2019 US Pro Road Nationals - Crossing Disciplines
The riders and staff of Team S&M CX are multi-discipline cylco-racers. We’re a cyclocross-centric operation, but we shred trails, commute by two wheels, and in the spring and summer, we race our road bikes. This year, Beth Ann, Brenna, and Clara all made their way to Knoxville, Tennessee to race the US Pro National Road, Crit, and Time Trial events. Though we wear different jerseys on the road, representing our respective teams, it was a special experience to travel to Nationals and race alongside each other—three riders who met through homegrown Oregon road racing and continue to expand our multi-discipline racing careers today, together.
Clara wrote up some thoughtful reflections on the weekend, and the road season as a whole—please enjoy!
It’s funny to see where a season will take you. This February, I returned home CX Worlds, knowing I wanted to try something new. Last year, I took my “off season” truly off, doing things like riding mountain bikes slowly for five hours and staying inside when it was dark and rainy. This year I wanted some intention in my riding, something to build up to and perform for. I wanted to spend my spring developing myself as an athlete and exploring a different discipline at a new level. I chose to invest my time and efforts around road racing. It was somewhat of a return to the sport for me, since I road racing was were I began my bike obsession, however this year I wanted to take it beyond the local and regional level and try something larger.
Originally I built my season around the return of the Cascade Cycling Classic, and I came away with a successful ride! I took the Best Young Rider’s jersey, fought hard for fourth place on GC, and even found an elusive podium on the Aubrey Butte Circuit race. I was pretty elated on road racing after that week and my coach, Kendra Wenzel, cleverly took the opportunity to present me with another idea: what about road nationals? Road nationals was a much more difficult race in terms of logistics and budget, but with the support of Team S&M CX and the thoughtful planning of a one Brenna Wrye-Simpson, we made the idea ignite.
The race itself was a fascinating experience. It was an 8-mile circuit punctuated by sharp 3-minute climb. The pace was set by the best teams in America and eventually driven by the best riders in the world. Like cyclocross, the racing was filled with slight nuances and important moves. Luckily, I had 9 laps to practice my positioning and moving through the group. Unfortunately the little mistakes accumulated heavily the last time up that 3-minute climb and I was separated from the main group. Teetering on the edge of cramps and heat exhaustion, I rode a chasing group to the line to finish 25th overall and 5th U23.
I’ve come away from the race with a similar feeling like that after pre-riding a cyclocross cross: I practiced the lines, found the areas for mistakes, and know where I should exert my efforts. It was an exhilarating and stimulating experience, and, like a tricky rut on a cyclocross cross, I have the same obsession to go back and ride it better. I’ll see you again in Knoxville next year.
Huge thanks to our friends Gene & Stephanie for hosting us, to S&M CX title sponsor Sellwood Cycle Repair for the mojo, to HiFi Sound Cycling Components and Challenge Tires for Clara’s speedy racing shoes at Nats, and to Eric at Tennessee Valley Bikes, and Keith & Madeline and Gene for KILLING it in the feed zone!!!