Wednesday and Thursday was spent settling in to our swank host house, spinning out the legs, some picture-taking, and inspecting the TTT course- a rolling 32 kilometers on Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake.
Friday morning, after cheering on the ladies at their start, Rotem, Griffin, Willy, and I suited up for our race. There was a ripping tailwind on the way out, and consequently killer headwind for the way back. I didn't feel especially bad, but not good, and with the very minimal draft due to the strong tailwind, struggled. Similarly to the TTT that I got dropped out of at the home race a few weeks back, I seemed to be having some trouble with the mechanics of the event, having a 2-3 bike length gap to get back on to the group after taking a pull. After 20 minutes of this, I let my three teammates know my status, and took one last eye-crossing pull before pulling off. Willy, Rotem, and Griffin brought it home for FLC's first male national TTT title since 2007! Getting dropped from a TTT is always a tough pill to swollow, especially at the national championships. However, each of us had our ups and downs throughout our team practices and conference races, and I am proud of my contribution to the team.
We won by a mere 4 seconds over Stanford. Photo cred Dean Warren
A successful collegiate road nationals!
The women's squad (half of which were my two Sweet Elite teammates Sarah and Luaren) put in a great ride to finish a strong 5th.
Saturday was spent spinning the legs out and doing a bit of reconascence on the road race course. Later in the day we headed downtown to watch the criterium, where Griffin pulled out an awesome 4th, and Missy and 5th. Later that evening we got dressed up all nice-like, and attended the banquet and award ceremony. I didn't screw up too badly pullig on my first stars and stripes jersey.
National Champs. Willy and me hiding in the back. Photo cred Chad Cheeney
Afterward we proved it is possible to fit 17 people in a family-sized mini-van. Willy, Howard, and I got relegated to the way back. Willy saved one of his signature stink-bombs until right as we reached our destination. How thoughtful. Photo cred Chad Cheeney
Sunday was the 125 kilometer road race, consisting of 3.5 smaller flat, windy laps, and finishing on a longer lap with the imfamous 4.5 k, 9.5% North Ogden Divide 10 k from the line. Things went according to plan for the opening lap. We got Griffin in the early move, and us skinnier climber types were able to hide in the bunch. Soon, however, some of the favorites started getting ancy as the 10 man break pulled out a 3 minute advantage after only 1 lap. Attacks from riders hoping to bridge up started coming fast and furious, and we had to ride hard to keep everything in check. I threw up breakfast on a couple of occasions, at times being the only one in position to chase down a succession of attacks. Then things really turned for the worse when a group of four (including two dangerous climbers) did sneak off the front and across the gap. Having the most experience, Rotem tried to organize those of us that were left at the front to try to get the race back under control. I spent the remaining circuits spending way more time in the wind than would have liked, as did Rotem. He rode like a maniac, throwing down attack after attack, and doing all he could to get things back in our favor. I did my best to help, but unfortunately we reached the bottom of the final climb with less than fresh legs and far behind the lead riders. Rotem put in a stellar effort, riding his way through the shattering break to finish, considering the circumstances, a very impressive 6th. I gave everything left in the legs and rolled in 15th. We were looking for better results on the day, but I was pleased with the way I'd ridden, and am glad to finally be getting a better feel for skinny-tire racing. If years down the road mountain biking isn't working out, I want road racing to be a viable option. There, I said it. I had a lot of fun learning and racing this early season with the college, and it's given me some great fitness heading into the meat of the mountain bike season. I didn't touch the pavement once either, which was goal number one!
Trying to keep the race under control on the flat opening laps. Photo cred Chad Cheeney
Randy the Skyhawk keeping tabs on the early break. Photo cred Chad Cheeney
A huge thanks to this guy for being the glue that holds the FLC cycling program together. You da man Dave! Thanks also to team coaches Dan and Elke. It was a great year! Photo cred Chad Cheeney
Yesterday I raced the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, back with the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite crew, and it went very well. Report soon.