From the beginning of my professional career, I've always been told-by my trusted and experienced coach-that I would be great on the track and that I would love it. And since I've started my pro career, I've tried to take every opportunity to try it all and it has been such a blast, this surely to be no different.
The track is a bit mysterious as well as scary as hell to some, but to me it looked like a bowl of fun, let's jump in! And that's what I did. Michael Engleman hooked me up with Roger Young (a running ton of experience and knowledge) and Roger said to come to L.A., give the track a try and I'll see what talent you do or do not have. And with that I was on a road trip to California for a week of warm weather in November, evening track sessions and some daytime road rides sans leg warmers or arm warmers.
For the first session and my first track experience it was a bit intimidating but for some reason, maybe because my family is in the hardwood timber business, I felt a sense of comfort. Inside the Home Depot Center there are pictures of the 1984 Olympics and the old velodrome plus some jerseys of champions and autographs of some of cycling's finest, then as you look down into this deep wooden bowl you get an appreciation for the steepness and what it takes to 'just go around in circles' cause that's what it looks like 'til you do it.
That reminds me of a story one of my friends told me after one of the local cyclo-cross races. She knows what it takes to race cyclo-cross and she was there cheering me on when someone who obviously doesn't have a clue how hard it is asked, "Why are they going so slow?". Same thing with the velodrome, I've looked at video of me and of others on YouTube and it looks so slow but once you are out there you feel like (and pretty much are) you are flying! But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself, first I have to learn the rules of the track and how to ride a bike, kind of.
Roger, bless his heart, went over every position on the track for a solid 45 minutes before we even touched a bike and I was very thankful because I sure didn't want to be messing up and crashing anybody, especially myself. Immediately I understood how important these rules are when you are thinking about how many people are on the track at one time and how quickly you come up on them and guess what, no brakes! So there is a lot of trust and understanding that takes place out there without many people even seeing it from the outside looking in. So, now let's get on a bike already, my pits are sweating with my excitement going like crazy!
The track bike is a bit different than a road bike, the wheels are closer - so more toe overlap - I learned that one pretty fast, the front end is heavier and of course it is a fixed gear bike, which didn't bother me as much as I first anticipated.
So around the apron we went for a tutorial, I swear Roger has a running ton of patience. Anyway, I did a couple of laps on the apron, then Roger told me to do 5 laps in the pole lane and 5 on the relief line. Once I finished those, I came back down to the apron and Roger stopped me at the start/finish line and said, "Now do 5 laps on the balustrade." Now I'm nervous and I tell him, "I'm a bit nervous about that" and off I pedal and say to myself, "What the hell, go for it!" I'm pretty sure I had the biggest grin in L.A. at that time and that was when I fell in love with the track.
The next couple of days Roger surrounded me with some of the greatest cyclists, who taught me something new, I swear, every lap or so it seemed and I was all ears. Thank you all for your words of wisdom and your patience. I jumped right into pacelines, got to see some guys practice the Madison, followed the motorcycle, did some sprints and had a bunch of laughs.
To top off the week Roger wanted me to finish with a 3km time trial as well as a 500 meter sprint. It was like my nerves shot up all over again, because now I was going to be on Roger's bike (Lord please help me not to mess up his bike), in an aero position (all new feeling) going all out. Then I hear my inner voice, "What the hell, let's do this!".
So after getting acclimated to the bike and getting the right position, I'm off for 20 laps to get used to the bike. After those laps, we rest for a bit and then it's time to go.
Roger explained that once I come around after the start, I will hear a beep and I should be at the pursuit line at the same time and that he was going to set my time at a 4:05. To be honest my legs felt like bricks after a week of track and I thought that I wouldn't be able to do a 4:05, then one of the guys asked if I wanted some cheese with my whine - whatever! Roger said the best in the world can do it as fast as 3:30 something, OK, I can do it (I'm not competitive as hell or anything).
So off I went and after getting up to speed on the first lap, I didn't hear the beep until I was through the first turn and I yelled out loud (before thinking-naturally), "What was that?" I kept going and I'm sure I was humoring Roger by this point and then I realized that I was a bit ahead of the beep but as long as I could stay steady, by the time I'm down to the last lap I will be right on target.
Well I finished faster than anticipated, 4:02, I'll take that for a first timer. The 500m was next but I was pretty fried, so I don't think that went to well, but it didn't matter to me, I was just enjoying the moment and my last couple of circles 'til next time I get to come play at the track.
I was sad to leave, I really enjoyed Roger's coaching, the guys and gals he introduced me to and the warm weather, but my dog was eagerly waiting my homecoming. As I arrived back home there was something else there to greet me, my new nordic skis, boots and poles. So yet another adventure awaits me, this time in the wide open, cold, winter air but thoughts of the wooden track aren't far from my mind. 'Til next time Cyclingnews...
Missy Erickson's tales from US collegiate and elite track championships
As I lay here in my...awesome dorm room, thinking about the past 2.5 weeks I have just had, I'm proud, astonished, stressed and starving. I'm not entirely sure how some collegiate cyclists do it. As far as I go, missing two weeks of school has put me so far behind. I've missed entire exams worth of information, making the first up this week and taking exam number two next week. But the trick is to stay on top of it. However you can, whatever way you can, in any way you can.
With that said, let us begin to recap my last great adventure.
We left Durango Tuesday afternoon, on September 21st. We rolled into the small, three-terminal Durango airport with our sweet Fort Lewis College cycling truck and a 15-pack van. As we all pile out, we grab our bags and a bike box, walk in, get our tickets and do the whole airport thing. And then we were off to Indy, for Collegiate Track Nationals.
We had a day on the track before racing started, and what do you know...IT RAINED! We had a total of about 15 minutes on the track, just enough for the ladies team pursuit to get out and ride around together. After I had spent half my summer on the track in Colorado Springs, the fort Lewis team had about two weekends, equaling about four days on the track. So, given the amount of time we had together, 15 minutes was about the longest duration.
Then, it began. First up on Thursday was the 500m time trial. How should I explain this ride...slamming my knee on my TT bars, running over a few sponges, you know...the usual. NOT. It was good and fast. Times in the top five were incredibly close. I finished fourth overall, which was a good improvement from my time and the seventh place finish from 2009.
Friday was the busiest and most intense day: women’s team pursuit, collegiate sprint and points race. Our team pursuit, to say the least, was...a mess. After two false starts we were allowed a third by the gracious hearts of the USA Cycling officials. I became the first rider on the third attempt, getting our team off the line and racing. We finished third, after falling completely apart, and coming back together to finish with three riders.
Next up, in the collegiate sprint, I was the first rider, and the only girl, meaning I pulled the first two laps in our sprint. After the first two laps, it was up to the boys to finish it off. We finished fifth as a team.
Then there was the points race - the ridiculous, horrible points race. Last year I pulled a second place, from nowhere. This year...well. I won the first two sprints for full points and then I managed to get myself lapped. I finished the race, scoring points for the team, but I can definitely tell you that sprint training does not help you in a 60-lap points race. I was disappointed. I was shooting for a good place in the individual omnium, and a 19th place in the points race didn't help me with much.
Saturday was the best. Match sprints. I was excited. I was hoping to come off the bad points race the night before, redeem myself and make my team proud. And I think I did. I qualified first in the 200m with the fastest time. And then it was going through the rounds. Round 1=win. Round 2=win. Then the semis and finals were in the afternoon.
After coming back, my semifinal ended with three rides. But I won. Again. I was shocked. I was going to the match sprint final, for a chance to win my first individual national championship. I was so happy to have been there. I was so happy to have made it that far. And then we rode. And unfortunately, in the two rides, I wasn't able to come around my match, and I had to settle for second place. Last year, I didn't make it past the second round, after having to win the rep from the first round. The fact that I was the fastest qualifier, I had made it to the final, it means a lot.
This second place had launched me from seventh to fourth in the individual omnium. Combined with my fourth place finish in the 500m and my horrible points race, I finished one place higher in the omnium than I did last year. Fort Lewis College as a team finished in third overall in the D1 team omnium.
Then it was done, we packed up the bikes, loaded the vans and shipped out. The team headed back to Durango, and I to Los Angeles for Elite Track Nationals.
This was my first Elite Track Nationals, my first time at the ADT Center and I was ecstatic about it. I would be racing in the scratch race, keirin, match sprints, team sprint and Madison. In a short summary, since this is already incredibly long: 11th in the scratch race, eighth in the keirin, 10th in the match sprint, sixth in the team sprint and an unfortunate DNF in the Madison.
I got sick. It sounds like a bad excuse, but I really did get quite sick. Saturday morning, the morning of the 200m qualifier, I threw up, was feeling horrible and had no interest in riding my bike. It was awful. I did the qualifier, didn't qualify for a match and called it quits for the day.
Sunday was the team sprint and Madison. Maddie and I went as hard and as fast as we could. Next year we will come back with the punch. In the Madison, things were going good. I was starting to get the hang of things and then my partner Megan slid off the track on one of the bankings. This was the first-ever US women’s Madison national championship and I am very proud to have been part of it. I made some mistakes in the race, I will admit, but for the most part it was an incredible experience.
The keirin is by far my most favorite event and after four rides I learned quite a bit. Even at the elite level, it makes you realize how much work you have left, how much more you have to learn and what you can possibly become.
All in all, both collegiate and elite nationals came out well. Collegiate more than elites, but in some circumstances, you have to work with what you have, and in this case I did. You give it your all; you go as hard and as fast as you can. And you come home with more than medals: experiences, lessons, friendships and dreams.
As a high school counselor, I was always telling kids to follow their dreams. To dream big and follow their passions. What good was I doing sitting behind a desk preaching this if I wasn't practicing what I preach?
In August of 2005, at age 33, I didn't go back to my office in the fall. I set out to be an example. Most thought I was crazy, questioning what I would do if it didn't work out. I figured after a one year leave of absence, if it didn't work out, fall 2006 I'd be headed back to my office. It's August 2010, and I am still not back in that office.
It has been a bumpy ride, which started with spending my leave of absence rehabbing my left knee after surgery in February 2006. I decided I needed one more year, but my position would not be held for me, so my only option was to succeed. Have I succeeded? How is success measured?
As a female in the world of competitive cycling, it is not easy. If success is measured monetarily, I have not succeeded. It is rare to be able to make a living racing your bike, and even rarer for women. The cash pay-out for women at races is less, the sponsorships are harder to come by. Luckily, I have support from my husband Tim, not only financially, but also emotionally. He was the one that told me five years ago that it was now or never, that I wasn't getting any younger and I shouldn't live with any regrets. I didn't want to think, 'what if' down the road, knowing I had been given this opportunity from him. I was lucky.
If success is measured by results, I have had some great wins, some good results and some memorable moments. I do not believe, however, that success is all about winning. There is much more to how I measure my success. My success to me is inspiring others, giving them hope and showing them that it's not too late and if they really truly want to race nationally and internationally against the best in the world, it can be done. I have done it.
For anyone reading who thinks they missed their opportunity, it is never too late. I did my first beginner mountain bike race in 2003 at the age 31. In 2004, my husband Tim and I decided to race the Trans Rockies. We finished still married, so we considered it a success. Then at age 33, it was time to make the decision that changed my course in life. If I was going to dream big and follow my passion, I was going to do it 100 percent.
In fall of 2005, my new office was my bike and I hired Kendra Wenzel as my coach. When I met with her, I had seven races on my 'race resume'. I was a true neophyte with no real racing background, but had big goals and aspirations. To this day, I am not even sure why I thought I could accomplish what I had set out to do: I wanted to race my bike professionally.
Just months after that meeting, I was told I needed knee surgery, thus I would not be racing 'pro' in 2006. I still found success that first year with a mountain bike national championship in the expert 35-39, a win in the Trans Rockies, participation in the world masters championships, getting 2nd in the combined 30-39 field. Perhaps knee surgery was a blessing in disguise, because since my mountain bike season was cut short, I decided to take on cyclo-cross. I had one local season under my belt, so when Wendy Williams asked me to do the USGP series with her, I figured why not.
That led to an addiction. I was hooked.
In 2007, I took my racing internationally and was also selected for the Worlds team. In spring 2008, I ventured to Europe to experience mountain bike World Cups and then back in the winter for cyclo-cross. 2009 started with the cyclo-cross world championships, summer was filled with epic mountain bike stage racing with the Monavie-Cannondale team, winning the Intermontane Challenge and a $10,000 cash prize! Things were looking good, but winter of 2009 provided me with a set of new challenges, developing exercise induced asthma and struggling with low iron issues. I ended my cyclo-cross season earlier than expected, but I was already looking forward to 2010.
2010 has been a phenomenal year. With the health setbacks, I was unsure what the future was going to bring and then in January 2010, I found myself without sponsorship when my team folded. I could have easily given up, but I put back on my River City Bicycles kits and decided this was an opportunity to set my own schedule. I knew that limited funds would mean racing closer to home, but my winnings from 2009 allowed me to at least travel to the US Pro XCT races in Fontana and Sea Otter.
Then I set my sights on the Cherry Blossom Classic, a local road stage race that was a qualifier for the Nature Valley Pro Ride. Granted, it would mean missing one of my favorite local mountain bike races, but it was an opportunity to get myself to Minnesota in June. I love stage racing and since I couldn't afford the mountain bike stage races without team support, I got my fill on the road.
Cherry Blossom did earn me a spot on the Nature Valley Pro Ride. I also raced the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic and before heading to the Midwest, I made a trip to Austin, TX for another mountain bike race. 2010 was turning out to be a nice mixture of mountain bike and road racing.
Racing as a member of the Nature Valley Pro Ride was a highlight of my season. Although I had done two NRC races in 2008, I had never raced as part of a team. I had never had support or a director. Nature Valley Pro Ride provided this experience. It was the first time in my career I could just show up and worry about racing my bike, like a real pro.
Working with Michael Engleman was an invaluable experience. Not only did he give great advice, but he also found pins for me. A man with many talents. It was the Nature Valley Pro Ride that made me decide road racing could be in my future. Nature Valley was fast. It was hard. It was exhilarating. It was an opportunity to race against the fastest women in the country and some of the fastest in the world.
The Nature Valley Pro Ride allowed me to experience road racing in a whole new way. I actually enjoyed road racing, but of course, my first love is the dirt, so the weekend after Nature Valley, I headed to Wisconsin for another round of the US Pro XCT, getting my first national podium in short track. It was a solo effort, unlike the week prior, being part of a team, working together, supporting each other. I enjoyed the team road experience so much, that I decided to do it again at Cascade, guest riding for Touchstone Climbing. Our goal became to keep Emily Kachorek in the top 10. Mission accomplished. She finished 9th and my results became secondary.
Being a mountain biker and cyclo-crosser, it is a hard concept to grasp and another part of my development as a cyclist. It wasn't long before I was back riding dirt for myself. I even did something crazy and raced the High Cascade 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race, and to my surprise, I won the darn thing. 2010 has been a great year with success in road and mountain biking locally and nationally.
So, what does this all mean? Why do I continue to do something that I am not getting paid to do? It all stems from that passion, that dream. I won't have regrets, nor will I have to ask the question, what if? I am living the dream and I will continue racing as long as I am improving and having fun.
I truly love riding my bike and racing is a great opportunity to do something I love. It has introduced me to amazing people and provided me with amazing experiences. My goals for the future? I would like to find a sponsor for 2011, mountain or road. I am currently gearing up for the 2010 cyclo-cross season and will ride for the Hudz-Subaru team out of Colorado. I plan to be on the podium at cyclo-cross Nationals in Bend in December and my goal is to participate at the world championships in St. Wendel in January 2011, representing the U.S. again.
I want to continue to inspire those who wonder or question if they should follow their dreams and passions or if they can take it to the next level. I don't think it is a question. It is a decision. And it is never too late.
As if you haven't heard enough from me lately, I decided to venture on to another stage race, the International Cycling Classic Superweek Pro Tour. This year, women's racing was covered on 16 days. That's a lot! But I wasn't just racing, I'm also part of the set up crew at Superweek.
Superweek is one of my favorite events. And I'm not saying that because I work it, but after racing the series, it was incredible. Coming out of Dairyland, I was feeling good. I made the drive back to Colorado Springs, stayed for a week, picked up some people, and drove back to Wisconsin.
I am very thankful to the IS Corp Women's Elite team for allowing me to guest ride for them. It was an incredible opportunity, and it was a lot of fun!
So, in a shoe box, this is how it went for me:
3rd Geneva-Mill Cycling Classic Criterium 7th Homewood International Cycling Classic Criterium 9th Richton Park Criterium 2nd Willow Springs Road Race 5th Keefe Real Estate Lake Geneva Criterium 10th South Shore Cyclery Classic Criterium 12th Brookfield/Maximized Living Criterium 16th EDGE Condominiums-Schlitz Park Challenge 9th The NorthShore University HealthSystem Grand Prix of Cycling 5th Wheel and Sprocket Whitnall Park Road Race
8th Overall Women's Pro 1/2/3 2nd Overall Women's Top Amateur
I stopped racing with 4 days to go. I was tired, I was dehydrated, and I was ready for some time off the bike. It was hard to stop. For a few of the last days, I struggled to get on my bike, and racing was not enjoyable, but I just needed points. But I decided it wasn't worth it. With a lot more racing left in my season, I decided to stop.
I was in the jersey, the top amateur jersey; I was in the first jersey I have ever won. I was so excited. I said on the very first day, I told the crew while holding the pink thing, "I'm going to be wearing that," and that's what I did. I raced hard everyday. I even got 2nd in a hill top finish of a road race.
Being 1st in the top amateur, and 2nd overall GC, I stopped racing and I was happy. It was ok with me that I was letting it go, but sometimes, taking care of yourself is a better idea than chasing one result.
I was in one crash at Superweek, at the Evanston Grand Prix, my favorite race. I kept racing that day, but afterward, stopping in the SRAM neutral support pit with Chris Kreidl, Jose Alcala, and Bernard Kocis, my bike was reported as: broken derailleur hanger, broken saddle, and cracked frame. Awesome. But don't worry. I can still ride it, but you won't find me racing it.
So, after 17 days of getting up early, setting up the fence/banners/booth/whatever else, grabbing some food, kitting up, racing, and tearing everything back down again, it was time to head back home. Superweek is something I will be doing again. Racing day after day in 60k criteriums is right up my alley, and I love it! The venues are incredible, the fans are great, and with Superweek getting more on board with women's cycling, I'm glad to be part of the event.
The following weekend after Superweek, I was back in Colorado Springs racing the Track State Championships, which were also the elite national qualifiers. This was the first time I have ever attempted to qualify for elites, and I did it! In both endurance, and sprint events.
1st Women's Keirin 1st Women's Team Pursuit (w/Vera Divenyi and Greta Neimanas) 1st Women's Team Sprint (w/Vera Divenyi) 3rd Women's Points Race 4th Women's Match Sprint
I'm very excited to be going to elites, granted, my professors at Fort Lewis may not be too enthused that I will be missing two weeks of classes, (Sept 21-Oct 3), but in the end, the great cycling community of Durango pulls through for any cycling dream.
So after being on the road for 2+ months, it is nice to stay put and ride my bike in this lovely city of Colorado Springs. I head back to Fort Lewis on the Sept 29th, start school on the 30th, and then it's back at it. After collegiate track, it's elites, and then the cross season starts! TwinSix has been a great supporter of me, and ill be rocking their metal team kit.
So, it's back to school for my junior year, time to crack open the books and get myself an education. An education in cycling, is more like it.
I think I've spent as much time in Wisconsin as I have in Colorado Springs. I'm not sure which to call my home. And in about a week, I'm about to head to Wisconsin, once again.
My journey this summer began with the Minnesota fixed gear classic. This is one of the few events that offers equal prize money for both men and women. We left Colorado Springs at 3:30am on Wednesday morning, driving from Colorado Springs to Denver to pick up Maddie Godby and her mother, and then heading on to Blaine. Thursday morning we woke up and went to the track for some early morning training and to spin our legs out.
This was the first wood velodrome that I had ever ridden. And I'll admit, I was intimidated at first. It was wet that morning, and we all know that wet+track = no good. But, we sent Ryan Belew up the track to see if he would fall off, and when he didn't, we decided to jump on and see what it was all about. It was so smooth. The wood was amazing to ride on. For an outdoor track, we were all pleasantly surprised! Growing up in Minnesota, I did not know this velodrome existed. The first I learned of it was when I first got on the Colorado Springs Velodrome in September, 2008.
Racing started Friday evening. This weekend I was racing in the Miss and Out, Keirin, Team Sprint, Madison Kilo, Scratch Race, Points Race, Tempo, and the Madison. Saturday, it rained, and rained, and rained. So races were canceled. And so racing continued on Sunday.
The crew that went out from the 7-eleven velodrome was incredible. Mark, Maddie, Julia, Belew, Luttrell, Sabga, Vera, Cari, Megan…so many of us! It was awesome to have support and people I knew there.
Racing was so much fun. The event was run wonderfully, and the crowd was actually existent! There were a lot of strong women out and about riding around, and with so many people on the track at once, it was intimidating for a while.
2nd Team Sprint (w/Maddie Godby) 3rd Madison Kilo (w/Julia Manley) 3rd Keirin 5th Miss and Out 5th Scratch
And with these results, I ended up 4th overall in the sprint omnium, and 5th overall in the endurance omnium. It was a great weekend. I was very proud of how I did. And with a special thanks to everyone who worked to put on the Fixed Gear Classic, thank you very much. It was a great event, and I will be back next year!
Here's a link to a video I made of racing:
My adventures then continued on. I ventured up to my hometown of Alexandria, Minnesota for a few days. It was great to see my family and spend time with my little brother, and everyone that I was able to see in such a short time. After a few days at home though, I was ready to venture on and keep racing.
So I then embarked from Alexandria to Minneapolis, picking up Cari Higgins on the way, and continued on to Tour of America's Dairyland. Cari had called me about a week or two prior to Fixed Gear and asked, "Would you wanna do dairyland while we are out there?", and I said, "Why not!? I've got nothing better to do."
And so the Cari and Missy adventure began. We raced everyday of T.O.A.D. and it was great! I gained a lot of fitness in the process and a lot of racing experience as well. I had a few top 15 finishes, which I was very happy about, and by the end of the series, I had been all of Wisconsin, ate some cheese, and taken 2nd place in the top amateur GC.
Traveling with Cari was a blast. It's great to have someone you look up to be so down to earth and easygoing. Who knew "billionaire" would be the theme song of the week.
So now I have traveled back to Csprings, just in time to unpack, wash clothes, wash the bike, pack again, and take off for this time, 17 days of racing at Superweek. I'm very excited to be getting so much racing in this summer. As far as hanging in Wisconsin with the cows and mosquitoes, well, that's another story. But it's nice to visit the good old Midwest every once and a while.
Well, the 2010 Collegiate Nationals are long over with, and I'm just getting around to writing about my wild adventures. This season, as it was my second collegiate, it was the first season that I actually had a full year. Last year, I was in a full arm cast for 4 months, so my riding started in March, when our season is fully under swing. But this year was different.
For 2 months, the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team drove up to the front range of Colorado every weekend. I don't think I've put enough emphasis on this. EVERY WEEKEND we drove 6+ hours there, and 6+ hours back home. To say the least, I was very thrilled when we had our home race, where every school from the front range got a little taste of what it is like to drive Wolf Creek every weekend. My favorite part about that is listening to them all complain, and then realizing who they are complaining too, and they suddenly swallow their words, smile, and turn away.
Throughout the season, I made videos of our travels, and a majority of it consists of driving, but that is what we did. I got some good race footage as well of most of the men's racing. You can watch them on the FLC Cycling Website, or at my youtube channel.
But that's besides the fact.
I had a few goals this year. I wanted to place in the top 5 in the RMCCC (Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference) series, I wanted to place in the top 50 in the National RR, I wanted to finish the FLC home race RR, and I wanted to win a crit, not to mention, place very well in the Nationals Crit, if not win it. Well, some of these I achieved, and some of them, I did not. But I've had some of the most proud moments I've ever had in cycling.
I did, in fact place 2nd in the RMCCC series this year, which I am incredibly proud of. I didn't win a single crit this season, but I helped my teammate win a majority of them with solo breaks, and I won many of the field sprints for second place. I not only finished the FLC Road race, but I stayed with the main field for 3 laps, up the notorious front hill to our campus.
And this brings us to nationals. Let's talk about the Road Race. With 6,000 ft of climbing, in lovely Madison, Wisconsin, with 40 degree weather filled with winds, rain, and a heavy fog, well, doesn't that sound like a day for a bike race?
The morning of the Road Race, my family arrived while I was warming up, and I was very excited. To have my family at collegiate nationals meant a lot. They haven't seen me race for quite a while, and it was good to have their support. Having them there definitely kept me positive for the hell that I was about to put myself through.
The call up was done, I was at the back of the field at the start, and descending down the nuetral start, that was very interesting. I watched as, only in the neutral start, girls were already off the road, and having technical issues as they ran into each other, and luckily enough, I was not caught up in anything.
I rode towards the front of the pack, but staying out of the wind for the first lap, and then we came to "the climb". I never looked up, because all I would see was more UP. We did 4 laps. Each lap, at the top of the climb was the feed zone. I remember passing the feed zone, knowing that I had a nice descent on the other side, but other than that, everything began to blend together. I rode two laps by myself. Occasionally I would see some girls on the side of the road with flats, and I was familiar with this, as our men's team had over half of the guys experience flat tires.
The rain..fluctuated. It would stop, my glasses would fog up, then it would downpour, my glasses would go back on. Then climbing, they would fog, take them off, then on the descent, put them back on. It was a process. By the last lap, I had it down.
Many times, I was discouraged in this race. It was a mental game for me. I knew going into it, as I hadn't done the road race the year before, that I wasn't going to be in the top 10, and I may not be in the top 20, but I was the third woman rider for FLC. I HAD to finish. And I wasn't ready to give up. But, as every cyclist has been in that position, it was the most miserable, hardest race of my life.
When I went through the feed zone, I didn't even want to look at anyone, I knew if I looked at them, I would lose the little concentration that I had. I had to work as hard as I could to keep my legs rolling over, and over.
The last lap, I was with 4 other riders. And I can't explain where this power came from, but as I was dropped on the "climb", at the top, I had this sudden push. The only way I can explain it as is, the hand of god pushing me up the final climb to the finish. I passed 6 girls up that short final climb, and I came in 50th. I had reached my goal. I was delirious. I was exhausted. And I just wanted…I didn't even know. I was more proud of myself that day, then I have ever been of myself.
This was an example of a day that the result didn't matter. It's like a day on those rides, when you get shelled from the group immediately, but you work as hard as you can, you catch back on, you get dropped again, you catch back on. And you might not score any points on that Tuesday night worlds ride, but you finished the ride, you did better than you've ever done, and you are so excited, and most people don't understand why.
Most people didn't understand why I was thrilled, but I didn't care. I finished. I scored points. And I just climbed 6,000 feet.
Thank you very much.
But that wasn't all. Then we had the crit. And it was, a crit. Very basic. Four corners, with a slight uphill in it, with a downhill on the parallel side. And you know when you all have those days, where you just can't clip in, well, of all days, I had it on this starting line. I started dead last. And I mean, dead last. Great!
The race was a good one, I attacked when breaks went, pulled them back, rode in the front for a majority of the race, faded back at times to recover. It was hard, it was fast. It was fun. I love crits. There were a few crashes, but thankfully no FLC riders were involved, and we all made it safely.
With 5 laps to go, I got on the front of the race and controlled it, strung it out, and tried to stop any attacks from coming. With 1 to go, a group of 10 of us went for it. But coming around corner 2, a group of girls we were lapping scattered across the road. Instead of staying on their side of the road, they forced us to split up, spread across the road, and in my case, completely slam on my brakes and lose the group. I turned in 11th place, which is an improvement from last year, after being involved in a crash. It was a good day! My team rode very well, and the ladies pulled it off!
But I must saw, the highlight of the day was Randy (our skyhawk mascot) making a grand appearance. That night we had the banquet for the road race and criterium award presentations, and Randy, again, appeared and made a dance show onstage, only to be chased off by our team manager, Dave Hagen.
The following day wasn't just the Team Time Trial, but also my 20th birthday. Not my choice of event on the birthday, but I can't complain, I mean, my mom was there, and it was also Mother's Day!
Unfortunately, my teammate Sage Wilderman was unable to race all weekend, so this left the FLC ladies with a three man crew. My other two teammates Sarah Sturm and Magen Long were great. They were dominating life, and I on the other hand, had a rather rough day. We encouraged each other the whole way, and even though they encouraged me more throughout that horrid ride, we finished as a team, and came out in 7th place. I descend very well, but going back up is another story.
So, that's the wrap. We finished 4th overall as a team, which, was disappointing, but at the same time, we did what we could. Both men's and women's teams pulled out the best we could. It was a great weekend in Madison, with my family, and celebrating mother's day with my mom and grandmother, along with my birthday was great.
So as we all depart, with school finished, and collegiate cycling done, I have embarked on my own journey. I have made the move to Colorado Springs for the summer where I am training on the track. I've got big dreams and big goals, and I believe that the moment I decided to make this move, I finally started them. I can finally say, that as of today, May 21, 2010, I finally found myself a place to live, and I'm still looking for a part time job, but I've already got on the track this week, and I've never felt more at home. I'm excited to spend the summer on the track, which I was first introduced to by Rick Crawford in September of 2008.
I plan to race the Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic, as part of the Minnesota Bicycle Festival in June, and also the National Qualifiers to hopefully race at Elite Nationals in September. This is a new journey for me, one that I've never experienced before, and I couldn't be more excited.
US Women's Development Program
Follow the program's young female cyclists as they embark on their journey to the top of the pro ranks
The US Women's Cycling Development program was founded by former pro rider, Michael Engleman, as a way to help promising young women cyclists reach their full potential as athletes.
The dedicated and well spoken women of this program provide thoughtful, compelling and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of their experiences in this diary. For further reading about the program, visit the USWCDP website.