We came here to find out where we were as a team. How good are we? How good are they? What is it like out here?
We came here wanting to know if we could compete. We wanted to know that we could rub elbows with the best and take the chances that were offered to us.
Day 1 was the time trial. It was a 4.25 mile uphill affair. The mountains here are huge and they tower over town. They are intimidating and it would have been easy to be intimidated by the racers here. This race feels big. It is big.
We found a good spot to warm up, after 2 days in the car, and got down to business.
Without knowing the climb or really what to expect, we rocked it. Christian and Ben rode into the top 20, and Nick into the top 15. The other guys just had a rough go of it, but no heads were hanging. They had the confidence to know that it’s not always our day. True maturity.
Day 2, Saturday, was the road race, and we woke up ready. The guys were buzzing with that energy that as coach you know just feels good, and right. It was a 7-mile loop of rollers, twists, crazy descents and a serious KOM climb.
Tyler, Nick and the 15-16’s went off first then the17-18’s with Ben, Keenan, Daniel, and Christian.
Once off, Daniela, Mark and I rode to the feed zone.
Lap 2 was the first that we saw them come by and all the boys were in and looking good. In both groups the teammates were all riding together.
Lap 3 All good: boys are all in.
Lap 4 we are still watching in the feed zone.
The 15-16’s come up the hill first and Tyler and Nick are still surviving.
17-18’s Ben—good, Daniel—good, Keenan just a bit off but with a group—ok, Christian—nowhere to be found. He had broken two spokes and was now in no man’s land after a necessary wheel change.
At the start of the race they had been quite stern about the time cut. They informed us that if you did not come in within 10% of the leaders that you would be cut and would not be allowed to race the next day.
The nerves were on. Would the boys make it?
With those nerves, Daniela and I rode up to the KOM spot to see the action at the top of the hardest hill.
Lap 5 of 6. 15-16’s. Tyler and Nick good.
17-18’s Ben good, in the main group but with a face of true pain, Daniel in a chase group, not far off, Keenan chase group, not far off. Christian, all alone, working and rightfully frustrated.
Would they make it?
Lap 6. Daniela and I rode to the finish to see the action and to start the clock.
The front group of the 15-16’s and the 17-18’s actually merged on the last lap and came in together. Total chaos.
Tyler in 13th and Nick 15th, they can rub elbows.
Ben came in at the back of the lead group, with no sprint left, but he was there.
Daniel alive, well and ready for another day.
Would Keenan and Christian survive?
Christian, YES!!! The last rider of the group to make the time cut. (16 riders did not)
It takes true courage and determination to ride alone for laps/miles with only the hope to live another day. It would have been easy for any of the kids to throw in the towel. But we don’t. Not El Grupo. We are not that team. And another day we live.
We came to find out, and now we know. We can race anywhere, at any time with the best. Yes, these guys are awesome; they are great. It took everything we had to hang and compete, but we did. We are legit. We can compete. We belong.
Our mission is accomplished. Today is just the gravy on top with the downtown crit, and I guarantee with our newfound knowledge, today will be our best.
Every one of these boys started at the bottom of the totem poll and they have worked to climb to the top.
No body is better than us, and we are better than nobody else.