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The John Lieswyn Diary
A pro racer who now mostly concentrates on the US domestic scene, John Lieswyn is one of Cyclingnews' most popular and sometimes controversial diarists. He has been racing since 1985 and a Cyclingnews diarist since 1999. John likes both criteriums and longer road races, and seems to particularly like it when the going is hard. He has raced in the Regio Tour, Peace Race, Tour of Poland, Vuelta a Guatemala, Tooheys GP and Commonwealth Bank Classic with success, as well as winning astages in the Sun Tour, Killington and Superweek. In 2002, he is riding for 7Up/NutraFig.
2002 US Elite National Championships
Another tough day......
Déjà vu. Seems like I already wrote a report like this after Philly. Once again there's no excuse. I feel pretty silly actually.
Like the official said- "We didn't announce the yellow line rule because we assumed that everyone knew. Nobody else seemed to be in ignorance of the rule.etc,etc,etc."
I made the very bad assumption that the Natchez Trace Parkway, in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, was closed to vehicular traffic. After all, it is the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! On the way back in, as I was digging myself into lactic acid hell, I did kinda wonder why a sponsor festooned Saturn was recklessly coming at me at about 90mph. Maybe I'm not supposed to be taking the straightest line here?
After suffering the disappointment of getting soundly beaten back into 5th place by the superior rides of Dylan Casey, Chris Horner and Chris Baldwin, I packed my bike quickly to try and make the 8:06pm American Airlines flight home. Back at the parking lot an official came over to tell me that I'd been DQ'd. Doug Z was changing clothes after his disastrous ride (he'd been on a solid top 5 time until his handlebars broke).
There was no arguing with the official, I was clearly in the wrong. All Jeff and I could do is point out that it hadn't been written in the race manual, hadn't been announced at the start house, and that there had been ample opportunity give me an immediate verbal warning the first time I crossed the centerline. The official mellowed a bit and I could see he felt bad- he was realizing how much I had invested in the result, and that I wasn't consciously trying to break rules during my ride. Officials are like cops: once the speeding ticket is written it can't be torn up.
Once again this year it feels like the ground has been ripped out from beneath me. I put so much mental and physical energy into this, and the officials couldn't even give me a warning on the road, they just followed behind and let me hang myself. Jeff and Doug tried to cheer me up. At least I didn't get DQ'd after winning the event (like Wohlberg in 2000- now there was a truly bad call).
I made it to the airport at 6:30. As if the day wasn't tough enough for Doug and I, Jeff got zapped for 7mph over the speed limit entering the airport grounds, and the cop had no mercy. Then the gate agent warned me my flight was going to be late but that he'd make sure I made my connection in St. Louis. He didn't even try to put me on the earlier flight for which there was plenty of time. Instead I sat at the airport, sweaty and grumpy, until l0pm. They let me board the late plane and assured me the connecting flights would be held for everyone. Not so, as several of us found out when we got into St. Louis.
Now the airline said I could pay for a hotel or sleep on the airport floor. I wouldn't have left Nashville at all if the airline hadn't promised everything was going to be OK .. I could've stayed at the team hotel! Furious, I ignored the fact that it was 470 miles from St. Louis to Ames, and figured that I wouldn't sleep in my mental state anyway. I was determined to get home.
Hertz gave me the first piece of good news: a car for $19.95 one way. Drove all night and into the morning, radio blaring, trying to figure out what to do with
myself. Dawn was very kind and supportive, and I felt bad for making her worry about me driving all night.
The tanking stock market is a good analogy to how I feel. There are short rallies, days when investors think the bottom as been reached. I win a race, get enthused.Then the bear comes roaring back, and investor confidence is shattered again.
No matter how I try to look at it- starving kids in Africa, Jan Ulrich drunk and injured, riders getting hit by a car, see how lucky I am? Health and happiness, wonderful marriage, guardian angel, and all that jazz. Nevertheless, my eternal optimism seems to be running out. Is there still a bull within? I'll take a week off and go camping in the northern Wisconsin woods with Dawn, and then reassess.
Thanks for reading.