Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I've got a huge cross hangover!

The cross season is over and as I sit at home this morning I finally have time to reflect on what's happened. After breaking my leg/ankle last cross season the spring and summer was spent rebuilding my leg and working to regain fitness. Working with my coach, Adam Mills from Source Endurance we came up with a plan to slowly build up to cross season. There were plenty of doubts but by late summer there were signs that the rebuilding process was working.

After a few races on the road to test the legs I rolled into cross season with no clue as to what would happen. To say that I was a little nervous going to the 1st cross race of the season was a understatement. Would the leg/ankle/knee hold up? What happens if I fall? Those questions were answered in warm up for the 1st race where, as ususal, I crashed. No damage done and I was good to go. That 1st race was a challenge after being off the bike for so long but it proved that I was ready.

The season rolled on with good results and fun trips. Trek CXC Cup was a highlight as we were racing at could be considered our home course right at the Trek headquarters(no pressure there;).

The biggest trip was the Cinci3/Derby City Cup/Jingle Cross trifecta. We raced 3 consecutive weekends with 8 days of racing between the three. Cinci3 was crazy with large, mixed fields. Starting buried in the start grid was a new experience for me and it was pretty fun. Every day I had no idea how I placed in my category until they posted results. Derby City Cup was awesome as usual, course design is second to none there. Jingle Cross was crazy, Friday nights race/party was wild and the with course changes every day the racing was great.
After Jingle Cross I took a few weeks to just train and then drove up to Des Moines for the Iowa State Championships. The race was going pretty well until a late race crash injured my knee. I got up and finished but the swelling started immediately after the race. A few days rest and it was time to test the knee out at the Missouri State Championships. The knee was working OK so it was time to train for the final push for the end of the season.

The Christmas week races here in Kansas City are pretty low key but are still good prep for Nationals. It was even better for me as the Elite race was at 2:30, the same time as my race at Nationals. Doing the elite race helped me fine tune my body to race later in the day as opposed to racing the earlier Masters race. Crashing in all 3 races and hurting my good knee didn't help the confidence but I could tell I was fit.

All the preparation was done and it was time for Cross Nationals in Austin, TX. All the excitement to race in warn weather was immediately crushed by the extended forecast of  rain and cold. When we arrived at the course we found a pretty balanced course but one that favored my style of riding.     Pre-riding the course was going well until I crashed on a hot lap. I hit a bermed corner fast only to have the berm blow out slamming me to the ground head first. Arriving back at the truck looking a little stunned and with a broken helmet and shifter had the guys a little worried. The headache faded pretty quickly and SRAM took my bike and replaced the shifter so it was all good.

Race day came and after riding the course it was a waiting game till race time. It's kind of funny that I climbed into the sprinter, cranked up the heater, and dozed off for a while before I started warming up. It didn't take long to get into race mode once I started warming up and I was ready to go.

The plan for the race was to start in the top 5, but half way to the first turn I was sitting 3 wheel and felt the leaders slow down. Rather than chance getting swarmed I took the lead. To my surprise I had a small gap over the rest of the field by pit 1 so I hit the gas. After 2 laps the lead was up to 30 sec or so when I crashed bending the derailleur hanger and pushing the shifter in. I was up quick and carefully rode to the pit to change bikes. A perfect exchange from Mark and MattO had me on my way and the rest of the race was smooth but hardly mistake free. I'm not one back off the pace until the end but by the last lap  I was still riding my pace but making sure I made it to the finish.

I really can't describe the feeling of winning a National Championship. I had confidence that I could do it before the race, but after the race it's really hard to believe that it actually happened. By far the best part was getting back to van and calling Nancy to tell her I won! I've replayed the race a million times in my head and while it wasn't the perfect race it was pretty close. There are a few things that really stand out from that day.

The number of people cheering me on was astounding! Everywhere on the course people were cheering me on and for that I will be eternally grateful.

The TREK family is the best and our support is second to none. From the CXC crew, the factory guys, and MattO, John from Trek Factory Racing, and of course Mark and Katie. We all race but there is all ways somebody there to help from the start line, to the pits, and at the finish.

The traveling circus that follows the cyclocross circuit across the country is family. I know people from all over the county and even though we don't see each other for 7 months, when cross season rolls around we are one again. Thanks for the cheers and encouragement.

I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to three guys that make it possible to do what I do. Matt Shriver and Mark Savery handle so many details that I would miss just to get to the races. I would not of won without your support, Adam Mills from Source Endurance has been my coach for a number of years and knows me well. He had a year long plan to bring me to Nationals in peak form. To say the plan worked would be an understatement. Thanks guys!

A huge that Thank you to my sponsors, Trek, Sram, Bontager, Honey Stinger and Oakley.

So that's a wrap on the cross season, I can't wait for August when we start it all over again!

***Photo Credits: I've got none except Nikki Cyp from one2go. If you see one of your pictures, thank you , it's awesome. Let me know and I can slip a credit in there!