Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I did it!! I competed and won my division at Nationals! The whole week was a crazy adventure, from getting classified to standing on the time trial podium at the end.
Day 1: Road Recon and Classification
My first adventure. I saw the course for the time trial (and half of the road race) today and HOLY HILLS BATMAN!!! I am terrified of steep hills and there were a few of them. I used my brakes even though I knew that in the race, I couldn’t touch them. But even with using these, I still flew down those hills!
My second adventure. As a para cyclist, the first thing that has to happen when competing is all athletes have to get classified. The athletes don’t have to get classified every year but they all have to go through this process once. My classification was in a big room with only a few people there. I was so nervous and I don’t even know what for! The results of the classification? I am officially a Women’s C2 Para Cyclist!!!
Day 2: Road Race
My third adventure. I woke up today feeling nervous but excited! I hadn’t raced many road races before this, so I was excited to see how this race was going to go. We had an almost seven mile loop that we were going to repeat. As soon as we started, I accepted the fact that I was not going to be able to keep pace with the paralympians and elites, but I was going to race as if I was! And oh man, did I race.
I hit my personal top speed on those scary downhills!! I rounded the bend and started up on the steady uphill. Three times I made that circle, getting faster and faster each time I sped down the downhill section. I hit a wall on my third and final uphill section so that was the time I had to dig deep and GO. I finished the course and had squeaked in a first place finish! I called Coach Laura (my Team MPI mentor) and said, “Hi Coach Laura, I just wanted you to know that I’m the Womens C2 National Champion. That is all. K bye…”
Day 3: Time Trial
My fourth and last adventure! This was it. The big one. The time trial. First of all, I never did a time trial before. I studied them so I knew exactly the speedy process that was about to take place. But I had never experienced it. Now I have. And I absolutely LOVE it! Seriously, time trials are my new official favorite. I may have something to do with the way I train, but there is something about just me, the clock, and the open road. It's where I rode best. We had the same stretch of major hills (let me rephrase that….the almost like mountain CLIFFS) and I finally took them on with NO brakes! Remember how I was terrified of hills? Well, now I love them!! (I’m still slightly terrified of them though.)
I zoomed through that first half of the course, whipped around the 90 degree turn, was a little slower than I would like to have been on the uphills but now we know what I need to improve on, and I really gave it my all. I know now what its like to give 100%...to the point where I couldn’t get off my bike by myself or even stand at the end. I loved racing my hardest and with everything I had! I called my coach again and said, “Hello. I am also the Women’s C2 Time Trial National Champion. That is all. K bye.”
Nationals is a big race, but EVERYONE was so supportive! At the beginning of the road race, I met one girl that was racing the C5 race and she encouraged me to stay as part of the group for as long as I could, and Jamie Whitmore let me draft off her so I could see what it was like. Billy Lister cheered me on as he passed me and had words of encouragement before each race. Jill, Steven, Jay, and a bunch of others from my team stayed after their race to cheer me on.
What I learned at this race can be imparted to everyone who needs some encouragement, a support system, or is generally nervous about a competition: everyone who is at a race is there to compete and win. But what I have found is that most people are so encouraging that you can’t help but be uplifted!!