US PRO Nationals 05/28/2016
I headed out to Winston-Salem, North Carolina last week for my first US Pro Nationals — and, since I would be there, the Amateur Winston-Salem Cycling Classic Crit — and it lived up to its reputation! I was fortunate enough to get out there a few days before for some course recon and heat/humidity accumulation. The course had lots of turns and was very up and down with very little respite or flat, straight areas. I knew with the combination of the course, length of race (9 laps for a total of 86 miles) and humidity that this race would be a race of attrition. Saturday morning finally came and I staged right up next to Evelyn Stevens and the defending US national champion Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) Hard not to feel intimidated against that kind of firepower! With such a quality field my plan was just to conserve as much energy as possible and stay with the lead group for as long as possible.
The race started hard right from the start — no surprise there! The first couple of laps I held great position over the main steep climb leading into the finish but as the laps ticked away it got tougher and tougher to follow the accelerations over the climb. It was extremely crucial to stay hydrated and fueled throughout so I focused on drinking and eating every chance I got; there were not many! With 3 laps to go I could feel the fatigue beginning to set in but I just continued to focus on conserving as much as possible. The 2nd to the last time up the climb Kristen Armstrong (Twenty16-Ridebiker) drilled it up the climb which was enough to put me in all sorts of hurt! Extremely determined, I dug deep into the pain cave to claw my way back to the lead group that had shrunk from 95 riders to just 60. After I reattached to the group, I was in complete survival mode and just hoped to stay with the group through the numerous climbs on the last lap leading up to final time up the finishing climb. Several girls attacked throughout the last lap, keeping the pace high, but I was able to hang on and was there as we rounded the turn into the final climb and last kilometer of the race. Unfortunately, I was completely spent at this point so I just rode the climb at my own pace and tried to salvage the best finish as possible. I ended up crossing the line 44th place, just 55 seconds down from the winner, Megan Guarnier.
I was extremely happy with my result and my perseverance in a race that only had 59 finishers! Knowing that it was probably the toughest race that I’ll do this year, I was very satisfied with where my fitness is and where it’s going for the rest of this season. It was an amazing experience racing with our nation’s best ladies and to know where the bar is set. I’m already so excited for next year’s race where I know I won’t just be surviving, but will be competing and racing for a top placing!
The next day was the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic Crit on a tough, hilly and unique course! The amateur field was very small with mostly just cat 3/4 ladies so I knew anything less than a win would be a disappointment. After more of a scouting first lap I attacked up the climb on the second lap and no one was able to follow. I settled into “TT” mode and continued to extend my lead as I began to lap dropped riders. By the finish, I ended up lapping the field and taking the win! As an added bonus, the win did get me invited to race the pro crit a couple hours later! Unfortunately, I had left it all out there in the amateur crit earlier, leaving me pretty empty for the Pro race. It was still a great experience on what turned into a very rainy and wet course, but was a great ending to an awesome weekend of racing!
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Mikayla is a tall cyclist living in Portland, OR. She is a vegetarian and animal lover. Mikayla is tall and uses her long legs as leverage.
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