When I step back to think about the fact that I have won 72 US National titles in my career, I recall memories at my very first National Championship in 2004 in Park City, Utah. I was 11 years old, racing age 12. I had just started racing with a licence that year after winning the Redlands Classic kids race for the second year in a row. My family and I were traveling all over Southern California racing almost every weekend chasing the local races. My first year racing US Nationals in Park City I won the ITT and road race and got 2nd in the criterium, it was my goal the next year to win the criterium and improve on my silver medal. In 2005, I went up an age group to 13-14 and accomplished my goal of winning the criterium and also defended my ITT title but then flipped the events and placed 2nd in the road race. I went on in 2006 to continue to improve and challenge myself and win all 3 road titles in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.
It turned into a summer family affair, travelling in the motorhome that my younger sister and I had enjoyed since we were babies visiting National Parks like Yosemite and Mount Rushmore. From taking the jet-skis out to Castaic, Perris, or Elsinore Lake in the summers to snowboarding Mammoth, Snowbird, or Big Bear in the winters using our family motorhome multiple times a year was a normal activity for the Rivera family to have fun and enjoy the outdoors together. When racing came into the fold, it also became a norm to travel together to the different national championships around the country chasing the title one jersey at a time.
I then got into racing track and cyclo-cross as we learned more about the different disciplines of cycling. My first track nationals was on my home velodrome, The Velo Sports Center, in Carson, CA. It was 2004 when the LA Velodrome was just finished being built and I remember the junior National Championships was the first event to be held there. One of my favourite memories was getting an extra piece of Siberian Pine that was used to build the track – I still have it to this day. The family and I traveled to different velodromes around America like Trexlertown and Colorado Springs to continue going after track national titles in the summers.
Cyclo-cross nationals for this Southern California girl was a bit more challenging. All through the SoCal cyclo-cross season was dry and dusty racing and would be rare to get a muddy race in before Nationals. I enjoyed the different aspects of 'cross pushing my boundaries with the aggressive starts, technical sections, speed, and running over barriers and steep run-ups. My first cyclo-cross nationals was in Providence, Rhode Island in 2005 it was my first experience with snow. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I remember breaking my chain and not having a spare bike in the pit and running with my bike in one hand and my chain in the other. I was bummed out to travel all the way to the other end of the country and not be able to even finish the race or let alone feel my hands. I said I would be back and get the jersey. Cyclo-cross Nationals was back in Providence in 2006 and the conditions weren't as bad as the year before, but still had the challenge of mud and slick corners and I was excited and proud to get the stars and stripes on my shoulders after my heart-breaking first try. We went on to travel all over the country like Kansas City, MO and Bend, Oregon for the rest of my junior career going after cyclocross national titles.
I'm not even sure if this is correct, but I believe I ended my junior career with 32 US National titles. Also earning spots to start junior Road and Track Worlds when I was 17 in Moscow, Russia and when I was 18 in Italy. My first year at junior worlds was an eye-opener realizing the level of international junior racing was really high and even though I was one of the best juniors in the country, I still had room for improvement. I worked hard, graduated high school a semester early and had the opportunity to race in Europe more and finished off my junior worlds career with a bronze medal in the road race and the track omnium in Italy. I had some of my favourite junior worlds memories there going after these podium spots with an awesome group of junior girls that are also still in the WorldTour-cycling world today like Kendall Ryan, Ruth Winder, and Kaitie Antonneau (neé Keough).
The count for stars-and-stripes jerseys continued when I was racing collegiately for Marian University. I owe the fun environment of collegiate racing for more than doubling my national title count after juniors! I raced road, track, cyclo-cross, and MTB for Marian while studying business marketing. I remember one year in Banner Elk, North Carolina when I was lining up with Kate Courtney who was racing for Stanford and wondering to myself what the heck I was doing. I was happy to end my collegiate racing career with a short track MTB National title in Snowshoe, West Virginia in 2015 which was my 71st US National title. I remember travelling all over the country with Coach Dean Peterson and the rest of the Knights in our charter bus we dubbed 'The Death Star'. It was no Rivera family motorhome, but we still had plenty of friendships made helping each other for races and memories trying to study on the bus. And for the record, it was the time in my life when I ate the most peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
Then onto my illustrious 72nd US National title. I had been going after this one for a long time. I placed 2nd in the elite women's road race for three years in a row, slowly getting closer year after year. 2015 I lost in a sprint in a small group after a heavy day of racing in Chattanooga. 2016 was another tough day in Winston Salem losing in a reduced bunch sprint as well. 2017 was my first year on a European WorldTour team [Sunweb] and my first time racing pro nationals solo and won the field sprint for second, after a solo victory in Knoxville.
And finally, in 2018, the stars were aligned and luck was on my side. I had an awesome teammate in Ruth Winder and we organized an amazing and fun group of 'staff' but I would call them more as family in the feed zone and in the caravan car.
It was my most sought-after national jersey.
I will definitely regard it as one of the national jerseys that I worked so hard to get on my shoulders and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time representing the stars-and-stripes in Europe this year. But similar to all my other titles, like my first 2nd place in the criterium in Park City, I kept hustling to continue to improve and continue to do better. And whether I can defend it or not this year again in Knoxville, I will always go for more and give it my best and head home with memories I will keep with me forever like every National Championship event I have attended.
Coryn Rivera is a professional cyclist racing in her third season for Team Sunweb, and in her second season blogging for Cyclingnews. She was born and raised in Orange County, California, and entered her first bike race at the Redlands Bicycle Classic kids race, which is one of the marque early-season events in the US for all categories, including the pros.
Rivera had a break-out season in her first year with Team Sunweb in 2017, winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio, Tour of Flanders, Prudential RideLondon Classique, and the team time trial at the World Championships. She may have had a slower start to the 2018 season, but by the time the summer rolled around, Rivera was back in winning form.
She won a stage at the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, the overall title at OVO Energy Women’s Tour, and ended up securing her first elite stars-and-stripes jersey in the road race at the USPro Championships.
Follow her blog to learn more about an American racing overseas, sprinting and the all-round aggressive racing style that has secured Rivera some of the most prestigious victories in bike racing.