Cycling team looks to a successful season
By Caroline Buck, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, March 29, 2010
The Dartmouth cycling team has been “riding bicycles fast since 1961,” according to its web site, and the slogan remains true in 2010. Finishing fourth in the Ivy League in 2009 and looking to host a major championship race at the end of April, Big Green cycling has maintained a competitive reputation on the East Coast as well as across the country.
The team, which is a club sport, competed at Princeton University this past weekend in the 2010 Jersey Devil — a race that was co-hosted by the Tigers and Stevens Institute of Technology. The team entered the race after spending spring break in Asheville, N.C., training in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Leading the cycling club, president Elle Anderson ’11 finished first in the individual time trial in the women’s A division.
“The season is going very well actually — better than last year,” Anderson said. “We have more riders, and more new riders that are coming up the ranks.”
The Big Green has had a strong season so far, and with four ECCC weekends already under their belts, Dartmouth cyclists are proving to be stand-out competition.
The current rankings, which do not include the results from the 2010 Jersey Devil race, show Dartmouth ranked fifth overall in the ECCC with 345 points. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a strong lead in the conference with 488 points. The University of Pennsylvania, second overall in the ECCC, is currently 105 points ahead of Dartmouth with 450 points.
Trevor Eide DMS’09 is ranked first overall in men’s A sprint division as well as eighth overall for men A.
Anderson is ranked third for women A sprint division as well as for women A overall.
In the B division, Benjamin Grass DMS’12 is ranked third overall and Eide is ranked fifth. Patrick Barter DMS’10 is in 10th, and Matthew Nichols ’13 is currently in 32nd.
“It’s exciting for the team because we don’t always have that high caliber,” Anderson said.
At the season opener at Rutgers University, Dartmouth finish second at the Team Omnium, while the MIT Engineers claimed first place. Eide and Barter finished second and third respectively in the men’s B time trial, criterium and circuit. Anderson secured second place in women’s A time trial and third in circuit.
The second ECCC weekend was hosted by Columbia University. Tumultuous weather worked against the participants and forced officials to shorten the course for safety reasons. In the A division, Eide secured second place while Anderson placed third.
While part of the team was in Asheville for spring break training, some of the Big Green’s male competitors headed to Pennsylvania, for the Philly Phlyer Races and claimed fifth place overall in the A division. Individually in the A division, Eide received 18th place and Barter came in 49th. Grass came in second place in the B division.
The team will host the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference championships on the weekend of April 25 and 26, for the second time. Dartmouth hosted the event for the first time in 2008, with it’s longest course including a climb up Mount Moosilauke.
“The Dartmouth race is really exciting for us because it’s the second time we’ve hosted ECCCs,” Anderson said. “We’re putting in a lot of effort to organize the race.”
This year’s ECCC championships begin with a 10-mile team time trial on Saturday, April 25. The trial is an out-and-back course beginning at the Rugby Fieldhouse, going along Route 10 and down Chieftain Hill.
After the team time trial, the Frat Row Criterium will begin on Webster Avenue, winding through college grounds and looping back to Webster Avenue. A criterium is a short, technical bike race with plenty of action for spectators on campus. Its length will be three-quarters of a mile.
On Sunday, April 26 the Academy Hills Road Race sets off from Thetford Academy and runs through Norwich, Vt. The distances vary from 10.5 miles for a beginner rider to 73 miles for the men’s A division.
When the ECCC championships were held in 2008, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity held a barbecue for fans.
The team is currently three regular season weekends away from the anxiously anticipated home race. The championship race counts for double points and is the culminating event before nationals.
The final regular season meets will be held at Bucknell University, Yale University and West Point.
The team also has hopes to send two full teams — one men’s and one women’s — to nationals this year according to Anderson. Each team will consist of four to six riders.
Collegiate cycling has many divisions including A and B for women as well as A through D for men. There is also an introductory section that teaches novice bikers how to race.
In order to qualify for nationals, men are required to be in the A division. Though Dartmouth competes with schools of various levels during the regular season, the Big Green races under Division II at nationals.
At ECCCs, Division I and Division II teams compete in the same race, but are scored and ranked separately. After the ECCC Championships, the qualifying teams will head to Madison, Wis., for Collegiate Road Nationals, which take place from May 7-9.
Since cycling is not a varsity sport, the cycling team members will personally work to organize the race. The success of the meet is dependent on the delegation and organization of the officers within the club including a president, vice president, social chair and volunteer coaches, Anderson said.
The openness of the cycling club allows for a mix of Dartmouth community members to participate, from different ages and skill levels. Even Anderson found the club in an unorthodox way.
“Cycling has pretty much always been a club sport, and it really fits the personality of the sport,” she said. “I really appreciate that any student can race — graduate student, medical student — there’s no eligibility.”
Anderson also noted that benefits the club members enjoy include a lack of a rigid training regimen as well as a more relaxed atmosphere among coaches and teammates.
“I came to Dartmouth as a varsity athlete as an alpine skier and raced by freshmen year,” Anderson said. “Freshman spring I competed in my first [cycling] race and went to a few collegiate races at the end of the season and had a great time.”
Anderson had some cycling experience prior to joining the Big Green cycling club, but had never been in competitions before. She moved up the ranks from division B to A and is now experiencing success as one of Dartmouth’s top cyclists.
In addition to enjoying individual success in cycling, Anderson and her teammates are also very competitive as a team. As recently as 2008, the Big Green squad won the ECCC championship as well as the Ivy League.
Dartmouth has been consistently successful in cycling over the past few decades, reigning as the Ivy League champion from 1977-1981 and 2003-2005. The Big Green cyclists also captured Division II championship titles in 2002-2005.
“Our goal for the seasons is to get the Ivy Cup, and right now we are in second to the University of Pennsylvania,” Anderson said, ”We want to get as many points as we can.”
The next race for Big Green cyclists will be the ECCCs fifth regular season event at the Bucknell Cycling Classic, in Lewisberg, Pa., during the weekend of April 3.