Monday, June 25, 2012

Gold in Augusta

A National Time Trial Champion. I am a bit speechless.  I am overcome with so much excitement, motivation and focus for this accomplishment and for punching my ticket, automatically qualifying for the 2012 Junior Road World Championships in Limburg, Holland.  

This victory was monumental for me!  Twice, I have fallen short from the top step and twice, I had to go home with a silver medal, rethinking the entire race about what I could have done differently to make up only a few seconds.  

Since last year, after getting second place, I have been thinking about how badly I wanted to win.  Not only to get a national title on the road, but to see how God can use me in the cycling world as a leader.  

This year started off by getting the opportunity to race the women's Tour of New Zealand with the US Women's National Team.  I raced alongside Olympic gold Time Trial Champion, Kristin Armstrong as well as Evelyn Stevens, the US Elite National Time Trial Champion.  I observed how they raced and what they did leading in to the time trial.  I saw how in tuned they were to every minute detail of the course.  

Next, I got to race as the youngest rider in the inaugural Exergy Tour.  "Wow! That was amazing", I thought to myself as I finished the final stage.   I got to practice my time trial skills there where I finished 49th out of the 94 starters of the time trial stage and thanks to the amazing media coverage on the Tour Tracker, I got to watch myself time trial on video.  

I pin pointed everything during my race.  My form, my position, and my pedal stroke, I wanted to perfect everything.  I  even watched how I crashed on the turn around by coming in to the wet U-turn too fast and how I can be more careful and not take so much risk next time while at the same time, not losing time by being overly cautious.

The Exergy tour was amazing prep for my National Championship race due to the similar course profile and length of the course.  I knew I had to be on top form that race.  After the racing was over, I met up with Amber Neben at the post race party.  She told me a lot about time trialing and like Evie and Kristin, I heard very similar things.

I was steadfast to listening to these time trial champions.  Like a sponge, I absorbed everything they told me and apply as much as I could to my own time trial performances.  

Two weeks before the national championships, I was very nervous about what I was about to do.  I knew I had to win.  I couldn't sleep very well because I kept thinking about the race and the possibility of winning!  I visualized myself in the race.  I visualized myself winning the race.  I saw myself ride across the finish line and having the face of leaving everything out on the road.

When the day finally came, I exploded off the start ramp, gave it my all and not missing a single beat.  I focused on nothing but my breath and the course ahead of me.  I had done possibly everything I could to have the best performance and race of my life.  I gave the rest up to God to let Him decide.  I crossed the finish line with noodle legs and I came in with the new fastest time.  For a couple minutes, I sat in the hot seat, literally, being in Augusta, until all my competitors finished. 

When my director told me I won, I was overcome with emotions.  When I found out how much I won by; I was almost in tears.

I was so happy.  I had a lot of people watching me race; my whole family, my team mates, the coach from the college I will be attending in the fall, my director, and more.  When they all came to the tent to congratulate me, I just couldn't believe it.  All the hard work I put in finally paid off!

Now I am shifting my focus for the Road World Championships in September.  Last year I got 14th place in the time trial just under one minute off from the winning time and I was very shocked to even achieve that!  This year, I have developed so much.  I have international races under my belt and more to come! Who says I couldn't get in the top 5 this year or even get on the podium?  I am ready.  I am excited to take this victory and add more to it.  I am honored to represent junior women's cycling, and being a future champion in professional cycling. 

Many thanks to all the friends, family and sponsors who have helped me get to this point in just the beginning of my career.  All the cheers and fast wishes go a long way.  And to all the professional women racers who might be reading this, your advice and words of wisdom that you give to me and other young riders are like treasure to us.  Please continue to mentor, thank you!

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