After getting back from Austin, TX a couple days ago, I’ve been able to reflect on what a great season it has been. I couldn’t have asked for a better cap on the end of the season with a clean race finishing 14th at nationals. The 2014/15 season will definitelybe one to remember and I look forward to what 2015 will offer!
Nationals was no doubt the biggest and most anticipated race of my season. After spending a week down in the San Antonio area after the Dallas, TX UCI weekend, I was very fortunate to be able to rest and reset as I needed to. I spent the time down there with my girlfriend and two other really good friends (Masters Racers, Chris Fisher and CJ Faulkner) and we all enjoyed the warmer weather and time off of our busy schedules at home. As the weekend of racing approached for all of us, excitement grew because we all new that the end of a hard fought season was near to close.
After the news of Sunday came around of the Elite race being postponed, I felt a little deflated but I knew that if I wanted to have a good race I would have to stay strong mentally. I put the delay in racing behind me and used the opportunity to spend some good time with friends, ride some fun roads around Austin, and make light of the whole situation of staying another day. Sure it was one more day waiting in TX, but it was also one more day without cold temperatures and snow, and I was okay with that.
Once Monday rolled around, I woke up and knew that today was the day to race hard celebrate the end of the season. Finding ways to put the nerves behind me was the most important thing that day and dumbing the whole event down to “just another race” was important to me (but obviously it wasn’t “just another race”). Having friends and family on my side during the morning and being fully prepared with my equipment and race support was essential in order to just simply relax until the final hours before race time.
The course for Monday’s race featured many difficult sections which included plenty of running through off camber sections due to the mud. There were also two sets of jagged limestone “steps”, but they simulated more of a wall that we had to scale with our bikes on our backs and our hands scrambling for support. The peanut butter mud caked course featured plenty of steep ups and downs leaving the decision of eventually sliding on your back in the mud up to the cyclocross gods. Fortunately that wasn’t in the cards for me on Monday and I had one of the cleanest races of my season in some of the toughest conditions.
As all the Elite’s lined up for the start of the race, I could’ve cut the air with a knife because of the tension. Once in the grid, I tried to step back from the situation in order to calm myself but it was too late and we had just a few minutes before announcements were made and the whistle was blown. Once the gun went off it became a battle to stay upright and out of tangles and crashes. Luckily I avoided the two largest crashes without too much difficulty and kept on the gas to try and make it to the front of the race. For the first half of the race I was able to hold a position in the top twelve fighting in order to make up some ground on the top ten. With the laps counting down, I knew the most important thing was to keep putting in fast laps and to stay upright. With 1 lap to go, it was a battle for 13th place with one other rider, Anthony Clark. We went back and forth but after he put a surge in as I was in the pits for a clean bike, he was able to hold his gap until the finish. As I approached the finish line I was very pleased to stay within the top 15, and to have a successful last race.
When I got back to our sprinter it was time to celebrate. With a little champagne and a couple cinnamon rolls purchased the night before, the whole crew wore smiles and we spent time laughing and telling stories of the racing that day. After a little celebration we called it a season, and packed up the trailer in order to head back home to MN.