Well, I originally intended to do this earlier, but took me a bit to get around to it. Stop 2 was direct from Burlington, VT to sunny Salt Lake City, UT, followed by a nice drive to Ogden UT for the next stop on my tour, the USA Cycling Master's Road Racing National Championships. 3 days of stage racing and an early wake up had me feeling a bit groggy, but I did my best to sleep on the plane flight out knowing I had to race the Time Trial the following morning. I got into Ogden at a reasonable hour and found my way to the Air BnB house that one of my traveling companions (Stu Waring from the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team) booked for us outside of Ogden. The place was absolutely fantastic with plenty of space and beautiful views within close driving distance to both the TT and RR courses. In addition to Stu and his wife Christine, I was fortunate to have 2 teammates join me on the trip , Scott and Katy Giles, the cycling wonder couple both racing with me on the US Military Endurance Sports Team in addition to Matt Albanese Stu's teammate from ABRT and their friend Chris.
The risk with doing a crazy trip like this is staying healthy. I managed to keep my recovery and stress pretty in check, my preps were done and I hit the sack pretty early, so all was looking good until the early morning wakeup... Let's just say my "plumbing" started working a bit too well and too often. I clearly picked up some type of funk, but did my best to stay hydrated and try to keep some nutrition in me and put on a brave face for the TT the next morning. But, I just didn't have the spark on the day, and ended up a disappointing 15th. Both Scott and Katy did fantastic, each pulling down silver medals in their respective divisions! I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed as I had good form coming into the week, the course suited me, and when I am "on" I can throw down a good TT. But it was not to be and I wasn't at my best and wasn't able to put down a good performance. Such is the fickleness of sport.
I was still having issues the rest of the day healthwise, but got another good night's sleep and felt better the following day as we previewed the road race course. The course again suited me fairly well with a long descent at the start followed by several flat loops around a reservoir and then into a 7 mile finishing climb that was never terribly steep.
Scott and I are similar types of riders, we favor the break and riding hard and on form can match each other pretty well with him having an edge on the flats and me having an edge on the climbs. I had raced a few bigger master's races such as Gila, Cascade and prior Master's Nats in the past, so I knew some of the contenders, and they knew me and were likely not going to give me much leash, but Scott was a little less known... We devised a strategy to put him up the road early, like from the gun early, hopefully draw some guys out to go with him and then hope the in fighting in the field, or over confidence the break would come back on the climb, would let them get enough of a gap to make it stick. If not, I would sweep as best could on the climb.
Race morning I was feeling better and was motivated having a strong teammate with me. We set off, and the plan worked pretty much as we laid out. Scott made it off the front in the 1st K, hovered at 10 - 20 seconds solo for about 10 miles (much of it downhill) riding just hard enough to hopefully entice some bridgers. Sure enough, 2 strong guys bridged up, the field looked at each other, and they were gone. When the panic in the field started to set in, I played the good teammate and tagged on to dangerous counters and discouraged any organization as best I could. The field just kept cancelling each other out, and the gap grew. After awhile the group collectively knew that was "the move" and a bridge was going no where. After that point, enough teams kept the pace up to just let the gap hover and hope to pull it back on the climb. Our plan was working perfectly.
By the time we made it to the base of the finish climb, the break had 3 minutes and it was very possible it could stick. The field went pretty ballistic at the base, I dug as hard as I could but couldn't quite make it with the best climbers. In the meantime, Scott was just burying himself and it came down to seconds at the end with him holding the chasers off hanging on to take the win and the national champion's jersey in style! I cranked out the climb as best I could and ended up 13th, feeling better than Tues, but not at my best still. Kudos to Scott on an awesome job, was great to have a small part in it. Katy did fantastic as well pulling a bronze medal in the women's race.
Scott tells his side of the story from the winner's seat on Team Bike Doctor's blog. Great write up and he was very gracious in acknowledging a teammate on a day that was all him. As I told him, either one of those things, winning a race in a break wire to wire or winning a national championship, on its own is something you will never forget, but to do both together, wow. Just fantastic. Enjoy it Scott, you won that the hard way! Thanks again to Stu Waring for sharing their lodging with us and to USMES for the support in getting to the event. Also thanks to Katy and Christine for covering the feed zone for us. On to AZ and NV for the next stops on the tour.