It's hard to believe, but the 2010 ECCC road season opener at Rutger's University is only four weeks away! To help get everyone amped up for what is sure to be an awesomely stellar season, I've decided to count down what I feel are the top ten reasons to be excited for this year's collegiate road season.
10. Team Time Trials: Hammering at full throttle in a race against the clock with three of your best friends is definitely one of the highlights of every racer's weekend. Unfortunately, there's no hiding the sad truth that many cat 3, 4, and 5 racers rarely get to experience the thrill of competing in a team time trial. Luckily, collegiate racing gives everyone an equal opportunity to drop their weakest teammates from a pace line.
9. Great Race Schedule: With the exception of Yale and Dartmouth, all of the races are within a 5 hour drive from Penn State. This should definitely save some gas money and will undoubtedly encourage more racers to compete at each race weekend.
8. Idris Fiery Ginger Beer: This doesn't really have anything to do with cycling, but I have to admit that coming up with ten items to write about was a bit more difficult than expected. So to fill the number 8 spot, here's a picture of some Idris Fiery Ginger Beer that I found at Wegman's this morning:
This refreshing beverage is made in the United Kingdom and can be found in the international isle of your local grocery store. And before Club Sports sends me an angry email, I should note that it is non-alcoholic.
7. Vanya's MPV: Aw yeah. You know it had to make an appearance on this list at some point. Coming in at the lucky number 7 spot is Vanya's sweet whip.
6. The Bikes: Last year saw some pretty sweet rides in the ECCC. Both Vanya and Zack were rocking down tube shifters on their steel framed bikes, Arnaud had a sweet new Madone, and for at least part of the season, Keith got to race on a very durable Token. To up the ante for 2010, Drew is going to be sporting a beautiful Bianchi 928, C-Rodg is going to have a sweet Jamis to crank out the watts on, and Wyatt decided to hop aboard the CAAD9 bandwagon.
5. Spectacular Crashes and Carnage: If there's one thing that's inevitable about bike racing, it's the crashes. Many crashes result in very painful injuries and spectacular bike damage. Fortunately there's usually a camera around to capture the carnage on film. Let's hope for some epic photos in 2010, but with fewer injuries. Please race safely, everyone!
4. Matt Gross's Sprinting: He eats primes for breakfast and has the uncanny ability to position himself perfectly for an amazing field sprint in nearly every crit. While he may not be able to climb like Rasmussen, Matt's sprinting is certainly a thing of beauty.
3. Our Talented Women: Screaming into the third spot on this list is our amazing group of women. This year we're expecting to have 4 women representing us in A's (up from 2 last year), as well as several new racers competing in the B and C categories. Most significant of all, Penn State will once again be able to have a full four-person women's time trial team. Good luck in 2010, ladies!
2. Penn State's Return to ECCC Dominance: 2009 was a disappointing year for Penn State Cycling. We only won one weekend, and had very limited success at TTTs. This year, however, we are fully capable of returning as a dominant threat to UVM in the ECCC: we are able to attend every race weekend, we have one of the largest teams of women racers in the conference, and we're expecting to have talented cyclists representing every men's category from A to D.
1. RYAN SMOLKO: Lots of wattage here. There's no debating the #1 spot: Daddy is back. 2010 will mark the triumphant return of Ryan Smolko to collegiate racing. While he's trading in the blue and white of Penn State for the maroon and gold of Kutztown, his attendance at every race will definitely make 2010 a season to remember.