2014 the biggest year yet?! If my tan lines have a Say-So then Yes!

Woah! Is it really already May ninth? It’s unbelievable how fast this year has been going by for me.  From Cyclocross nationals to Road nationals I’m not sure where all my time has gone.  I feel very fortunate to have been able to travel as much as I have already in 2014 and being able to race more then I ever have.  I truly love the sport of biking in general.  I would say that I used to be completely biased to MTBing but now that I have competed in other cycling disciplines, my love has only grown stronger for the sport.

Since my last blog post I’ve been to cyclocross nationals, Southern Cross, collegiate road races, the Sea Otter Classic, collegiate road nationals, and PMBAR. And, the last two were in the same weekend!  Doing all of this racing has only showed me how many up and downs there can be in this sport.  One race I can feel unstoppable, and then the next race I wonder if I am even going to make it the first fifteen minutes.

Luckily Provision Sports had hooked me up with an amazing coach, Joe Peeden.  I went to Provision seeking some general advice on how to get stronger, and they gave me a few options for coaches I could work with.  I didn’t exactly need someone to tell me how to ride a bike I needed someone to help me get more powerful and motivate me along the way.  I was told that Joe was big into triathlons and swimming and he certainly meets that description. Joe has only been positive through out this experience, and if the way I felt this past weekend expresses how much work he has done then he is through the roof good.  Joe has had to deal with my hectic schedule of working full time, going to grad school, and in general a very out of whack racing schedule to get ready for. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t thought to myself I hope that this is working. Usually those are thoughts on the hardest days where turning the pedals over seems nearly impossibly.  However every race I want to feel my bast are the races that I feel exceptional, if not better then I ever thought I could feel. Thank you Joe! 🙂

Cyclocross was a very hard transition for me from MTBing this year.  I was certainly on a high from all the fall racing and felt pretty invincible, and my first cyclocross race I just remember feeling like my fitness had totally disappeared.  I saw some collegiate girls that I raced through MTB season just ride away from me and no matter how hard I tried to catch them. It just felt like I was getting slower.  After getting on a good schedule of training though and practicing mounting/dismounting numerous times, and getting some awesome new White Industries T11 hubs with HED Belgium tubular rims I was able to pull out a 6th place finish at nationals.  I ride a Kona Jake the Snake and its awesome.  Its a fast bike that can handle anything a CX course can through at it and more.  Thanks to Tennessee Valley Bicycles for building me such an awesome set of wheels.  Also my teammate, Andrew Bailey, and I got third in the team relay with just the two of us when the other teams had a set of four.  Needless to say I am very happy with those results and it made me happy to do so well for King University.

Podium for Team Relay

Then Road Season!! Eek! This defiantly was one of the most dreadful things for me this year.  I was so nervous about both being horrible at a cycling discipline and racing on the road instead of the dirt.  Fortunately for me the first road race at Clemson ended up starting on this horrific climb that was just straight up and when you thought it couldn’t get steeper.. It did! This definitely separated the group putting four lead girls off the front and then me and my friend, Sarah Hill from Brevard, between them and the main group of girls.  Like me, Sarah is big into mountain-biking and while we both were taking leads and working together to at least keep the main girls away from us for the next forty miles I remember be very happy that we were friends and were able to work together.  Then there was crit racing and in my first crit I’m pretty sure I was close to last! But by the next one I was in the top five.  Road racing is everything that people talk about, from tactics, to strength, and the right teammates.  It all matters.  By the end of road season sitting here typing all this out I have found that road racing does have a special place in my heart and I really do love it.

Sarah and I

Did I mention I got to go competed in the Sea Otter Classic?  It is one of the biggest MTB races in America and there are also industry vendors there showing off all the newest technology.  The MTB course was definitely more like a road race with a lot of climbing.  I knew this going out there so it was not a surprise, but obviously I had no idea just how hard racing with the big girls was.  It was my first pro race ever and the nerves were extremely high.  Luckily my great friend Vick went out there with me and our friends Randy and Ginger Conner from Knoxville just happened to be on vacation in CA near there at the same time.  It is always nice at races to have people you know around.  It was an experience itself lining up with Mary Ann Voss much less doing my first pro race ever.  It went surprisingly well and I owe Vick Dyer a big thank you for encouraging me to get my pro license and to go do that race.  I can only hope that once I compete in a pro race where there is actually a lot of single track I will do better.

First Time at the Pacific Ocean

So here we are and I should start off with saying I have officially finished my first year of grad school! Woo Hoo!!! This past week has been insane! I knew that it was going to happen and Joe and I were trying our best to prepare me for this past weekend but after a couple of days to recover from this I can’t believe it is already over.  Very bittersweet.

The weekend consisted of a TTT at Road nationals in Richmond, VA on Friday, PMBAR on Saturday, and the Road Race for nationals back in VA on Sunday.  Luckily I have an amazing mom that drove me the first half, and a wonderful boyfriend with a Sprinter van to drive me the second half.  I’m pretty sure that I was in a vehicle for well over 24 hours.  The Friday TTT was not our best race.  There were two laps and when you go through the start/finish line the first time you have to make sure you don’t exit through the finishers chute.  Well there was definitely some confusion and Jennifer and Meghan definitely exited the course.  Oops! Also on top of that my extremely, ridiculously strong teammate Jennifer hurt her leg in Athens the week before.  It was a tough time trial and I know that we all could have done way better but I’m glad that it didn’t kill our spirits.  Jennifer actually ended up getting Second in the crit the next day, and the boys ended up getting 5th at the TTT that day! Go King!!

Warming up

Now off to Brevard, NC for some MTBing.  PMBAR is always a great race, but after last year I was very happy to see sunshine and not a downpour of rain at the start line.  The climb up Black was of course hard but honestly I had one of my fastest times climbing it! My Carbon Kona Hei Hei Supreme is sure lighter then the bike I had last year! 🙂  Once we reached Presley Gap, looked at the map and saw that it was the same as last year, I said that we should just stick to last years plan and not over think it! WRONG!!!! Scott tried to tell me there was a better route but I had already convinced myself otherwise! I should never make executive decisions while racing my brain does not operate so well when all the blood is flowing to my legs.  I even had myself convinced it was a great route 5 hours into it. Then when some sense popped back into me. I knew going up Turkey Pen was the wrong way to go and I knew Scott and I were the only two that were going to be taking that route. Every where we went we were going conflicting ways from everyone else.  This is not a good sign needless to say! However, by that time I had apologized to Scott for my error we were too deep into the race to change our minds/route. Of course half way up Turkey Pen I just wanted to slap myself for thinking this was such a great idea! There were so many times I wanted to complain but the thought, “Kaysee you made this decision” shut me up real quick.  Turkey Pen was every bit hard as ever but Black Mountain came much quicker this year.  Also I’m pretty sure we barreled down Black faster then we usually do.  Coke and burritos were on my mind!!

Scott and I at PMBAR

At the end of the day Scott and I defiantly chose a poor route.  Wait, scratch that, I made a poor route choice! 🙂 However we ended up finishing second in our division and did pretty well.  We defiantly rode much stronger then we did the previous year, and I at the finish I felt tremendously better then I expected to feel. No matter how many times you do Eric Wever’s races they never really get easier. It is all about how well you have adapted to coping with pain that is incomparable to any other.

Now for an overnight drive back to Richmond, VA.  I spent the night with my legs elevated in the sprinter van and drinking an half gallon of chocolate milk with Scott.  We got to Richmond around 3 and got checked in at around 3:30 with a 5 A.M. wake up call.  I laid in bed but sleep really was not near.  I am almost glad that our road race was at 7 A.M. because my tiredness had not set in and the soreness was very minimal.  The road race started and my legs felt shockingly good for having done an 11 hour MTB race with over 11000 ft of climbing the day before.  The course was 5, 10 mile laps that consisted of a steep cobble descent and a steep cobble S-turn climb.  I really had a lot of fun and was able to stay with the second group of ladies, but at the sprint finish I did not have what it took.  However I ended up getting 16th out of over 40 ladies.  For my first road season ever, I am very happy.  Also King got 4th in omnium points!! Superduper Awesome Sauce!!!! 🙂

Road Nationals

King has really been a blessing in my life.  I’ve been able to be part of a cycling team where everyone of us is really trying our best.  I’ve learned a lot from my teammates and from my coach.  It’s sad to me that the first year with them is already over, and especially to see three of my teammates graduate because I feel like I have barely gotten to know them.  Then on top of that to have Dan, our coach, leave after this year is really heartbreaking.

The team

Dan Kreiss has sacrificed so much of his personal time to make sure all of us get to all of the races in one piece, with all of our gear, and on time. But more then that Dan has been a mentor for all of us and brought us together as a team, without him King’s cycling team would not be as great as it is.  Dan has been more then helpful when I’ve needed it and even when I thought I haven’t needed it.  Even though I live in Knoxville, Dan has made me feel part of the team and has even spent countless minutes just listening if I’m having a bad day! There is no coach that can replace Dan, but all the work that Dan has done to build King’s cycling team is only going to expand from here.

Coach Dan

In 2014 so far I have learned that cycling is an up and down roller coaster.  I have bad days and good days, but it is all about how you can turn that bad day on the bike into a smile on your face.  Also 2014 has told me that a closed mind just means your closing off opportunities in your life.  I really dreaded road racing and without King and Dan telling me to do it and motivating me I would have missed out on a great experience.

Happy Face