Prinner Report: Junior World Championship Trial

Hey guys!
This is the rider report you’ve all been waiting for…drum roll…Junior World Championship Trials!!!  This was perhaps one of the most important races of my career as a junior racer, and I had my sights trained on it all winter.  I think this event is what kept me half-sane during all those lonely, gut-wrenching computrainer workouts at the bike shop.  As long as I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and a purpose for all those workouts, I didn’t feel like all that effort was for nothing.  My #1 incentive happened to be located in Nashville, Tennessee this year.  Believe it or not, my goal had nothing to do with square dancing or cowboy boots, but instead a time trial and a road race within the country/western capital of the U.S. 
                After an 8 hour drive from Chicago to Tennessee, I was feeling surprisingly unfatigued (haha, that’s not a word).  I think it may just be my love for travelling, and the excitement of being in a new place I have never been before.  Whatever the case may be, I was psyched for a shot at qualifying for Junior Cycling World Championships, which will be held in Moscow, Russia, from August 7-9.  The winner of the road race and the TT automatically qualify for the event they won, and the rest of the Junior National Team is decided by nominations. 
Saturday I arrived at the first event of the Soto Classic; a grueling 6.2 mile TT along a well-known road called the Natchez-Trace.  Now I must mention the quality of Nashville’s roads, seeing as though I am a cyclist and pavement is my workplace.   Most of you can imagine the roads around Chicago;  some are so bad, you begin to wonder whether or not the government hired a squad of chimpanzees to lay the road, and a blind elephant to patch up the pot-holes.   Sometimes I feel as though a 20 mile ride ends up being one or two miles longer with all the swerving I do.  Nashville, on the contrary, has some of the smoothest roads I have ever experienced, like roads that have never been touched by a cars wheels.  I could ride for miles along the Natchez-Trace and not spot one flaw on the perfect asphalt.  In fact, it’s almost a little bit creepy, like I accidentally rode myself into the Twilight Zone without realizing it.
But I digress—I could go on for days talking about pavement, but I don’t like to bore my audience with details, especially those non-riders out there who right now are going, “IT’S JUST PAVEMENT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!”  They wouldn’t understand.
So anyway, I spent a good hour preparing and warming up for my time trial, riding over the course again (checking one last time to be sure there weren’t any pot-holes) and talking to my ABD buddy Jenny Busch.  As it so happened, Jenny had spent numerous summers doing research in Nashville, Tennessee, and knew the place so well she could scout out the nearest Mom-N-Pop Country-Fried Biscuits-N-Gravy Pancake House with a blindfold on.   I think all Southerners just have a built-in radar for these restaurants.  Northerners, on the other hand, are more likely to flee when they see such places.  In any case, given the closeness of the racecourse to Jenny’s home, she decided to drop by and support me in my endeavors.  I find that supportiveness and friendliness tend to be natural traits of ABD team members, almost like it’s inborn.  And if it’s not, then we are quick to convert those sinners. 
I felt that it was to my advantage that the course was 10K (6.2 miles) because that also happens to be the distance of a certain indoor event we all know quite well.  Since I’d been doing the indoor TTs for four or five years (see, I’ve even lost count), I already had a good idea of what type of effort I could do for that particular distance.  From the time the clock started running I visualized myself once again on one of those awful computrainers, and tried to block out all the nerves that could possibly cramp my style.  I knew focus was the key—every ounce of my attention was trained on the effort at hand, losing sight and letting up for one moment could cost seconds.  I was flying; I made sure to spin out in my junior gears in the downhill and max out my watts on the uphills, judging to be around 270-300 watts as I would have done on a computrainer.  After the midway point I felt even faster as I estimated that my gap was closing to my minute-man, and I passed one girl several minutes ahead of me just before crossing the finish line.  It wasn’t until much later that I finally saw my time.  At first I was appalled to see I had made 2nd place with a time of 16:20 right behind 1st place Coryn Rivera, but then even more shocked when I saw I had lost first place by one second.  It’s always the most painful when the gap to a victory is just marginal, but seeing as though it was the closest I have ever gotten to Coryn’s time, I felt some degree of satisfaction. 
After making several trips to the hot tub the night before, I arrived at the road race the next day feeling fresher than I had expected.  The race was to take place over a grueling hilly 55-mile course accompanied by a scorching sun.  Within the last two miles was a monster of a hill that had to be over 10%, and the terrain seemed to just keep going up and up and up.  If Hideaway Hill is Dr. Jekyll, then this hill must have been Mr. Hyde. 
Well anyway, the race began with about 12 girls and nothing really happened for the first several miles of the race.  We rolled along as if we were on a nice Sunday group ride, looking around at each other to see who would make the first move.  Coryn Rivera attacked first on a sharp downhill, and as soon as the group rolled up on her, Kendall Ryan counterattacked.  Since it was only the first few miles of the race, everyone sat up, not bothering to put in an effort to chase.  Her gap continued to increase steadily as the miles wore on, but no one wanted to cooperate in catching her.  We finally hit the first major hill of the race, and the group immediately split, leaving five of us off the front with Kendall still ahead.  I wasn’t surprised at who made the cut; Kaitie Antonneau, Jackie Kurth, Anna Young, Coryn Rivera, and me.  All four I had expected to end up with at some point in the race.  For a moment or two, we attempted a chase, but it was short lived seeing as though nobody really wanted to take the chance of pulling their competitors and then being attacked.  Both Coryn and Kaitie attacked several times, and eventually Coryn and I managed to gap the other riders with roughly 20 miles to go.  We worked together to try to catch Kendall, but by that time she was so far ahead that our efforts really got us nowhere. 
With just two miles to go, we hit the final hill, and Coryn and I tried numerous slow-motion attacks (seeing as though we were only hitting about 10 mph at most).  It ended up coming down to a sprint, where Coryn outsprinted me for second, and I took third.  I’m glad nobody took any pictures of that finish because I’m sure I looked like a mess with salt stains all over and gel caked to my bike.  My coach, Mike Farrell, had told me to eat 4-6 gels during the race.  The result was not pretty, especially during the latter part of the race when a considerable amount of gel ended up on my hood/brake lever/fork/cables, etc. 
After the race Jenny Busch took my family and I on a tour of downtown Nashville.  Believe it or not, girls actually dress like Taylor Swift, complete with cowboy boots.  I ate chicken fried chicken, and to my surprise, it was delicious.  Unlike Chicago, downtown Nashville had hardly any traffic, and didn’t purposefully try to run any pedestrian/cyclists over, unlike Chicago where we suddenly become moving targets.
Despite all the fun I had over the weekend, it wouldn’t have been made possible without Jenny Busch’s and my parent’s assistance, Rob Jungle’s wheels, and the support of ABD.  Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope to make the National Team.
Is there anyone on the team who knows Russian?
Thanks for reading,

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