Nationals Recap and Report

First off, this post is going to be difficult to write as not only was this my last race for RISD, it was also my last collegiate event. I know I've written about this before, but I just can't emphasize enough how proud I am of our team's strong debut season and of the people who have supported me through this endeavor. I would like to thank Natalie Hogan and Bonnie MacInnes at RISD's Office of Student Life for making everything possible and supporting my trip to nationals as well as Christina Hartley from RISD Alumni Relations for providing crucial funds for my bid.

I would also like to thank my parents for never batting an eye at the time and travel I've spent going to competitions and for supporting me wholeheartedly in my education and racing.

Now, on to the fun stuff!

Madison is a sweet town, the food, the people, the bike infrastructure and the riding were something most places should envy. After arriving thursday afternoon, I met up with some buddies to go out and spin the legs for a few hours. Poor timing as well as maybe a karmic payback for such a smooth flight meant we literally rode during the only rainy hour of the day. Massive headwind was awful on our way out but meant cruising speeds of 30mph on the way back. Now I know how Wisconsin riders stay in shape; wind rides!

We woke early for Friday's road race. A 72 mile circuit through Blue Mound Park was described as "flat with kickers and one major climb each lap." Yeah right, there were like two flat spots, you were either little ring climbing super steep hills or descending maddeningly twisty roads at 53mph. There were crashes in both fields, and I consistently max'd out my gearing.

Our race started off the first hour with a 25mph average, it simply never slowed down. The whole group stayed together on the first of five times up the main climb, a 4 miler with sections up to 14% grade. I marked two riders, Robin Carpenter of Swarthmore, and Andy Baker, a pro for Bissel and Furman student. As attack after attack went on the first three laps, Baker was always there. A few times I went with Carpenter to possibly bridge, but each move proved futile. It was on the fourth lap, going up the climb that things blew up. Baker finally found a move that stuck and would go on to win with a 3 min lead. I found myself just 5 seconds off the back cresting over the climb. When I looked back, there was no one behind me. I busted my balls on the descent to catch back on, a neutral water feed wedged in my cage, and tried to recover once I was back on a group of about 10. As I struggled to get the cap off my dasani, the group drilled it to bring back Baker. We hit the last climb and I was hurting. I popped off the back of our group and was seeing stars. The finish has an extra .5 mi kicker in which my last memory was looking up to see every single rider weaving back and forth across the road, trying to find power. Forget a finishing sprint, I was praying for the race to end and travelling about 5 mph up the hill. Coming through the gates, I was 1 min behind 2nd place Carpenter, completely dehydrated and exhausted, and in 19th place.

I kept reminding myself that these are the best collegiate riders in the country, and 19th was a solid result. But I'm not gonna lie, it was nice to crack a few brews and get in the hottub that night. Try to think about the next race...

Saturday was our rest day as there were only team time trials and a few of us went out for a spin. My legs were sore. End of story.

After diligent ice packs and elevation. Or as I like to call it: R.I.C.E., we woke sunday and rode over to the crit course. This course was pretty fun, three turns, two inclines, and super wide roads meant it was gonna be fast. 27.5 mph average to be precise. I had the legs to contest two primes and finished 11th in the bunch sprint. My total earnings for the weekend put me at 11th in the omnium, and the second ECCCer in the D2. Although the race was a fast-paced blur the entire time, highlights include dropping my chain to the outside in the final turn, coasting through said turn and shifting into my little ring for the sprint, getting literally headbutted at 30 mph in the leadout, and witnessing true teamwork by Mars Hill. They would go on to win the race, and their incredibly aggressive yelling, body shoving and speed as they preserved their leadout train was something to behold. It was a next level race, and I rarely have experienced those speeds in a crit so I was pleased to get the result I did. Most races getting to the front is relatively easy, this race it took everything I had to get up there.

As I plan my summer and think about racing in the coming months, I will build on my experiences at Nationals, mostly; try to go faster! Although I cannot for the life of me find photos out there, as they eventually roll in I will try to post them here. But I will finish by announcing that I'm handing over the reigns and responsibility to George Coffin and Oliver Henderson who will be co-captains of the team next year. They are looking for broader sponsorship, better training plans, and sweeter blogging! I am excited for them and the team in general, and look forward to their announcements on this blog.

P.S. there was one other art major at Nationals, from Humbolt, and I beat him both races. If there were a proxy art league classification, I would have won it. that's worth something for sure.... (art school leader's jersey anyone??)
Evan