VALLEY OF THE SUN
INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL, ROAD RACE, CRITERIUM - REPEAT.
Real talk: Last season was hard - plain and simple. I hadn’t really struggled my way through a season since I began riding professionally - apart from being homesick while living and racing in Europe for half of the season in 2017, but still managed to “find success” on the road. 2018 was a different story - I spent some of the off season on the track at the USOTC in Colorado Springs, CO. as well as a few weeks in Poland and Belarus. It was an opportunity that I feared I would regret not taking if I allowed it to pass. Everything was different. From my training regiment (SPECIFICALLY THE BASE MILES I NEEDED) to the views outside of my bedroom window, everything was different. At the time, I was “living” (out of my suitcase) and training in Birmingham when life “happened.” Carson had an appendicitis that ruptured and spread an infection in his abdomen which resulted in a scary 10 day stint in the hospital. I stayed every night in the hospital room - I’m sure you can imagine how well my training went over these days and the few days after. We got engaged, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer and passed away only five weeks later, we did the wedding planning thing, got married, and I “officially” moved to Birmingham. All while trying to keep it together just enough to make it through the season. Once everything was said and done, I shut down and didn’t want to talk to anyone or be around anyone. I was 100% exhausted- mentally, physically, emotionally. This slump lasted well into the following off-season, I didn’t even enjoy my morning prayer, coffee, and journaling. Honestly, I thought about not racing again - I applied to several jobs but in the back of my head I hoped none of them would work out and I could still race. there was a little hope for racing, but not much. It was just one of those years, you know? Full of so many wonderful changes and so many not so wonderful changes. I wouldn’t change the struggles I faced and the direction I took in the winter training months leading into that chaotic season. I've experienced more connection and growth as a result. Here I am, still alive, still thriving, still learning, and blessed - just a little bit stronger going into this season full steam ahead.
Valley of the sun race report
Day 1 - I finished first in the time trial! (a HUGE boost of confidence for myself) Friday morning I chose to believe in myself, maintain the same pre-race routine, and really focus on the moment. I honestly prayed my way through that entire time trial. “Win” or “lose”, my faith never fails the battles I face. I knew I had a pretty decent time because my body felt the shock that it should after an extremely hard effort, not to mention, the TT was 14 miles and is one of the longest of the season. Woo Hoo! We stacked the results that day. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, & 18. So proud of the girls.
Day 2 - Road race day was very interesting. A break took off right away and no doubt about it I had teammates in there (Erica and Sophia) without hesitation. Heading towards the finish line on lap 2 of 4, there was a huge crash! I couldn’t believe it, I found myself at the bottom of the bunch along with two other teammates. Thankfully everyone was ok. I got up, checked my bike (routine) and fixed a few issues, and got back on and looked up to see three teammates waiting for me at the base of the climb, phew! The rest of peloton, those still standing after the crash, neutralized until I could get back in. As me and my teammates made our way back to the group, there was slight miscommunication - “She’s back!” someone yelled from the peloton. Immediately, the race was back on and attacks went off the front. The peloton took off and I was left standing in the feed zone getting a wheel change! (haha you can’t make this stuff up.) Jen Luebke and Emma Grant took the charge in getting me back to the field. I sat on for a few mins and timed the distance between us and the peloton and literally said, “oh boy,” thinking that it as going to take something fierce to bring back that peloton… Especially since they made the right-hand turn on to the long tailwind straight. “90 seconds, ok.” Is what I murmured to myself. Thinking about how big the gap was and how quickly it was growing, I decided to take turns pulling with Jen and Emma. Man, they worked so hard to bring us back. As I look back, I’m not sure that failure ever crossed my mind, our morale was high, and we worked well together. We caught back on going into the last lap - yeah, we chased for a while - roughly 10 miles! It came down to a group sprint and you better believe we had a presents on that podium! Jasmin finished 2nd , Sophia 3rd, and Simone 5th. Thanks to the hard work of my teammates, I was able to finish in the group and keep the leaders jersey.
Day 3 - On the final day of racing we took off! At this point, our goals were to maintain the race while keeping me safe. If you’ve never experienced crit racing, just picture it as the NASCAR of cycling, it is fast. Holy smokes, 40mins of pure pain and intensity. I saw my teammates at the front of the race making our presence known and keeping things under control. The effort is so inspiring to see, especially since we have a few new riders (Melanie & Simone) who want to learn and grow. We finished 4th (Melanie) and 5th (Shayna).
We had an amazing first race together. I am so proud and so excited to race again with the girls. We have a good group and we all get along very well - I am super encouraged as I look onward.
A big thanks to Adrianne, our mechanic (phew, you rock!), Mari and Nicola, as well as our hosts (especially mine - Paul and Kathy!). It’s going to be a good year.