After the first two day of up hill time trials Donovan was down on the leader board. However as we heard he did exceptionally well in the skills portion of the work outs. After the morning TT’s they also had the riders, ride for another 2 hours. After which they would head to lunch and then of course they would have the evening drills. These were long days.
After two days racing against 24 of the best kids in the country Donovan was low on the leader board. He had not felt well yet, but he never gave in. Every time he called me he was upbeat and confident in his preparation and looking forward.
Yesterday the riders went out for 3, Flat 5km TT’s. Donovan knew that he was going to excel at this, and boy did he ever. At the end of these 3 he finished 4th. 4th. I could not believe it when I heard it. 4th. The guts that it takes to come back after 2 days of getting your butt handed to you and then giving right back is huge. He could have easily put his head down and given up. He could have come home and just given. But he did not. He wouldn’t. He did cross fit everyday for 3 months at my house. There was no way he was going to give up. He wanted this too bad and dreamed about it too long.
We can all want it this bad. Everyone of you on this team has this in you. Donovan is not talented he will be the first to tell you. His talent is his hunger.
In the afternoon they all then went to do a simulated crit race. They were broken up into 4, 6 person teams. 24 total. As the race started there was a break away and a kid from each team was represented. So Donovan, nor any of the riders in the pelaton could attack. They had to respect their teammate and wait. After a few laps Donovan’s teammate dropped out of the break, thus making it his teams job to bring back the break. Donovan was to the first to respond to this. He went to the front of the pelaton and crushed it for 3 laps. Stringing out the field and dropping riders. He closed the gap on the break but was unable to bring it back as he pulled off the front. After his pull he moved into the group again and waited. However the group could not bring the break back so, Donovan again had to go to the front, as he was the strongest. Again he went up and pulled for another 2 laps, closed the gap, but then blew up.
He did everything for his team. He worked selflessly to give others on his team a chance. We spoke before he went up that in these crits they were not interested in a kid who could just sit in. They wanted to see guts. A kid willing to take chances, but a smart kid who could take a good chance. They also wanted to see a teammate. Some one willing to work for the team. He may have been dropped but he showed guts and team work.
His 4th place and his crit riding moved him up, but not enough. He was still in 20th place at the end of this day.
Today though was his forte. His greatest strength. A long flat TT of 17km. I did not hear about the course or conditions but he got 5th today. 5th. Against the best in the nation 5th. He did so well against the others he moved up 6 places to 14th over all.
His overall performance, compared to others, at other national camps, has earned him a spot on the South Eastern Zone team. He got his invite. He did it.
A year ago he wrote this down as a goal. I spent all year trying to emotionally prepare him for not making the team. I did everything I could for him, and encouraged him every step of the way. But I have to admit I was not sure. I told him going into this at best he was a long shot. This was the best of the best he was against. Heck there were cat 2 riders that I know that spent 3 weeks in Flagstaff before camp, training, just to have the best shot possible and to acclimatize.
He waited his time. Got beat the first two days, but had the guts and tenacity to stick it out, and give it right back.
I can’t be prouder at this time. Hunger, tenacity, hard work, and the ability to stick to it are all it takes. Talent is not needed.