On my list of things to do was: ride and clean my bike. It was raining like crazy, so I waited around half the day, and finally just decided to go on my rollers. Just as I finished my openers, the sun came out, and it was beautiful. Of course. Next up on the list was to clean my bike. I got it seriously dirty in Colorado Springs. I looked in my host houses cupboard for some cleaning supplies and pulled out a bottle of Simple Green, and went to town. The Simple Green didn’t smell so normal, but I continued on my task. Then I passed it to Korina who smelled it, made a weird face, and noticed it said “Ernie’s Skin Spray”. Ernie was the dog.
Not bike cleaner!
Now that my bike was lathered up with the secret juice, I was ready for the Omnium! Day 1 was the Scratch, Pursuit, and Elimination. The first day just went so-so for me. Let a break get away in the Scratch, and ended 5th (second in the field sprint), 3rd in the pursuit (time wasn’t terrible, but not so good), and 3rd in the elimination (photo finished when I got out). It was a long night with a rain delay, then an early morning, but that is how it always seems with the omnium. If you aren't good on four hours of sleep, find another event! The second day of the omnium is pretty fun, as in the morning you get to play sprinter with the 500m and Flying Lap. I got 2nd in both of those, and was really happy with my times. Seriously, the flying lap is maybe my favorite event! I held the track record for 20 seconds in it, until Jen Valente broke it. The evening race was the Points race, where I couldn’t attack enough to get away and get a lap on Jen. I needed a lap to win, but I also needed intermediate sprint points, as 3rd and 4th were really close. Jen rode awesome all weekend; huge kudos to such a star and classy rider. So, 2nd in the Omnium for me. Not bad, but it was always nicer to win.
The next day, I did something I never do at nationals – I had an off day! Typically, I sign up for every single event, but this year, I decided not to do that. I slept in, went on a road ride, and hung out in the garden and hammock at my host house.
The next day was the Team Pursuit and Points Race. For the TP, we had a group of women from the camp – Kim, Tela, Jessi, and me. Unfortunately, not many teams signed up, so we didn’t even get to do a qualifier. This really sucked, as it would have been nice to get two rides in. We went out aggressively, made the catch pretty quick, and continued on for time. It is great to be able to be national champion with friends – and even moreso because we’d been training and suffering together the last month. The Points Race was later that night. Honestly, it was my most disappointing race of the week. The race started off well for me, I felt great, and I was winning sprints. 70 laps in, I was leading Kim Geist, by a small margin. I felt good and knew I could win another sprint lap or two. About 25 laps to go, a break got off that I should have shut down, or at least made sure to keep close. But at the moment, I thought it was actually good for me, as only 1 point was available to the pack, and then Kim couldn’t make up ground on me. I stupidly let the gap balloon, then we risked getting lapped, and had to chase hard. Korina picked up the last three sprint laps out of the break to come ahead in points. Really great ride by her, and I am super happy my good friend won her first nationals. But, I was pretty bummed for myself, as I made such a stupid mistake, and I super wanted to win that race. So, I ended 3rd in that race.
Huge congrats to Korina on her first national title!
Photo Credit: Weldon Weaver
The next day was an off day for me. Honestly, it was a pretty crappy day. I barely slept, as I was thinking about the race that night. Then, I got some news that morning that my father passed away. He had been dealing with a lot of physical and mental health issues in the last fifteen years. It was a sad day. Kim Deacan, the host we are staying with, is an awesome guy with a beautiful property. It was nice to spend lots of time outside, walking around his yard, garden, and looking at sheep, and horses. He even let me ride on his tractor. It was a good day to do some thinking. It was good to have an off day that day.
The last day of nationals was the scratch race. I was still not in a good mood, but racing is nice sometimes because you can just focus on one thing at a time. Change gears…pump up tires… get on track….do roller warmup…lineup… race. It is all pretty methodical and the same no matter where you go. The Scratch race was a pretty good race. An early move went for several laps that never got more than a straight away on the pack. I attacked at some point thereafter, at which point I got caught, and a group of 3 countered. I quickly bridged up that, and then we were four. From there, the race was pretty dynamic with some people getting dropped from that move, and others bridging up to it. In the end, we were a group of five with: Kim Geist, Kim Zubris, Colleen Hayduk, Tela Crane and myself. We worked to get a good gap; at one point we were within a quarter lap to lapping. Some people stopped pulling after awhile, and we started attacking each other and/or trying to ride people off the back. This obviously slowed us down, and the pack slowly started to bring us back. It all came back with about 2.5 laps to go, but the sprint started shortly thereafter, so everyone from the break was more rested and positioned well. Just as I was about to jump to start my sprint, Kim Geist did, and then I had to take the long line around Colleen and Tela. Tela took the win; I was closing fast in the last straight away, but ran out of track. I must have passed Kim to get 2nd. So, pretty good for me, but still would have been better to win. Tela has been riding awesome this year and I am happy she turned enduro, because I like her and get to hang out with her more now.
Note: don't ride the nice tires at Rock Hill! Else this will happen after just 3 days of racing!
Who needs race wheels at nationals? Glad i had my tied and solder 36 spoke handy!
Photo Credit: Weldon Weaver
Scratch. Chasing early move. Photo Credit: Erika Fulk, Detroit Spoke
Scratch. Next group of 4. Photo Credit: Erika Fulk, Detroit Spoke
New group of 5, and then we started attacking each other. Photo Credit: Erika Fulk, Detroit Spoke
All back together and final sprint. Photo Credit: Erika Fulk, Detroit Spoke
Huge congrats Tela Crane!
Photo Credit: Weldon Weaver
So, that was nationals. A first, two seconds, and a third. I really wanted to win an individual title this year, so, I am pretty bummed, as I know I was in good form. It really sucks being that close to winning so many events, and then not. But, I just keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on the prize, which is team pursuit at the Olympics. Stinks not to win individual races at nationals this year, but glad to see that I have gotten faster this summer – but I know that I need to get a lot faster still. The bar is high and I have a lot of improvements I need to make. All I can do is work hard each day to see if I can make it to that level. I hope I can, but only time will tell.
In conclusion, huge thanks to the Giodorna Velodrome. I really, really love racing here. There is something really fun about racing outside at night in front of huge crowds! And huge they are in South Carolina. The volunteers and staff in Rock Hill are top notch and they do such a great job making an awesome championship. Thanks to Thad Fischer and the whole crew - just a great week!
Huge thank you to Erica Fulk with Detroit Spoke, Michael C. Hernandez with Ride Rock HIll, and Weldon Weaver for the amazing photos. When we got to go home and go to bed, you stayed up all night editing photos - thanks so much for all the beautiful images from the week!