justin Yeash- 7th
B Men:
James Miceli- 10th
Garrett Olsen- 6th
Rob Abramo- 14th


Major props to Penn and Drexel for setting up the Navy Yard criterium; this is a course we have to keep in the ECCC!  It reminds me of the famous Tufts criterium in a way, a very technical six turn course with treacherous sidewalks.  The eerie post-industrial landscape of the Navy Yard makes for a remarkable Mario Cart-like course- it was suggested that arrows on the road might lead to a speed boost, and that a ramp into one of the abandoned buildings might unveil a secret bike race, much like Wario's Stadium.

Is this inside a warehouse? Perhaps...

And indeed, a major thumbs up goes to the State of Pennsylvania for redeveloping the area, namely by repaving the roads.  With planes headed into Philadelphia Airport screaming overhead, 'Nova had another great day at the race.  Additionally, we look forward to the support of Bob Biese of the Bicycle Den, a cat 1 coach and 1991 Villanova Alum.  Look at what Wildcats can do on a bike!

 Joe, Justin, and Will Kavanagh navigated through the D, C, and Intro classes before the punishing B race in the hot afternoon sun.  All three flew across the 6 turn, L shaped criterium masterfully, avoiding crashes and finishing well!

HT: Will Kav for Sweet photography skills!

The B race started with a bang- the breakage of Rob's chain.  Thanks to master mechanical engineer and bike technician Garrett, Rob was able to race to a stellar finish.  The three of us started in the back of the field, and spent the first chunk of the race bridging to the front.  In the chess game of a criterium, we angled for position throughout.  Garrett's strength in corners is very apparent in technical crits like these; his lines through the corner are impeccable for energy saving.  As the end of the race approached, Garrett and I were nearly absorbed in a crash; it was only though an Armstrong-esque navigation up a sidewalk apron and back over a curb that we were able to stay in a race.  After going around that near-disaster, I'm pretty sure I had a mini heart attack, my HR spiking up to 7 billion beats a second.  Rob and Garrett maintained composure and sprinted to a fantastic 3-4 finish.  For a crowd of the parents Abramo and Olsen, they provided a thrilling finish to the weekend.  We may even get some video footage from the Olsens up here, continuing our foray into new media.

Look how fast Rob is, hair blowing in the wind... get a haircut!  (I think I need to take my own advice!)

Overall, Villanova Cycling is constantly improving, staying true to its mantra for this season.  We're traveling together in vans, eating together, and improving together, which has us looking towards a successful season!  Princeton and Stevens up next week in central NJ, which will see our first (almost) road race; a circuit through  scenic Skillman, NJ, with 300+ feet of climbing per lap.

Intro Men:
Will Kavanagh- 16th
D Men:
Joe Pawelczyk- 18th
C Men:
Justin Yeash- 16th
B Men:
James Miceli- 12th
Garrett Olsen- 3rd
Rob Abramo- 4th

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Midweek Update!

Addition to our race reports: Best Attitude (Sunshine ++) award of the week goes to Tim Higgins!  Tim is Mr. Good Attitude- bringing true awesomeness to Villanova Cycling.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Columbia and Stevens Weekend 3/13-14/2010

RAIN!  All consuming, wet, frightening, terrible rain.  Rain permeates every inch of one's being when they decide to ride a bike through it- and rain causes a whole host of problems when combined with wind of 30-40 MPH proportions.  As a unifying theme of this past weekend, I can't think of a better one than rain...
Or perhaps the new Black Eyed Peas song, "I'mma be"  I think top 40 stations should be called top 10 stations, considering they all play a very short rotation of songs... As they say, "I'mma be a brotha but I ain't be Lehman," appropriate for New York City
And another unifying theme- THE VAN.  (Seen here double parked at Chipotle- official food of Villanova Cycling)  Nothing like a 15 passenger van to make a weekend great- we were really a team, travelling in style.  Villanova hooked us up with a great model through Enterprise rent a car.  Vans also rock the house on gas mileage... much better to spend only $75 on fuel rather than two tanks of gas for a Taurus and an S4.  Villanova, here's my plea: let us drive your vans rather than making us rent them at high cost!
Saturday saw the debuts of two new Villanova riders, Tim Higgins and Alex Cosan.  Both of them did wonderfully in their respective intro races.  Major props to Alex for being only the second woman ever to race for Villanova Cycling- let's get some more of this out there!  Columbia is very serious about hosting this race, not only running it through a nor'easter of epic water and wind, which truly drenching downpours, but even in bringing New York City's best Belgian Waffle truck to the course.  Om nom nom....
An award for "best fan" goes to John Olsen, Garrett's brother who came out to the course, braving the terrible conditions.  The races were truly insane- with nowhere to warm up effectively, most of us went in pretty cold, and the results weren't anything to write home about.  If you weren't on the east coast on Saturday, I cannot understate how frighteningly powerful this wind and rain was...
C Men:
Justin Yeash- 33rd
B Men: 
James Miceli- DNF (argh! last lap wipeout through a lake of a puddle... bummer.  I'm fine though!)
Garrett Olsen- 17th
Rob Abramo- 26th
I Men:
Tim Higgins- 8th
I Women:
Alex Cosan- 16th

Also on Saturday... shout out to Gina DeNunzio of Rutgers University- the fourth Lenape Valley Regional HS graduate to race in the ECCC.  Who knew that Byram, Stanhope, and Netcong were a hotbed of Cycling action!?

Accomodations- 43 St Nicholas Place, Harlem NYC

Look at how much Garrett and Justin are enjoying our accomodations!  Through a great connection of Justin, we managed to stay in a house in Harlem, inhabiting two floors for the weekend.  Many thanks to Dave and the other dudes at the house- the location was super convenient and parking turned out to be relatively easy.

And another big shout out to Alex Cosan and her sister for taking us to dinner at Patsy's Pizzeria.  Quote of the night- "Do you have a dessert menu," asked Garrett.  "It's a pizzeria!!" responded the frustrated waitress.  That was some seriously tasty thin crust pizza- may I recommend sun dried tomatoes everywhere.  Good for the health!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention our NYC subway quest- here's Garrett looking dejected because it took us an hour or so to go from 155th st. to 72nd st. on the same subway line- a power outage and a sick customer slowed our progress.


Of course, we started the day at a diner.  Yonkers Raceway diner- good stuff but a little pricey!

FDR Park, Yorktown Heights, New York.  Mercifully, rain ceded to grey skies and showers- though the course was wet, beautiful pavement prevailed.   Look for our boy Raymond Junkins from Stevens in the picture above- he promoted the race masterfully.  Our day was much better on Sunday- we were able to actually unpack the van, set the EZ-UP tent and go to town.  Justin started the day with the Mens' C race; he was holding the front and getting used to the competition of ECCC action.  With monster calves and a sunshine award in the bank for always looking up, Justin is becoming a force in the C class. 

Tim and Alex raced next, after Alex attempted to fix her tiny size booties with Justin's hunting knife.  Both did a great job in their second ever intro races; equally deserving the "chill" award for keeping cool in the face of ECCC competition.  Kudos to Alex for garnering our only team points of the weekend- awarded for national standing!  Both Alex and Tim had big finishes, keeping it real for Villanova.

And last but not least, the B race.  Sort of sketchy with the wet pavement, the race went quickly at only 45 minutes in duration.  With Rob moving up to the B class, we had a solid team in one class for the first time in Villanova Cycling history.  We have to work to refine our tactics- maybe together with Dartmouth?  Garrett and Rob held the front through much of the race.  I skinned my finger while adjusting my computer sensor during competition.  In the final bunch sprint, Garrett and Rob maneuvered for position while I was penned in the back.  We finished together all in the top 20- look out B class, we have big plans!

C Men:
Justin Yeash- 16th
B Men: 
James Miceli- 17th
Garrett Olsen- 16th
Rob Abramo- 13th
I Men:
Tim Higgins- 10th
I Women:
Alex Cosan- 5th

Final Conclusions:  Another very successful weekend.  Our team is gelling, we're making progress, we're all growing and making the most of our team support!

NEXT WEEKEND: Philly Phlyer.  We invite all of our friends and sponsors to come Saturday and Sunday to our home race, at Memorial Hall on Saturday and the Navy Yard on Sunday.  See website and postings this week for more details.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rutgers Day 2, 3/7/2010

Look at that sweet sunglassess on Garrett: Oakley Jawbone Glasses- premium eyewear technology from our valued sponsor, Oakley.

Day 2 of Rutgers started early at the Edison Diner- 2 eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee are the racing fuel of champions. We needed a good breakfast to help us navigate Rutgers' circuit race, an almost 3 mile loop around the Rutgers Athletic Center, pockmarked by potholes worsened by the epic New Jersey winter of 2009-2010. Hopefully that is over- these 50 degree days are a welcome relief from the doldrums of winter roller training.

Saturday Results Update (courtesy of John Frey, Velocity Results)
Mark: 34th, 7:32
Robby: 46th, 7:41
Rob 3rd, 6:35
Justin 9th, 6:46
James 13th, 6:35 (holy crap I earned points in a TT!!!!)
Garrett 23rd, 6:43

D Crit:
Mark: 41st
Robby: 47th
C Crit:
Rob: 5th
Justin: 20th
B Crit:
James: 12th
Garrett: 20th

Sunday Races:

D: Mark flew around the course with a strong performance, staying in position in the peleton throughout the race. He navigated the course spectacularly, making friends in the D class. Unfortunately, he was swallowed up by one of the gaping potholes on the backstretch on the last lap, and took a rough fall. He bounced back quickly, and with no broken bones, he'll be back out with the team soon.

C: Rob Abramo and Justin Yeash. Both of our C riders are adjusting nicely to the rigors of ECCC competition! Rob and Justin held strategic positions in the peleton duringthe race, working together with other riders. Rob was unfortunately bitten by the potholes, flatting mid-race. With no free lap to change tires under circuit race rules, Rob unfortunately had to take a DNF. That hasn't discouraged him, and Garrett and I look forward to his upgrade to B's next week! Justin raced to an impressive 16th place finish in only his second time seeing the racers of the ECCC.

Noooo, not a flat! Snakebite....

B: Garrett and I refined our team tactics, navigating the peleton of the speedy B class. Making friends across the class, I'm developing a feel for having teammates in a race to work with, something that has only happened perhaps twice in my ECCC career. Chalk one up for Villanova Cycling! As many B races do, this one finished with an all out field sprint, everyone jockeying for position coming into the last corner. Garrett and I ended up racing up the sides of the peleton during the last lap and catching onto the front. Garrett was leading the pack coming through the last turn, and I caught onto a Dartmouth train- is an alliance in order as we soon will have 3 riders in B's? Our finishes were spectacular; myself in 8th place (aaugh, another 8th place!?!?) and Garrett in 18th in his first weekend in the B's.

Up next: Columbia and Stevens next weekend. Looking forward to some sweet accommodations in Harlem, a perfect race course at Grant's Tomb, some delicious Belgian Waffles, and a new Stevens course on Sunday at FDR park.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rutgers Day 1, 3/6/2010

Rollin' up to Rutgers... Bike transit on the Turnpike.

Individual Time Trial:

'Thrilla on the Riva, Johnson Park, Rutgers

After a delicious breakfast at the Edison Diner- I suggest you roll up for their #2 special: eggs, hash browns, toast, coffee and juice for five bucks, we rolled to River Road up off of 18 in Piscataway. Our race was a 2.8 mile Individual Time Trial- 6 and a half minutes of pure pain!

D team: Mark Reimlinger and Robby Napp- both of our new racers loved the ITT; Mark loved it so much, burned so many riders that he vomited with exuberance after! That may be the first vom in Villanova Cycling Team history. Garrett took a picture, but I'll spare you with editors' discretion.

The secret to our team success, courtesy of Mark:

C: Rob Abramo and Justin Yeash. Rob smoked the C class, finishing 3rd with a time 6:33. Justin came in close at a blazing 6:46, in his first collegiate competition.

B: Garrett Olsen and James Miceli. Garrett toasted the new B field with his brand spanking new Scott Addict R2, and I clocked a 6:35, my best time in 3 years of the frozen toe.


D: Mark and Robby performed spectacularly in their first go 'round the Rutgers Criterium. Starting in our 1 of a kind team tent:

Mark and Robby cruised around the potholed Rutgers course, each notching their first placement in a collegiate race.

Rob and Justin carried the C class, Rob finishing in the top 5 after holding the front of the pack for much of the race. Though an insane sandbagger from Princeton nearly lapped the field, Rob and Justin had a strong showing in their C debut.

Garrett and I made waves in the B class, staying with the back and forth interval workout nature of the bumpy crit, placing top 10 for me and top 20 for Garrett. Garrett said, "Doubling the duration, upping the maximum intensity (27-29MPH)... B class riders were a lot more predictable, you can trust them a lot more." Though he was apprehensive at first, he doesn't thing he's outclassed, and neither do I! Both of us stayed in contention, and are looking to perform well tomorrow!

We'll update with results from and more pictures when they're posted.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's posting; Rutgers Day 2, RAC Circuit- this time it's business!

And the theme of our trip: U Turn- gotta be from Jersey to navigate those U-turns on Rt. 18!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

AC Century!

So, what do you do if you want to ride your bike and the snow refuses to melt and/or stop? Go somewhere else, of course. It especially helps if it's spring break. That's just what we did: after some clutch free hotel rooms from Justin, we (me, Justin, and Rob), rode Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. No snow in AC... but there was another natural obstacle...

Boom. 100 miles. Caesars parking garage, Atlantic City. That ride went from the Caesars parking garage, down three flights, along ocean avenue in Ventnor, Margate, Ocean City, Strathmere, Sea Isle City, Wildwood, down all the way to the cape may point... and back! We were a little short of a hundred miles, so we raced up to the top of the parking garage at the end- 10 stories!

So, that natural obstacle: give you a hint- my eyes are burning right now, still. WIND. Epic, epic wind. In my face. For 6 hours. It was a WNW wind, so it buffeted us sideways the whole way. As we raced up each little bridge between the barrier islands on the shore, the wind showed us who was boss- and a truck allowed rob to be crowned "bridge champion," gaining 7 bridge wins, though three came from drafting off a conveniently placed NEMF truck. 6 wins for me, including two come from behind wins at the end. I'll obviously be applying that skill to the Rutgers race... oh, wait... no I won't, because there are no hills. Overall, a great ride, record braking for the three of us.

As a sidenote, people who winter down the shore are pretty darn nice. Wawa clerks, the Jackson Mountain Cafe staff- all very accommodating to our quest.

For good measure, here' s a grainy cell phone pic of Lucy the Elephant in Margate- a jersey icon.

Yesterday we rode around Hammonton, NJ in the Pine Barrens- also the blueberry capital of the USA. People say hills are disorienting; but I have to say, endless pines are crazy. We managed to get a good timetrial workout in at the end, as Rob had to rush back to Horsham to work... we smoked it. Ready for the Philadelphia TTT? I think so.

Looking forward to Rutgers this weekend- weather in the 50s? Heck yes.

And for fun's sake, here's a mapmyride: