Saturday, August 16, 2008

Junior Nationals

Joey had a great Nationals, but I thought I'd let him tell you about it:

Tuesday, Aug. 5
After the long drive down on Monday we spent the night at my uncle’s house in Irvine, and I had time to put together my odd aero setup so I could have it ready for test-riding the TT course. We arrived at the hotel in time to meet up with the other Swifties and get ready for the ride. The TT course started out on a mostly flat bike path for a mile. Then we got on the main road and started the three-mile climb. The climb was not steep but it was long enough to hurt and there was no shade!!!! After that it was all downhill until the turnaround. Then it was as hard as you can go the last kilometer up to the finish! After checking out the 11k course that Stanley and I would do, we rode the rest of the 18k course, did a few pyramids, and rode back. We spent the rest of the day driving to the host hotel to register, chilling, and taking naps. Before we went to bed we had a team meeting to discuss the upcoming race!

Wednesday, Aug. 6
National Championship Time Trial
Result: 20th place, 1:33 behind the winner.

On the morning of the time trial we didn’t have to get up that early. Stanley and I had very late start times so we went for a morning ride to loosen up. After that we got to hang around until almost one thirty in the afternoon, and then I rode over to the course with my Dad. The warm-up parking lot was wide open without any shade, so Stephen Gerber had run over to WalMart to buy the team a tent for warmup. After doing my pyramids I made my way down to the start and got in line behind the guy who would be starting in front of me.
On the course, I quickly got myself up to speed and tried to hold a steady fast pace. After almost a mile on the bike path my legs were feeling good and I had finally caught sight of the guy in front of me. I didn’t make up that much ground on him until I started the climb. Then he visibly slowed down and I caught him in no time. The hill was longer than I remembered and by the time I got to the top I had passed another guy, too. After that it was all downhill until the turnaround, which coincidentally was also the 1K to go mark! Upon seeing the final “K” sign I went for it as hard as I could go! After crossing the line I did roll-out and waited around for results. I thought I might have done pretty well because I passed two guys and wasn’t passed by anyone. When results finally showed up I was in 20th place, but just 1:33 behind the leader, John Funk, and five seconds in front of Marcus Smith, the guy who I had only beaten three times before (one of which was Nationals TT two years ago!). Obviously there were lots of good guys in my age group. Two years ago, John Funk won and I was 2:20 behind him, but ended up in sixth, just six seconds off the podium. Team Swift in general had a good race. Stanley got an awesome fourth, Ryan got fifth, and Ashlyn got sixth!!!

Thursday, Aug. 7
National Championship Criterium
Result: 35th place, pack finish.

The day after the TT and the day of the crit, I had to get up a little bit early to give me time to warm up and still watch a bit of racing! Stanley’s race was first, so I got to watch him for a bit before I started to warm up.
The whistle blew and we were off! As soon as we went around the first turn it was clear to me that I would be very lucky to finish the race without crashing. Most of the guys in my field would slam on the brakes when starting a corner, even when the pack slowed a bit, but I managed to stay out of trouble and hold a good enough position to not get dropped. With one lap to go I had great position up at the front but on the second-to-last turn the guy in front of me totally slammed on the brakes. Not wanting to crash on the last lap I got out of his way, which meant out of the main pack, and by the time I had gotten back up to speed I was dangling on the back. On the final stretch I managed to catch up with some other Nor-Cal guys, Tyler Hanson and Chris LaBerge, who were also on the back, and I sprinted it out with them.
Immediately after my race Ashlyn started hers. We stuck around to see Ashlyn get sixth and Ryan finish a spectacular third!!!!

Friday, Aug. 8
National Championship Road Race
Result: 15th place, pack finish.

The schedule of the road race was very similar to the previous day of racing. Stanley went off first, then me, then Ashlyn etc. But this time I didn’t get to watch Stanley’s race while I warmed up.
I would be doing three laps of an odd course. The start/finish line was on top of a small hill. The race would start by going down one side of the hill, and finish going up the other side after circling around a high school for a while!
After being delayed for a while on the start line, the group got off to a slow start down the hill. But not for long. As soon as we hit the first small incline, the attacking started. The group had not even gone half a lap but still they were totally devoted to one thing: going as fast as possible! The attacks kept on going and finally a small three-man break managed to stay away for more than a lap. On the climb up to the finish on the second lap I found an opening and flew up the side of the pack to the front.But on the final lap the pack really turned up the gas to bring the break back, and I lost my good position in the tight chicanes through the high school. On the start of the last climb we managed to catch the group!
The field was going all out now, a couple of guys got overexcited and crashed, causing a small pile up. Then another guy went down right next to me, his bike went spinning through the air, coming within a foot of hitting my head, but I was able to hold my position. Two guys crashed towards the end of the race and during the sprint, some people who had given all their effort trying to stay with the group fell behind. I ended up sprinting it out with the remainder of my group, which was only about 14. I just managed to make it past all the stragglers in the last hundred meters! I ended up in a satisfying 15th, the last one in the leading group--but at least I was in the lead group! John Funk and Alexander Freund, who had finished 1-2 in the TT, separated by just one tenth of a second, finished 10th and 12th, so 15th was very satisfying.

Like the day before, we stuck around to see the other Swifties race. Ashlyn got on the podium in fifth with an awesome race. But then came the first race tragedy--Ryan crashed and broke his collarbone and was rushed off to the hospital! It was the fourth (or fifth?) broken collarbone of the season for Team Swift but one of the worst times to crash!! We really thought that Ryan was going to win the 15-16 RR.
After taking care of Ryan’s bike, Stanley, Greg, Ashlyn, Stephen, and I decided to celebrate the end of a good year by doing some high-speed go-karting, loving the fact of seeing how fast you could go with so little effort! The parents dominated but Stanley gave them a run for their money (he’d already had some experience of how fast you could really go around those tight corners).

Saturday and Sunday
The rest of our time in LA we spent watching other racing and chilling. We stayed long enough to see Tyler’s and Lindsay’s races, and to congratulate them on their second and eleventh places. After that it was time for us to start the long ride back to Nor-Cal!!!!



Joey Nygaard

No comments: