Collegiate Nationals Trip
My freshmen collegiate nationals trip is one that I will never forget. The roadblocks started from the very beginning of my journey. As I traveled down the PA Turnpike on my way to the Pittsburgh airport there was a lot going through my head. I worried about the plane ride, I worried about my car hoping it would make deliver me safely, I worried about the police that might have been sitting at the side of the road ready to bust me for speeding, and I worried about the races that would come in the next couple days. There was one thing that I didn’t think of that I should have been, the other drivers on the road. As I rounded the corner just past the exit I would take to go home I saw a large black plume of smoke rising. Next thing I know I am at a complete stop and fire trucks and frantically maneuvering along the brim wielding sirens and hoses. Apparently there was a wreck followed by a fire and by the amount of trucks going to the scene it was a big one.
2 hours later… I had missed my flight, and had two parents at the airport waiting for me. We (my mother and I) were able to reschedule our flight for Friday morning and got everything else changed around. We arrived in Salt Lake City around 1:00 Friday afternoon. Found our Hotel in Ogden and made ourselves at home. I went for a ride that evening and at that time realized that Utah was going to be quite a shock to my body. The higher elevation and time difference really had my body confused. Over all that my legs felt good.
The crit was Saturday afternoon (3:30) and racing that late was weird. I stayed in my bed at the hotel until 11:30 only leaving to eat, refill water bottles, and pee. Once it was race time I was pumped and ready to go. They did call ups by school and each person rolled onto the course individually, which seemed totally pro. My goal for the race was to not get dropped by the field and to not wreck. The first part of that was not hard, but the second part, the not wrecking part, seemed to be quite a challenge. To sum it up some guys were being very stupid and did very dumb things in the field. There must have been 6-10 crashes in the whole 75 min. race which is way too many for a race of that caliber. I did manage to stay up and to stay with the field. I left the race feeling that I had a lot of fire in my legs for the road race.
Bed time came early and things really started getting serious that night. I examined the course profile in my head for a while taking mental notes on anything and everything. As I got ready for the race I had my normal pre-race nerves and I had a right to. I knew I would be racing the best collegiate riders around and I wanted to do well. Once again we got the individual call up and then the starting whistle. The race started out with a half mile of a neutral field. Then the cars took off and so did the race. There were riders across the entire road shoulder to shoulder and we were cruzing at 35mph. It was crazy… too crazy, just ahead of me I heard the dreadful sound of carbon wheels and bikes knocking off of one another. Before I knew it I was sliding across the road and down an embankment tangled with another rider of the same fate. I climbed back onto the road to see a pile of bikes and people and hearing the screams of broken bones and stinging road rash. I started looking for my bike but couldn’t find it. I looked back down the bank to see it sitting there even farther down than where I landed. I retrieved it, checked to see if it would still roll, and started chasing the lead group. The only damage to the bike that I could find was a broken shifter, but it was still working so I didn’t care. I was joined by some fellow ECCC riders in the chase and in a matter of 9 miles we had caught back on. No sooner had we caught back on then my shifter quit working. We were followed by a neutral support car with extra bikes on the roof; unfortunately all of the bikes but one were taken after the crash. The one bike they had left was already crashed once but I figured it was better than not being able to shift. That was the last time I saw the lead group. I rode the rest of the race myself avoiding the temptation to give up and call it a day. I ended about a half hour behind the winner and was cooked. Overall my nationals trip was a success and I learned a lot. Looking forward to going again next year and having some teammates there! J