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NCCA Collegiate Cycling Road Nationals @ KU

Date: 2006-05-13
By: Chris H

NCCA Road Nationals Lawrence, KS May 13-14, 2006

RESULTS Road Race: Sixty-something out of One-hundred something Criterium: ÖAbout the same

Ok, so it took 2 months for me to finally write a race report. Fittingly, itís after the most important collegiate road event in the country. Unfortunately, I donít have much experience writing theseÖso bear with me.

The flight out to Kansas City was exceptionally painless, thanks to the Grecu family and their generous loan of an awesome bike case. Mrs. Grecu had a look of horror when she saw the dent in my top tube, thinking that it was caused by the case. Iím not saying anything, but Stefan can expect a call from my lawyer in the next few daysÖ

The hotel had a pool in the lobby. This was itís only saving grace, since I was staying with Catie and Chris from Tufts University and Kate from Williams College. To sum up the experience, they absolutely trashed the room and (at times) made me lose faith in humanity at large. However, Chris is the man- and he was rocking a custom made sky-blue Indy Fab ti frameÖso hot right now.

On Friday I decided to go for a short ride with a rider from CUCS (Colorado Springs) who rides for Tri State Velo. Glen and I learned two things; (1) Kansas isnít flat, and (2) Kansas is damn windy. We rode for about 20 miles, and we were glad we experienced the unique riding environment before Saturdayís road race.

The road race featured a great course- rolling hills, wide roads, and (as promised) KILLER wind. The pavement on the back stretch was so smooth, my maximum speed was 46.5mph. I think most of the riders would agree that the race was unbelievably hard at times, and ridiculously easy at others. The call-up staging was awesome- I found myself sitting in the second row of over 100 individuals at the starting line. The first lap was incredible, I had no problem moving throughout the field and keeping pace. Then came the damÖ.a windy 2 kilometer stretch that instantaneously spread the field into a paceline. I had good position, so I wasnít too worried about the effort. The stretch ended on a gradual hill where the feed zone was located. I was quickly bombarded by riders trying to grab bottles, and found myself caught behind, sprinting back into the group. The effort put me in Ďthe redí, and was to be my last major effort of the day. The rollers after the start/finish had me dropped, in a chase group with about a quarter of the field. The rest of the ride was grueling, with riders dropping out at almost every mile. We werenít shielded from the wind anymore; so finishing became a thing of pride only. I didnít fly to Kansas to not finish. However, Kansas didnít make it easy. The marshals left their posts after the first lap, and there were no signs marking the turns. I got lost. However, I managed to follow the hundreds of tossed waterbottles to the finish. Thank god.

The banquet was fairly standard, except most people felt more like whining about the food and speeches. Jim Devlin from UPenn was the first to congratulate me on my $15 fine for my improper number placement. So, USA Cycling, Iíll pay the fine when you pay for road signs, deal?

Sundayís criterium featured an awesome 8 corner course, shaped like a squeezed hourglass. I knew from the moment I woke up that I had a limited amount of effort in my legs. However, I warmed up on the course and got ready to fight to stick in. The fight was short, as I was sprinting out of every corner to keep pace. However, I was glad to see the Tufts and Bucknell boys stick it in for excellent finishes. After taking over a week off because of my Ithaca injuries, I just didnít have the legs to hang with them. After crashing, Iím still a little freaked out about moving up in the field. Lesson learned: race infrequently and be prepared to take measured risks- otherwise, youíll continue racing meekly and make the same mistakes.

The entire experience was a blast, since most of the weekendís highlights were off the bike. Going out to dinner w/ the Penn team, eating crazy amounts of desserts at the banquet, and playing hours of ping-pong with Joe at the hotelÖwe had some fun. The race weekend was on par w/ an average ECCC weekend, with the exception of the pro-looking start-finish banner.

Joe spent most of the weekend hanging out w/ an official-looking badge donning him the ECCC Socialite. He got mad props for his scoring software he provided for the judges. He ate nothing but Jellybeans on Saturday. Heís probably going to Tufts next year, just to follow me up to BU.

So, to sum things up, here are a few bullet points of what Iíve learned:

  • 1. Getting to Nationals isnít mission impossible, so train hard
  • 2. Competition at Nationals isnít ungodly, but keep it in mind when training
  • 3. Leave on Sunday or early MondayÖfor the love of God!
  • 4. Donít sign up for the shuttle service- itís a waste of money and time
  • 5. Donít trash your hotel room, itís just not classy
  • 6. Donít give Joe your cameraÖpictures wonít be taken

Thatís all from me this year, everybody! I expect to see a FULL nationals team represented next year in Kansas. Make sure you race a few times over the summer; youíll be wise to use them as learning experiences for next season. Iíll be in Boston, and Iím only going to be stronger next year, so donít slack off if you intend on beating me!

Best, Chris

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