Bucknell Cycling Classic - Second ECCC Race 2019

By Eric Deare - March 30-31, 2019

After a strong showing at the first race of the 2019 collegiate season in Philadelphia two weeks before, the University of Toronto Road Racing Team (UTRR) headed out to Lewisburg, PA for the Bucknell Cycling Classic. On the roster for this race was Andrew Ward, George Zhou, Klaudiusz Stoklosa, Janssen Woo, and me. On the evening before we departed, UTRR hosted a session with members from Ascent Cycling to give the club some tips on road racing. This certainly added some excitement to those of us about to leave for our first race of the season the next afternoon. Following this, the group met to make final plans and had some tips from Boris, Victor, and Janssen who attended the last race.

On Friday afternoon, the team set on our way to Pennsylvania. George left earlier and carpooled down with a member of the Queen’s university cycling team. The rest of us could only get away after 4:00 PM due to classes and tests (we’re not quite pros yet!). Janssen, who had done a lot planning and preparation for our weekend, was ready with our rented van and we set off into rush hour traffic.

After hours of highway driving, we arrived at our home base for the next 2 nights, a beautiful farmhouse in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania farm country. It being dark and late, we would have to explore the place later as catching the most sleep would be our best bet to make the most of the racing.

Despite making it to bed after 1:00 AM, the team was up shortly after 6:00 to fuel up and head out to the race site, a 20 or so minute drive from where we stayed. In the rush to register, pin numbers on, and get set up for the Men’s D Team Time Trial at 8:30 AM, UTRR set off with only George and Klaudiusz on the line. It was still a good result, placing 8th out of 10 finishing teams, despite the extra effort with only two riders working.

Without much of a break, the road races were lining up. The first to set off was my race, Men’s C. The course was a 10.5-mile loop with a slightly shortened start loop, finishing at the 40-mile mark. We set off into the country road loop and the race stayed as a group for the first 20 or so minutes. Surprisingly, at this point the race was neutralized for a few minutes to let the D field, who started after us to go by! It turned out our lead car took a wrong turn and we did a longer course. Additionally, the front of the D race was hammering. After a 5-minute break on the side of the road on a decent in the course, we resumed. Very shortly after this, several attacks were made, and the group was starting to fray. We finished the first lap and started the main loop which began on a category 4 climb. At that point I lost the front group, despite sprinting up the climb and looking down at my computer to see numbers over 400 watts and maxing out at 874 watts. I rode up the rest by myself off the back of this group of 10 or so. I averaged about 270 watts for that 4-and-a-half-minute climb which was not the friendly start to the race that I envisioned.

After working by myself for a bit, I caught another racer who dropped off the front group and we worked together for the next hour until the finish. I really enjoyed the course and certainly can’t complain with the result of 14/31 for my first race of the season. It was one of the first times I had my new bike and other digital gadgets on the road. Now I have many more numbers toys to fiddle with.

George in the D Race.
In the Men’s D Road Race, Andrew, George, Klaudiusz, and Jansen set off in the largest group of the day. Right after the start, the group split due to a series of attacks. By the time they made it to the point my race was neutralized, there was no discernible main group. Also, at that point, Klaudiusz came by me with loose handlebars going down the descent! He managed to keep going, holding his cockpit together although it looked quite scary from the spectator’s perspective. Andrew worked hard early on and managed to ride with a few other racers and placed 21/71 finishers. George, Janssen, and Klaudiusz were stuck near the back of the group and had a tough race. George placed 69/71, and Klaudiusz was 70/71. It is important to note that the race was tough and claimed 11 DNFs.

After that long day of racing, the team headed to grab some groceries in town before heading back to the house to get homework done (and maybe a nap). For dinner, we made pasta with chicken and salad, to replace those calories and prepare for the next day. We managed to get in some games before bed.

On Sunday morning, the Circuit Race took place. This was a criterium-style timed event, but with a longer, 2.5-mile course weaving along farm lanes. Following a quick breakfast, Janssen drove me down for the first start, Men C.

I sat well in the group until the first prime lap. Like the road race, I lost a small group off the front. I worked by myself pulling through the other dropped riders, trying to get a group formed to catch the front. Nothing seemed to work, but I managed to catch up alone, only to lose the front on the next lap. I rode with a few other racers and ultimately couldn’t find the right group, riding and finishing solo 13/28.

Later in the day, Andrew, George, and Klaudiusz raced the Men’s D Circuit Race. The field also stretched right off the gun, completing the first lap as a broken-up stream of riders. Andrew put in a huge effort at the start to climb from the back to the front of the race on the first lap. Also, early in the race, Klaudiusz proved that his luck was not there this weekend. He slid on a gravel covered corner, going off course and picking up some mud. Not to be discouraged, he pulled the bike out and managed a 52nd out of 57 finishers. George finished well at 38/57, but due to a signal confusion, he did an extra lap at race pace. I guess the race was too short! Andrew placed 55/57 and Janssen sat this one out to grab some great pictures.

At that point, it was about time to depart on our long drive back to Toronto with tired legs and many lessons learned. I had a great time at my first race of the season and am ready to see what this race season has in store.

I would like to send a huge thank you to our sponsors Bike Depot and U of T Sustainability for making UTRR and our busy race schedule possible. Additionally, thank you to the UTRR executive team and specifically Janssen for driving and doing much of the trip planning. Stay tuned for UTRR’s trip to Cleversburg, PA for the upcoming Shippensburg Scurry.

Stay tuned for more race reports all season long as we test our skills and seek upgrade points in the ECCC, Ontario Cup races, and local Midweek Criteriums!