If you do not have time for the long version of my Nationals Race Report, here is the short version. Nationals was an incredible experience, but it was also difficult for the Strive Racing Team on the goals front. Our two favorites, Moriah and Rachel, who were both at the top of their age divisions, each crashed during the front end of this amazing venue, making it very challenging for us to attain our podium goals. Each girl is healing well and will be back on the bike soon. All and all, it was a grand adventure from which the girls learned a great deal.
If you have time to read the long version, here it is.
Moriah had the most potential as a 2x State Champion, competing against 20 of the fastest girls in the Nation in the 10 - 12 division. She had set her goals at winning all three National Championship races (Road Race, Crit, and Time Trial), and she had the speed to do it. She has beaten the girl who ended up winning two of the three National Championships races repeatedly throughout this last year.
Unfortunately, after making the break-away in both the Road Race and the Crit, Moriah made the wrong decision on which wheel to follow at the end of each race, and she did not swing off in time to correct her bad decision. It is difficult for us to watch the video I shot, because in both races (RR and Crit), after she finally got off the wrong wheel, she is closing fast on the three people that just barely beat her to the line. We believe she would have had two National Championships had she made better decisions at the end of the RR and Crit. That said, there is no better way to learn strategy, than to make poor strategic decisions and loose because of them. In the TT, she crashed at 26 MPH (it was pouring rain), and we were amazed she still got 4th in the Crit the next morning with her sprained wrist and bruised body. While she did not win her three National Championships, she still came home with two 4th place medals.
Rachel had the second greatest potential for the team. USA Cycling had her ranked as the 4th fastest girl there out of approximately 30 girls who were racing in the 13 - 14 division. In her first race (RR), which had a very fast pace, she was staying with the break-away at an average heart rate of 73% of her max, so she definitely had the speed to medal. Unfortunately, she hooked handle bars with a larger girl, who pulled away hard, taking Rachel's front wheel with her, sending Rachel down to the pavement in a violent crash. Her goal was to come home with two medals, across the three races. Unfortunately, that crash destroyed her chances.
She is still suffering from back and chest pain today (over a week later) from slightly bruised ribs, on top of all her other cuts and bruises. The impact was hard enough to crack her helmet and knock the wind out of her for about 10 seconds. The skid across the pavement took off a bunch of skin. Then, three cyclists behind her ran her over. She has a number of tire shaped bruises and big chain ring shaped cuts all over her body, as well as road rash on her shoulder and back. Fortunately, she has no broken bones.
She eventually got up from that wreck, and while she still completed each of the three races, she was in way too much pain to perform. It was a very hard decision for Dawn and I to allow her to continue in the two races that followed the Road Race. One week later, we are still not sure if we made the right decision. In the TT the very next day, she could only get her average heart rate to 83% of her max, close to 20 beats below her VO2 threshold. Ranked 4th, she got 17th with that effort, which turned out to be her highest finish. Nationals, . . . was definitely the hardest on Rachel.
Hannah was a thin (100 pound) 14 year old Cat 4, competing against some very muscular and fast 15 and 16 year olds, many of which were Cat 3, and some even Cat 2. We were pleased with her top 10 finish (3rd for the Cat 4's) in the Crit. She got 15th in the TT and needed to be 8% faster to win it. Over this last year she increased her speed by 9% and she will remain in this same division next year, assuming we can afford to go, so we are excited about Hannah's chances for next year.
Sarah, like Hannah, was at the bottom of her age division, a mere 10 years old competing against a number of fast 12 year olds, including Moriah. We were very pleased that she cracked the top 10 when she got 9th in the RR. Sarah had a great time.
In summary, Hannah and Sarah achieved their goals, which were to get a top 10 finish. Moriah, Rachel, and the Team as a whole, fell a bit short of our targets, but then again we were shooting high, dreaming big, and crashes are simply a part of racing. That all said, . . . . God is good, the girls are safe, and it was an incredible experience from which each girl will learn and grow.