All smiles after the race!!
Well, I did it. I raced for the US Natinal team at the World Cup Finals. It was everything I could have imagined and more. I felt like a rock star all weekend. But I guess I should start at the beginning...
Anina after the big race.
This week was one of the biggest in my life. Tuesday I started graduate school; I am pursuing a masters degree in sport psychology. It is part of my plan to continue to expand my professional career working with athletes. I am extemely excited. Wednesday Mark and I got in the car and drove to Windham, NY where I was racing the World Cup Finals and part of the US National Team. This was a "once in my lifetime" type experience. Wow, talk about a busy, exciting and stressful week!!
Kym and Anina showing off the Swiftwick socks before the big race.
We arrived in Windham (after much studying of stastics) to perfect weather. It had rained a lot earlier in the week but we were treated to a weekend of sunny skies and 70 degree temperatures. The trails were a bit slippery but not too muddy. Perfect! Just tthe way I like it.
Catherine is all nerves before her race.
Anina and Catherine were also racing in NY, Anina with me in the WC Finals and Catherine in the amature race. Anina's rockin' performance at the South Africa National Championships earned her a start position for the World Cup so I had a friendly face in the field. It was also nice to have a teammate to pre-ride with.
Catherine showing off her medal.
Saturday morning it was showtime. I was so excited!! I was lining up against the best in the world. Because I had no World Cup ranking and very few UCI points I was lining up at the back. Actually as far back as I could get. I was called up LAST. Okay, nowhere to go but up, right!!?? Anina was in the row in front of me and she had a great start. I was not quite so lucky. We got to the first single track section and suddenly there were 70 women all looking for the same peice of trail. When you are at the back of that group you might as well sit down and have a sandwich while you wait to try and get onto the trail. Although it was frustrating running, pushing, fighting and clawing my way back into the race, it was a thrill too! I learned that next time I will be much more agressive early on. You lose so much time early in the race in those type of situations, minimizing that is key. After the start, a few elbows and mishaps early on, and a strong pace I finished 57th. Higher than where I started and I gave it my all. I rode strong and technically well; it was not as fast as I was earlier in the season, but I only had 2.5 weeks to prepare for the race; I am pleased with my performance with what I had to work with. Anina rode strong and fast, she finished 56th. Sunday morning Catherine lined up against a strong field of Cat 1 women and tore it up. She rode strong and finished 2nd. It was the perfect end to the perfect race weekend.
Catherine takes second!!!
I cannot describe the awesomeness of the weekend and what it is like to wear the national team kit at a World Cup race in your own country. The fans were incredible. I have never been more happy about my chosen path in life. All the years of cold rides, miserable races and suffering were worth that one moment. I want to do it again!!!
This season has been the best of my cycling career. I have accomplished more than I ever thought I could. I would never have been able to do it without the love and support of my husband, my family and my friends. And of course all the incredible sponsors we have!!! A huge thanks to everyone.