It's close enough to the end of the year for my yearly recap. The 2008 season was somewhat disappointing for me- fourth place really sucks if you didn't already know- and there were a lot of outside stresses to be dealt with, but it is what it is. I had to get over that. While being fourth is an awful feeling, it's also a great motivator. It was the fire I needed to get rolling stronger than ever into the 2009 season.
I was totally fried after the 2008 season and took about 5 weeks off. It was really nice, but when January rolled around the year started in earnest. Craig and Randy Wilbur got me in the lab for work doing high intensity intervals to prepare for the pursuit.
After hitting a plateau on the track in 2008, I was dedicated 100% to the endeavor; the gap between Sarah from Great Britain and I would start closing. Then we got the terrific news that Worlds would be split, meaning two separate qualification processes. It was April at this point, which meant shifting from fifth to reverse to get back into some sort of road shape for trials.
The plan? Superweek. Matt Bigos and I loaded up the car and drove to Chicago to race our legs off. Our schedule consisted of 11 races in 14 days, and ended up requiring 140 some hours in the car and over 8000 miles of driving. This might sound like misery to some of you, but it made for the best summer I've ever had. Shockingly Matt and I didn't try to kill each other, and after the racing I was able to "cat up" or move up to the next level of racing.
From there we drove back across the country for road nationals/trials. Time trialing doesn't necessarily come easily to me, but I've been able to get some decent results in the event. This year though, I was a little nervous going into trials mainly because of all the track work I'd done.
The course was in the middle of nowhere USA- Bend, OR. It was one of the simplest courses you could design- an out and back, uphill then downhill course. Climbing hasn't ever been a strength of mine, which only made my nerves worse. I convinced myself that the criterium racing I'd just done at Superweek would help me get up the hill faster. I was a little off standard but rode much better than at track trials. Go figure. My silver streak continued.
It's August now, and road worlds is fast approaching. Italy in September? Not a bad deal if you ask me. Having the team here to train with was really great. This year it seemed like the team was especially cohesive- as a training group and a group of friends. The week in Italy was awesome.
Traveling for racing is much different than traveling for pleasure. These are all business trips; no sight seeing, or souvenir shops, we don't leave the hotel except for rides and racing. I'm a terrible card player (Clark and Ali can attest to that) but we played almost every night. Clark and I had an epic game of War where I won on a triple war victory. That is the highlight of my card-playing career. The highlight of the racing came in the time trial. For some reason, Americans and time trialing go well together. Everyone finished top-10, we picked up a few jerseys and a bunch of medals. Again, the silver streak continued, and I finished second to Sarah.
I was absolutely stoked with my ride. I made it all the way to the 1k banner when she caught me. I absolutely imploded on the last climb, and she was able to put a ton of time into me there. The last 1000 meters we were as together as you can ride in a TT, and crossed the finish 1 second apart. Despite being caught, it was the fastest I'd ever gone in a TT.
The saying "No rest for the weary" comes to mind in regards to prep for track worlds. We had a few days to recover from the racing and travel, then jumped head first into track training. A good portion of the team was here in Colorado Springs to train on the track which was different than flying solo in training. It was fun!
Having a group of teammates here totally changed how I train... for the better. Having a cohesive group really benefits everyone involved, and it showed. We had three camps to get ready for worlds. Craig warned us that we'd want to quit, and give up, and wonder why we even ride bikes. He was right. The first LA camp was deathly, but I (and everyone else) came out stronger and more focused than ever. Compared to the camps, racing was the easy part.
"Manchester in November" is not nearly as appealing as "Italy in September" but it's what we got. Cold, rainy, gloomy; it seemed as though the atmosphere itself sucked the tan off my skin. Ten days in Manchester undid ten months in the sun baking my skin to a fine, dark beige. I digress. The racing went as well as I'd hoped. The schedule was a bit different with the pursuit before the sprint. It was phenomenal for me.
Again, it was Sarah and I racing against each other. I knew she'd catch me, it was just a matter of when, and trying to hold her off as long as possible. I started off well, had a good start, was ahead of schedule but felt really good, then I looked at the lap counter. Nine laps to go. Out of twelve. Are you kidding me?! It felt like I'd been riding circles for eternity already and I wasn't even 1/3 of the way through. I was able to pull it together mentally and refocus on the effort. I finished up just a touch off schedule but with a new personal best. And it meant that I'd get to ride again vs. Sarah in the final that afternoon.
I had a new personal best in the 500, too, which was nice. We packed up in the romantic lighting of the Holiday Inn parking lot after dark, ate our last meal at the hotel, then went out to enjoy at least a little bit of Manchester. We found a cool little club in the city where we danced for an hour and a half straight! Let me tell you, dancing is exhausting Maybe when people aren't of the Caucasian persuasion, it's easier. Jerking around the dance floor so it resembles an epileptic's seizure isn't really dancing either. I'll just stick to riding bikes.
I experienced quite a bit of success this year and for that I'm blessed. However, some of my favorite memories from the season have nothing to do with personal achievement.
Clark and Dave winning the pursuit, a cross country adventure, and dancing like fools in Manchester, and seeing the success of teammates are all at the top of the list.
New friendships were made and others were strengthened, I was able to spend a good amount of time with my family. This season would have been impossible without the generosity of everyone who's supported me in my endeavors.
My coach Craig who, in four short years, made me the athlete I am, my teammates, friends, family, and sponsors for their unwavering support in my journey over the years. You guys are the best of the best and make it all possible. I owe any and all success I have to you guys. I hope to build off the successful season and carry this momentum into 2010.