Track racing is a fast-paced and exciting branch of cycling that is held on an elliptical, banked track called a velodrome. Riders use a single fixed gear, and are not allowed to have brakes on their bikes. The sport had been more popular in the past, but is making a comeback. Although track racing obviously requires great physical strength and endurance — racing speeds approach 40 mph — it also demands intense mental toughness and strategic thinking.
In addition to winning the Team Omnium, just ahead of DePauw University and the U.S. Military Academy, MIT placed 10th in both the Team Sprint and the Team Pursuit. Some other highlights include almost all of team captain Mike Garrett’s races. Garrett, a graduate student in nuclear science and engineering, has been racing track for many years. Mike took fourth in the 4 km Pursuit, fifth in the Points Race, and sixth in the Individual Omnium. Laura Ralston, a graduate student in economics, also managed an impressive 10th place in the Women’s 3 km Pursuit.
Nick Loomis and Zach Labry, both graduate students in mechanical engineering, rounded out the team. Although this will probably be Loomis’ last season racing with team, he was happy that “the track team has continued to interest a number of riders due to its variety of races, and this year’s win is a great example of how that variation in skills came together through both the individual and team events to edge out our competition.”
Although originally worried about the smaller-than-usual team, Garrett was thankful that “everyone worked together and raced exceptionally well to secure our third consecutive national title.”
The MIT cycling team will be looking to defend its title in 2011. The team always welcomes new riders. For more information about the championship, or the cycling team in general, visit http://cycling.mit.edu/blog or http://cycling.mit.edu.