Last Monday I wrote a recap of my go at the Nationals Road Race, which was held the day before on Sunday. I promise you it was the best post race recap I had ever written. The 'magic' of the internet means that it completely vanished as soon as I hit publish and it will never be seen again. As much as I stayed up late that night trying to recreate the best piece of writing I had made since I was in school (really, not that great anyways) it just wasn't happening. Now it's one week later and the TT and Crit are both in the books, as well as I drove clear across the country from Ottawa to Vancouver in 3 days.
I had started the road race last weekend knowing that I wasn't destined to do well. This wasn't pessimism. Accepting that you're sick (thanks Tour de Beauce, motorpacing wasn't the only thing I got from you) isn't an easy thing to do, and while I was getting better faster than my teammate Kyle I was still definitely not 100%. It turns out most people going to Nationals that plan on doing well, or winning, are bringing 100%. That's okay. Starting a race knowing that you're unlikely to make it completely through a race lets you race without any pressure on your shoulders.
No pressure meant I basically said 'Fuck It' and went for broke. My legs felt much better than I had expected they would, so naturally I thought attacking 5km in to a 180km race was a good idea. Matteo Dal-Cin seemed to think it was a good time to go anyways, making us the first two clear, joined quickly after by five others who made short work of putting a minute into the disorganized, chasing pack.
I had to take stock of what was happening here. Two years ago during my first and so far only attempt at Nationals I had bridged up to the breakaway, spending three short minutes with the break before being popped over top the steep climb of that year's circuit. Missing last years race because of my broken collarbone meant I've been thinking about improving on those three minutes for the last two years. The situation unfolding around me had the right players to have a breakaway that could stay for quite a long time. Matteo (winner of Redlands this year) and Rob Britton (2015 winner of Gila) driving the breakaway combined with a good mix of the teams with numbers was the insurance I needed on making improvements from my last go.
About 20-30 mins into the break though I'd realized how quickly my lungs would fall behind the work my legs were doing. I would have to start skipping pulls, unable to recover before my turn, when i hit the front I was just slowing the break down which was the last thing I wanted to do. Some of the break believed me when I told them I was sick, some forced me to pull through anyways, either way the writing was all over the wall for me. I was dropped 50km after just over an hour of racing. My legs were so far ahead of my chest that when I was picked up by the chase I'd be dropped from that as well after 90km and my Nationals were over in a coughing fit and more snot thrown across my bike than I thought I was able to produce.
Immediately after pulling out of bike races I would usually hate my life temporarily. Strangely pulling out of this target race I actually felt pretty good about it. Well, physically I felt like a complete turd, but I had made the right choice in the first few KMs of racing. Sure enough I was a partial instigator of the move that would stay away until the end (though bridged by a few select guys, totaling 10 at one point) and I'd like to think that I could have made it with those guys, or at least been one of the only 18 men's racers to finish Nationals this year. Truthfully the most disappointing thing was hearing that Matteo, Ben Perry (Matteo's Silber teammate who had bridged up) and Will Routely (Rally Cycling, also bridged) had crashed in the final corner, the final sprint would be a lone Bruno Langlois who avoiding going down behind those three. Not that Bruno is undeserving of his win, I just would have liked to see everyone duke out to the line.
Of course. 50km in the break, struggling to make it to 90km meant I was probably (definitely) in worse health after the race than when I had started. So two days later at the Time Trial I almost didn't start. Posting a better result than my 2014 attempt while sick was nice, only being passed by the TT behemoth that is Svein Tuft (he started one minute behind me) was also nice. My parents being in town and actually doing a race with them around was nice. But I can't help thinking I made the wrong choice in starting while still trying to kick a cold. I'd been working on TT efforts, with a sweet bike to ride this year. All the nice things though, it was a course that doesn't really suit me and I could have used the recovery before the Crit the following evening. Sure enough my lungs hadn't cleared for the Crit yet, I would be dropped on a technical circuit, and watch Silber destroy from the sidelines with my folks. I was pretty stoked before my race though, watching TRT's Womens Squad control the race and send Kinley Gibson up the road where she dusted her breakaway partner in the final sprint bringing home a sweet special edition shirt.
I hitched a ride back across the country with Giant Langley/Smart Savvy, the team who took me in for Beauce. I was grateful for the chance to save 300$ on a return flight, it's also sort of cool to say that I spent Canada day in five different Provinces (though, I slept the entire way through Manitoba, literally not even knowing we had left Ontario until waking up in Regina). It was truthfully my first time going through the prairies (Banff doesn't count, it's not flat, Saskatchewan however is really REALLY flat) and it's interesting to see just what happens (along the highway at least) in the middle part of the country.
I'm still less than 24 hours at home, glad to be resting with Ginger but still waiting from Erin to come back from West Side Invite in San Diego where her and a friend already went 2nd & 3rd for the women in the Out of Towner Race. It will be a short week of relaxing though, BC's biggest week of racing starts on Friday, followed quickly by Cascade which I am pretty excited for this year. I just need to let the last bit of cold clear from my system and race confidently, remembering the one thing I should be taking from Nationals: that I can be in the important part of the race, I just have to remember to say 'Fuck It' and go for broke.
And speaking of going for broke. You might have already seen it on Instagram (sorry, you're going to see it a lot over the next two weeks) but I made another shirt design I have up for presale. The presale ends on July 24th so you need to order one before printing to get one! Just click right here! I'd also be really grateful if you'd share the links/photos with anyone you think would be interested in one! The internet is a big place!