Stage 1 - Lookout & First Stop Bike Shop Circuit Race - 72 miles
Stage 2 - Champion System Road Race - 76 miles
ITT - Stage 3
Keep those pedals spinning,
Stage 1 - Lookout & First Stop Bike Shop Circuit Race - 72 miles
A beautiful crisp mountain morning (32 degrees) began the Memorial Day Weekend at the Killington Stage Race. It's good to be back with the Kelly boys after a couple weeks of hiatus. The first day provided a some fast racing with lots of downhill and gentle climbs. Nothing had much chance of staying away and I spent most of the day hidden in the field working as little as possible. Jon D'Alba joined us and patrolled the front to perfection with Ben Frederick changing rolls from usually leadership to helper and absolutely killed it. Curtis did his thing making sure any breaks up the road were safe and the rest of us sat in. It was awesome to see those guys take their jobs to heart and do such a good job. I accidentally got in a 5 man break with a lap to go just by following a wheel and then the peloton easing up. We never had a chance gaining no more then 35s and I did as little work as possible. We were caught by 5k to go and I rolled in on the crazy 50mph downhill sprint finish. All safe for the day with our GC guys feeling good and ready to go. Tomorrow brings another 72 miles with a big climb finish that should shake things up a lot before Monday's TT. Should be another great day in Vermont.
Stage 2 - Champion System Road Race - 76 miles
Today was set up for the GC guys with a tough 20 minute climb finish up to Killington Mountain Resort, a hard 3 km began the effort with 4 km of rollers until the final 1200m up to the resort. Curtis and Ben Fred made the early break at mile 1 and the rest of us spent the long downhill sitting in and barely pedaling. Ben played chicken with a rider from CCP and unfortunately that game brought them both back to the field. We hit the first KOM of the day and rode up in no rush and we were told the break had 3:00. Another loop around the KOM let the break out to 5:00. We came off the last KOM with 25 miles to go and after a big descent and a brief stint on gravel the peloton was rolling and began to real back in time. On the gravel Dakota had the quote of the day asking Jeremy Powers, "Hey, Jeremy, do you even ride on dirt?" Killed it. We turned onto the highway with 13 miles to the climb and a stiff headwind and slight uphill. We got the entire Kelly train with Ben Fred, D'Alba, and Dakota leading the rest of us out in a perfect single file line. Those guys just killed it snaking us through the group and depositing us right at the front of the group as we made the left hand turn with 8.5km (~5mi) of climbing left.
After taking a little break from riding last week I wanted to help the guys that have helped me all year for them to have a shot at the win. I was a little too aggressive early but helped set the pace for the first 2K or so before getting popped and riding my way in for a whatever finish. It was a lessoned learned as I really wanted to help the guys on the rollers but Chris smashed it and finished up in 9th in a monster field with Seitz and JT coming in just behind in 12th and 13th. We would have loved a little higher finish but honestly in this field we're really happy. More importantly the TT is tomorrow and I think our guys will definitely move up and there is less than 30s to third for Chris. I'm excited to give it a crack myself but more to see how our guys shake up the GC tomorrow. We want to win the overall but we rode everything perfectly and having Curtis in the break meant we could keep everyone together and fresh until the bottom of the climb. It was an impressive day of riding even if it didn't end in a win.
ITT - Stage 3
After the second stage we had 3 guys hoping to move up into the Top 5 in the ITT with Jake, Seitz, and Chris. I was excited for Chris and the others to give it a good crack, all three of those guys can rip a TT and watching how Chris was riding I knew he would smash it. Jake won the TT at Page County with Seitz just behind so I knew they could move up big spots. The TT was 17km mostly a gentle uphill, then a big flat straight section, followed by a climb and rolling into the finish. I didn't do much, but I was irrelevant to the race and was mentally and physically fried by the TT start. I was only able to catch Chris coming in but he was flying! When things finally shook out it was Chris in 9th in the TT with a time of 22:50 moving him up to 6th place overall in the stacked field for the best result of his career. Jake ended up coming in with a time of 23:09 for 12th and Seitz at 23:31 for 17th. The final GC shakeup left Chris in 6th, +1:05, Jake in 9th at +1:39, and Seitz in 12th at +2:01.
Overall all it was a really good weekend. The field was incredibly strong this year and we did everything to set our guys up to give them the best chance at success. We always want to win, but Chris got a huge result for us in 6th and in the end we are as happy as we can be with that. It's a huge step forward for Chris getting his first shot at really leading the team and not stuck in the mile 0 break all day. He did a great job at stepping in to that role and finding success. JT and Seitz rode like old pro's and gave us 2 other great GC riders. From here it's time to focus on the build up to Amateur Nationals with a bit stop at the Clarendon Air Force Crits in DC on June 13/14th.
Keep those pedals spinning,
There is no doubt that collegiate cycling has been one of my favorite parts of cycling since I began riding again two summers ago. With my collegiate career coming to an end I was excited to head down to Asheville, NC for USA Cycling’s Collegiate Road Nationals.
I drove down planning to race just the ITT on Sunday as I had been deemed ineligible for the road race since I hadn’t competed 3 collegiate races. There was some back and forth between USAC, our conference director, and myself as the official rule has an asterisk that made it possible for me to race. Originally I was able to register, deeming my eligibility, but later it was revoked. When I showed up to registration they provided me a number for the RR as well as ITT and I double-checked to see if I was on the start list. Since I was on the start list and no refund was issued I assumed I was actually good to race. I was excited to have the opportunity to get after it in the RR and after pre-riding the course with some new Texas friends I was excited to rip it up the next day. The course was interesting with 5 tough short (3-5 minute) climbs followed by a long flat 20k stretch along the river. How it would play out was anyone’s guess, the hills should break it up but the long flat river stretch could easily bring it back together.
The RR started with a 400W “neutral” roll out up the first hill before settling until the racing began a mile later. The pace stayed high with a couple attacks but nothing interesting. The pace was hard enough to shed most of the 156 person field and we hit the river road with ~50 riders left. Attacks continued to little avail as the group was too fresh for anyone to really get away and the pace remained stiff. Coming into the start finish 2 riders were up the road but the group was coming in fast. With the pace already hard and 2 up the road I attacked through the 1st feed zone and up the first climb and got a quick gap. I wasn’t happy to be alone but hoped it would keep the pace in the group high. The idea was that the harder the race the better it was for me. Just as I rolled over the hill two more riders, one from Florida and another from Lindenwood came across and we worked together up the 2nd climb. We caught the 2 up the road quickly and got to work with ~30s on the field.
I assumed this wasn’t THE break but that being up the road was a good place to be with the hard pace changes expected in the group. I thought a group of ~10-15 would make their way across and that would be the final selection. I was surprised we still stayed clear through the hills and we hit the road and rotated well together. Thinking the catch would happen soon I was surprised when the Commisaire car held a white board out the window that read 1’35”. Okay, interesting. By the time we hit the hills for the 3rd and final lap we had 2’. I thought I was riding smart, Connor Brown (Lindenwood) was taking long pulls and I thought if (University of Florida) didn’t drop me on the climbs I would have a good shot for the win. We stayed together till the road but Connor was just too strong and drilled it to the line leaving me to hang on for dear life and a 2nd place finish. Not what I was looking for and finishing runner up in some ways feels worse than finishing further back, but the legs didn’t have it. Frustrating.
That evening in the results I realized I was DQ’d. I petitioned and tried to fix what I thought was an unjust DQ but in the end, for the reasons stated previously, the DQ would stand. I think that there is enough leeway in the rule USA Cycling believes I broke that I should have been eligible to race and furthermore that if I am on the start list I should be in the clear. After all, I’m a bike racer, and if I’m given a chance, I’m absolutely going to race my bike. That being said I understand and will respect the decision and it was within their right to enforce it. That being said, I’ll take this picture and still make the case that when the chips were on the table, I finished 2nd at Collegiate Nationals.
I was hoping to exact revenge in the ITT on Sunday. I felt confident in my abilities, especially after resting on Saturday while the rest of my competitors hung on for dear life in the crit. I was no doubt feeling a little tired but believed I could pull it together for 20km. I was the 2nd to last starter and knew my biggest threat would leave 30 seconds after me. I went out at a solid pace, catching my 30 second man quickly and kept it rolling until the turn around on the out and back course. I did a quick time check to the guy behind me and knew I had the edge on him. Unfortunately the 2nd half didn’t pan out as well. The monkey jumped on my back hard and it was all I could do to keep pushing the pedals. I just kept thinking “it’s for a national championship, it’s for a national championship” and even that at times didn’t feel motivating enough. There were three little rollers at the end of the TT course, rollers I envisioned myself blasting over on the way to victory. Those rollers seemed so much bigger on Sunday. Still I gutted it out and blasted the last 1K to the finish leaving everything I had out there on the course. As I came across the line I heard the announcer say, “and that’s Bryan Lewis, putting in the fastest time of the day”, a sigh and I thought I had it, not matter how bad I felt. Unfortunately 27 seconds later my 30-second man rolled in and my dreams were squashed once again, this time by a measly 3.51 seconds.
It’s hard to deny I just wasn’t quite good enough this weekend, something that will frustrate me for a while, probably longer than I would like. It doesn’t matter how many times someone tells me how great it was, it wasn’t what I wanted, what I hoped for, or what I thought I was capable of and to be honest, that sucks. It will be okay. I can’t dwell on it for long as there are big races coming and another shot at a national title at the end of June. If I wasn’t already focused for Amateur Nationals in Lake Tahoe you can be sure I am now!
Keep those pedals spinning
Phew for what was original thought to be a relatively easy simple 60 mile mountain bike ride with only 2300ft of climbing became one of the hardest races I've ever been a part of. Over the course of the 60 mile ride I made plenty of mistakes, had a touch of bad lucks and mediocre legs. All in all for my first real Pro mountain bike race it didn't go to bad as I still limped in just outside the Top 5 in 6th. Virginia took it to the endurance mountain bike scene though with Jeremiah Bishop (2nd) and Keck Baker (3rd) getting on the podium giving the good 'ol VA 3/6 top spots as well as SS national champion Gordon Wadsworth.
Clearly the Virginia boys came to play. It was quite the long hard day...here is the full story.
Jay Catlett and I rolled down to Augusta, GA early Thursday morning to pre-ride the first half of the course filled with pine needles, dips, and quick turns along with some open grass and gravel road sections. Friday we relaxed and pre-rode the 2nd half of the course: A completely different world with more extended climbs, roots, and creek crossings and long road and field sections before a final ~10 minute runup to the finish on gravel roads and jeep trails. I thought the course suited me well but couldn't decide between the originally planned Santa Cruz Highball (Hardtail) or the Tallboy. I stuck to my plan and went Highball but will forever question if it was the right plan, I was banking on smashing open road sections but didn't quite have it when the race went off. Race day came and preparations went well, it was supposed to be 80+ and hydration and fueling was likely to be key, I loaded up on powerbar gels and clif blocks and thanked my Dad repeatedly for making the trek to make sure I got bottles throughout the race.
The race started much more mild then expected as we made the mile long journey to the single track. As we entered I got into the woods in third but not without a stroke of bad luck first, a rider trying to get inside ran into me and knocked one of my bottles out, shouldn't have been a problem with the first feed inside an hour. The racing stayed hot and cold depending on the mood of the group until we hit this ravine ~30 minutes in. With everyone getting off their bikes the leaders drilled it to stretch the field, the following grass and gravel roads were HARD. I stayed safe and remained in contact if only barely, bouncing the heart rate all too close to 200bpm for a 60 mile mountain bike race. At one point I was so out of it I tapped someones wheel and actually went down, causing an issue with riders behind me. Oops. Stupid and I hope I didn't screw up his race. This section broke the field with a group of 10 of us leading heading in to feed zone 1. I had drained bottle one knowing hydration was key but due to a bobble between Dad and myself, I was left without a bottle. After having my backup bottle knocked out I was worried. I trudged on, losing contact with Keck who was flying through the woods but regained when the pace settle as we snaked alongside the lake back to feed 2. I was incredibly thirsty and counting down the miles, was fortunate to grab two bottles from Dad and Jay each to keep me safe. The race got going again right after the feed with guys drilling it on small single track sections and road sections.
In another ravine that required dismount Keck got a couple seconds and I never saw him again, he was flying through the woods faster than I could hang. Time off the mountain bike hurts and Keck was dialed. By the time we hit the road section he was 15s up, a gap I would usually hope to close but already 1.5 bottles drained, I was hurting. The next road section found me hanging on for dear life to a group of 4 chasing Drew Dillman, who was chasing Keck and another rider. Emptied bottles we passed through Feed 3 for the first time, problem was feeding had to occur on way back, another 10 or 12 miles away and I was thirsty and out of water. The backside loop hurt and I cracked hard. Drew and another rider road away where I wanted to attack and I struggled through. Shortly I was left in 7th mulling my way around the course enjoying each descent and struggling up each climb. It was an ugly time, the first time this year I felt completely cracked. As the loop continued I was losing it, mentally out of it, tired, thirsty, dehydrated. I saw the course marshall ushering me back up toward Feed 3. Thank goodness, I can make it up the hill, I thought to myself, the relief was real, and much needed. I screamed for three bottles going in to Feed 3 and thankfully had my Dad, Jay, and Emily Wadsworth there for my salvation. I finished one of those bottles before I left the feed zone, and another before I got back in to the Single Track after the road section back home, bottle three was 3/4 gone within another 15 minutes on the trail. Finally with my legs back I could actually ride and had my head back on straight just in time to hit the gravel road back to the finish. I got the rider in 6th and blew by him, he was clearly in and ugly place, a similar place to where I was before Feed 3. I rolled in to the finish shaking my head, unsure of what just happened. Ouch.
All in all, 6th place was only one spot outside of my original goal of Top 5, so I couldn't be too upset. Some bad luck and honestly some poor racing early cost me, how much, I don't know, the legs weren't having it today and hurt early, but maybe the hydration cost me most. Who knows, I won't dwell on it. It was the first time doing a race like this and my first time in a Pro field racing alongside guys with outside support and I learned a lot. I think I may have picked the wrong bike and my pressure felt low all day until I hit the front with a CO2. I should have stopped at Feed 1 and gotten a bottle at all costs, I could have gotten back. These lessons were learned the hard way with 10-15 miles of serious suffering before being brought back to life by 3 bottles and a gravel road finish. Next time I will be more prepared. On the plus side I step away from Marathon Nationals with a 6th place finish and 40 UCI points which should help down the road. The Santa Cruz Highball did its thing even if I didn't have the legs to let it fulfill it's full potential, the new Cutaway BSlow Racing jerseys made it just in time to wear and look awesome, and my Swiftwick socks kept my feet comfortable even as I trudged through the many creek crossings. Can only complain so much. Some fellow collegiate riders Luke Vrouwenvelder and Byron Rice rolled in Top 15 and Top 20 respectively just as blown as I was. We wasted little time heading down to the glorious lake that taunted us and jumped in to cool off and refresh only to feel the sharp sting of saddle soars, a great metaphor for the day, positives washed away by negatives, but in the end the lake still felt darn good. Beside having zero desire to do a mountain bike race again, I'm sure I'll be back to make a run for the podium some day. Onward and upward.
A final huge thanks to my Dad for running around all day feeding Jay in the morning so I could rest and relax and then Jay for running around all week with me, dealing with my prissy self prior to the race, then finishing your race with a broken seatpost only to run around to Feed 2 and 3 to make sure I had bottles. I owe you a lot. Best support crew in the business, sorry for dragging you around, but thanks for being a good sport.
Keep those pedals spinning,