First off, Matt and I would like to thank each and every one of our friends, fans, families and sponsors for all of the support during our European racing campaign this January. We couldn’t have done it without you. Also, there are still tickets available for the MMRacing raffle! If you want to win a complete custom Seven Cycles bicycle, a Thule rack system or a Pedro’s Master Tool Kit, please go to BikeReg to purchase a ticket. We will be shortly announcing a special event where the drawing will take place. Please stay tuned.
Making the selection for the 2010 US Cyclocross World’s Team was my top goal for the season. The process is quite selective and I was unsure that I would make the team until I received the confirmation email the week after Nationals. Being one of five American athletes chosen to the US Team was quite an honor.
In the weeks between Nationals and my departure for Europe, I trained hard in order to maintain my fitness and prepare for racing at the world’s top level. I had hoped to be recovered enough from all of the racing, travel and work during the season to be able to break into the top 20, but the first two World Cups yielded the same result of 23rd place. One of the best parts of the European racing is the level of competition. Every rider fights for every spot as if it were first place. It makes the racing exciting, challenging and motivating to continually improve. Following my consistent results at the World Cups I was not exactly disappointed, but not completely satisfied. I was hoping I had saved the best for last and would have a strong finish at the World Championships.
Two days after the Hoogerheide World Cup in The Netherlands, we packed up the rental car and drove the 8+ hours to Prague, Czech Republic where we met Matt’s parents for a great dinner at a vegetarian restaurant that seemed to be built in a cave in a small alley. The next day we took a short walk to a few of the city sights before hopping back in the car for a 90-minute drive to Tabor to meet the rest of the US Team.
Matt headed back to Prague for a few days of exploring while I met my teammates and got settled in for the first ride on the race venue. Each day before the Championships, the team would head out at 2pm for training on the course. Each day the weather went from snowy, very icy conditions to slightly melted dirt with ice underneath. It was anyone’s guess what the conditions would be come race day.
I struggled a bit for the three days at the Team hotel, trying to figure out what to do with all the hours in the day. The hotel was not located in an area with anything within walking distance so I was feeling a bit trapped at times. Most of the other racers are full time professionals and more accustomed to the concept of downtime between training and when traveling. They were well equipped with iPhones, laptops and the skill of napping mid day. Needless to say it’s something to get used to and something to admire as well.
Saturday night before the race, Matt came to Tabor to help the mechanics out a bit by prepping my bikes and enjoy the good company of the hard working Team mechanics. With the bikes ready and my numbers pinned to my skinsuit, I was ready to get on with the final race of the season.
The Elite women’s event was scheduled for an 11 am start, which meant cold weather and unthawed snow and ice on the ground. My first warm up lap on the course was fun and technical due to all of the tight corners and icy spots. However, the course crew (supposedly 500 strong) was out in force before the race adding sand along almost every part of the course making the combination of frozen ground and sand fairly tacky and faster than expected. It was still technical enough though, that the rider making the fewest mistakes would come out on top.
My start position was in the 4th row, which was pretty much the back by the time the start gun goes off. Everyone tries to avoid crashing in the mayhem to move up in position before getting onto the dirt. I was able to ride the first few icy turns while several riders were off their bikes running, but the traffic in the back of the group made moving up difficult. I was feeling decent on the first few laps, riding with two of my US teammates nearby but my legs seemed heavy and began to cramp a bit in the last lap despite good hydration and warm up. It’s possible that my body was already fighting off the head cold Matt had (and I now have). Pains aside, there is something really special about competing in the World Championships. Riding in the Team USA kit, competing against the best in the world and being cheered on by 40,000-strong crowd makes for an incredibly memorable experience. With Matt’s parents and other friends calling out my name, along with random outbursts of “U-S-A, U-S-A” from the crowd and the voice of our friend Richard Fries announcing over the loud speaker, I fought to the finish, duking it out with a Belgian rider for 25th.
Now that the season has wrapped up, we are getting back to work right away in the office and lab. We are also beginning to prepare our goals and plans for the upcoming spring and summer season when Matt competes in ultra endurance road cycling and I compete in mountain bike, road racing and perhaps a duathlon to mix it up. We are already looking ahead in preparation for next cyclocross season as well.
After making a few minor changes to my usual routine of overworking plus training and under recovering, I was able to make some improvements to this past season leading to my selection to the US World’s Team. After the excellent experience racing in Europe, I am feeling more motivated to improve my performances overall and compete at a higher level in a more consistent way for the upcoming season.
I’ve come to realize that trying to do everything (racing, work, etc) 100% all the time, at the same time, is not an effectual way to improvement and fulfillment. My biggest goal now is to try to secure enough support and sponsorship to work part time and give this racing thing a real go.
I am intrigued to see how well I can do at cycling while keeping the balance and grounding I receive from working with out overdoing it. I’m fortunate to have a job where my interaction and work with individuals from all walks of like is so fulfilling that I can’t imagine my life without it, however, I can imagine my life with more recovery and perhaps learn the fine art of napping!
The MM Racing World Championship Raffle will wrap up March 4th. If you haven’t purchased your tickets, please go to: http://www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?eventid=9927 Stay tuned for details on the event/prize drawing following the close of the raffle!