Columbia Pre-Season Preview

This is the first in a series of interviews with team leaders.  Today we talk (by email) with Volunteer Coach Rob Rowan of Columbia.  Rob has been around for a while and offers some great insight into his team and the sport.  They have hosted the Grant’s Tomb Criterium for eons and won that race last year!!!

> What is your team’s goal(s) for this year?
We have two goals for this season. Our main one is to introduce 5
brand new men and 3 brand new women to the sport and get them racing.
We’re on track for that. Our second one was to get more involved with
the not for profits we’ve been working with. We’re not doing so well
with that one.

> Is your team going to climb in the team rankings?  How are you going to make
> it happen?  (racing faster, new recruits, tricky business, or did you talk
> the entire women’s Nordic team to race bikes this spring?)

I don’t know. We graduated about half of our team last May. But most
of the teams change from year to year so it’s hard to tell what we’ll
be up against. Most of our strategy this year is focused on racing
smart – something that does not come naturally to Ivy League students.

> Lots of teams have quirks, traditions or just some odd practice.  What sets
> your team/ teammates apart from all of the kids that they are racing?

This season we have an official song – “Never Gonna Give You Up” by
Rick Astley. We also have a team ringtone. For the past 3 years I have
awarded a “Suffer Monkey” to the rider who suffered the most or
sacrificed him- or herself for the team after each race weekend.
Suffer Monkeys are small felt dolls that my wife and I make. The 2010
version have been knocking around in the closet for a few months. I
think they’re pissed.

> If you had to describe your team as a clothing outfit.  What would it be?

A beanie with a propeller.

> Every team has another team that is their nemesis, a jersey that makes their
> riders go red in the eyes and sprint a little harder to get to the line
> first.  Which team does it for you?

I think it’s Princeton. They’re just so darn good looking.

> Finish this statement.  “I hate losing, but if I had to lose a weekend to
> any team it would be __________.”  Why?

McGill. They must be going through a car per week just to get to the
races. That’s love for the sport.

> Which Race/Race weekend is getting the most amount of buzz inside the team?

Ours is getting a lot of buzz because it’s a lot of work. After that,
The Philly Phlyer has always been a good one for us. And there’s
always a decent amount of fear of the Army TT.

> Any big racer graduations, transfers, injuries from your 2009 team?

Too many. Maggie Shirley finished her MD and started her residency in
San Francisco. Tony Hall is doing electrical engineering work for a
lighting fixture company. And, Alex Bremer is doing odd jobs and
trying to go pro.

> Any new members that are going to light the roads of the ECCC on fire with
> speed and dazzle the finish line cameras with their poetic victory salutes
> (while keeping their hands on the bars of course!!)?  Who are your hot
> prospects?

I fully expect Robert “The Boss” Voss to do well in the Ds. A
wrestling career left him with biceps with their own zip codes but
he’s been slimming down and powering up. I also think Radka Pickova
has a good chance in the women’s races. She’s very sweet, but a
ferocious competitor.

> It happens every year.  A racer gets a taste of bike racing, whets their
> appetite and then becomes a training/racing fiend.  Who on your team is
> ready to come out, guns blazing come the Rutgers TT?

Liz “Baby Calves” Marcello. Liz’ first year was last year. She
switched to cycling after years in the band. Her first year (last
year)  was challenging in that most of her training was from gym class
in high school. She’s been on a training plan and day dreams about
cycling in class. It’s a blessing and a curse.

> Who is going to win the Men’s/Women’s overall?  Predictions, reasons, absurd
> observations?

It never goes to the fastest rider. It usually goes to the fastest
rider that also makes it to the most races.

> Fastest Wheels?  Who is the hot bet to win the Green Jerseys?

It all depends on who wants it the most. Sprinting is a combination of
strength, skill and a clinically neurotic belief that you are the
best. If you doubt yourself for one second, it doesn’t matter how
strong you are.

> There is one less weekend of racing this season than last.  How does that
> affect your race season plans?   Missing a single weekend represents a
> bigger chunk of the seasons available points.  Do you see this as a benefit
> or a detriment to you team?

To us it’s a benefit in several respects. Last season forced many
people on our team to take a weekend or two off to catch up on school
work, rest and see friends who don’t ride (all of us have them). Also,
our sponsorship money was vastly reduced by the economy’s problems
this season so one less weekend of costs means that we won’t exceed
the team’s budget and reach into the riders’ pockets.

> Closing thoughts?  Anything that you are dying to say that didn’t fit in
> something I asked?

I hope it doesn’t rain too much this season.

  1. February 17th, 2010

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