For every bike race I've won there are a lot more that I have lost.
Nationals was this past weekend were in Augusta Georgia. The youngins picked me up with the team van on their way through from Chicago and we headed south. On the way we actually ended up stopping where I raced my first Under 23 road race 10 years earlier in Saluda, NC. Riding the course, thinking about the race ten years ago and where I was I'm still amazed at how far I have come. I couldn't have done it without the great support system I have. That being said I am also very excited to see the guys we have on the team now that are Under 23 and seeing how much better off they are physically now then I was and trying to share everything I know in helping them get to where they want to get.
I used the criterium for more of a warm up and open up for the road race which would be two days after. I knew it would be difficult to pull of a result on the open fast course. I tried racing from the front and following a few things. I never made a good move or got into one. I missed the big move at the end and then even worse ended up on the ground in the last corner with 12 laps to go. I really didn't feel like jumping back into the race, but I did and really didn't do myself any favors to get a result.
Two days later came the road race. I haven't really been so nervous for a race before. The nerves didn't totally take control of me, but there were two things that really made me nervous. One, I knew I had a great shot at winning and was on form. Two, I've never done the race and there really wasn't any decisive section of race so knowing where the race might happen was almost impossible.
The race started off rather aggressive and after the first of seven laps a group of 12 had formed off the front. I tried jumping across at the top of the feed zone climb, but the field was on me. The following lap I did the same thing and this time got away with 3 other riders. Once we got to the group I went straight to the front to help get the group going. After a few miles I ended up yelling at guys for the first time in a bike race. Nobody really was working and a lot were sitting on. I was just really frustrated that we had 15 guys off the front at nationals and nobody wanted to work. Sure a few teams had multiple riders, but we could deal with that later.
We would hang off the front by a minute or two for much of the race. Guys would attack and then sit up. A few would rotate, most would sit on or attack. It was the most disorganized and discouraging break I've ever been apart. A few laps later another smaller group caught up, but things didn't change much. Going into 2 laps two go the attacks from the lead group came more often. The break was starting to split and I was doing a pretty decent job staying up front and following things. Soon enough I sat back as a group of 3 went up the road with 1.5 laps to go with the field a minute back and barring down. The field would catch us after receiving the bell for one to go. The 3 just sat out front with a 30second lead, which would hold to a 17sec lead by the finish. I didn't really get a great position before the finish and was far from the result I was looking for. I was happy though that I did race from the front and put myself in position to win, but just missed the right move. You can't make every right one.
Next up are three crits this weekend and then some much needed rest. Maybe not physically, but being able to leave my bag unpacked for more then 2 or 3 days will be nice.