This is an event that sounded very enticing after hearing about it from countless people over the last year. From the crowds, $1000 primes, technical difficulty of the courses, to the overall stellar competition that frequents these races, I had been chewing on the possibility of attending someday. Well, that opportunity presented itself, and I jumped! After racing Tulsa Tough and The North Star Grand Prix, my travel plans were designed to have me return home to San Diego for two weeks in order to train for National Championships in Madison, WI. One thing led to another, with a confluence of events leading me to the idea that racing ToAD, only 90 miles from Madison, would be better training, less travel, and more importantly – great race experience. I am relatively new to this sport and the majority of my experience comes from road racing, ToAD would provide a tremendous opportunity to gain a wealth of experience with 11 days of racing. Ten of which are criteriums that last 90 minutes, around 6 to 8-turn circuits on city streets, with rough roads, manholes, etc. The focus here is on speed and technical prowess. This is where being physically fit only takes you halfway, with the other half residing in the importance of technical skill as well as courage (cojones)!
The events have been well-attended with some of the best competition in the US. As you all know, cyclists have a tendency to be able to retell in detail every microscopic detail of a race with all the nuisances that one should experience while racing. To save you the reader in this journey of inconsequential details, I will attempt to be a little more concise. Simply, the racing is HARD! To the competitor (me), this is great news. I want it to be hard. I want to be a little in over-my-head at times. I want to be pushed to my limits, for this is the only way I will continue to progress and reach the heights of what I am capable of. There have been times that I have been pushed near my physical limits, but I would say I have been pushed beyond my comfort level everyday with regards to courage and the limits of fear. Many times thus far I have put myself in situations that I have been truly uncomfortable, only to come out on the other side unscathed. As teammate Dave Santos has told me countless times, “If the guy in front of you make make the turn at that speed, so can you. Just do it”.
Thus far as I am writing this journal, we are in the 8th day of racing, seven of which I have competed. All but one day has been that of the criterium-style racing, and of those seven, six have been really technical. On the second day of racing in East troy, the course was 1K in length with six tight turns. We did 87 laps, in 90 minutes time, and you can trust me that at no point was this race boring. Every second the focus and intensity were palpable. If you do the math on this one, you will also see that it was wicked fast. An interesting discovery in how the racing changed when the best NCC team (United Health Care) attended both Saturday and Sunday’s NCC races. Interesting in that I expected the racing to be physically harder, but the opposite was the case. All of a sudden, the other teams that had been uber aggressive the previous days, now became quite a bit more tentative in their race tactics. This resultedin an overall slower race pace, making the technical-side all the more important. These races highlighted the importance of positioning and the battle for that position resulting in a dog fight among everyone behind the 6 man UHC squad. Frustrating to say the least, but lets not fool ourselves, UHC is on of the best and they are so for a reason. There is absolutely no ignorance in their tactics, for they know exactly what kind of chaos they are creating.
Beyond that, we raced the only road race yesterday in Elkhart Lake, WI at Road America which is the same track that Nascar competes on. In summary, a lot of fun, not very technical nor mountainous, yet very fast where we covered 70 miles in 2 hrs 19 minutes. I finished sadly where I have been most of the week, between 30 and 40th place. All of the races have had well over 100 competitors each day, and I have fought hard, but have yet to reap any of the rewards. The objectives for this trip are to: Learn, continue to fight, gain experience, enjoy, have fun, never quit, and expect both success and failure. Essentially, get better all the way around as a bike racer. Yet remember to enjoy “the ride”, for the ride is the best part of life. It is life…
A special thank you has to go to my Director Paul Abrahams for giving me this opportunity to become a better bike racer, by attending this event. Without the KHS-Maxxis pb JAKRRO team, I would not have the ability to receive all the compliments everyday on how great looking and bad ass our new bikes look. The one moment I get to be prideful! And but of course to all our sponsors who support this teams endeavors to achieve what many might deem impossible- THANK YOU.
You all allow for my core philosophy in life to be truly put to the test- “we are limitless, and nothing short of hard work, determination, perseverance, and passion can hold us back from achieving what at one time was only a dream”. Your continued support allows for the only limiter to be that of myself.
Four more days to go. Wish me luck! I am positive I am getting better, and the results will follow.