U23 National Road Race Championships

It is beyond imagination what we as cyclists have gone through to even make it to the starting line of this race. I slept in a rest stop with hobos knocking on my window for money throughout the night. I made meals in my back seat and drank water poured from random restroom sinks scattered around Augusta. And of course I have trained for six years and studied tactics to analyze and reanalyze how to win.

But yesterday I conversed with a compassionate mother who watched her son who just had testicular cancer seven months ago, race hard in the criterium that I had just dropped out of.  That, is balls. And what is my excuse? Why is a guy who is my same age who just recovered from testicular cancer still in the race when I am not? I have no excuse. He deserves to be in there.

Today after getting shelled in the road race no even halfway through, I soft peddled with a rider with a similar story. He contracted pneumonia three months ago and was left with an extremely debilitating case of asthma. He said sometimes he can make it without it crippling him but if it hits, it comes on too hard to even function.

This was quite an amazing experience. So many people, including many of my competitors in Virginia count themselves out before they even try because they immortalize these guys so much. But what they do is not impossible. It is impressing, of course. I could not compete with them today. But they are not immortal. They train 15+ hours each week, week after week, year after year for where they have come.

Today I watched one of those fellows dreams destroyed. I was the last on to look him in the eyes before he was laying on the road, bloody and shaken, next to his broken bike. He ran into a pole on the first 15 mile loop. He was on my left when it happened. I heard him shout a profanity and before he could even grab his brakes, he was colliding with the pole. His front wheel turned sideways. I looked over to see him looking me in the eyes. It was an eerie sensation to know in that moment the massive amount of pain he was about to experience. Next I saw his rear wheel in the air. And then his bike and his body collided on my side and threatened to take me down too. I slipped to the right and narrowly escaped the same fate.

But it wouldn’t be but half an hour later when I escaped another close call. In the dead center of the 160 man field, another rider went down. I heard the metal scraping the ground and the sound of carbon fiber snapping, a sound no cyclist ever wants to hear. Then ahead of me I saw riders rear wheels slipping all over the road as the grabbed their brakes and split to both sides of the road. I did the same and ended up ten feet in the grass. As soon as I pulled back onto the road I saw Alex Weiler from University of Maryland had barely made it out of the mess as well.

The jumpy nerves continued for the rest of my time in the race, I guess due to the high profile of the race. Some of these riders this is their last race as U23. They don’t go to school, they don’t have a back-up plan.  They need this. This is their future. And for many of them, if not most of them, their dreams are about to be destroyed.

I am doing a similar thing with triathlon. That is my passion. I want that to be my future. But as I learned is a key to successful bike racing, always be hesitant to put all your eggs in one basket. So I’ll keep studying at Virginia Tech until that professional license comes in the mail. For now I’ll race as an amateur and enjoy watching the pros do their thing and kick my butt. But it’s not over. As I’ve got two races as a cat 2 now in the bag, I’ll be back next year with more experience. And maybe then I can have some more fun. With over half the field with DNF’s in both races, I can’t be too disappointed.

One thought on “U23 National Road Race Championships”

  1. On a google search I stumbled on the following small cached part of a posting

    December 8, 2011 « The Gardengcobb1990.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/december-8-2011/Cached

    Dec 12, 2011 – Ross Ashley came from Radford. He traveled here, to my campus, to my home, … Last year, Officer Deriek Crouse pulled me over on Alumni Mall. … David along with his girlfriend Heidi, both students of Virginia Tech, …

    That posting now seems to be gone. I’m curious to hear what you had to say regarding the matter as I have been probing regarding motive since the unfortunate murder.



    James Pollock
    Bulldog Investigations

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