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Team TIAA-CREF - 2006
Team Journal Entry - January 4, 2006, by Troy Wells
An amazing day
US Cyclo-Cross Nationals was an amazing weekend for myself, the TIAA-CREF/Clif-Bar team, and for my family. The weekend couldn't have gone any better. It began Thursday morning at 4:30 am, when my roommate Adam Synder and I had to meet up with the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team to head to Durango Airport. After a long day of travel we were on the east coast. On the east coast in December, you can always expect the weather to be crappy. Friday morning I woke up to heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain. I was planning on racing the Collegiate race in the afternoon. I was excited for the race, mainly to get in a good 45 minute effort on the course. Unfortunately they postponed our race due to weather - I thought cyclo-cross was about racing in epic weather...I understand the concern for the safety of everyone involved, though. After they postponed the race it started to clear up outside, and I finally left the hotel to try to get a lap on the course. To get to the course from the hotel you had to venture through a true east coast ghetto. Luckily the only things fired at me were snowballs from some high school kids. After arriving at the course, which was covered with several inches of snow, I began a lap, only to get half way around before breaking my seat post. Nothing like getting a good opener in the day before the biggest cross race I was going to do all year in the U.S.
Saturday morning I awoke after my worst night of sleep in a while, but was excited and ready to go. I knew the course would be good for me on Saturday. Muddy and technical enough to be a bike handler's course without turning into a running race like the last couple of years. The race seemed to come up quickly once I got to the venue. I was excited, but I was also a little worried due to my lack of a ride on Friday. I knew at the start of the race on an icy course I had to start fast to try to stay out of trouble. I was lucky enough to hole shot, which is not an easy task with Jesse Anthony on the start line. Jesse always starts very fast, and normally can hole shot or at least top three in just about every race in the U.S. After the first lap, I found myself off the front with Brent Bookwalter, who I know well from our days at DEVO.
Brent had already raced earlier in the day and won the Collegiate race (that I opted not to compete in due to the rescheduling to Saturday morning). Brent had the course dialled, so I felt it would be smart to follow him for a while and try to learn the course (due to the fact I broke my seat post during my recon mission the night before). The first time through the pit on the third lap, Brent laid it down around a slick corner. At this point I went to the front and tried to increase the tempo. After a lap of pushing it and taking chances, I decided it was time to try to conserve and keep myself upright. I began racing the exact opposite of how I normally ride. I was giving it all I had on the road sections where I knew there was less chance of making a mistake.
Normally I race by putting it all the line in the technical sections and try to ride conservatively on the road sections. At Gloucester earlier this year (USGP #1) I had a good 10 second gap on third through seventh going into three laps to go and tried to take a section too fast, crashed, and lost 15 seconds! So when I had 30 seconds on Jesse I figured I should ride conservatively and just focus on not making any mistakes that would allow him back into the race. Fortunately I was able to ride the difficult sections without mistakes, and I never felt my gap had fallen to a point where I had to begin taking big chances again. I had faith in the fact I was getting time back on the road. I was able to hold on for the win, which was amazing to me. It was by far the best result of my life. Finishing third on day one at Gloucester was amazing, but a National Championship is very special for me. At the finish line I was met by my parents, my older brother Todd, his wife Meg, my team manager Ben Turner, and my coach Rick Crawford. All these people had a lot to do with that win through their tremendous support and guidance. What would follow would make the day that much better.
I watched the junior race from doping control, and almost went hypothermic in a camper that didn't have heat. I couldn't really tell who was winning, but with a lap to go I saw my teammate Danny Summerhill and defending champion Bjorn Selander off the front. I started trying to key into what Freeze (announcer Richard Fries) was saying. I heard one lap to go, and then suddenly Bjorn and Danny got tangled up. Bjorn ripped off his derailleur in the crash so Summerhill was able to keep it up right and ride in for TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar's second national title of the day, with our man Alex Howes holding on for second. After the race was over, I was starting to worry I wouldn't be able to see my brother's races because USADA was disorganised and didn't have the staff they needed. The person I had been waiting on for an hour finally showed up and I was able to get out of there about five minutes before Todd's race.
I ran down to the start line and was able to wish him good luck right before the start. I could watch and yell at him at the last Cyclo-Cross nationals I will be able to, because I will be racing elite next year. It was an amazing race; I think he rode perfectly, except that he crashed once and broke his bars. He rode very strong though, and I was proud to see him get his second Cyclo-Cross nationals title. He showed everyone he can ride on the same level as Ryan Trebon and Jonathan Page, while over the last year some people felt he couldn't. I was able to meet him at the finish line along with Meg, my parents and coach Crawford. It was an amazing day, and it couldn't have gone any better for my family and for Team TIAA-CREF/Clif-Bar.
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