This past weekend was the USA Cycling elite National Championships in Carson, CA. I raced Elite Nationals last year and won the keirin so I was very excited to defend my title this year. This year I also raced alot more events than last year, I only raced sprints and keirin last year. This year I raced Team Sprint, Keirin, Sprint, and Kilo. I knew the bigger race schedule would be way more difficult for me but I was ready for the challenge.
My Nationals kicked off on Thursday with the Team Sprint. In qualifying I had a terrible start but being man 3 I was able to make up the lost ground and pull off a decent lap time to qualify our team in third. In the bronze medal final we all had a great ride and I felt we really improved. Our time reflected this and we got Bronze. I would really like to see how much I could improve my lap time if I did some team sprint specific training, Maybe next year.
Friday morning at Nationals meant a 200m time trial early in the morning to seed racers in the sprint tournament. I turned an 11.0 and was seeded 9th. In the first round I raced Giddeon and we had a photo finish at the line but he narrowly got the win. I was able to win my rep and move into the night session where I faced Jimmy Watkins. Jimmy got the best of me in both rides, I made small mistakes that cost me the race but I learned alot from it. In the 5-8 final my teammate Andy got rlegated for passing on the apron. This left TJ and myself to battle it out for the last podium spot. I was able to just get around TJ on the homestretch to take fifth.
The evening session on Saturday brought my favorite event, the Keirin. Adam and the Home Depot Center staff did a great job of promoting the event and they got a big crowd there to see the racing. In the first round I got out front when the motor pulled off to stay safe and get out of traffic. With a lap to go Kevin came around me and I basically just followed him through to the line because two riders advanced from each heat. In the second round I got to the front and controlled the race. I was able to take the win here which really didn’t matter since three riders moved into the final. In the final I got the front and my teammate Andy made a really early move by me. I was able to retake the front with a lap and a half to go. From this point on I really laid on the gas and tried to make the last lap really fast and hold off the rest of the guys. The move was a huge success last year and they were letting me do it again. Going down the backstraight I really gunned to try to hold off G. It worked but he had just that little more on the homestraight and I got second to Giddeon in another photo finish.
The final day of Nationals was the kilo for me. Let me first say that a kilo hurts like hell even when you are rested up for it, so going into this one with tired and shot legs from three days of racing and huge effort in a big gear the night before in the keirin, I knew this was going to be bad. I had a terrible start but I was able to race through that and turn a perfect second lap time the problem came a half lap later… My legs had enough and really started screaming which is normal in a kilo but it was a lap too early. With that said I pretty much suffered through the end of the kilo. I did take thrird though which was great. I also beat my kilo time from Jr. Nationals so I was pretty happy with it all things considered.
Elite Nationals was a great week of racing to finish off a great season and a great end to my junior career. Although I didn’t win a jersey or championship I believe I raced a lot better than last year and I feel I proved to everyone that I have successfully transitioned from the junior ranks to the elite ranks. A medal in all four sprint events is never bad plus I learned to successfully race a keirin with everyone watching me which is where I lacked at Worlds this year.
This season has been a huge success for me and I have had a ton of fun racing, I do know that I could not do any of this without all of the great people who stand behind me and support me through the good and bad. This season has been filled with both good and bad; from having mono in February to winning Jr. Nationals and going on to medal at Jr Worlds and Elite Nationals. I wouldn’t be where I am without the love and support of my my wonderful parents and family. I also owe a huge thank you to Pure Energy Cycling and ProAir HFA for making this season not only possible but a lot of fun too. Thanks to Doug Martin and all the great people at Felt Bicycles for getting me the best track bike in the world, my TK1. A shoutout to Oakley is an order for keeping my eyes protected and looking good while racing. This season would not have been possible without the generous support of K’nex. Also big props to Powerbar for providing me with the right nutrition products to perform at my peak, the cola Gel Blasts are the best keirin food! The Valley Preferred Cycling center made this season a ton of fun with great racing every week with some of the best in the world, I also got my start in cycling at the VPCC. Someone once told me when you see a turtle on a fence post you know he had help, so a big thank you to all these people and everyone else who helped me climb my fence post.