I will remember the 2011 collegiate road season forever

What a whirlwind of a week. The day after stressfully completing my final exams of my freshman year at Marian University in Indianapolis, I packed up my gear and boarded our team bus and headed to Madison, Wisconsin. I had competed in two previous Collegiate National Championships earlier in my first year of college, so I had some idea of what to expect. However, track and cyclocross nationals seemed to be very different experience. The level of pressure and stress involved did not reach the anxiety I was now feeling.

I was extremely nervous going into Collegiate Road Nationals for many reasons. I wanted to perform well for my team and myself. I was excited and anxious to have the opportunity to help my team defend the title won in 2010 - the Overall Team Omnium. It is an accomplishment to win a National Championship. It is an even great accomplishment to defend that title. Riding into this Championship weekend - that was definitely our goal!

Collegiate Nationals is a very special and unique event that involves much more than the actual racing. It is a time spent with your teammates and work towards a common goal. It is a time for making new friendships and renewing old ones. It is a time of emotions, which one can share with the team members who share the same feelings. It is the cumulation of a season of all weather racing, travel, wins, losses, happy moments, and sad moments. Nowhere else in the cycling world would one be able to experience both men and women working together to achieve one goal, and to be so unbelievably supportive of each other. The Marian University's Men and Women's Cycling teams are both extremely strong and play equal roles in the success of the team.

Day One

Collegiate Road Race

Blue Mounds, WI. The course was very selective and vigorous. Each member of our team raced as best as they could. As a team, we rode out of the day in third place overall. What a great start! Individually, I finished in fifth place, leaving myself in a decent spot for the overall individual omnium.

Day Two

Collegiate Team Time Trial

Trek Factory, Waterloo, WI. I was very nervous and excited for the TTT. Both our men and women's team had practiced together many times throughout the season. We were aiming to defend both TTT national titles from 2010.We were able to accomplish that goal! Marian University finished the day in second place overall in the team standings. I felt so amazingly proud to be a part of our women's TTT and of the women I rode with. It was such a great feeling to put forth such a great effort and share it with my teammates, my friends.

Day Three

Collegiate Crit Championship

When I awoke it was in a flurry of nerves and determination. The women's race had an early 9:15 am start. Marian had four strong women entered. We had a very specific plan for this race. Prime points were on the line, which counted toward the individual and team omnium points. We wanted to race aggressively and get the prime points. Going into the crit, Marian was six points behind Lees- McRae College, so the six prime point laps were very important. As a team, we did a great job at going for and earning the points. Once the point opportunities were over, we were focused on the win. My teammates did a wonderful job of sticking to the plan and setting me up for the win. I felt even more pressure to deliver for them since they had worked so hard to make the race. I raced the last laps of the race wisely, put out a huge effort, and finished with the win! I cannot describe the feeling I felt after I crossed the line; elation and admiration for my teammates, exhaustion and relief. Our men's team held up their end and also came out with a win in the crit!

Added to my excitement was my national championship in the Women's Individual Omnium! To top off my individual titles, Marian University had successfully defended the D1 National Championship title! We were all so proud and relieved to have had all of our hard work and effort pay off.

I am so proud and grateful to be a part of Collegiate Cycling. I know the experiences I gain from being involved will have a huge impact on my life. I will remember the 2011 collegiate road season forever.

Up next is Snake Alley with my other team Peanut Butter & Co.TWENTY12 my best friend and teammate Coryn Rivera will join me.

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The Exergy/Twenty 12 riders will be contributing on a regular basis to Cyclingnews, although content will have a team emphasis, its my hope to create a hub for women cyclists fun stories, informative articles, health and wellness tips and the occasional peloton gossip column.

The Exergy/Twenty12 team: Kaitlin Antonneau, Kristin Armstrong, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, Jackie Crowell, Andrea Dvorak, Cari Higgins, Kristin McGrath, Greta Neimanas, Jessica Phillips, Coryn Rivera, Lauren Tamayo, Alison Tetrick Starnes and Tayler Wiles. International riders include Canadians Rhae Christie Shaw and Heather Logan-Sprenger along with Switzerland's Pascale Schnider.