Cycling wins nat’ls

For the third straight year at Collegiate National Track Championship, the MIT Cycling team has won the overall Omnium team award among Division II schools. This happened despite only sending four MIT riders to the 2010 event, held Sept. 23-25 in Indianapolis.

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 requires great physical strength and endurance — racing speeds approach 40 mph — it also demands intense mental strength 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. Other highlights include almost all of the races of team captain Michael L. Garrett G. Garrett, a student in nuclear science and engineering, has been racing track for many years. Garrett took fourth in the 4 kilometer Pursuit, fifth in the Points Race, and sixth in the Individual Omnium. Laura R Ralston G, an economics student, also managed an impressive 10th place in the Women’s 3 kilometer Pursuit.

Nick C. Loomis G and Zachary A. LaBry G, both students in mechanical engineering, rounded out the team. Although this will probably be Loomis’ last season racing with the 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 recruit new members and to defend its title in 2011.