I have done something a little different this year. Raced collegiate as a cyclist. Something I never did at Luther, partially because we didn't have a club, and I really didn't know about it. So this year, I successfully started a cycling club at UNI and was able to partake in some races. It has been fun, and you never know how a race will pan out. I was excited to qualify for the D2 National Champs after some good placing in the races I could go to. UNI is a school of less than 15,000 and that is why I am a D2 rider.
Fast-forward, I finished my first year of grad school on Wednesday, and left for Madison on Thursday. I am staying with Josiah Collins, a teammate from Luther College. I stopped at the Blue Mounds RR Course on Thursday to do a lap in the spitting rain. This course is the proposed Olympic course if Chicago would have gotten the bid, and now I see why! This is a race that my friend Matthew Busche won when he was an amateur pro, and the climbing is unbelievable! It is a 14 mile loop, with 3 big climbs of over a mile each lap. I rode the course, and almost wished I had a compact/26 to ride on :) Total for the race is 74miles, 8100 FT OF CLIMBING! Anyway, packed it up and drove the rest of the way to Madison to packet pick up and Josiah and I had some Olive Garden to get some good carbs!!!
Alright, so race day! Got up early, my staple Oats, cinnamon, pbutter, bananna, raisins, and some coffee for the road. Got to the start, kitted up and headed to the start line. 85 riders were to take place in our race, with 2 riders from NDakota from the NCCCC. Race started off really fast with 2mile downhill. No real breaks stuck for the first couple laps, but there was a split each time up the final climb to Blue Mound which is 1.8miles long with a average gradient of 6%, pitches up to 10%. The support on the climb was great through the feed zone, I could hear my name being cheered by some Iowa guys, Mark Guthart and Ben Morris(CFalls Guy). Starting the last lap, there was a big surge by Andy Baker (Furman) towards the feed zone and only 5 guys could go with him. Andy is a pro rider for Bissell, and just got back from Tour of Gila, lets just say he was riding everything perfectly, and didn't ever seem to be in trouble. Anyway, he got away with 5 guys, and the rest of us were inclined to chase. I was in the first chase group of about 30 riders for the last lap, but we were still losing time to the Baker group. My legs were really starting to hurt towards the end, but I was still able to do my share of work on the front, while others were skipping. So I could tell everyone was hurting.
Coming into the last climb, a group of 10 or so were able to pull away away from me. Others would surge past on the climb, but I would just ride within myself (HR still near max) and end up catching them later when they blew. I came up to the line with a surprising 17th place finish!
Overall, I was fairly happy with this, I really didn't know what to expect from this type of race. I was gunning for a top 15, and nearly made it, but with the type of riders in the field, a top 20 is pretty good in my eyes, especially with the type of course it is and me being a larger guy. A large thank you to Mark Guthart for the support and ability to ride the race!
So I left with a smile on my face, and headed back to Madison. This morning I got up and my legs didn't get out of bed with me. They are thrashed! No TTT for me, with no teammates, but I'll do a short spin coffee ride with a couple openers to get the legs fresh for the criterium tomorrow!
*Pictures aren't of great quality but check out VELONEWS for better quality!