• Laura Ralston (inside) and Katie Quinn (outside) broke away from the pack in the Nationals criterium around downtown Ogden, Utah, and worked together to secure a 1-2 finish with Ralston successfully defending her 2011 criterium title. Quinn placed first in the road race portion of the competition.

    Photo: Christopher See Photography

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  • To be successful from season to season as well as from year to year, the team trains hard. At this year's training camp in Borrego Springs, Calif., 16 team members did about 30 hours of riding over eight days covering 500 miles — including the nearby Montezuma Climb, a route that rises 3,600 feet over 10 miles.

    Photo: Andreas Hilfinger

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  • That amount of exercise puts a massive caloric load on the body that must be satisfied if the training is going to improve fitness. (If an army fights on its stomach, a cycling team certainly trains on it, the team says in its blog.) Here, Joe Near treats his body to a particularly calorically dense concoction at training camp in California.

    Photo courtesy MIT Cycling

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  • The team's demanding training regimen means that rest and recovery is also vital for peak performance. Here, Juls Andren leads a stretching session for his teammates at training camp in California.

    Photo: Andreas Hilfinger

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  • Zachary Ulissi leads the Men's B field through a turn at the season opener at Rutgers. Ulissi would go on to win the race and be a consistent force in A races. Laura Ralston (center) was one of a handful of A women in the conference strong enough to race with the men for training purposes.

    Photo: Zachary Repp Photography

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  • At the Stevens Duck Country Circuit Race in March, team captain Adam Bry (in the yellow jersey) out sprinted Robert Burnett (Franklin and Marshall) and Edward Grystar (Brown) with a final 'bike throw' at the line.

    Photo: John Frey, Velocity Results

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  • Matt Smith, a fourth-year grad student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, surges to a win ahead of the men's D pack at a race at West Point Academy. Smith was one of many racers on the team to find success in his first season.

    Photo: Joseph Near

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  • The MIT women organize a leadout train for a sprint in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) championship criterium. MIT junior Shaena Berlin (right) sets a hard pace on the front of the race with her teammates following. One by one they'll peel off until graduate student Christina Birch (fourth from right) sprints to the finish line.

    Photo: Kenny Cheug

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  • Team captains, Adam Bry and Katie Quinn, enjoy the ECCC Championship Cup along with the yellow jerseys given to the series points winners.

    Photo: Kenny Cheug

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  • The men's team time trial squad rode to a second place finish at Nationals, averaging 28 miles per hour over the 19.8 mile course. In the team time trial riders take 20-40 second 'pulls' before rotating to the back of the paceline to draft and recover. The strong crosswinds at nationals necessitated 'echeloning' or angled drafting for optimal efficiency. This year the team used a quantitative model developed by Zachary Ulissi (left) to optimize the rotation based on riders' strengths and relative size. Furthering the technical advantage, the team used aerodynamic wheels provided by FXDD, a major team sponsor whose support helps make racing affordable for all club members.

    Photo: Dean Warren Photography

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  • The victorious members of the MIT Cycling Team bite into their gold medals after placing first in the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Ogden, Utah. The MIT team has won national titles in various events over the past several years, establishing the club as a perennial powerhouse.

    Photo: Doug Bry

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MIT Cycling Team rides to (another) national championship

Banner year for women and men cements club's reputation as perennial powerhouse.


The MIT Cycling Team's 2012 road racing season started with a week-long training camp in January in Borrego Springs, Calif., and ended in May on the top step of the podium at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Ogden, Utah. What came between was one of the most successful racing seasons in the history of the club.

The team, which is made up of undergraduate and graduate students from MIT, competes in Division II. This year's strong showings by both the men's and women's riders built on successes on and off the road over the past several years, including 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Adam Bry, the captain of the men's team, wrote this recap for MIT Student Life.

MIT competes in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC), which hosts races every weekend in March and April. Each weekend typically consists of several races, split by ability level from A through D:

  • A "road race," which is a 2-4 hour race favoring endurance and strategy similar to stages in the Tour de France;
  • A "criterium," which consists of multiple laps around a short course favoring the tactically savvy, skilled bike handlers and good sprinters;
  • And an individual or team time trial, pure tests of efficiency and fitness in riding against the clock.

One of the things that makes collegiate racing special is the club status (as opposed to intercollegiate varsity) it holds at the vast majority of schools. While this does little to diminish the level of competition at the top — the A races often feature riders preparing to spend the summer racing professionally around the United States or Europe — it makes the sport accessible to a wide range of students. Often more than half of the 30 to 50 racers in C or D category events on any given weekend are participating in their first ever bike race.

MIT was well represented in all races and categories at each of the nine ECCC weekends. Thirty-seven individuals raced for the team from freshmen to grad students. Ten riders were selected to race in the National Championships event: Katie Quinn, Yuri Matsumoto, Chris Birch, Laura Ralston, Adam Bry, Spencer Schaber, Zack Ulissi, Andrew Lysaght, Sebastien Gauthier and Joe Near. The squad truly represented homegrown talent: while many had athletic backgrounds, none of those riders had ever competed in a bike race before coming to MIT.

MIT's women's team is a perennial powerhouse. Women's captain Katie Quinn, a third-year grad student in chemical engineering, continued the strong tradition as the ECCC series points winner, garnering the highest total points accumulated in all races over the season. At nationals, Laura Ralston, a fourth-year grad student in economics, defended her title in the criterium, while Quinn won the road race. The women also won the team time trial by a significant margin, completing the monopoly on the stars-and-stripes jerseys given to national champions.

While the men's team is consistently strong in lower category events, this year the team made the jump to a powerhouse in A-level events taking five wins over the course of the ECCC season. At nationals, the men's second-place finish in the team time trial and consistently strong results in the criterium and road race were enough to capture the team championship.

Cycling is a sport that rewards patience and dedication in preparation. The performance on a given day is a cumulative function of how the body has been trained, fed and rested over the days, months and years leading up to the event. For MIT this year, racing success was also reflective of the work and organization of the club and all its members over the years.

To read interviews with Cycling Club members about the national championship, visit the club's blog.


Topics: Athletics, Awards, honors and fellowships, Graduate, postdoctoral, Sports, Student life, Students, Undergraduate, Clubs and activities

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