NATURE VALLEY (6/16-6/20)
Since the Bridge team did not send a team to Nature Valley, I joined the Rooster Composite team for the week. I was feeling really fresh for the opening TT on that Monday morning. This year aero gear was prohibited in order to curb costs and level the playing field. I was nervous to ride Eddy Mercx style because I usually have a different focus on my TT bike but it wound up being alright. The TT was a 6 mile course along the river, starting flat and then ending with a steep 5ish-minute climb. I got way too excited and went out a little too hard. Wound up finishing 55th, which I was still pretty pleased with that extremely stacked field (For complete results). The rest of the week didn’t go as well. That night was a very technical 5 corner criterium with over 90° turns. I was positioned poorly from the start and was basically sprinting out of every corner. The next day the Cannon Falls RR was cancelled due to tornado warnings. On Friday, the nighttime criterium in the heart of Minneapolis was also fast and hard. The field was completely strung out the entire 60 minutes. Then, on Saturday, my drivetrain completely fell apart during the Menomonie RR. On the first hill about 3 miles in, my chain came off for completely no reason – I hadn’t even touched the shift levers. I had to get off my bike to put it back on and watched as the whole caravan passed me. I hoped back on my bike and time trialed my way to the field, but my chain kept skipping – in the front and back. So after about 5 minutes back in the field, I was having to work a lot harder than everyone else with my gears changing every pedal stroke. Pros around me started to tell me to go back to my car… little did they know that non-pros do not have cars. Nevertheless, I went back to the neutral support car. After about 3 minutes of trying to get a neutral bike from the car, I hopped on the new bike but after about 15 minutes of trying to catch back on, I saw the pelaton going further and further away in the distance. That’s when I realized that I was going to dig a hole right before nationals if I continued. So, I hopped in the sag vehicle and that was the end of my first attempt at a NRC race.
NATIONALS (TT – 6/24; Crit – 6/25; RR – 6/27)
Thankfully, Nationals went better than Nature Valley. After frantically taking my bike to the nearest bike shop only to find out that I had several broken links on my chain (yes, I had replaced it recently - only two weeks beforehand), I flew straight to Bend, Oregon for the USACycling Road Nationals. I had gotten speed in my legs from the fast crits at Nature Valley which put me in great form for Nationals. The time trial was on Thursday – the pinnacle of this year for me. The course was long– 40 km, with 1000 feet of climbing at the beginning, then the same 1000 feet of decent and then through a hilly circuit. Again, I kind of went a little too hard on the opening climb. I was able to recover a bit on the downhill and felt decent through the circuit. I wound up finishing 3rd in U23 which I was pleased with.
The following day was a nighttime criterium in downtown Bend. After positioning poorly in the last row, I quickly was able to move my way to the front. I was top 10 for the first 50 minutes or so. Then with 1 to go, Brooke Miller and a few other heavy-hitters went down in front of me. I was able to go around them but I could never really catch up the front of the pelaton that had not been delayed by the crash. I still had a solid finish – 21st overall, and 5th in U23 (results).
For Sunday’s RR, I was really beginning to feel all the racing I had been doing and thought I was going to have a pretty terrible race – my muscles were burning. But the first lap (of four), I felt pretty good and the pelaton stayed together. At the beginning of the second lap, there was a group of three racers off the front and impromptu-ly I decided to go hard at the front up this steep little kicker. I turned around and realized me and a TIBCO rider on my wheel had split off from the rest of the pelaton. For some unknown reason (since I was racing U23 and she was Elite), the TIBCO rider wouldn’t pull through and eventually attacked me about 10 minutes later. Because she hadn’t done any work for the past 15 mintues, she was able to catch the front break-away. However hard I tried, I never seemed to be able to make the bridge. It was cool having a motorcycle riding next to me though – giving me splits to the front group and pelaton; at one point – 50 seconds to the front, 2 minutes to the back. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten 2 minutes by myself on the pro pelaton – that was pretty stellar. I made it up the first (mile 10) of the two big, significant climbs by myself and passing through the feed zone solo (almost famous?... haha). Then, before the second climb at mile 14 (RR course map), the pelaton caught me… and I all but exploded. I was so gone by then. I wound up finishing the last two laps of the circuit race with a nice chase group of about 15 riders. The last time up that mile 14 climb, I was suffering big time but was able to hold on and eventually get 2nd in our field sprint to take 5th in U23 category. Although I couldn’t finish in the lead group, I was still happy with how I had raced, aggressively instead of pack-fill. Although, hopefully next year, it’ll stick.
I don't really feel like typing up everything that has happened from my last post in.... late March and now ... so here's that time in photos