Week 3: The Shippensburg Scurry
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.
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.
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.