Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals at Snowshoe Mountain

After a long season of going Full Send, three of our riders qualified for collegiate nationals: Steve, Downhill Dan, and Sarah.  The crew arrived at Snowshoe Mountain, WV this past Thursday to scout the courses and prepare for the premier collegiate mountain bike competition.

Temperatures dropped into the 40s on Friday, and frigid rain drenched the course and our heroes.  Sarah raced the short track XC event, and placed 17th.  Afterwards, Downhill Dan and Steve did some practice runs on the downhill course.  

Steve missed his start time for the qualifying downhill race, but our generous friends at USAC let him race anyway.  Dan came in 34th.

The temperature dipped even lower on Saturday, and the overnight snowfall created an additional challenge for the contestants.  Sarah was all smiles racing the XC event, and placed 27th while Steve and Dan cheered from the sidelines.

Steve took a nasty crash during the final downhill race, but still finished the race and placed 28th. Dan took 26th.
Overall, it was a great end collegiate mountain bike season.  Thanks again to all our friends in the ECCC.

     DD sends it


UNH/RIT Easterns

The mountain bikers once again found themselves in New England for the final weekend of collegiate mountain bike racing.  Rainy conditions kept the weekend cold and slippery, and going full send was the only option.  With mountain bike nationals in the near future, Penn Staters put up fierce competition in all categories, and are sitting eighth in the conference.  Here's a brief recap of the individual results: 

Sarah Rutledge:
Cat A XC: 8th
Cat A short track: 8th

Steve Clayton:
Cat A downhill: 13th

Downhill Dan:
Cat A enduro hill climb: 13th
Cat A downhill: 8th

Brandon Endurbro Thomas:
Cat B enduro: 2nd
Cat B enduro climb: 7th
Cat B downhill: 7th

Jake Hanczar:
Cat C enduro climb: 15th
Cat C Enduro: 4th


Army Mountain Classic

This past weekend, our mountain bike crew ventured to New Jersey and New York for the Army Mountain Classic.  As always, Penn State riders made a good showing in all the races.  A fall rainstorm kept the enduro and downhill courses slippery, which led to an abundance of spills and mistakes for all riders involved.  The unexpected conditions shifted riders' finishing places, and kept the races unpredictable and exciting.  All Penn State riders scored points this past weekend, putting Penn State at 5th on the ECCC leaderboards. 

Avi Moore:  Avi busted his toe in the cat B downhill race, and his boot will keep him off the bike for a few weeks.  That being said, he still got 7th in cat B enduro and 10th in cat B downhill.  Worth it. 

Sarah Rutledge:  Decorated mountain bike racer Sarah Rutledge joined the mountain bike crew this past weekend, after taking a break from open category racing.  She placed 8th in cat A cross country and 7th in the cat A short track event.  Overall, she earned 75 points for the Blue and White. 

Kirsten Pearsons:  Kirsten got 4th in the muddy enduro event.

Steve Clayton:  Steve earned 9th in cat A downhill and 10th in cat A enduro.

President Hazlett:  Prez broke his finger in the cat C downhill race, but still earned 9th. 

Handsome Rob:  Rob broke his head after his tires slipped off of a wet bridge during the downhill race.  Thankfully, his concussion was minor and he will be back on the bike shortly.  He made the best of his situation by heckling the other teams.  Despite his serious injury, he's managed to stay handsome.

Downhill Dan Lewis:  Dan sent it downhill in cat A for a 6th place finish.  Not to be outdone, he placed3 7th in cat A enduro. 



Episode III: UVM Maple Mountain Bike Madness

For the third race weekend of the season, Penn State riders trekked up to Vermont for UVM Maple Mountain Bike Madness.  The crew competed in Saturday’s slalom and Sunday’s downhill race, and had riders in almost every category.  UVM did a great job organizing the race, and Penn Staters agreed that Vermont featured some of the best courses so far.  The slalom race took riders around swooping banks, moguls, and jumps.  The downhill race featured a good mix between steep loamy sections and fast rocky trails. 
Courtesy of UVM's Nate Cassidy

Downhill Dan:  Generic soda and insufficient snacks kept Dan out of the cat B slalom race.  Thankfully, he managed to get a chocolate croissant in time for the cat A downhill race, and placed 17th.  Considered to be a hero at Mountain Creek, Dan is expected to crush it this coming weekend. 
Jake Hanczar:  State College BMX legend Jake Hanczar joined the PSU mtb crew last week for the cat C slalom and DH races.  Although he had never raced mountain bikes before, Jake got 3rd in the cat C slalom, and won the men’s C downhill race with 12 seconds on his competitors.  Catting up is in his future.  You should also check out his BMX footage, because he does sick backflips.     

Brandon Thomas:  A fully clothed Brandon appeared in Vermont this weekend.  Brandon competed in the cat B DH event, but he flatted halfway through his run.  Nonetheless, he still got 12th

Avi Moore:  Avi’s steezy two-finger brake levers finally paid off, and he raced despite having a broken pinky.  After the previous week’s setback, he went hard and finished 4th in cat B downhill.

Steve Clayton:  Steve was still stuffy after battling a nasty cold all week.  He cleared out his system racing the cat B slalom, and placed 10th.  He was on the mend by Sunday, and placed 3rd in the cat A downhill race in a death-defying descent. 



MTB Season Episode II: Return to Massachusetts

For week 2 of mtb season, we found our heroes in New England for “Northeastern's Wild Western Mass Weekend Shredfest.”  Say that ten times fast.  This week’s cast of characters included a healthy Steve Clayton, who returned to the crew as predicted. 

Saturday’s XC track featured rolling hills.  This proved to be an ideal terrain for Kirsten, who placed 2nd in women’s B’s.  This week, Penn State downhill riders did the unthinkable, and attempted the hilly Men’s C XC event.  Despite a valiant effort, all four of them were unable to finish, and they decided that racing uphill is no fun and best left to roadies.

Foul weather reared up on Saturday night, but subsided in time for Sunday’s races.  The damp conditions kept the Short Track XC and Downhill events appropriately challenging.  The Short Track race required good lungs and legs, and the wide doubletrack course was devoid of technical obstacles.  Kirsten won 3rd, and decided to sit out the Downhill event and bask in victory. 

Avi, with finger still intact (courtesy of Dave Kinney)

The afternoon Downhill race featured a good mix of technical sections and swooping banks.  Unfortunately, a rough crash in practice broke Avi’s finger.  Determined to make the most of the long car trip, he filmed a cool video of Penn State riders crushing the course (check it out on our Instagram: @psucycling).  Avi may not have raced, but he nonetheless won Team Player of the Week. 

#stayhansum (courtesy of Dave Kinney)
B racer Rob bumped a tree during the Downhill race, but nonetheless placed 5th.

Steve Clayton and Downhill Dan held it down in Men’s A’s, placing 9th and 11th respectively.

Will Penn State riders close the gap on UVM?  Will they ever get a van?  Tune in next week!


MTB Season Episode I: MIT Sliderule Shredfest

Six Penn State mountain bikers ventured to Charlemont, MA, for MIT’s Sliderule Shredfest.  Heavy rain on Saturday night and Sunday morning lead ECCC officials to alter the downhill course.  The revised course put Penn State riders into uncharted territory, but they were nonetheless able to excel.  The XC and short track races took riders across root-covered trails, tight singletrack, and slick loamy-silt.  Despite the muddy weekend, Penn State riders racked up points and earned 8th in the ECCC omnium.

Downhill Dan doing what he does best

Downhill Dan Lewis:

Dan took a break from crushing Strava descents at Rothrock to test his mettle in New England.  True to his nickname, he barreled downhill to a 10th place finish in Men’s A’s.  Needless to say, the only thing going up is his position in the ECCC leaderboards. 

President Hazlett:

Though well known for his speechcraft and rucking prowess, President Hazlett proved a force to be reckoned with in cat C downhill.  He rode his Specialized (named Air Force 1) to a 14th place finish. 

Will Vickerman:

Will Vickerman, luxury kit enthusiast, eschewed the beginners’ C category and went straight to B’s to race XC.  Nearly half the field DNF’d the race, but Will persevered, earning a 6th place finish.

“Handsome” Rob Shurer

Rob Shurer, Pinkbike celebrity, competed in his first collegiate race.  He likewise started in B’s and finished 12th in Men’s B downhill. 

Avi takes flight

Avi Moore: 

Avi took 5th in the men's B's dual slalom event.  The course was tight, and other riders found it difficult to maintain speed.  Not to be outdone, he also got 15th in the downhill race.  

Kirsten Pearsons:

Women’s B’s wasn’t ready for Kirsten’s return.  Kirsten competed in both the short track and XC races, and earned 2nd and 3rd.  Though a technical trail rider at heart, Kirsten is considering racing a downhill event next week. 


Steve Clayton, notable A rider, is still nursing his broken ankle.  His doctor has put him on a strict regimen of road riding, and Steve is often seen pedaling up Black Mo at speeds that rival PSU roadies.  The rest of the Mtber’s await his glorious return to downhill, and the restoration of balance to the Force.  



       Welcome to the official blog of the Penn State Club Cycling Team!  We are a student-run organization made up of cycling enthusiasts from all disciplines.  As a club sport, we provide an inclusive atmosphere for riders of all skill levels; no tryouts required.  Whether your goal is to get PSU to the top of the collegiate cycling leaderboards, or to simply enjoy weekend rides, this is the organization for you.
       Every year, Penn State riders compete and succeed in all disciplines of cycling, including road, mountain, cyclocross, and track.  We compete in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC), which is a division of the National Collegiate Cycling Association (NCCA).  Since 1973 we have fostered talented young riders, and our alumni have achieved national titles, Olympic gold medals, and professional cycling careers.

       Happy Valley features some of the best cycling in central Pennsylvania.  Between the mountainous terrain and minimal traffic, the area is challenging, scenic, and safe for road cycling.  Rothrock State Forest and Raystown Lake offer routes that cater to downhill, enduro, and cross country mountain biking.  Numerous rides are organized each week, and our riders can show you routes that are suitable for every skill level. 

       As a student organization, we receive our funding from our members, our alumni, and through participation in community service projects.  We are also made possible through our sponsors: The Bicycle Shop, Specialized, and the Rudy Project.
        Membership provides special discounts and offers from our sponsors, fuel reimbursement and hotel rooms racing weekends, and an active community of enthusiasts.  For only $60, membership provides many benefits.  For more information, stop by our weekly meetings at 8:00 pm on Thursday in 358 Willard. 


ECCC Championships, April 23-24

The 2016 collegiate road season wrapped up in Massachusetts with the ECCC Championships race.  With double the points on the line, Penn State riders Monica Volk and Jess Bunchek trekked up to the Northeast for Saturday’s road race.    

The relentless elevation change pushed riders to their limit, and divided the women’s A peloton across the course.  The course took riders off paved roads, onto steep gravel climbing segments, which made traction difficult.  Determined to defend her yellow and green jerseys, Monica raced hard, dropping the peloton on a challenging ascent, and crossing the line solo with a six minute lead.  
Likewise, Jess gained ground on her competitors during the climb, and finished 12th.

As a result of her domination of the 2016 ECCC road season, Monica will race at the USAC Collegiate Nationals on May 13-15.  Congratulations to her and to all riders for another stellar road season!  Out of 46 schools in the ECCC conference, Penn State placed 7th overall.  


Week 5: Army Spring Classic

Widely considered the best race of the season by Penn State cyclists, the Army Spring Classic was the most anticipated race of the 2016 lineup.  The courses at Army have been the spot of many Penn State victories over the years, and consistently push riders to their limits.  This year, the tradition of Penn State wins, warm weather, and post-race burritos continued.

Saturday 4/16, Team Time Trial

Brisk morning temperatures receded as the sun came up, and arm warmers were shed before 9 a.m.  The TTT course began in the parking lot of Lake Welch, and took riders for a 7 mile loop.  The first half of the race was downhill, but a turnaround at the halfway point brought them back up for a challenging ascent.  Potholes on the final straightaway were large enough to swallow a 700c wheel, 
and required alertness and caution.

Women’s A:  Kirsten Pearsons, Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek

A racers Monica and Jess teamed up with B racer Kirsten to compete in the TTT.  They easily powered through the straightaways and downhill segments, but differences in riding skills separated them on the final climb.  A late revision in TTT rules required all three riders to cross the line before the clock was stopped.    As a result, the team placed 5th, but scored points nonetheless.

Penn State D riders compete in the TTT

Men’s D:  Jake Brown, Noah Stauffer, Sam Banks, Will Gowen

The TTT was an optimal warm up for Men’s D riders, and prepared them for road race.  The team 
placed 7th after some directional difficulties.

Saturday 4/16:  Harriman Road Race

The road race began in a mass start in the Lake Welch parking lot.  Laps were 14 miles long, and took the contestants through the scenic Hudson River Valley countryside.  Riders were warned that the first downhill could facilitate speeds up to 60 mph, which caused a stir of anxiety and excitement in the peloton.  A hairpin turn at the bottom of the hill stunk of burning brake rotors and carbon wheels.  Riders who misjudged the turn found themselves on the grass, rubber side up, or both.  The course then featured a series of challenging hills, some broken up by straight sections.  When the course finally flattened out again, riders were rewarded with the scenic view of Lake Tiorati, before a final upward slog to the finish line.  Category A riders were allowed a feed zone, which required teamwork and participation.

James takes a corner in the road race (image courtesy of Jan Polk)

Men’s A:  James Read

The A’s faced a brutal 70 miles on the already challenging road race course.  By the second lap, two riders broke away, and created a gap that expanded to six minutes by the end of the race.  James stayed locked in with the group, but the series of ascents divided the riders into two groups.  Although James rode hard in the second pack, he decided to pull himself on the fifth lap.   

Monica leads the peloton in the road race (image courtesy of Jan Polk)

Women’s A/B:  Monica Volk, Kirsten Pearsons, Jess Bunchek

Monica and another pro rider broke away on lap 1, and eventually created an impressive 18 minute gap between themselves and the peloton.  They took 30 second pulls throughout the 56 mile race, but then split up for final showdown to the finish.  Monica took 1st in a close race.  Jess stayed with the peloton, but laid down too many watts and busted her power meter cranks on lap 3.  Kirsten pulled over to help, and they decided it was in Jess’s best interest to pull herself from the race.  Kirsten finished strong on lap 3. 

Cobie, Lucas, and Dan get ready for the road race

Men’s C:  Cobie Arnold, Lucas Buseck, Dan Kozar

The steep first descent led to a massive pileup in the men’s C field.  The accident took down Lucas, but he managed to avoid serious injury.  The crash broke his derailleur hanger, and he was unable to finish the race.  After a wildly successful career in D’s, Cobie upgraded to C’s to roll with a faster crowd.  He kept up with his new racing companions until halfway through the final lap, where he got caught by a nasty bonk.  He finished 47th in the massive C field, an excellent result for his first race in a difficult category.  Dan finished right behind at 63rd.   

Women’s C:  Sarah Rutledge
The women’s C field put in 42 miles on the course.  The peloton became divided as the race progressed, which led to a 2 minute gap between groups.  Sarah stayed with the second pack, and 
finished 16th.

Bill sprints for the finish in the road race

Men’s D:  Jose Aguilar, Sam Banks, Jake Brown, Will Gowen, Noah Stauffer, Bill Wahl
The speedy descents were unsettling for the D riders, but they managed to avoid crashes on the intense course.  Will stayed with the front of the pack throughout, and passed 3 riders on the final sprint, which earned him 4th.  Bill also finished with the front pack, and locked down 21st.  Sam stayed up towards the front until lap 2, where he eased off and got 35th.  Though he had optimal positioning, Noah Stauffer threw his chain on lap 2, an unfortunate end to a promising race.  Likewise, Jose nailed a pothole and flatted his rear tire. 

Sunday 4/16:  Shea Stadium Criterium

The rolling geography and gothic architecture of West Point’s campus made for an exciting criterium.  The course took place next to Shea Stadium, and featured short laps of .7 miles.  The course began downhill past the bleachers, and then a sharp turn guided riders alongside the railroad tracks.  The straightaway section featured many bumps and potholes in the right lane, and riders congregated to the left side.  Only the most determined riders sprinted through the right lane to get to the front.  After the finish line, laps began with a brief climb, which allowed climbers to gain ground on a course otherwise dominated by sprinters.    

Men’s A:  Kevin Bernstein, James Read

Kevin chased down a breakaway on the final lap of the A race.  Although he seemingly had a solid finish locked down, a rider in front of him went into the final turn too hot, resulting in a crash.  Kevin grabbed the brake, but was unable to avoid the accident.  James stayed in the peloton for the entirety of the race, and finished 27th.   

Women’s A/B:  Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek, Kirsten Pearsons

Monica secured the first two prime sprints, and Jess took the 4th for good measure.  Monica kept up her lead at the front of the pack, and finished 2nd after the 19 mile crit.  Kirsten finished 6th in her category, earning points in both the prime sprint and her finish.  Jess crossed the line in the center of 
the pack for 16th.

Cobie leads the pack in the crit

Men’s C:  Lucas Buseck, Cobie Arnold, Dan Kozar

Thanks to the downtown bike shop, Lucas scored a new derailleur hanger in time for the crit.  He stayed in the pack throughout the entirety of the race, and finished 25th.  Dan and Cobie lost the peloton halfway through the race, and formed pacelines with other riders to catch back up.  Unfortunately, they were pulled before they could regain ground.

Jose races the men's D crit

Men’s D:  Will Gowen, Bill Wahl, Sam Banks, Jose Aguilar, Noah Stauffer

Noah Stauffer attacked from the back of the peloton, and made his way to the very front.  In the process, he picked up Will, and together they attempted to hold a breakaway.  Although Noah burned his matchsticks getting to the front, he helped Will secure an ideal position for the remainder of the race.  Will kept up with the precarious peloton, and finished 11th.  Bill stayed up at the front with Will until the 2nd to last lap, where a crash on the sharp turn forced him off his bike.  He defied all odds by jumping back on and catching up again.  Bill and Sam finished 22nd and 27th, respectively.  Jose raced hard through 8 laps before becoming disconnected from the group.  

Week 4: L'Enfer Du Nord

For week four of the ECCC racing season, Penn State riders ventured up to Vermont to compete in L’Enfer Du Nord.  While school and work obligations kept many Team riders at University Park, Jose Aguilar and Charlie Li roadtripped up to the Northeast in the Club Sports van.  The ECCC’s take on the classic Paris-Roubaix course of the same name proved difficult.  Hosted by Dartmouth and UVM, the courses led riders through mountainous New England terrain.  Winter weather still lingered up North, and Jose and Charlie bore temperatures under 32 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday.  Unfazed, they still competed in all events except for the TTT. 

The most challenging course of the weekend was Sunday’s road race.  A gentle morning snowfall dusted the riders at the starting line, and only the most dedicated braved the elements to race.  The course itself guided riders through ten mile laps in scenic Vermont.  The constant change in elevation offered no flat straightaways for riders to take advantage.  Brutal ascents followed by blisteringly fast downhill segments rocked riders of every category, and called upon all their skills to finish.  The final lap of the race demanded a difficult climb up Mt. Philo, where riders slogged up a 20% gradient to the finish line.   

The punishing weather as well as health problems kept Charlie from crossing the finish line, but he nonetheless put forth a good effort in the challenging races.  Jose completed all of his races, a victory in of itself given the nature of the courses.  


Week 3: The Shippensburg Scurry

Shippensburg Scurry Circuit Race

A Saturday morning drizzle receded into lively spring weather, and Penn State riders donned lightweight jerseys and arm warmers.  The wind peaked at 25 mph, a fast clip but nothing compared to Sunday’s gale force winds.  The circuit race course began with a neutral rollout, and proceeded counterclockwise around a 2.2 mile loop on scenic Shippensburg roads.  The course consisted of gentle rolling hills that provided an even playing field for both climbers and sprinters.  Turns were tight, which made precise handling skills a must. 

Men’s A:  Kevin Bernstein

The A’s raced for one hour on the small course, and the seemingly endless number of loops ensured mastery of every turn and incline.  Two riders broke away early in the race, and maintained a large gap between themselves and the peloton.  Kevin hung with the aggressive pack for the first half hour, but found himself disconnected after a hill climb.  The rising gusts of wind made it difficult to regain lost ground, and Kevin pulled himself from the race.

Women’s A:  Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek

The afternoon wind divided the peloton into small groups.  Monica broke away with three other riders, and held a two minute lead against the remainder of the racers.  The breakaway group was milliseconds apart in the final sprint, and Monica earned 2nd.  Jess finished 8th, continuing Penn State’s domination of women’s cat A.

Cobie Arnold moves to the front in the Men's D Ciruit Race

Men’s D:  Cobie Arnold, Will Gowen, Jacob Brown, Noah Smith, Noah Stauffer, Sam Banks

The men’s D circuit race was unusually safe, and the only crash involved a rider hitting a mailbox on the first turn.  Cobie launched a solo breakaway on lap 2, which upped the speed of the peloton and added to the already-competitive atmosphere.  After leading for one lap, he dialed back his effort and sat in to save his energy for the final sprint, where he took 3rd place.  Will sat in with the peloton for the entirety of the race, but attacked on the final hill climb and sprinted for 6th.  First-time racer and steel bike enthusiast Sam powered his way to a 16th place finish, past competitors on carbon superbikes.  After crossing the finish line, he proudly propped his bike upon its kickstand so he could observe the looks of shock uninterrupted.  Jacob worked his way to the front of the peloton during the first several laps, but eventually decided to drop back to catch a draft, and finished 21st with Noah Smith right beside at 22nd.  Noah “Why So Sirrus?” Stauffer finished 30th, and overtook many carbon-wheeled competitors on his converted hybrid road bike. 

Women’s D:  Rebecca Storch

As the rain shower passed over and the clouds cleared, a strong wind took its place.  The conditions demanded excellent drafting skills from the women’s D division, and the course led them through 25 mph headwinds.  Rebecca tactically positioned herself within the center of the peloton.  This ensured that she had the ability to get to the front, yet ample riders to draft.  The wind made it difficult for her to hold on to the peloton, but she still crossed the line 14th.   

Shippensburg Scurry Time Trial

Saturday afternoon’s TT course led riders 6 miles up South Mountain in a mass start.  The first two miles of the course were flat, and allowed the contestants to spin their legs before the serious climbing began.  The gradual ascent taunted many riders to expend their energy early, which divided riders.  Despite the short length and moderate incline, the course seemed to drag on endlessly as riders muscled their way uphill.  The road briefly leveled off in parts, tricking the racers into thinking they were close to the finish.  After cresting the mountain, riders had a ¾ mile straightaway to the finish line, which called upon all their remaining strength to secure good results. 

Men’s A:  Kevin Bernstein

Kevin scouted the course in advance, and planned out strategy for himself and his teammates.  Significantly fatigued from his first race, as well as jetlagged after his trip from California, Kevin did 
his best to stay competitive in A’s, landing 28th.   

Women’s A:  Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek

An afternoon tailwind shifted the importance from drafting tactics to pure climbing ability.  Monica and one other rider quickly scaled the climb, and she secured 2nd place in a close final sprint.  Jess racked up points with an 8th place finish, and held down a sub-30 minute time on a difficult race.

Men’s D:  Cobie Arnold, Will Gowen, Jacob Brown, Noah Smith

Riders in men’s D burned matchsticks early, resulting in the division of the peloton between climbers and non-climbers.  Throughout the race, riders continually fell out of the front pack, one-by-one giving in to exhaustion.  Will had a lock on third place, but with no energy to spare, he lost ground on the final sprint and earned 4th.  Cobie came in close behind for 5th place, maintaining a substantial gap between himself and the rest of the riders.  Jacob and Noah fought hard in the pack, and also earned consecutive finishes with 27th and 28th.  

Shippensburg Scurry Road Race

In addition to a severe drop in temperatures, punishing 50 mph winds reared up overnight, which sent the real-feel down to 16 degrees.  The gale force gusts bowled trees and power lines onto the road course, and ECCC officials were forced to nix the infamous Horse Killer Road ascent due to fallen debris.  The revised course was an 8 mile loop with mild rolling hills, although the weather ensured it was equally challenging.  Riders huddled in the heated community center, and only the most dedicated warmed up outside before their races.  Throughout the course of the day, cyclists were shoved across lanes from fierce lateral gusts, and tailwinds allowed riders to coast at 15 mph on straightaways.    

Women’s A/B:  Monica Volk

Determined to preserve her yellow jersey, Monica raced despite the unpleasant weather.  She and two other riders broke away, and created a substantial gap which caused the remaining riders to be pulled and placed.  The seven grueling laps eliminated the majority of the field, and the three riders battled it out for podium finishes in the final sprint.  It was a close finish, and they crossed the line within milliseconds of one another.  Monica locked down 2nd place, but 1st in her category.

Will Gowen sprints for the finish in the Men's D Road Race

Men’s D:  Cobie Arnold, Will Gowen

Cobie raced defensively for the first several laps, and let the inclement conditions weed out the weaker riders before pushing to the front.  Cobie strategically drafted off of the other riders, and finished 3rd in the race after 3 hellish laps.  Will asserted himself towards the front of the peloton throughout the first lap, but was unable to maintain his position, and lost touch with the group.  The hurricane-level gusts were impossible to battle solo, and he ended up dropping back to form a pace line with the remaining riders. 

After another exciting race weekend, Penn State riders have once again held their 4th place position on the ECCC leaderboard.  So far this season our riders have amassed 401 points, with many more to come in the next several weeks.


Week 2: NYC Metro Showdown

Rutgers University Criterium, 3/19

Spring arrived in full force on Saturday. To celebrate the weather at the second race of the season, the ECCC riders broke out their finest jorts.  The generous 10 am start time allowed the lower category riders to sleep in and prepare for their races.  The criterium course featured 3 turns, with one rounded, sloping side which led into a tight turn and a small hill climb.  Stereotypes about NJ infrastructure were confirmed, and the roads on the course were precarious.  Pocked with potholes, the sharp second turn became a highway to the Danger Zone for riders in all categories.

James whips around a corner (image courtesy of NYU Cycling)

Men’s A:  James Read, Kevin Bernstein

A two man breakaway launched halfway into the race, and the peloton was unable to close the gap.  James and Kevin worked together to draft off of each other, and swapped positions throughout the course of the race.  Kevin finished in the center of the peloton at 20th, with James only seconds behind at 29th.  Monica stretched her legs with the men’s field, and completed 5 laps before pulling the plug.

Women’s A/B: Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek, Kirsten Pearsons

The peloton held together on the first several laps, but Monica “Breakaway” Volk rocketed ahead with five other riders.  The peloton never saw the breakaway, and only heard rumors of Monica’s dominant win in the final sprint.  Jess sat in the peloton and sprinted hard on the final lap, earning 8th place.  Kirsten, a B racer, fought hard alongside the women in A’s, and locked down the first prime in her category.  Overall, Kirsten was 16th in the pack. 

Men’s C: Dan Kozar

Dan asserted himself at the front of the speedy C peloton, a position he held for the first two laps.  Wild cheers of “Damn Daniel” could be heard across the Rutgers campus.  Unfortunately, a pothole in the road sent him sailing over the handlebars.  Although he was uninjured by the accident, his rim was damaged beyond repair, and he was unable to continue with the race.

Will sprints to catch a draft (image courtesy of NYU Cycling)

Men’s D:  Noah Smith, Will Gowen, Jose Aguilar

The men’s D race raised the bar for criterium carnage with a whopping five crashes.  All crashes occurred on the precarious 2nd turn of the course; from a combination of riders slowing down on the uphill and other riders sprinting through potholes on the turn.  Will hung with the pack until the fifth lap, when a catastrophic pileup resulted in a bicycle being thrown 5 ft. into the air.  Will avoided the crash, but grabbing a handful of brake cost him the race.  Noah navigated through the disaster, but flatted on the final straightaway, in a hiss of broken dreams.  Jose raced defensively, and finished 54th.    

Rebecca gears up for the women's D crit

Women’s D:  Rebecca Storch

Rebecca advanced through the peloton during the first several laps.  Unfortunately, a crash KO’d Rebecca’s derailleur hangar and front brake lever, shearing them both in half.  She rushed to the on-staff mechanic, who managed to replace the hanger (with some convincing) in under a 1 lap.  Ignoring her own scrapes from the accident, she hopped back on the bike to chase down the peloton, and nailed down 20th.    

Rockland Lake Circuit Race, 3/20

Temperatures on Sunday took a dive into the low forties, and the overcast weather threatened rain.  The 3.4 mile course led riders on a scenic loop around Rockland Lake, and over serene country roads.  Halfway through the course, a series of small, rolling hills provided a 200 ft. elevation gain, which gently challenged the cyclists.  The final descent allowed riders to gather speed for a straight shot to the finish line.  Similar to Saturday’s criterium, the course on Sunday also featured unfavorable infrastructure, and the potholes once again plagued riders.  To further complicate matters, the race was conducted on open roads, which meant racers were only allotted one lane to attack and maneuver.

Men’s A:  James Read, Kevin Bernstein

The men’s A riders kept up a breakneck pace for the 44 mile race.  James stayed locked in with the pack throughout, and crossed the line 18th.  Kevin started out strong, but a pesky pothole released the air from his tire, which caused him to lose serious ground and left him unable to finish the race.    

Women’s A/B:  Jess Bunchek, Kirsten Pearsons

The race started out calmly, as riders wanted to save energy and wait to see who would attack first.  A number of surges occurred on the first hillclimb, but all were reabsorbed back into the peloton.  Kirsten propelled herself to the front on the climb, and led the peloton for an entire lap before dropping back to catch a draft. Jess worked her way to the front, bombing down the final hill and sprinting for 4th place.  Kirsten sat in close behind at 13th

Men’s C: Dan Kozar

A serious crash on lap 2 resulted in a rider being medevacked out, a process which spooked the remaining racers.  The peloton became divided, and Dan found himself in the 2nd pack for a 58th place finish.

Men’s D:  Noah Smith, Will Gowen, Jose Aguilar

The first three laps of the Men’s D race bordered on a leisurely ride, complete with brake checks and casual banter.  Nonetheless, two accidents occurred as a result of braking and potholes.  Having only 1 lane for a 48 man field made avoiding crashes and moving up in the peloton difficult.  The congestion caused Noah and Will to end up stuck behind riders who were too tired to sprint for the finish line, causing them to lose ground and place 27th and 17th.  Jose faced similar adversity, and hung on at 42nd

Women’s D:  Rebecca Storch

Some last-minute starting line derailleur repair was required to get Rebecca’s bike race ready.  Rebecca laid down so much power at the criterium that the replacement hanger screws were knocked loose.  She secured an excellent position during the first mile of the race, but the inability to shift gears on the hill cost her the position.  The involuntary single speed left her muscling her way to a 19th place finish.

The Penn State Cycling Team maintained their vice grip on the ECCC leaderboards, holding down 4th place overall in the conference.  As temperatures and experience levels increase throughout the spring season, the Team is set up for a promising month of racing.




Week 1: The Philly Phlyer

2016’s ECCC racing season was kicked off in Philadelphia with the traditional two-day Philly Phlyer race series.  The Penn State Club Cycling Team had a massive turnout, with twenty riders racing for the Blue and White.  Penn State partook in the TTT and road race on Saturday, and the criterium on Sunday.

3/19, Team Time Trial

The Philly Phlyer TTT course was 11 miles.  The highlight of the course were the multiple hairpin turns which demanded excellent teamwork and handling to preserve valuable seconds.  The final lap of the course finished up a hill, which put the riders deep into the pain cave.

Men’s A:  James Read, Drew Chidester, Greg Ratzell, Kevin Bernstein
The Penn State men’s A team witnessed a catastrophic crash from the Queen’s collegiate team.  As Drew described it; “it looked like they ran over a landmine.”  Carbon fiber and aero gear everywhere.  Our boys nailed down 3rd place despite the surrounding carnage.

Women’s A:  Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek, Rebecca Storch, Kirsten Pearsons
The women’s A team finished 3rd overall.  First time A racers Kirsten and Rebecca put on a stellar performance in the early morning race.

Men’s C:  Dan Kozar, Sam Carroll, Lucas Buseck
The men’s C team successfully wound it up for a 12th place finish.

Men’s D: Noah Smith, Cobie Arnold Jose Aguilar, Will Gowen, Jacob Brown, Charlie Akerblom, Bill Wahl
The team of Cobie, Jose, Jacob, and Bill misjudged the speed of entry on the first hairpin turn, which resulted in a minor crash.  Despite this, they pulled together and finished 3rd in the TTT, with a final time of 34:52.  A very impressive recovery and a valuable learning opportunity.  Noah, Will, and Charlie started out strong, but were accidentally led off course.

3/19, Schuylkill Scramble Road Race

The road race course was similar to the TTT course, but nixed one of the hairpin turns in favor of an additional 1 mile climb for the riders to navigate.  Riders began next to Memorial Hall, and then followed the course down a scenic route beside the river.  

Men’s A:  Drew Chidester, James Read, Greg Ratzell, Kevin Bernstein
At 39 miles long, the men’s A race was the most difficult of the events at the Philly Phlyer.  Three riders broke away on the first lap of the race, leaving the rest of the riders in the peloton to duke it out for the remaining positions.  Kevin broke away and jockeyed himself towards the center of the peloton, a position he would hold until the end of the race, with a 14th place finish.  Greg playfully attacked early in the race, pushing the other riders to catch up with him before he was swallowed once again by the peloton.  The final two laps of the course saw a sharp uptick in pace, and the exhausted riders struggled to cement good finishing positions.  The final climb, while a formidable obstacle for the majority of the riders, was taken advantage of by Kevin and Greg, who attacked and passed multiple cyclists.  Greg finished 13th, and Drew and James cranked their way to a 22nd and 23rd place finish, respectively.    

                                                                            Monica Volk sprints for the finish line 

Women’s A/B:  Monica Volk, Jess Bunchek, Kirsten Pearsons
Monica Volk and two non-collegiate professional riders executed a speedy breakaway on the first lap, and remained in the front for the remainder of the 32 mile race.  The three of them held an impressive one minute and thirty second lead off the front.  First place in collegiate already secured, Monica played amongst the pros and crossed the line second.  Jess duked it out in the center of the peloton for ideal positioning, and finished 11th, with Kirsten right behind at 19th.

Jess Bunchek scales the final climb while Noah Smith, Noah Stauffer, and Will Gowen provide moral support

Men’s C:  Dan Kozar, Sam Carroll 
A crash on the final turn of the course made for a difficult push towards the finish line.  Sam finished 59th out of the pack.  Dan ambitiously upgraded to category C for his first collegiate road race, and although he put out a good effort, he couldn’t quite keep up with the peloton.  Technique comes with experience.

Women’s C:  Sarah Rutledge
Sarah was reunited with a former Penn Stater, Kasinee.  Rivalries die hard and Sarah beat Kasinee to the line, 12th place over her 15th.  A great result for both, but only Sarah scored points.

Men’s D:  Noah Smith, Cobie Arnold, Will Gowen, Jacob Brown, Jose Aguilar, Charlie Akerblom, Bill Wahl
A pothole on the first descent caused a minor crash, thankfully with minimal injury.  Cobie powered his way to a 9th place finish, a solid performance for his first collegiate road race.  Bill finished 26th, while Noah, Charlie, Will, Jacob, and Jose lost contact with the peloton but nonetheless put out a good effort.

Women’s D:  Rebecca Storch
Rebecca finished 37th, successfully scorching her way past 30 other riders in her first ever road race.

3/20, Criterium at Temple University

As temperatures dipped under 40 degrees and wind ripped down the streets, the weather was a major hurdle for the criterium racers to overcome.  The final straightaway of the course barreled into a headwind, which added another challenge to primes and finishing sprints.  The railroad tracks which passed through the course added bones to the otherwise bare-bones circuit.

Greg Ratzell (left) and Kevin Bernstein (right) rip around a corner at the Men’s A Criterium

Men’s A:  Greg Ratzell, James Read, Kevin Bernstein
Kevin found a good opening for the final sprint, and secured a 10th place finish.  Greg attacked ferociously throughout the race, but couldn’t quite make the breakaway stick against the tough competition.  Greg and James received 18th and 19th, respectively.

Women’s A:  Monica Volk
Monica initiated another breakaway.  This time she was joined by three other collegiate racers.  On the final lap, Monica launched her sprint and created a massive gap, notching herself another 1st place finish for the weekend.

Women’s B:  Kirsten Pearsons
The women’s B field was combined with the women’s A field, forcing Kirsten to race with the fastest girls in the east.  The pace was a bit too fast for Kirsten to hold on to but she never quit, notching herself a 6th place finish.

Esteemed President and Maverick Sam Carroll begins a sprint (Image courtesy of Boston University Cycling)

Men’s C:  Sam Carroll, Dan Kozar, Charlie Li
The competition was tough in men’s C’s, and the Penn State riders were eventually pulled after holding on for the first half of the race.

Men’s D:  Noah Smith, Cobie Arnold, Jose Aguilar, Will Gowen, Jacob Brown, Charlie Akerblom
The men’s D field sported 66 contestants total.  The railroad tracks knocked a bottle out of its cage, leading to a minor crash on the first lap.  The field split up into two large groups by lap 5, which spread out the riders.  Cobie held on to the first group, and landed a 17th place finish.  Charlie led the 2nd pack throughout the latter part of the race, and finished 30th with Will in pursuit at 34th.  Will didn’t realize the pack had split up, and began celebrating after crossing the finish line.  There’s always next week.  Jose, Jacob, and Noah held on strongly for the majority of the race, but fell off the pace of the peloton.

The Philly Phlyer was a huge success for the Penn State Club Cycling Team.  Thus far, Penn State riders have racked up a total of 177 points, placing 4th in the ECCC.  With five more weekends remaining, the opportunity for new riders to improve and seasoned riders to dominate is all ahead.