Collegiate Nationals 2012

7 May

Well, I’m over 10,000 ft in the air, and the captain said it was safe to use my laptop now. I’m flying home from Utah after a great weekend of racing at Collegiate Nationals.

This year’s Collegiate Nationals went well for Team Florida (UF). Neal Shepherd and I flew out to Ogden, UT after our final exams Friday afternoon. We got in a bit late, but we got to sleep in, since the Division 1 crit was in the afternoon on the following day.  The D1 crit was 75 minutes and was full throttle the whole time, but we held our positions well.  We went with a few moves, but nothing stuck and the race ended up coming down to a field sprint.  Neal made a gutsy move with two laps to go to move into the top fifteen or so positions. He held his position throughout the last lap and finished a solid sixteenth. This is a good result for Neal’s freshman season with the team.

Sunday was the day of the D1 road race. This was the event that I had been looking forward to all season, mainly because the race finished with a beyond category climb. The drive to the road race was a bit hectic. At first, the main road to the race parking was closed and the other way around the mountains was the race course. We ended up behind the women’s race on the final climb and followed the race caravan to the finish. To have some fun on the climb, we put the rental Exlorer in “cactus mode” and drove part of the climb with half the wheels on the dirt just to, in the words of Victor, “do some truck stuff.”

Cactus Mode

We made it to the race on time after  taking an interesting detour around the canyon, because the road that lead directly to the start was closed. Neal again got the call up in the road race, because of his SECCC omnium success. The race started out more animated than expected, and a break of ten riders got up the road in the first ten miles of the race. At the beginning of the second lap, a chase group of eight got up the road. Neal and I missed both of these moves, but they were only holding a two minute gap on us in the filed.  We went with a few chase groups, but nothing stuck until I got away with three other riders in the second chase  group on the final lap. We eventually crossed the gap to the first chase group, and then a few riders and I bridged to the lead group. Our group of about twelve at the time began the climb and eventually the group whittled down to two riders and me. The first rider from Colorado went over the climb twenty seconds ahead of me and the other rider went over just ten seconds ahead. Due to the strong tailwind, none of us were able to gain on one the others and we finished in the same order as we crested the climb. This was a great result for me and the team.

D1 Mens Collegiate Nationals Podium

Back in the field, Neal was looking to make up spots on the climb. Unfortunately, half way up it his crank arm came loose, which made his bike unrideable.  Neal actually ran for a mile or two until he got serviced and his cranks were tightened. This setback took him out of contention, but being a trooper he still finished the race. We had great showings at both races this year, and I was able to land a spot on the podium. I’m glad we were able to represent Team Florida, the University of Florida, and all of our sponsors so well. Big thanks to Team Athletix benefiting Globalbike and Clementine Bikes for providing me with a great bike to race this season, and to Boyd Cycling for the tubular 58’s that got me through the flat circuits and over the final climb.

I’m looking forward to some time at home with my family now that the semester has finished. I then plan to head up to stay and train with Bobby Sweeting in Asheville. This should be great training leading up to Elite Nationals and the remainder of the NRC calendar.

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