It is a long road to nowhere! The picture above is the TT course at the Masters Nationals. One of the nicest roads in America !!
Me and Mark Pohndorf made the drive to Louisville , yet an other National Championship Race . I did the race there in 2003 and got 2nd in the road race that year in the 35-39 , so I knew the course and since I won the CX Nationals last Dec a lot of good things has happened . I was willing to drive 12 hours each way and spend my money on 3 nights in a hotel , food and everything that goes along with it. If you pay $ 80.00 bucks to race each event and there is no price money the only way this trip would pay off was to win the Jersey! Long story short , I did WIN!! The Jersey went to the guy that would have truthfully finished 5th though .
The road race was held in a park on a 4.8 mile course , a 10 lap roller coaster with 100 guys . Is that really a road race ? circuit race ? or just a freak show that was poorly organized and the easy way out to hold this race. Look at the TT course what does that tell you . I have travelled and raced all over America and there are really nice places and roads in this country, but why use them when we can make a lot of money on entry fees and just have the race in a park.
There was a 4 man break including myself towards the end of the race , we come around NO BELL, so we are racing and trying to stick it. Half way thru that lap I asked the Moto Ref ” how many more to go ?” He put one finger up and says one ! I attack the break and it splits , me and David Henderson are the 2 leaders . We are going into what we think should be the last lap , Moto says 15 sec to the 2 chasers . We make it , David is really drilling it up the finishing climb( just a hill) he pretty much went 500 meters out . I was just waiting for him to fade , which he almost did not , I got by him right at the line and won the National Championship by a couple inches! Mission accomplished , now the rest of the week just race for fun…..wrong!!!
Later we find out that the other guys finished on the lap before , the 2 chaser turned around and as they were going into the finishing shoot 3 guys caught them and beat them to the line ! The field was a minute behind.
This is what happened in the race , I was in it and everyone else knows what happened as well , but the Officials made so many mistakes and did not really know the facts of the race . No bell, the Moto ref can not use his radio or count for the matter to 10 , lapped riders not pulled ( because they would get pissed ), not closing off the course to direct us towards the finish and not knowing what lap we were on . The whole race just turned into a total disaster. It could have been corrected and the winner could have been awarded with the Jersey, but instead the officials just lied and covered up their incompetence and over ruled the protest and the finishing order was the order we crossed the line ! I finished 54th and David 55th, so that means we lapped half the field . The guy or typical ” I do not know what happened ” I guess I won , even there was 4 guys ahead of me , felt good about it and is going to wear the Jersey as a proud National Champion!
I lost every bit of respect for the Jersey or any official that had anything to do with organizing this event! The US National Champion Ship does not mean anything to me anymore. I will probably never take part the Nationals again . If it was not for the sponsorship deals from the CX win , I would mail that Jersey and medal back to USA Cycling for sure . I feel embarrassed wearing that after the disrespect in Louisville. In the past I thought that was the race to win and a very proud thing to wear if you were able to pull it off. No more, now it feels like being the Clown of the circus ! This even feels hard to write about , as of today I would enjoy winning our local “Thursday night Worlds “( Rockleigh) a lot more than wearing the stars and stripes , not a thing for me anymore!!!! All the support I get from Mark @ Westwoodcycle , it means a lot to deliver and win big races . That is my way of saying “thanks” and this sort of thing (stupidy)takes a lot away from the sport and makes it hard to feel good about a lot of things! Hey it is only a bike race at the end of the day!
The freak show did not end on Tuesday . The next day was the National TT . I was not really into this at all , but Mark was here for this event and if there was a slim chance of beating Feldman , I would be up for that. In addition , if I was to win the TT , I could have stuck it to the USA Cycling and not accepted the Jersey , that was the plan , but ….it did not happened ! There was a 2 hour delay for all starts due to POOR organization once again , no marshals to close of the exits ramps to our Interstate TT course, what a surprise! I did not bother to warm up, a waist of energy at this point . Some guys warmed up 3 times due the delays , I rolled up to the start , with my now UCI legal TT bike after hacking my nose of the saddle to get the 5 cm behind the bottom bracket! I felt fine , no fire though to race !! Just kind of rode a fast pace and finished 10th , I guess better than 54th , but did not really care! Mark got 13th and within 1/2 an hour we were out of there!!!! On the road again!! Racing to make it to the start of our next TT , the first stage of Fitchburg! My starting time was 11.07 , a mere 23 hours late!
Cracker Barrel, one of the best pancake stops on this trip, a first for Mark. When you spend 30 something hours in a car and you do not see anything but chain food crap , you have to pick one to survive !
This race and trip was a serious mental challenge and a test if you really like racing and riding your bike . Thanks for reading !