Perseverance might be an overused word, one that conjures up images of cheesy motivational posters. But it's an appropriate word to describe the rides of many of the youngest juniors on Saturday morning. This was only the second year the Junior 9-10 age group has been recognized at Nationals.
Gretchen Wayman and Mckenna Wilkins lined up for the Junior 9-10 Women's race on Saturday at the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships. The two rode together for much of their one-lap race during tough, muddy conditions.
Both Junior Women hail from Texas. Wayman from was a local Austinite, with a bit of home field advantage, while Wilkins lives two hours away. Both lined up on the chilly morning decked out in bright purple, and sat atop heavy mountain bikes with platform pedals. It was purely coincidence that the two were in purple, had consecutive bib numbers, had last names that start with W, and ended up pairing up. Prior to the start, they had never met.
As the rain started to come down, the youngest Juniors were set to face the week's toughest conditions so far, and although some of the peers would sprint off the line, the two pedaled down the starting straight, side-by-side, perhaps knowing that their ride would be about survival and perseverance, not beating each other to the first turn.
We managed to follow the two through a good part of the course, and documented their successful struggle to complete a lap.
They did get lapped, but completed a lap, and in a week filled with unexpected delays, and abbreviated race controversies and a lot of blame game, it was one of the more inspiring, positive moments during a roller coaster Nationals. Navigate through the photo essay and their one-lap adventure using the arrow buttons.
The first limestone stairs was hard for adults to scale. The young juniors, with bikes that weighed as much as ten pounds more than adult race bikes, had a really hard time getting up this wall. (See Junior Men 9-10 Winner Carden King’s 18-pound budget build cyclocross bike here.)
Strangers at the start, the two have become friends and hope to see more of each other.