The Team: Michelle Hance, Jason Sohn, Christopher Anthony, Jacob Shupe, Nathan Gross, Mark Zhao, Andres Urrego
Nathan Gross (Men's D): 3rd, Crit; 9th, RR
Michelle Hance (Women's A): 8th, Crit
Christopher Anthony (Men's B): 9th, RR
Andres Urrego (Men's C): 11th, RR
Wisconsin Hills (or rather, Hill)
The elevation map of the regionals road race was "mind boggling"(Mark Zhao), especially considering the typical flat road races that are the norm in the midwest. The course was one big hill that climbed 600 feet, repeated up to six times for Men's A riders. Andres Urrego, our featherweight Colombian climber-in-residence, was said to have filled out the carpool form twice each with a different email, just to make sure he was on the list. We heard horror stories about the course from experienced riders who had ridden that course in years past. Needless to say, the fear and anticipation levels were high. When we got there, however, we were distracted by the serene landscape; Michelle Hance says, "Driving from Madison to the road race course was actually a highlight. The area is truly beautiful and on a calm sunny morning it was really quite enjoyable! I kinda wanted to continue the tour of the area, but the RR location was also scenic, so I wasn't disappointed for long". The parking lot and race staging was at the very top of the mountain, with panoramic views of the rolling hills (they call them "mounds"). More on the road race below. The race weekend was partially reversed, with the TTT and crit taking place on Saturday and road race on Sunday. So, let's talk about the crit first.
The criterium course was a typically short loop-around-a-research-park affair with two not insignificant lumps, one of which was the finishing straight. Nathan Gross garnered third place in the Men's D race.
Mark Zhao (Men's C) broke his chain in the opening laps but took it positively: "In a way I'm glad that this happened, because I was completely fresh going into the main event the next day". Jacob Shupe (Men's A) stayed comfortably in the Men's A field and commented that he "had to race a little conservatively to save [himself] going into nationals this weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado". Best of luck to Jacob Shupe this weekend!
You Reap What You Sow
As said above, the road race course was a real test of grit. To this end, Michelle Hance had some great motivational quotes. She wrote "The defining moment of the road race was a few months ago when I chose to work hard doing hill repeats. I made a rule that even if I slowed down toward the top of a hill, I would never give up and had to push through the top. Being able to do that really helped in the long climbs on the course. It's more fun when you have done the training to take on the challenge ahead!" To the question "What did you learn?", she answered "I learned that sometimes you have to trust your instinct or you'll miss an opportunity. You have to get out of your head and trust that you are strong enough to do it, and if not, then at least you can say you tried. I wish I'd done a few things differently and they may have worked in my favor, or not, but at least I'll know for next time. That's what its all about after all: having fun and learning from your mistakes".
#truth #preach, Michelle.
In the Men's C field, our two riders Mark Zhao and Andres Urrego demonstrated great teamwork utilizing each other's different strengths. Mark lost a handful of seconds to the attacking bunch in the first lap. He says "the group never left my line of sight, but my left knee wasn't feeling very good for some reason. It shook my confidence a bit and made me question whether I should carry on racing. Before I could answer the question, however, I saw the bunch just ahead of me so I picked up the pace and dropped the other three riders who were following me on the way back to the peloton". Mark delivered in the final lap. He says, "according to Andres, when I started pulling everybody instantly stopped chatting and I'd like to think that it wasn't just because the finish line was drawing near. By the end of it I launched our climber at the place he wanted me to peel off and I had nothing left".
Chris Anthony, who is always the one to beat on our local short hills, showed plenty of strength in the Men's B road race. On the steady uphills, he set a furious tempo that forestalled any possibility of attacks. He finished in the leading group of less than ten riders. Jason Sohn, in the same race, unfortunately suffered a race-ending double flat on the unmarked and unofficially named 'pothole of death': several bottles were strewn about in the area, presumably having been popped out from their cages because of the pothole. Jason says "while I was waiting for a car to pick me up, the Men's A field passed by and a rider punctured on the same pothole; I wish they'd at least marked it or something".
Kindred Racing Spirits
Michelle Hance captured the spirit of our racing team so well, so here it is verbatim:
"It's really cool how a group of people can become so close when they are so vastly different. We come from a huge variety of backgrounds, cultures, and interests, but once you start talking about bikes it really snowballs from there. We find so many things to talk about and that we have in common and its all thanks to the bike. I've gotten a lot closer with some really cool people throughout the course of this race season, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to share some stories, some frustrations, and most importantly a lot of laughs with everyone this season.
Unfortunately, Michelle will not be with us next season: "I only wish I could do it again next year, but I guess I have to become a real adult or something like that... (these people are a bunch of weirdos, but I guess I still like them a little)" #foreverobsessedwithotherpeoplesbikes #celebratorycentury?
When the going gets hard in a race, "I imagine myself riding with super fat people so I'd be embarrassed if I lost." -Nathan Gross
"She's actually huge" - Michelle Hance (part of a series on "Michelle, you're huge!")
"Bikes have a different kind of stimulation to my brain"- Mark Zhao
"Bringing spare wheels without a cassette on the rear is like taking a butter knife to a steak house. It won't really get ya anywhere" -Jacob Shupe