After a long season of indoor training and endless hours spent in the Veale Multipurpose Room “climbing hills” during spinning sessions, riders from CWRU traveled to Columbia, Kentucky got a chance to test out their legs on the road.
Hosted by Lindsey Wilson College Cycling, the Mid-West Collegiate Cycling Conference (MWCCC) season opener brought collegiate teams from a seven state region together to battle for coveted spots on the podium in three different events. Often considered the Big-10 of collegiate cycling, the MWCCC is home to some of the best collegiate teams in the country. As with all conference events, the season opener separated riders into categories by skill level and gender, and CWRU fielded riders in the Men’s D and C, as well as the Women’s A and B categories.
Saturday’s events included the Team Time Trial (a 7 mile race against the clock where teams of four riders must work together to maximize efficiency and aerodynamics in pursuit of the fastest time) and Road Race (a 25-75 mile mass-start race through hilly terrain). Sunday brought riders together for the Criterium (or “crit”, a 30-60 minute event on a short and flat course, often the fastest event of the weekend).
In the Men’s D field, CWRU brought 7 riders: freshmen Avery Cross, Sam Gaylin, Daniel Muskin-Pierret, Sam Sprawls, Matthew Swartwout, junior Daniel Segal, and senior Tyler Young. Of the seven, six were first time racers: only Young had participated in a collegiate road race before. Riders Sprawls, Gaylin, and Young put in a devastating time during the Team Time Trial, earning a third-place spot on the podium and missing second-place by one second.
In the Men’s C, Junior David Takahashi and Senior Eric Young each rode well, with Takahashi earning a respectable top-10 finish in both the road race and criterium.
Medical student Daniela Mehech, new to the Case Cycling Team, showed her strength in the Women’s B field by launching a daring attack on the final climb of the road race. After pushing the pace throughout the day, she finally made her break less than a mile from the finish on the punishing “Little Cake” climb, shattering the field behind her and earning a well-fought second-place finish. She was edged out near the line by a rider from Marian University. During the criterium on Sunday, she proved that she could sprint almost as well as she climbs. After being pushed into the grass and left behind by the group, Mehech recovered, bridged back up, and put out enough power in the sprint to earn a hard-fought fifth place.
Finally, freshman Ally Beach proved that she could hang with some of the fastest women in the nation in the Women’s A field. During both the road race and criterium, she showed promise and smart tactics during tough races. In a field dominated by domestic professionals who typically spend summer break racing throughout the world, Beach showed that CWRU Cycling has a place in the pack, too.
CWRU Cycling travels to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana next weekend for the second MWCCC race weekend of the season.