This years Nationals was at the Bear Creek Resort in Allentown, PA and I was really looking forward to race. I believed I had a good chance of winning because I had heard the course was very technical and rocky and that’s what I grew up doing. On Wednesday, the day before Nationals started USA Cycling decided to make a last minute change to remove the rocky technical sections. They claimed that it was too dangerous for the juniors, so they rerouted the course onto a ski slope and it finished on a downhill gravel road. As it would turn out it would claim me as a crash victim as I lost control in the loose gravel. But, without that crash I would have never learned so much about myself, things that would become permanently glued in my mind. That’s what I am going to tell you about!
At the start, I was in 3rd going into the first singletrack. Up until now, on this last lap, I was unable to advance my position. With only a mile and a half to go I committed to my maximum effort to catch the 2nd place racer. Nearing the top of the climb I caught a glimpse of him. . I dug deep and I was closing bit by bit. As the final descent down the gravel road came I was gaining huge chunks of time and that really motivated me. Second place was going to be mine. In the last 300 yards I was in a stand-up sprint and was going at a high speed down a gravel ski road. I was only 4 bike lengths and I knew second place would be mine. Then I hit a bump, my hands bounced off my handlebars, my wheel turned then I crashed. I struggled to get back up! I looked and my arm was covered with blood and my hip was hurting badly. I heard people yelling for me to get back up. The medics came running up the hill and I knew I had to get up and back on my bike to race to the finish line before they reached me and pulled me from the race. I did it, 3rd, it wasn’t the 2nd that I knew I had, but I was proud of what I had just done! The Medic’s arrived and took charge, they sent me to the ER to get checked out and after 4 long hours of waiting I got 8 stiches below my left elbow. I was fortunate I didn’t have any broken or fractured bones, but the long wait at the hospital meant I missed my hard fought Podium. That hurt, but I couldn’t have been given a better gift than the lesson I learned about myself!
I learned a lot about myself. Like having determination for catching my competitors. Never settling: always looking for the next higher place untill I win 1st. Mental toughness: that’s what got me to get back on my bike and finish-3rd place on the National Championship Podium!