Saturday, July 25, 2009

Masters Districts: July 25, 2009

District Masters Championship Road Race 45+ 7/25/09

By Mark Edwards

Through the late winter and early spring, I often find myself wondering why I get up at four in the morning to race Saturdays when I could be sleeping in. I drive for hours just to endure frozen numb hands and feet while filtering grit out of my teeth from all the water and mud sprayed in my face.

Then along comes a day like Saturday. Pulling into the parking lot for the Diamond Valley Road Race (District Masters Championships) at 6:50 AM, the setting couldn’t have been more perfect. Set in Woodfords, California at 5,600’, the temperature was a very comfortable 66, with a slight breeze. The views and visibility were stunning; it takes your breath away, imparting a sense of awe and connectedness, long vistas of beautiful alpine terrain as far as the eye can see.

To add to the experience, it’s become somewhat of a tradition for my parents to accompany me to this race. They live in the area and enjoy coming out for the day to support me in this crazy sport.

Just as I pulled off the main road, there was Jim’s VW parked right at the start line. Geoff, Joe, and Jim were already in line to pick up their race numbers, I would join them a few minutes later. Larry and Matt Wocasek would also be showing up soon. At registration I asked if the race was on time, last year we’d been delayed over an hour when the CHP didn’t show up as planned, “So far, so good.” That was the answer I’d hoped for.

The four of us warmed up together, joking that we should skip the race and just ride and enjoy this glorious day… Not! We’d worked too hard, and were too amped to miss this race. This was the District Championships after all! We’d trained hard, and all had the potential to place well.

Bob Leibold, of VeloPromo, was Chief referee and joked that we would be starting on time, “after all” he said, “this wasn’t a VeloPromo race.” After a quick run down on the race from Bob, we took off.

VOS sent their very effective, and dangerous, Rick Martyn, Jan Elsbach, and Jon Ornstil to battle for the overall win. Individually each is a threat; together they always factor in the outcome. I knew Jan was riding well, and not surprisingly, Jon and Rick went right to work. Trading off attacks, they made sure we worked to keep them close, while Jan conserved energy in the pack. Once back together, Clark Foy inched his way forward from the base of the first climb. Clark had suffered a bad crash in the early spring, but had worked hard since then, he was eager to test his legs – some of the best climbing legs in the country. He went to the front and applied a little pressure. No fireworks, just a good hard pace that, if maintained, would thin all but the strongest.

Clark and I ended up off the front on the long run back towards the finish line. We lamented that no one had come with us, so we soft pedaled until the peloton re-absorbed us.

Most of the 11 mile loop on this course is fairly uneventful. From the start it’s roughly 5 miles of beautiful smooth descending pavement. It’s very fun, but tactically not a great place to make much happen. Dropping into it, a couple of times I tried to push the pace. My intention was to create small gaps. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to drop anyone, but every little bit of damage done adds up by the 55th mile. This section is followed by back to back ¾ mile climbs. The 5 times we’d go up these twin climbs would make the race. If you couldn’t hang here, you wouldn’t be there at the finish. Then, the final section is about 4 miles mostly flat. Strong riders would likely seize this section as a good chance to inflict a whole bunch of pain coming off the climb.

Second lap; this time I took the point position on the second half of the climb. Like Clark, I didn’t so much attack it, as set a pace I knew would be out of reach for most guys to do 5 times. Cresting the climb, several guys took the opportunity to ramp up the pace. This “one, two punch” pattern was repeated every lap. It hurt.

On the third lap I dropped my chain cresting the first climb. I watched in desperation as the group rode away from me while my chain rattled around my crankarm. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, my chain was back in place and I was chasing hard. I caught the group at the base of the second climb, just as Kevin Metcalf came forward and showed us what an “attack” should look like. For one thing, he started way earlier, for another, he went REALLY hard. Unlike Clark’s and my earlier pace setting, there was no mistaking Kevin’s intentions. He was going to hurt everyone! And he was going to do it right now, not 2 laps from now. He went at exactly the same time again on the 4th lap, this time only Kevin, Cal Reeder and I were left together at the summit. We attempted to stay away, but I think we were all struggling to recuperate from Kevin’s brutal assent. In short order our group grew, 2 at a time up to about 10 guys.

Starting the climb on the 5th lap we numbered about 12. Somehow I ended up on the front and once again set a brisk, but far from attacking, pace. The false flat between the two sections was eerily easy, as guys prepared themselves for the inevitable last climb of the race.

Once again, earlier than expected, Kevin exploded out of the group, Cal on his wheel, me on Cal’s. And, once again, I somehow held the pace far longer than I thought possible. This time the three of us crested the climb with a sizeable gap. Immediately we started rotating smoothly. I felt a lot better this time and I was pleased that we all worked well together; no games.

The chase group was within sight, but we had a comfortable margin. At some point we all knew our temporary alliance would end, but who would make the first move? Go to soon; the teamwork ends, we’d be caught, and certain podium finishes would be gone. Wait too long; the two guys behind jump around me, and I’m left with 3rd place.

I felt pretty good, but was trying not to show it. I’ll never know if I felt better than the other guys, or if they were doing a better job of hiding their reserves. Anyway, apparently Kevin thought I was still strong, so just as I finished a pull he attacked. Cal jumped on his wheel, and I fought to grab Cal’s. Moments later, Cal jumped. Once again I grabbed his wheel, Kevin was on mine. Looking over my shoulder I could see the chase group making ground on us as we fought it out. Before I had the chance to consider if we’d get caught, Kevin jumped again. This time, even though we were still a kilometer from the finish, I decided I had to go, the chase group was coming up fast.

No sooner had Kevin’s stinging attack started to fade, I countered and got 50 meters. Looking far up the road towards the 200 meter mark, and finish line up the hill from there, I was certain I’d gone too soon. But, what choice did I have? Another round of cat and mouse would have allowed the chase group to overtake us.

My head down, I pushed with all I had. For a while the gap stayed steady. But, as my legs started to burn, the gap started to shrink. There were 200 meters uphill remaining. I felt like I was pedaling through molasses, Kevin and Cal had started to work together and were now closing quite fast – never mind the black cloud of the chase group driven by the scent of blood in the water behind them.

50 meters to go, my legs were on the verge of failure. Glancing under my arm I knew it was going to be close. I actually thought I was going to be caught and eased up just slightly; I wanted to try and save a tiny bit to sprint. But, I didn’t back off completely. I might make it, and I really didn’t know if I could muster enough to lift myself off the saddle, let alone sprint.

YES! Victory! I made it…

Completely exhausted, I crossed the line seconds ahead of Cal, then Kevin. No finish line salute, no zipping of the jersey, just deep gasps for oxygen that wasn’t there. I felt like getting sick, but the happiness of winning such a hard fought battle, against the most worthy opponents I could imagine flooded over me.

To my surprise, and great satisfaction, Geoff, Jim, and Joe were at the finish line to witness my near collapse, and resulting win. Fortunately I made it with inches to spare. It’s so special to be gifted the opportunity to share these moments with good friends and family.

Like I said, I can’t imagine a better day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

2009 Watsonville Race Report (Elite 3)

Report card
  • Bike prep: F
    It would've been helpful to notice that my pump was misreading and I'd really inflated my tires to only 90psi.

  • Warmup: B+
    A one-hour ride down from Santa Cruz with a few hard efforts really primed the legs

  • Handling skills: A/C-
    A+ when I gunned it from the whistle and started gapping the field more and more on each corner. Perfect time for a breakaway, until you get too excited through a very technical left-hander and manage to not pull a Thor Hushovd. C- for that move.

  • Pit crew teamwork: A
    You guys were awesome with Russ's spare 404 and the super fast wheel change

  • "Suitcase of Courage" award
    Got into enough of a rhythm to hold a 2-man breakaway away for over 20 laps. Also might win an award for synchronized pedaling.

  • Sprint points: D
    Getting boxed in on the outside sucks. Frustrating to not be able to top out. Still got 5th and a motherload of strawberries.

What a fun race. Sure made for some great photo ops. (My friend Kim has a photo album online called "you only get good photos if you're fast". How very true.) See my friend Omari's coverage of the E3 race.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Watsonville Criterium 45+

By Dennis Pedersen

This was my sixth time racing this very technical 3/4-mile course, with about 7 turns (two of them about 120 degrees), a small hill and two drainage gutters. With Russ and Vlada signed up for the 45+ race, Margaret's willingness to come along and watch, and the pretty neighborhood the course is set in, above downtown, I really wanted to race.

For some reason this criterium always starts later in the day too, so Margaret and I had time to watch George on TV as he misjudged his try for the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, eat a big breakfast at Capitola Wharf House, and stroll around the village before setting off for my 1:50 race start. It was a gorgeous day too.

We watched the Category 5 race, and the Cat. 4 race, cheering my teammates on. This race is always small, and even smaller this year. But Team Bicycle Trip was well-represented with 7 racers. Unfortunately Robbie Abundis went down with some nasty gashes when a guy trying a flyer in his race went down in the back hairpin, in the drainage gutter. I hope he's back soon!

We were combined with the 35+ race (but placed separately) and that ups the pace. I know from painful experience that it is absolutely critical to stay near the front in races like this. So I decided to skip my warmup completely and just be first to our staging area so I could sprint up the hill right off the line and then stay well-positioned the whole race. Well, that tactic is common knowledge, and others beat me there so I was behind the front row. Oh well. At least I felt good and relaxed.

When the whistle blew I calmly clipped in, slipped around a couple of guys, and sprinted hard up the small hill to the start/finish line. I was probably about 5th at the top; yay! And even though the pace was furious for several laps I managed to maintain my position fairly well.

A few attacks brought the pace up later, and some Driscoll strawberry primes too. I was really working... but not beyond my limits, unlike last year where my position toward the rear really hurt me. Russ has been a great influence on me. And Coach Mark's workouts have really helped tremendously too. And all of the friends cheering us on was so cool. Thanks everybody!

About halfway into our 24-lap race I was a bit too far back (Jim yelled at me!). But I calmly moved up and even went ahead of Russ. I was also marking some of the 45+ racers, like Eric Saltzman (Morgan Stanley) and Mike Gadow (Tieni Duro). So when four guys broke free I looked to see if any 45+ riders were mixed in with the 35+ guys; I didn't see any so I didn't panic when they held us off. The pace came down too so I could stay fresher for the finish; mercifully it came soon.

With about 7 laps left some guy, probably in 35+, tried to whip us into a paceline to chase the break, but I had no reason to do that. I just chuckled and kept my place.

Like usual the pace picked up with about 3 laps to go. But I didn't try too hard to save matches; that thinking has hurt my chances before. Instead I worked to stay up front. That kept me well placed for the finish.

On the last lap we were flying; my rear wheel skittered through the hairpins. It's hard to pass without hitting a headwind too. Timing is so key! In 2007 I took 2nd by going wide on the outside of the last turn. I tried this again but this time I got squeezed against the left curb and had to back off for a few seconds as we hit the hill up to the finish line. That pause, plus the longer line, put me in 5th place. Russ got 9th.

I was pretty happy with how I had ridden, but bummed that I had left a bit of energy on the course, as they say. Still, I was jazzed that I had been smart most of the time. This course isn't quite ideal for me, but I like it. No crashes in our race, and I got some upgrade points too. Woo-hoo!

We then watched Nils's Cat. 3 race but had to drive him home after his crash, which left his rear tire shredded. While we waited for Nils to get his scrapes cleaned up (and collect his winnings; he got 5th even with the crash!) we watched Ben Jacques-Maynes race in the Pro/1/2 race. What a wild day!

Watsonville Criterium, Cat 4, 7-18-2009

Matt Wocasek

The Bike Trip was well represented in the elite Cat. 4 race. Vladan, Abe, Robbie and I were able to stay with the pack without too much effort.

I tried to stay up towards the front of the pack but it seemed like riders were constantly moving ahead of me as we slowed for sharper corners.

With a few laps to go I found myself way too far back in the peloton to go for a good finish in the sprint. I had a number of close calls while trying to move up. At one point I was moving up the side of the peloton, trying to stay in the draft, when another rider had the same idea about getting closer to the front. He moved over on me and I had to lean into him to keep from going down. Next time… I'm going to stay up front.

On the backside of the course there is a 90 degree left hand corner with a rain gutter running through it. Somewhere around the midpoint of the race the lead rider grabbed too much front brake as he went through the cement gutter and crashed causing a number of riders to go down. Robbie hit a fallen rider and flipped over. He didn't finish the race, and I heard he ended up in emergency with of a banged up elbow, typical Cat. 4 crit.

In the final sprint I was able to go through the last corner at full speed and sprint with the group but I was nowhere near the front. Vladan finished around where I did and Abe was eighth.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thad's Race Updates

This was a fun race course with a nice hill top finish that really suited my riding style. The 4's only did 1.7 laps with 2 trips up Haskin's Hill. The first time up the hill I gapped everyone with the next couple riders behind me about 30 meters back. I sat up and waited for the 2 riders and we enjoyed being out of traffic for the nice descent into Pescadero. As we neared the flats coming into town the field came back together as was expected. On Stage Road I felt pretty good so I went to the front and pushed the pace on the climbs to try and tire out some of the field. As we turned onto 84 I sat in about 5 back and we all cruised to the base of Hasken's. Once there I went to front and hammered. I went too hard at the bottom of the climb and popped with about 200m to go, getting passed by 1 rider and holding on for second.

This was my first stage and, overall, a great experience. A couple stages with icy rain made the whole experience feel pretty epic. I went off the front for about 22 miles on the first day to win the stage and I just battled it out over the next 3 stages to take the overall. This race turned out to be a bit bittersweet in that, depite winning it, I didn't recieve a single upgrade point due to this being an OBRA event, not USAC. Oh well.

This was a fun crit course with a couple challenging turns and a bottleneck finish just to keep things exciting. I felt pretty good throughout the race and was on or near the front for most of it. With about 500 meters to go on the last lap I got out of the saddle to go hard but my chain kept slipping on my cassette so I had to sit back down and spin in for 5th.

CAMP SLO ROAD RACE JULY 4th, 2009 (ELITE 4, 1st place)
It was great racing with new teammate Abe Rottstein on this course that suited our riding styles. Our race consisted of seven 6.75 mile laps with a hill just long and hard enough to be advantageous for TBT. After a few failed breakaway attempts by other teams on the first couple laps Abe and I were on the front controlling the race with relative ease. With each lap we shed more of the peleton while setting the pace up the hill. On the last lap I put the hammer down, dropping everyone except one rider who continued to sit on my wheel for the next 3 miles. After awhile I had to tell him to pull through because I had no interest in pulling him 4 miles to the finish. He obliged for a bit, but I could tell he was tired and I dropped him with 300m to go and cruised across the finish line alone. Shortly after, Abe crossed the finish in 5th. This was easily some of the most fun I've had at a road race getting to dominate with a strong teammate like Abe.

This was my last day racing as a Cat 4. Since I secured enough USAC points to move up to Cat 3 the pressure was off myself to get more points so I just raced to have fun and stay on the front out of trouble, not needing to unneccessarily risk a crash. My field was huge for the 4's, something like 87 riders and most were pretty amped since this was the SCNCA Crit Championship. Fortunately for me the course had a slight uphill section which I used to my advantage. I was on or near the front for most of the 45 minute race taking 3 primes. The only tactical error I made was on the last lap going into the second to last turn where I let up ever so slightly, looking to set myself up for a lead out for the sprint, and went from the front to about 20 back in the blink of an eye, losing any chance for the podium. I learned from this mistake and 2 hours later when I did the Master's 30+ 4/5 crit I payed closer attention to my position and speed going into the second to last turn. For this 40 min race I was on the front from the gun constantly creating gaps and making the field work to catch me. I was really having fun. I sprinted safely in for 3rd in this race feeling good about my overall fitness after winning the day before and spending 85 minutes working hard on or near the front for my 2 crits. On to the 3's.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

2009 SLO Race Weekend (Elite 3)

Camp SLO Road Race

The road race on Saturday was a hard, technical, but very fun course: 60 miles with ~5,400 feet of climbing with the wind at your back and a vicious headwind on the flats and the questionably-paved descent. Really fun once you got used to the cattle guards and patches of gravel, actually.

The 3s were a large field, and I'd gotten wind to stay towards the front through the narrow corners to keep the speed up. (Soon enough, that wouldn't be an issue.) The course started with a tailwind, and with a series of fast corners. Then the climb, which climb starts gently—almost as a false flat—but soon turns into a short steep power climb. After you crest the climb, it's a fast but frequently pedaling descent into the flats.

The field stayed together on the first of 9 laps, but I had a feeling that attrition + tempo on the climb + keeping tempo on the descent would thin the group out. And thin the group it did, even better than I'd expected. I was feeling good, and with four laps to go, I was in a group of about 12 riders chasing down an early break.

With two laps to go, we'd shed all but 6 riders. We were not gaining ground on the three powerhouses off the front—in fact with one lap to go, they'd put another minute into us. On the last lap, two riders tried to escape on the descent. They looked serious; I knew I'd have to reel them in at whatever cost, or I'd be racing for 6th instead of 4th.

The six of us are back together, wondering who'd take the bunch sprint. I knew I had a pretty good chance. The finish was about 600m (?) after a right turn...the tension was heating up, the front guy jumps, I hold his wheel, one guy from REMAX goes hard on the left a bit early. I react but it's too late. I close the gap down to half a bike-length, but he takes 4th and me 5th! Nicely done.

A huge thank-you goes to Thad, who kept me hydrated in the feed zone after his race. You're awesome!

Downtown Crit / SCNCA Championships / Advanced Skills Clinic

What do you get when you combine a championship race, a slightly technical course which narrows in spots, and a dash of Southern California aggression?

a) A peloton trying to go through corners six deep
b) Absolute pandemonium
c) A mine field of bicycle parts
d) Excessive profanity at a fun-for-the-whole-family event
e) All of the above

For the record, this was a rhetorical question.

To sum it up, I flatted on the last lap. Very fun when you start going into a corner and realize your rear tire has no air whatsoever. I put my hand up, called it, and rolled safely off the course (good thing I was on the outside). In most situations, I'd be pretty frustrated; in this context, I was relieved. I'd spent the first 20 minutes attacking, keeping the pace high, and desperately trying to shake off some of the group to no avail. Everyone else who shared my intentions seemingly also let up around then... and that's when the fun began.

Here's a summary of the excitement, not necessarily in chronological order:
  • People were trying to move up in a super narrow spot where the course passed through Mission San Luis Obispo. Hard to notice the scenery when you're rubbing elbows.
  • After the narrow chicane, the course widens out... except for a nasty little wheelchair ramp that juts out on the left. It's really fun when the riders in front of you try to move up on the left, subsequently run out of space due to aforementioned ramp. It's even more fun when they move right INTO THE RIDER next to them. I saw it happening with enough time, adjusted my line accordingly, and made it through with a rider rolling within inches of my wheels. Fun times.
  • This is the really good one: 90° right turn coming out of an uphill (i.e. EASY). The field bunches up especially bad this time around. I'm maybe one or two wheels from the outside, but the guy inside me decides to swing into me. We rub elbows and he pushes me into the guy on my outside. That guy starts hollering at me (he didn't know I'd been pushed)... we're locked against each other through the turn. Somehow I push him off me, but he goes into the barriers. Holy crap. I heard he wasn't hurt too badly, but I was really shaken up and had lost most of my desire to race.
Anyhow... fun weekend overall, but I don't think I'll be doing any crits in the near future.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Masters National Road Race Championships 6/30/09

By Mark Edwards

What’s 50 miles long with 50 power climbs, has 15 death defying high speed technical corners, and has nearly 4,000’ of climbing?

It was the 2009 USA Nationals Masters Road Race Championships in Louisville Kentucky. More criterium than road race, it was 1:55:07 of the most intense racing I’ve ever done.

With 80 of the Nations best masters racers, and an average speed of just over 26 mph for two hours on this hilly course, this was one tough race.

After watching Jim’s race the day before, it was clear I needed to be ready to rock from the start. The start/finish line was Pro Tour in every detail. At the gun we would drop into a series of three serpentine descending corners, the last would push the limits of tire adhesion. Getting gapped off the rear behind unprepared racers could end your race before it even started. I lined up in the second row (after several delays), clipped in smoothly, and rounded the first turn in the top twenty.

I had pre-ridden the course four times on Sunday, four times on Monday, and twice Tuesday before my race. It paid off as I railed the first technical corner. Holding a fast steady line, as many others struggled braking and losing their line, I was positioned comfortably near the front for the first climb. Riders attacked hard as we approached the climb, but slowed near the top. Viewing this as an opportunity to inflict a little damage, I kept the pace high, cresting the climb and on through the flat section that followed. My hope was that this would keep the pressure on the guys who’d been caught behind the gaps that inevitably form on hills.

By the third lap I’d gotten comfortable that my fitness was competitive and I’d be able to animate the race at a few selected points. I was obvious I couldn’t be reckless, as the field was clearly deep with talent, but I was confident I could be a player. We also had a break of three up the road that didn’t seem to me to stand a chance of surviving, staying away for seven more laps just didn’t seem possible.

Around the third lap I was hoping to go into the blind right left descending corner that followed the first climb at the front of the peloton. I knew this corner, and knew gaps would open as riders hit their brakes. I came into the hard right hander a little too hot. The slightly off camber bumpy pavement was too much for my speed. I felt my front, then rear tire start to slip. Staying calm, I rode it out, exiting the corner with a twenty meter gap to the second rider. On the plus side… it forced the guys behind me to close the gap while I rested… but it wasn’t worth the risk to try repeating that again.

The blind right left descending corner was followed by a fast descent which rolled into a short power climb. Ten times we went up this, and ten times there were multiple attacks on this hill, one right after another. I was able to start this climb near the front each lap and drift back with each attack, saving precious energy each time.

The descent off this roller was followed by a long flat section, punctuated by a punchy short climb, and then more flat. The entire loop was a big ring power fest. Cochran climb, the longest and steepest of the loop was next. This ½ mile 8% climb was a favorite spot for the strongest riders to try and thin the herd. NCNCA strongman, and perennial Nationals favorite Kevin Metcalfe, threw down several impressive displays of power here. Each time we’d sprint over this climb in our big ring, I’d look back to assess the damage. The pack would be strung out, but not broken. Each time I was amazed to see 45 guys responding and surviving the brutal attacks.

As with the other climbs on this loop, I’d hoped keeping pressure on after the climb would wear riders down. Unfortunately the Cochran (AKA Dog Run climb) climb was followed by a hairy 12 mph descending switchback, allowing stragglers to catch back on.

Once over Cochran, it was mostly a flat run to the finishing climb. Every lap this climb was taken at a break-neck pace. Fear of getting dropped kept me near the front, and a couple of times saw me attempting to continue the painful pace over the top to the next descent. With no long climbs, the pressure had to be kept high in hopes of weakening the group.

Jim and John Novitsky had been cheering me on while sprinting from one location to another. In my haze of race concentration, Jim and John’s cheers from all over the course made it seem like I had dozens of supporters. Pretty cool… thanks guys.

Seven laps in, Kevin attacked in an attempt to bridge up to the three leaders. I jumped and heard someone say “there he goes!” referring to Kevin. I bridged to Kevin and saw we had about a 30 meter gap. Not enough… as we were reeled back in short order.

On the final lap two guys went of the front. The group didn’t show much interest in chasing them down, as they were left dangling 50 meters off the front. It would pay off for them in the end, as the peloton would start to bicker in the final miles, allowing them to keep their gap to the finish.

Coming into the feedzone at the base of the finishing climb, the pace was coming to a boil. Unfortunately, this is also were we caught a sizeable group of lapped riders. Between the feedzone, several slower lapped riders, and 45 guys sprinting on a single lane around a curve, it was mayhem. I saw three guys jump and I immediately came out of the saddle… but the two guys in front of me didn’t react. I sat back down and looked for an exit. Kevin was next to me and in the same predicament. I moved around my guys just as someone swerved and caught Kevin’s front wheel. Next came the sickening sound that’s usually followed by a crash, but not this time, Kevin stayed upright.

No sooner did I get around these guys and found myself once again blocked. How could this be happening? Where I had been sitting top ten, I now found fifteen guys ahead of me? Oh yea… lapped riders. Looking for a clear path, I once again cringed as another rider moved into Kevin’s wheel. This time Kevin called the guy out, but his chances were now over. There’s only so much you can overcome, even for a rider with Kevin’s skill and experience.

Maneuvering around the latest block I could now sprint… but wait… the finishing shoot narrowed the road from twenty feet to fifteen feet. The steel barricades (with their steel feet extending 18” out) were on my left, riders on my right, I had nowhere to go. I kept the pressure on, but couldn’t safely unleash a full sprint. I came across the line in 9th place.

Somewhat disappointed in that I’d left too much in the tank, I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt that way. I had set what I thought was a stretch goal of top ten for this race, figuring that 6-10 riders would be a step above my fitness level, and several others would finish ahead of me through superior skill and experience. It turns out that I never felt in trouble and that this course just wasn’t tough enough to thin out such a talented field.

In hind sight, I’m very pleased with how I raced and finished. Top ten in my first Nationals, and being able to instigate a little action, has left me with some great memories. I couldn’t have made it this far without the support and encouragement of the Team and all my great training partners. Thank you.