Here is the race report according to Mark. I think his version is much more coherent than mine... I was too busy taking out spectators, course tape, my bike and myself all weekend. No, it did not go as planned. Yes, I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive husband.
Cross Nats review from the coach/husband point of view...
WARNING...THIS IS LONG!!!
This was a rough weekend...for many reasons. I knew we had Kym's fitness where it needed to be to reach her goals. Those were the podium in her Master's race and Top 20 in the Elite race. She has been racing strong all fall, and continually getting stronger. When we arrived in Bend, the temps were in the negatives in the morning, with mid-afternoon temps only getting to just above freezing. This was creating a problem. That was the snow was just melting enough to refreeze into ice by the following morning. This was not only going to be a handling course, but probably one of luck as you just couldn't tell where the ice was or where it was melted. The first day saw so many crashes it was crazy. One guy got a compound fracture of his tib/fib and I know some of those pics made the Internet. Because of that, the race promoters changed the course to try and take out some of the more dangerous areas.
By Friday, the course had melted a LITTLE bit by the women's race, but it was still a course that, in most spots, only had one true line on it. This became problematic because the fields this year were huge. That in itself wasn't SO bad, except USAC decided to run multiple age groups at the same time. In the 40+ fields, which there was 4 or 5 of them, they separated the fields out by 5-10 second starts. In the 30+, there were just two fields, and they separated them out by 30 seconds. In both cases, you had people integrating with other age group fields almost immediately in a race that was determining the National Champions. This was/is totally unacceptable as you now have people you aren't racing against possibly determining the outcome of your race. Not a big deal in your typical weekend races, but this was the National Championships. In Kym's race, for instance, the crash she had that put her chain and rear derailleur into the spokes was caused because she was forced to take a bad line to pass a slower rider walking up a hill that Kym had been riding. That rider was from the younger age group and Kym hit a patch of ice trying to make that pass. If that choice had been made because that girl was someone she was actually racing against, then that is fair game...it would have still sucked, but that happens. However, to have to pass someone walking up a hill in the only rideable line there is, and then crashing because you are forced into an ice patch is unacceptable when that rider wasn't even in your own race. This was common for the entire day. I have already had conversations with USAC officials while we were there and I believe they are going to try and add an additional day next year to fix this problem. Kudos to them for trying to address it going forward. I heard from one official they had literally hundreds of complaints on Thursday and Friday due to the mixed fields. This was made worse by the fact the course was just too short, time-wise. The master's women were turning 7 minute laps, with some of them faster than that. People were getting lapped within the third lap of the race. Chaos does not come close to the chaos that was out there.
By yesterday morning, the course had started to thaw out. That was both good and bad. It was good because on a lot of the course, the ice was gone, replaced by mud and water. The bad was you couldn't tell by looking at a section you were coming into which it was. The temps at 11:00 when the Elite women went off were around 34 degrees.
The women lined up over a 100 racers in their field...Kym was called up 23rd, I think. Third row regardless. Good call up. At the start she drilled it and came out of the first corner sitting 27th. That was a perfect position since anyone after about the top 30 was off their bike running the first big corner because they were so stacked up. I was doing pit duty again, so I only had a limited view of the course. Since it was a double pit, Kym would come past me twice each lap. By the time she came past the pit the next time on the lap, she had moved up to 25th and was in a group of about 14 girls and looking great. As she went out to the other side of the course I could only wait and hope. She was still holding strong the new few laps, moving up in the group. Then she came through and was back around 30th. I looked at her and the bike and she seemed ok, so I was perplexed and worried as to why she had slid back. Come to find out, she had slid out on an icy, off-camber patch that was claiming lots of riders at the front and the back of the field. She had lost about 10 places, but had fought her way back when she went past me.
With 2 laps to go, she suddenly didn't come through where she should have been....25,26,27,30,32,32,33..40, oh crap, where is she? She came through in 49th and I screamed at her if she was ok. She said no that she was hurt. Gulp...husband's worse nightmare to hear that in the pits. Especially knowing how high a pain threshold Kym has. She will race in extreme pain, regardless of how it may actually be hurting her physically, because she doesn't give up....EVER. This is one of the things I truly LOVE about my wife, but it scares me to death sometimes. She will put her well-being aside in order to finish or win a race.
Anyway, so she goes past, I can't see blood, but I can tell she is pedaling a bit erratic. When I get to the finish line, she about collapses in my arms and can't stand up. A definite tear moment...ouch...I don't do those so well. She had crashed, really hard, in that same, stupid off-camber section. Hard enough that she didn't move for a minute or so and spectators were trying to help her off the course. She had hit her hip and knee hard. Hard enough that she would have been justified in going to first aid and calling it a day. In fact, that was recommended to her. Again, she is hard headed and doesn't give up. She got back on her bike and dug deep for the last two laps, in spite of the fact her knee had now swollen to twice it's normal size. She told me it was the National Championships and she wasn't about to quit. She finished 41st.
So...not quite the weekend we had hoped or planned for, but her knee and hip have stabilized and it appears to be a soft tissue injury. She will recover. And she wasn't the only one who crashed hard this past weekend...there were lots of them. It's something that is out of a coach or non-racer's control when that person is out racing. You can't plan for it, and you just have to pick yourself up and try to keep going. That's all you can hope for. The same thing happened to Jeremy Powers in the Elite Men's race. He was off the front, looking incredible and it was his race to lose. He did just that...in the very exact spot Kym crashed. He hit the deck and was down for a bit. That took him all the way back to the high-30's or low-40's. He was able to fight back to the podium, I believe, but it happens. Sometimes, in order to be a champion, you have to be aggressive and take risks. That's what makes one a champion. You'll never be great sitting back and hoping for the best....you have to make your own luck in a race. When it works out, you're the hero....when it doesn't...well...it sucks, but at least you tried and gave it your best. That's all a coach can ever expect/want...and its the standard I get from my wife day in and day out...
And that's the look back on the weekend....I am happy we came out here and it was a great experience, minus the crashing part. We'll be back here next year for sure!! It is an experience you just can't describe well enough unless you experience it.
Kym and I both did presentations for USA Cycling and we got to see friends while out here. It was a super trip, but I'm ready to be back in TN.