When they announced that 24-hour Solo World Championships were going to be in Australia this year, I wrote it off as too expensive, too far, and airplanes terrify me.
But in the end, we went. And I raced. Raced harder than I’ve ever had to before. And I got 3rd.
And to be completely honest, I am deeply disappointed.
I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to convince myself to be happy with the result. 3rd at my first World Championships. On the podium in a race that had national champions from around the world, in what was dubbed as one of the most competitive and deep 24-solo Elite women’s fields ever assembled. Just 3 years ago I was over the moon to win a collegiate conference race. I should be happy with 3rd. I’ve run through all the little things that went wrong during the 25 hours of racing wondering that if I’d had the ‘perfect’ race, if I could have done better.
But I’ve concluded that on that particular day, in this particular point in time, I did what I could. And I’m only as frustrated with myself as I am because I know I can ride faster. I just can’t pull a world championship out of my rear with, what I will fess up to, I fairly minimal amount of formal training. Colorado Trail Race fitness will only get you so far in a race format where speed is actually starting to become a major factor.
So with that said, I’m going to rake some dirt over the fire that has been lit under my ass, and hopefully when I uncover it next spring, it’s going to burn, and it’s going to burn strong.
Australia was wicked cool though. My main fear of going was not knowing anyone, not knowing a good shop, navigating the hubub of 24-Hour racing with only my dad and Chris. But then an online friend recommended Mal-Adjusted Cycling Emporium in Canberra. Pulling up to the shop was the best decision we made the whole trip.
I walked in, used to Boulder bike shops, and asked for some tire sealant, hoping I could use their air compressor as well. They set me up in their back shop, full use of all their tools, helped putting stuff together, and then Mal, the owner of the place, went through both bikes to make sure they ran like butter. I’ve never had my bikes run as well as they did.
I have never in my life met such hospitality in a bike shop. They even hooked us up with a tour guide on their local trails, loaned Chris a demo bike (Aussies ride with their brakes switched, Chris spilt blood to prove it), and were a huge help in getting everything dialed for actual racing. Their team had a bunch of single speeders racing, including Ed, who was our tour guide that first day who ended up second, and Beck, who won the women’s single speed race. It reminded me a lot of Absolute Bikes in Salida. Good, good people. I owe them a lot.
Then there were Adz and Phil. I was Facebook friends with Adz through NatalieR who’d put us in contact because he had a room to fill in the apartment they were renting in Canberra, and we needed a place to stay. We all spent far too many hours watching the Commonweath Games together, fretting about equipment and racing. I have a picture of them…I’m just not sure on which camera.
On the night before the race, they flew in Lorenzo, the owner (?) of their sponsoring shop in Torquay, the Torquay Cycling Foundation. I’m positively kicking myself for not having a picture of Lorenzo as I’m sure he would have had a halo over his head as the guardian angel for my bikes (and me) during the race. When my freehub blew, he tried to fix it. When I sent my deraillier into my spokes and bent my hanger, he fixed it. When I chewed through brake pads that I probably should have replaced, he replaced them. All this, and countless other things I’m sure I never heard about. We’d never met prior to the night before, and he treated me like one of his own. I feel like people like him are few and far between and I’m eternally grateful. I hope to someday be able to repay the favor.
I’ve got dozens of people to thank stateside for being directly and indirectly part of my ‘Solo’ team, but I need to get on another plane to Tahoe for Collegiate Nationals in a few hours and I haven’t actually gotten around to packing.
So when I return, a tribute to Walt who makes the best bikes ever, LyndaW who got me from a heap of fatigue to fitness where I was in contention to try to win, my pit crew, and all the other people who have helped out on this fun, strange journey.