So…. I “retired” from racing after winning the IP at master track nationals in 2016 (followed by my worst TP ever the following day). The advice of my coach back then was:
1) “It is a tough decision to stop and when you go out on top you always think “I’ve got more rides like that in me” and you do… but you want to leave like you did from a podium. People remember you that way and that’s good. You have a few nice titles and an elite title to your name and that’s a lot to be proud of”.
2) DON’T GET FAT!
After 9 months of retirement I pinned on a race number with no real training and did the Hess TT (Merckx style). The race is on my doorstep so I figured why not. I did alright considering the lack of training. I bumped into Lucas Clarke pre race and we briefly talked about a possible team pursuit effort for master track worlds in LA.
Roll on a year or so and I watched master track worlds in LA via he online feed. Watching guys I know put in solid rides got me itching to race. I missed being part of the action and racing to win.
A couple months later I received a text from Andrew Kruse (we’ve done quite a few successful team pursuits together) asking if I had any interest in having a go at a TP for master worlds in 2018. I said I was loosely interested (pending marital negotiations) and worst case I’d be their man 4 for local training (their 4th guy was living in SoCal). Good excuse to hang out with some dudes and not get fat.
After a few TP training sessions in the springs I was feeling good and by mid-Feb had the green light. Including time at Disneyland post-racewas a solid bargaining chip :)
The following months were filled with regular TP sessions in Colorado Springs in winter (it’s so nice to have the dome over the track!), then later at Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie. I even got cycling legend Gary Sutton (current USA Cycling national team coach) check us out and confirm that we looked average. As he’s used to seeing Olympians and World Champions we construed “average” to be a compliment :)
A work trip to Ohio in July turned into a quick hop over to Pennsylvania for master track nationals at T-Town where I got silver in the IP. I was a few seconds slower than I had projected based on rides prior to it, likely due to the silly travel just to get there. Getting second behind Chris Baker (Silver medalist in the IP at master worlds in 2017) by a few seconds wasn’t terrible even though I did want to win! I left there with the thought that maybe making a comeback was not the best idea… I’d finished with a gold and now I had reopened the racing account with a silver…
I kept plugging away with the TP work at BVV with the occasional 3K IP thrown in to gauge my form. I was consistently in the 3:40 ballpark but just couldn’t get any faster… I came close to beating my PB for any track in the US but wasn’t quite there. I had done a 3:39 there but had gone low 3:30’s at Manchester.
Trying to get 4 masters racers in the same place at the same time turned into a year long challenge of coordinating / juggling work, work travel, families, vacations, weather, and general life stuff. We all persevered with the planning and replanning through the use of Doodle, Facebook messenger, group text messages (if you want 20 text alerts before 6am I string,y suggest this method!), and a google spreadsheet!
We roped in Mac Cassin for the TP at the Elite Colorado State Championships and took the win, followed by TP and Kilo wins at master states. A couple weeks before Worlds I finally cracked my best time at BVV with a 3:36.7! Talk about perfect timing.
We had one final TP workout at BVV and did a flying 4K. The good news was that we did 4:11… The bad news was that we only did 15 laps. Still a sub 4:30 which per my numerous spreadsheets would have us in the 4:20’s in LA. Based on 3K TP Times from 2017 (the UCI changed the distance to 4K for 2018) it looked like it would be a close race between us and one of last years fastest teams.
Worlds started out with Lucas smashing the IP to take the win ahead of Chris Baker by about 4 sec in the final. I arrived in LA later, a few days before the TP. I didn’t touch my bike on the Monday, and decided last minute to skip trying to squeeze in a ride on Tuesday when I flew to LA. On Wednesday I got in my practice run with the team and we did a flying 3k with laps in the high 15’s and low 16’s. LA was definitely running faster than BVV and we all felt great.
On Thursday morning we had qualifying and were the second last team to ride. The first few teams were not that fast so we just had to beat their times to make sure we made it to the gold medal final. We rode to a new best time of 4:30.871 which was faster than third placed Argentina (4:40.096). Poland were 4th with 4:40.946. The Seattle team were 5th with 4:43.785 and Affinity 6th with 4:47.583. The team of Jason Meidhof, Kevin Phillips, Jonathan Cavner, and Jeromy Cottell rode a 4:33.836 putting them against us in the ride for gold.
Andrew Kruse rode the qualifier and we swapped him out with Ian Holt for the final. I stuck with being our starter in the gate. In the final we planned around a 4:25 schedule and executed it perfectly (4:25.112) to take a convincing win over a strong team from LA with one Colorado rider (4:29.314). The comeback was complete and totally worth it! To have my wife and kid there was the cherry on the cake.
The medal and jersey count that had to be hauled back to Colorado was both impressive and ridiculous. It was great to see so many riders’ hard work come to fruition.
Lucas’ cake made by Space-X’s chef Ted Cizma. It was DAMN good!
The icing on my own cycling cake!
Thanks to Jason Rico for being our mechanic throughout our team pursuit racing. That was money well spent to have less crap to worry about on race day. I made sure to keep Jason busy with UCI illegal aero bars (insert hacksaw sound) and a blown rear tubular while warming up.