That's right folks I've got a few more stars and bars jersey's after a long weekend in Kansas City, KS! One individual National title for the Collegiate womens race and one Team National Title for the Collegiate squad! That is the short version...if you desire more detailed information just keep reading and I will fill you in, maybe even farther than you would like to know...
Finally, another semester to check off my list!(Yes, all my grades were stupendous...well except one from a teacher with a strict attendance policy, but I told him I would take my travel and experience any day over that grade!) At the moment it isn't a huge concern sense my grades have always been good and I don't exactly need a 4.0 to get into bike racing!
So, the story begins with my amazing friend Ally and I! That alone is enough to make anything fun and exciting...just ask my Uncle Mike! After our last days of running around like crazy people I managed to catch the local bug and get sick again....errr!!! My ill nature made the drive quite less enjoyable than I had imagined but Ally did the majority of pulling (driving) and we got there in good time. We even took a little break for lunch at a cute coffee!/sandwich shop, where we found tons of fun stuff and just enjoyed good company. By the time we got to St. Louis Ally wasn't feeling so good either. St. Louis was our destination for the first night because I have an Aunt and Uncle who live their and were kind enough to let us stay. Little did they know we were going to show up sick, sleep there, lay around all the next day, sleep some more, use all their hot water drawing baths in an attempt to cure our illness, and eat anything we could get our hands on! None the less they still made us wonderful dinner and were the best of hosts!
After a day and two nights in St. Louis we finally gathered the energy to pack up and head to Kansas City. On a side note I should mention Ally and I were driving separate from the collegiate team because I was heading straight back to MI for the holidays and Ally was coming to visit me in MI for a few days as well.
Once in KS this is kinda how things went...
Arrive KS Thursday afternoon. Head to race course. Proceed to register in the swampy tent, literally standing in line with half your shoe in wet mud. Ride one lap of the course, completely sopping all shoes and clothing with mud. The positive was I got to see the course and all its swampiness! Head back to the hotel, shower, dinner, relax, make a mess of the room and the tub(with dirty cycling clothes), clear a path to the bed, dig threw a bag of cold medicine(check every single drug in everything with the anti-doping regulations), drink lots of liquids, clear path to bed again, crash!
Friday. Get up and around, relax, lay around, think about riding, debate going to the course, decide on a road ride, think about getting dressed, wait till everyone else is ready, get dressed, don't have dry booties...darn swamp from yesterday. Finally head out on road ride with the Scott's...they both have booties:(. 2hr ride with a few wind up intervals and some quick jumps...this is my attempt to get my legs firing again after many hours in the car, being sick and off the bike. Toes are cold, toes are really cold, darn it I want booties...I'm now unclipping and shaking my legs to get more blood down there and heat up my feet. We road by an elementary and I considered going in to warm my feet up but I decided I would rather just get back to the hotel. Hotel in site. Longest read light ever, ahh finally there! Shower, lunch, lay around, dinner, lay around, clear off bed, team meeting, clear path to bed, crash.
Ally & I chilling in the hotel
Saturday. How in the world does my stomach know hours before I'm going to race? I'm not sure how that works but I always seem to wake up with that "be careful what you put in me" feeling, like just the littlest mistake in fuel could throw off the whole system. At the same time it also feels like "don't you dare eat, it will come back up". So food choices before racing are important and even when it feels like it would be better not to eat it is just the nerves and I force something in. So after breakfast is taken care of we head to the races where it couldn't have been above 18 degrees out. Thankfully the venue had a warming tent with a heater....hallaluia! I had brought 2 cross bikes and my road bike as well because I was going to take it home with me. Being the high maintenance athlete I am I had all 3 bikes at the warming tent. The cross bikes were sitting there looking pretty and getting air taken out of their tires while the road bike was put on a trainer for my warm up. A big thank you goes out to Preston for both his days of help and his understanding of my high maintenaceness before races...he always handles me very well! All the others were also very helpful but Preston just seems to look at me and know exactly what I want/need and he never fails to come through with flying colors! The littlest things can make your day when your getting ready for a race. As I warm up Ally and Jo are beside me also getting in a warm up for the U23 race! We head to the start line and try to stay warm before the gun finally goes off! It's off to the races! I'm not far behind the leader until about the 2nd turn when I hit the deck hard landing right on my back, but I was so obsessed with keeping that bike with me that it landed right beside me with my legs still wrapped around it, quickly allowing me to get back up and on. I spent a better part of the 1st lap just getting used to the conditions and trying to learn how to ride them. The best way I can think of to describe the course is in relation to a tree: Imagine a tree with really groovy bark that all kind of twists together with deep ruts. Strip the bark off the tree, enlarge it and lay it flat out into a 3 to 4 foot wide pathway, sprinkle it with slippery snow and then get on a bike with inch wide tires and ride on it for miles. I learned quickly that there is something to be said for go fast and hang on tight, but there is also an element of finesse that can make it a lot smoother! I got better each lap and really started to feel like I was making steady progress but the leader had a good gap on me and with a short 3 lap race I just couldn't catch her. I came across the line 2nd and with my bikes and my body still in one piece! Back to the warm up tent for cool down and then into warm clothes and back to the hotel for shower, rest, dinner, and sleep!
U23 Warm up
2nd place podium for Blue Competition Cycles...my bikes are awesome!
Sunday. Darn stomach is at it again but my head has a little more confident, now that I know I can actually ride the conditions! Thankfully our race was at the same time in the morning and the conditions were relatively the same. The warm up tent had more girls in it as the collegiate race had far more participation than the U23. Also, we had a full squad of 6 girls racing so we all crowded in one corner and went about our rituals. The time came to take the line and as was true of the prior day we were mostly just wanting the race to start as soon as possible. Gun and go! I was leading up the slight incline paved section and into the first turn when I attempted to blow over the frozen deeply rutted mud trenches and bit it hard right onto my stomach and sliding across the frozen slick ground. This of course just to happens to be directly located next to the announcing stand so they were giving a second by second report on my crash progress....great. I scrambled to get up and back on the bike and was riding about 4th rider, but quickly making ground up. I got around one girl, got stuck behind another who must have thought it entertaining to crash right in front of me and cause even more obstacle. But no worries I eventually got around that and finally came up on the rider who had taken the lead just as we entered a straight but bumpy section, where I tended to excel with my special knowledge from Aaron Bradford that such a section could be executed well by gearing up and mashing! Our coach Brian happen to be there and he said something along the lines of "common kacey (pointing to the girl 10 yard ahead of me) that's your jersey right there, that's your jersey, go get it!!!" It was perfect timing and said in just the right way. He was giving me the tone of get your rear up there and pass her already, while at the same time encouraging and reminding me he believed I could do it. I think it was really at that moment I knew I could have this if I just kept my head on straight and focused on all the little things. The little things are all the things that will matter in that day. All the base fitness and power are things that have been long per determined. What I needed to focus on were things like, light grip on the bars, gearing up in the rough sections, looking ahead, predicting a good line, recongnizing when to put the hammer down and gain ground and when to back off and get threw a technical section still on the bike, etc. Back to the story/race I finally passed her at the top of the 2nd stair climb and then slowly started to gain. I had heard the announcer say at the start of the race she was the junior national champion cross racer and I knew her skills would be something to compete with. I also heard the announcer say something about a possible technical issue when she came threw the line behind me on that 1st lap and I knew I had better focus and try to gain some major ground. I created a good gap on the next rider but in cyclocross anything can happen and I was focused on getting as much space as possible while still maintaining control, in case I had an issue and had to run half a lap or something of that nature. My bike was wonderful and stuck with me despite its numerous collisions with the ground and parts of my body. In the end I came across the line first and my parents got to watch it all. It is the first National Title I've won that my parents have been there for and I think it was probably the most entertaining one as well! I stayed at the finish to watch all my team mates come across and then headed for warmth and recovery. I needed to recover as much as possible as quickly as possible because I had plans to race the elite/pro race in 2 hours. It would be the toughest of all the races and the 3rd race for me in 2 days of cold conditions. I had a good start in the third row but my kick at the start of the race was less than stellar. I passed some people and got passed by others. Went back and forth with a few girls and just tried to settle in. I was tired and my skills were fading but I held on to finish 26th.
Me before I eat dirt, or should I say ice
Bringing in the "W"!
What a great BLUE bike...stuck with me the whole way!
Me with Mom & Dad!
The only time I get to be tall...what did you think my motivation was?!
A bit shot out to and thanks to Aaron Bradford, seen 3rd on the podium, for all his work with the team and the lessons he has taught me not only about how to handle a bike but also just how to approach a race. I'm no where near a laid back as he is and probably never will be but he has helped me make some progress! THANKS AARON...YOUR THE GREATEST! Way to go, I'm so proud of you! And Anderson can be seen in 5th, even though he raced the last half of the race with one foot unclipped because his cleat got screwed up. What studs they are!!!
Elite Start line
Getting ready to negotiate sketchy turn
Post Elite/Pro race (much muddier than the others due to the later start and softer ground)
Wow, it was all over and time to enjoy the final end of my season(s). Ending on a pretty good note if I may say so myself. One more individual title was great, but even better was the team title that we gained, making us the Collegiate Team Cyclocross National Champions 2 years in a row! The bus full of kids packed up and headed back to Banner Elk, while Ally and I along with Mike Anderson, who was also headed back to MI with us stayed another night. We returned to the hotel room and all hit the bed for a nap pretty immediately. Then we got around and ready to go to the party of the night. We drove over to the shopping center area and found a coffee shop in a book store, so we stopped for a drink and shared a really good cookie...thanks Ally!!! Then we went to Dave and Busters, where the party was scheduled to be. I ran into a number of people I knew and even saw and talked with Ned Overend again, who I had meet at Iceman just a month or so ago! He of course had won his race! I also talked with other old friends and acquaintances, and meet some new ones. Once that died down the crew headed downstairs to a bar that just so happened to have a mechanical bull...haha. Yes, of course I rode the Bull, twice and we might have even danced on a bar a bit. When 2am came around Anderson put his foot down and told Ally and I it was time to go, so we had to stop dancing and running our mouths and head back to the hotel. We even ended up driving another friend back with us who was in need of a driver. This whole 2am thing is really a once or twice a year ordeal for me and I don't drink much at all even when I do go out. Dancing is another story, get the right music and the right people and dancing is like an addiction! My sister always makes fun of my because I'm a sucker for all the cheesy dance movies...I always say one day I'll be able to dance like that. The night ends with Anderson driving us home and then everyone crashing into bed for a few hours.
Mike looks tired before the night even begins
Why are you taking a picture of me Ally?
Ah...caught you in the act!
Mike with his new warrior freind
Ally & I figured if we made friends with the turtle maybe he would give us a ride home...
Sometimes short legs are an advantage, this is not one of those times...
I'm pretty sure that is Tim Johnson, the winner of the mens elite/pro race...big congrats to him on that!
Time to get back to the hotel
Monday. Anderson's alarm didn't go off as early as he had planned and I woke him up at 6:20am to inform him we were already 20min. behind his planned departure time. We got up, rolled Ally out of bad (she wasn't too happy with either of us) and shoved our bads together jamming everything into the car in a somewhat organized manner but mostly in chaos. Breakfast in our stomachs and on the road by 7am MI time. It was a long trip back, arriving at my parents just after 9pm...phew...finally!
At the early morning hour we stuck Ally in the back
This was toward the end of the trip...I think that is the Anderson has had way too much Ally & kacey time face! We love you Anderson!
Hahahaha...I just couldn't leave this guy out. We found him in a car when we went to lunch one day...what great entertainment!