Joy McCulloch of the KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo cycling team has landed on the podium the 4th year in a row at the CA/NV Time Trial Championship. She checked in with us after a smoking fast 2nd place finish at the 40K time trial on her preparation, focus, and execution for the event.
This season has been anything but predictable for me. Since the day after Christmas, I have landed on the asphalt more times than my previous 5 years of racing combined. With added aches, pains, and mental barriers, the focus of racing – and racing for a win – has been extremely daunting as the season opened up. Having raced consistently on the mountain bike or road since 2004, my inner mojo was also asking for a respite, a day at the beach, and a relaxed Sunday with friends. However, as we all know, the draw and the desire to compete is something that just can’t be snuffed out that easily.
With the help of my husband Brian, Coach Paul, and KHS teammates, I rallied and had a fantastic time racing at Chico and Valley of The Sun, amped for what the local March Madness of Stage Racing would bring. As the crashing and sickness unfolded for me, I began to lose hope in any salvation of a podium. Sneaking in with this lull in belief was a nagging sensation that I was losing my friendship with my bike. These feelings manifested themselves right as I was super cracked from racing and battling one epic head/chest cold, create the worst time trial performance of my life at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. It was embarrassing! Thank goodness the criterium was the next day, where my moral was instantly jumpstarted and refueled on the fast and technical course. But those performance seem to root deeper in the psyche than anything positive I ever do.
As I let March “Badness” sink in, I had to battle to not allow it to take hold and derail future fulfillments and accomplishments, and especially my enjoyment of the bicycle. Finally, 3 weeks out from the Time Trial Championships, I committed. I chose to be focused instead of wayward. I chose to embrace the process instead of harp on the missed opportunities. I decided to hunker down and follow the lead of my coach instead of bucking at every watt and interval. I committed to doing it.
In the end, I did not win. But as with any race or competition, the story the results paper tells is only a snap-shot of the reality. For me, this was a huge victory. I was able to channel the feelings of a broken season into one intense and full-gas time trial, committed to having the best performance possible. For me. With the absence of a peloton racing for a finish, the time trial allows me to focus all my energy and reserve into pedaling and executing to the best of my ability on the course and in the conditions. Not having to play cat and mouse or wait for someone else to attack, the time trial has become a favorite event of mine as it allows me to free my brain and just “GO”!
As the race unfolded, powerhouse Esther Walker started 30 seconds behind me and caught me – before the first turn! With my reignited hunger to do my best, I hunkered down and edged the power up, ever so slightly. We would continue to pass and repass each other several times through out the race, and even began the headwind section riding neck and neck beside each other. We would make one epic team time trial duo! I know I was in the hole but I had such a strong confidence in my short stint preparing, that I blindly dug deeper, finding more watts to throw into the wind. Rounding the 3rd turn, I lunged out of the saddle, attacking with every fiber I had left in my screaming legs, just so I could gain back 1, maybe 2, seconds on the competition. I had gained a good number of meters back on Esther, but I knew that finding a full 30 seconds back would be a tall ask of my redlined body.
As I crossed the line, barreling down the country road thanks to the stiff tailwind, I knew I had performed the best time trial I could ever imagine. Win, lose, it didn’t matter. I had achieved so much beyond a victory. When it was all said and done, I took a minute off my 2015 TT and 30 seconds off of my 2014 championship victory, finishing a handful of seconds behind Esther.
When Brian asked me how I did, I shrugged and said “the best I could.” Finally, I had a deep calm knowing it was a job well done and that I had wrangled the monster inside, if only for 52:41 minutes. I had succeeded and for that, I am very proud.
Thank you to everyone who helped me prepare for the event, and this Sunday, I get to toe the line for the CA/NV Criterium Championship race. I am pumped!
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, Infinit Nutrition, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, 4iiii, Big Wheel Coaching, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
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The post Embracing the Process: Joy McCulloch 2nd at Time Trial Championship appeared first on KHS MAXXIS JL VELO Cycling Race Team 2015.