Sunday, September 22, 2013

Collegiate Track Nationals

My first nationals (and hopefully not the last) with Lindenwood has come and gone. It was my first big trip with the team and also was a chance to see some old friends both from the Midwest Conference as well as from schools outside our conference. There were highs and lows for the entire team but I could not be more amazed by my teammates.

We had a lot of riders who were new to track racing participating in many of the timed and team events. Some of the performances that particularly stand out include Cameron making the podium in the 4km individual pursuit even though this was his second weekend on a track bike and he has never done a 4km. On top of that another teammate would join him on the podium with absolutely no Marian representation, a rarity for the week that would see them repeat as DI Track Champions (a well deserved victory).

We had two BMX cyclists with us to do the sprint events and hearing them talk about being spun out on gears that I can't even imagine trying to spin was pretty crazy. Brittany and Maddie brought a different skill level to the group and it was fun to watch them race super fast.

Other performances that stick out of the many incredible efforts by my teammates included Yesica making top ten in the match sprints, as well as an omnium appearance by Freter after wrecking in both the mass start events. Monk, Devin and Freter worked really well together in the mass start races and watching them was almost more exciting than racing.

Overall though what stood out to me is how much the team worked together. For as little track experience and time together as we have had no one really knew what to expect going into the week. It was not easy, especially with some unfortunate incidents like the wrecks and officiating calls, but the amount of support that our team had for each other was incredible to see, and something I had never really experienced before.

For myself I went in not entirely sure how it would go. Elevation, even that of Colorado Springs, has never treated me well and I am still relatively new to track, as well as racing when compared to many of my teammates. The first night of qualifiers for the points race did not go well for a multitude of reasons and so I went into the next day's 3km pursuit with something to prove to myself. I am not sure how, considering this was only the third time I have done an individual pursuit but I managed to drop 17 seconds off of my personal best and finished 18th with a time of 4:19.207. It was probably the personal highlight of my trip out there and mentally set me up for the remainder of nationals.

In the end Lindenwood would take 3rd place on the team omnium results. I have never had the opportunity to stand on a podium at nationals, and I would not have been there if it wasn't for my teammates and for that I am grateful.

Looking forward I will not be taking much of an offseason this year. I plan to do the remaining three mountain bike weekends of the collegiate season, and then jump right into the collegiate and regular cyclocross seasons. My main priority however is still training and getting ready for the road season as that is where my long term goals are focused right now. I will get a bit of a mental break the next couple weeks with the MTB races which I am doing just for fun but then it will be back to the grind. However, I can safely say that moving to Lindenwood, while at times stressful and a bit lonely due to living off campus, was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself this past summer.