Crossing the finish line first doesn’t just happen. The framework for success is laid much earlier and by people and instances that today, seem like a brief blip on the radar. These happenings were paramount in sewing the fabric together to create a win. The tapestry that is my Elite Criterium Championship win has been woven for years, beginning in junior high with family, coaches and teammates instilling work ethic and passion.
Leap-frog to 2014 where I am surrounded by an extremely supportive team at KHS-Maxxis pb JAKROO, how could I not be successful! Our team traveled to the quiet coastal hamlet of Lompoc Friday for 3 days of racing at the 805 Criterium Weekend. The events were staged as an Omnium so we could receive points for our finishing places. The queen stage would be held on Sunday at the Avenue of The Flowers Criterium, also the CA/NV Elite Criterium Championship.
Paul Abrahams, our team director and my coach, stresses every day that each opportunity we have to pin a number to our jersey and race, is our World Championships. Every time we toe the line, we should race with passion and commitment to win while seizing the opportunity for learning and development. I approached this past race weekend with the goals of representing our sponsors on the podiums, winning at least one of the criteriums, and continuing to develop as a savvy bike racer. As luck would have it, I won the race that awarded me a jersey and a title.
Luck: Opportunity Meets Preparation. I have never been one to hinge much on luck until I read the previous quote. From the sidelines it may look easy, but I have chosen to do extensive work and preparation while at the same time, giving myself the chance to see and capitalize on the opportunities for success the race presents to me.
Sunday I went into the race as I would any other event. Bantering with Brian, sending a few work emails over breakfast and last minute bike prep. Once at the race, I took some time to ride the course to watch and feel the wind while checking for weird pavement changes. This also gave me the opportunity to watch the finish of the 45+ Masters race as they came through the last left hand turn and see how they tackled the sprint. I have learned that my biggest allies are the elements and the course. The more I know about them before the race begins, the better off I will be.
Knowing the championship was on the line at the race and that I was a marked rider, I started the event more high-strung than usual. Brian and the boys were racing right after me and seeing their bright blue and yellow jerseys out of the corner of my eyes peppered around the course helped to calm me down. On a particularly windy portion of the course, Paul was standing next to the orange barrier giving me words of support. But all I could see was a talking head. Getting frustrated, I yelled at him “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!” At precisely the same moment he lifted up a white board with the word “WAIT”. Ugh – wait?! WHY! The race is going up the road, I’m 3rd wheel, not trusting the power in my legs to do their job. The next lap, a group of 5-6 threatening riders were up the road and I was clinching my teeth so hard I could have cracked a molar. Paul’s sign reads, in bubble letters, “GO TO THE BACK!” As any good 6 year old would, I yelled “NO!!!!!” If I could have stomped my feet and thrown my ice cream on the ground, I would have. But I knew he was right. I was having a huge inner battle, fighting my knee-jerk reaction to jump and weld and be in the move. Paul is teaching me patience and the importance of being crafty and very specific with my efforts. I knew he was right, and I to trust the plan. But man, it can be challenging – more difficult than any interval set I have ever done.