My schedule has been anything but normal since I returned from Europe in late September. Rather than starting my off-season the minute I stepped off the plane like most of my teammates, I headed down to Fort Hood for the Texas State Road Race. It was great to come home and race and see all the friends that have watched me develop into the rider I am today. Some seemed surprised to see me make the trip to Fort Hood to race. But my response is, racing is racing, weather there are 10 people in your race or 100. When there are 10 you just have to play the game a little different! And come on, when they put $1000 for the win of a hilly 100k road race and a prime at the top of one of the hills for $250, how could I be in town and not come race.
It was an exciting race on many levels. To win a race is difficult no matter what the level of competition and with the small fields, I like to think of it as starting the race already in the breakaway. With my short recovery time returning from Europe Wednesday evening to racing Saturday afternoon I was not feeling my best. Around 70k in I started to cramp. My original plan of attacking over and over in the last 20k until I was solo had to be set aside. Now I had to focus on getting to the finish line in a position to win. I was nervous coming into the finish knowing I was bringing two other strong women to line with me one I had raced many time, Mandy Heintz, and the other I was seeing for the first time, Meredith Bunkers. Like many of you know the worst thing about cramping is you never know when it will start or end again. For the last 20k I had focused on every pedal stroke trying to reduce the stress on the muscles that were cramping all while trying keep my competitors from realizing the pain I was in. As we came into the last mile of the race I was third wheel. It was right where I wanted to be. With about one kilometer to go Meredith began to pick up the pace and at about 500 meters, Meredith kicked again. This was perfect; the pace was high and it was way too far for Meredith to hold it all the way. I dropped off of Mandy’s wheel a bit, and as soon as Meredith began to fade, I jumped. It was still 200m to go but I had timed my acceleration just right. There is no magic number of when to jump for the win, you just feel it.
Once I was done with the state road race I would have started my off-season but I had the incredible opportunity to head to Colorado Springs and spend two week at the Olympic Training Center and train at the Velodrome for the team pursuit. To be continued….