Tuesday, July 19, 2011

National Champion(ships)

So Wells just posted a blog about National Championships... he won his a day later than I did. Guess I am dropping the ball.
In all seriousness, I don't even know what to say. I won! I don't have much else about the race to say... I don't remember much... its a complete blur. Not only did I win, I did so convincingly. I couldn't let myself slow down, I couldn't let myself think about winning until I had done it. All I could think about until that final straightaway was pedaling, being smooth (I channelled my inner Tristian Cowie on that decent) and not winning. What would that mean? Really nothing... it wouldn't make me less of a person. But this race held so much emotional esteem for me... its hardly the most important of the season... but to win a National Championships represents so much hard work. So much frustration. So much triumph... its not something that can be felt until it happens. Until you've felt the years and the road it takes to come by one.
Maybe more than anything its the relief that comes once I crossed that finish line.
This has been the culmination of the first stages of my career. From road trips with my dad at age 15, listening to the Grateful Dead as we drove down 395 through Nevada and California, to now chasing an Olympic dream around all corners of the globe. I've worked hard... no doubt, but I absolutely wouldn't be able to do what I have done without an incredible supporting cast over the years. I will forever remember Rocky Crocker giving me my first team jersey at the Squilchucker race in Wenatchee... it was a white sleeveless Nashbar jersey with Wenatchee Area Racers silkscreened onto the front and back. I think I was 14 and I'm sure at that moment I thought it couldn't get any better. Jason Jablonski has answered hundreds of frantic phone calls over the past decade... why he always seems to be right will forever be a mystery to me. Scott Paton and everyone at Arlberg Sports has really made racing possible. Without his continued support, I have no doubt that I wouldn't be where I am today. He believed in what I was doing. Its cool to now be a role model for his son Cole... he's a super talented kid, and could find incredible success in this sport if he so chooses. It was incredible to get to watch him race this weekend in Sun Valley. I'm glad they came down. Obviously my Parents. They have always believed that what I do is valid and worth supporting, I hope I make them proud. I think I do... but not because I race well, but because I try to be honest, humble and true to myself and my pursuits. I have so many memories from traveling and racing with them.... I will always hold them close to my heart, and look forward to making more. I could go on forever about what their support means to me, but thats for another time. Marc Gullickson has given me the opportunities to race in europe, see what it means to be a professional, and how hard I have to work to be at the top of this sport. Without his guidance, there would be no National Championship for me... nor would I be finding my arguably more important successes internationally. I have so many friends who have pushed me to succeed but more importantly to love this pursuit... Mitchell, Allen, Ethan, Joey, Tad, TJ Owen, Ryan, Lydia, Jack, Kerry, Chloe, Zach... there are too many of you to name. But thank you. And now Karina too... for her emotional support when I am both home and on the road... thank you for loving the person I am.
So yeah... I put a lot of pressure on myself to win this race... I kept looking back... not just over my shoulder to see where Rob was... but into my history to see why this was the time for me to shine. To put all of that together, and honor it in the best way possible. To give it everything.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

viva la france en que-boo-qua

There is something about French Canadia. Its really a pretty cool place, sweet trails everywhere, especially in and around Mont-Ste-Anne... there's moose, and blueberries too. But for some reason I just cant really warmup to Quebec. I never have been able to. Might be the trailer parks full of Frenchies who think they are better than you, as they smoke cigarettes with unborn children in their bellies... or it could be the miserable food, mostly fried Americana, with cheep caviare or Hollindaise sauce on top. Proscriutto and brie on white bread with mayo instead of a baguette. I dunno. Might be the rain, that never seems to go away, or the lack of country roads to go spin down.
I remember a couple years ago racing my very first World Cup in MSA... I got caught by the tail moto only 3 laps into a 6 lap race. It was muddy, and I was pin-balling around the course... bouncing off trees, roots rocks and euros. I'm not sure I have ever ridden a bike more poorly than that. They ended up making me pull off the side of the course at one point so Absalon could go by... I felt like a dick. Completely out of my element, and incapable of riding at that level. Fast forward a year, and I did it again... this time at U23 world's. It was hot and dry last year, but still I somehow managed to ride like an ass... I still believe I was definitely one of the most fit in that race, but I rock and rolled around, blowing through corners. Bobbling on the technical sections and running through the woods like a wounded cow. I finished 34th, completely disappointed and looking forward to some time off of my bike.
Last weekend, I did it again. The third time is not the charm. Let me start by saying I finished 5th... in a World Cup... not so bad. And my best placing ever. This was hardly my best race though. I lead things out... literally. I was at the front of the race, stringing things out up the first climb. And I lead into the woods... killing the first technical sections... charging at the front. So so so much fun!!! Wowza... but I started going backwards over the next 3 laps. I just couldn't hold it together in the mud. I did some face planting, and lost time. I stalled out over the top of root balls and lost more time. I slipped and slid down the hillside, and and bounced my way haphazardly down the descents. My saddle came loose too! I had to stop in the pit and have Daimo tighten it up... there went another 45 seconds, and a couple places. I never had an issue loosing lots of places... this course was so damn hard that it was a complete race of attrition and things blew up in big ways. No one was riding together it seemed. But that time just made 3rd, 4th and 5th places further up into the woods. I just wasn't able to crawl back into those top 4 spots. I played some leap frog with Konwa, the Milka Bar guy, and one of the Belgians. But it was just a struggle out there... I couldn't make things happen as I wanted them to. The final lap and a half was better... I seemed to pull things together a little and my head got back into it... I think having David Fletcher chasing just a few seconds back helped with the motivation to give'r some go juice. I finished the race with a wave as I crossed the line, but couldn't help thinking about what a miserable job I did of riding my bike when it counted. Or maybe I did a miserable job of not riding my bike when it counted. I think I would have been minutes faster had I just ran the techy sections I continuously flopped and struggled through. Next time I will be a little more calculating in that dept. Its not always faster to ride.
A good ride on sunday and a good long road trip with some bbq on the fourth of July, got my American spirit going again (maybe thats why I don't like french canada... Maybe I just become soft when I'm there...). A few days here in Windham have been stellar, full of rest and some time to check out a little. Its been good but its back to racing mode tomorrow.