Monday, April 23, 2012

Good Ol' South

It was back to pro racing for me this weekend! My team mates Ashley James and Christina Gokey- Smith traveled to Anniston, Alabama to race Sunny King Criterium and road race.  We had a small team compared to the 6 rider Optum Cycling Team, so we had to be very smart about our tactics.  I stayed up at the front, anticipating early breaks and controlling the front.  About a quarter of the way through the race, Gokey got in to a promising break of sprinters, but no one wanted to work.  It came back, reshuffled and another break got away.  Unfortunately, none of us were in the move, so we were forced to chase.  After a long 20 minutes of the break staying away, we realized we were out numbered.  We were sprinting for 7th place.

It was hard to not be the 'winner' of the race, or even get on the podium.  With racing, you have good days and bad days, we just had a bad day.  It just comes to show how important a team is.  Everyone has a role and if you do not do your job, you will not win.  There may be only one person that crosses the finish line to win, but when it's your team mate winning, and you contributed, it's a win for the team and it feels amazing.  That was the most important lesson I learned racing this weekend, not only in Alabama, but the racing our team mates were doing in Northern California.

My team killed Sea Otter Classic this weekend.  Alison Powers won every single day of the 4 stage event.  It showed me that even though she won every stage, everyone on the team had a job to do to keep her in the yellow jersey! Olivia Dillon got 2nd on GC and they won the sprint jersey.  A job well done and deserved to the team out west.

There was a military tank at the race this weekend; we all got to go inside of it.  It was pretty cool and Gokey was tripping out!

Ashley and I decided to camp out in the Atlanta airport at the cell phone lot.  We thought Christina's flight got in at 10am when really, that's when it left Dallas.  We can provide self entertainment for a few hours.
One of the coolest things I experienced this weekend was meeting Jennifer Schuble.  She was racing in the women's field and I noticed she had world champion rainbows on her sleeve.  I asked her what she won and she said she has MS and has several world championships and world records on the track and road in the Para-Cycling.  It was so inspiring to me.  Here I am, racing for a team that raises awareness for MS and she was racing to prove her disease does not limit her to reaching her dreams.

We talked for a while after the race about life and I got a better understanding of how she feels about living with MS and being an athlete.  I wish we could have talked longer, but at least for those short 20 minutes or so, I finally got attached to the philosophy of our team on an emotional level.

Best part is, Jennifer will be racing Speed Week next week, which will be the same races I will be doing.  I'm sure we will have plenty more chances to chat.

Thanks for cheering me on!

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