As it is with bicycle racing, there can only be one winner. Our best chance at a National Jersey was today’s criterium as Kayla excels at bike handling and especially ripping turns that give most girls the heebie-jeebies.
We left too much on the course yesterday and regret it still. There was no playing around today. Most importantly, there was a nasty downhill sharp 90-degree turn on today’s course that caused multiple crashes in previous races – Kayla’s bread and butter.
Sure enough, first lap saw major carnage develop after the downhill turn including one girl with a possible broken leg who went down on the curb. We made sure Kayla was posted near the front of the field for the start. There wasn’t a race that didn’t see carnage on the first lap and we were taking no risks (boys 13-14 I personally saw five separate crashes on the same corner taking out around 15 riders total with one major injury).
To sum it up, Kayla wanted to attack on the uphill whenever possible. And attack she did. Yesterday there was barely any mention of Kayla from the PA. Today, they couldn’t stop talking about her. At one point, she had the announcer telling the audience “Kayla Sterling from Plano Texas – doing the lion’s share of the work in the break today”. Of course Dad doesn’t like hearing that as she knows better than to pull the break along. So off I go screaming my head off to make her stop. “Kayla – did you hear me telling you to stop working”. “Yes dad – I heard you but they wouldn’t pull…”?!?
Our plan, if Kayla was still in a break, was to attack at .5 Kilo to go, the start of the hill. The finish was a slight downhill which never suits her as heavier riders always gun her down when they have a weight advantage. Unfortunately, she developed a nice gap at a full Kilo to go as she was out cornering the break and was forced to go for it too early. The break gave chase and managed to pull her back with just the downhill straightaway left. Kayla sprinted for all she was worth and got beat by the fastest U18 female track sprinter in U.S. – two time National Champion – Tara McCormick.
Silver medal today. Not too shabby.
One thing we take from this: Kayla is definitely one of the premier female elite junior cyclists in the nation. You don’t podium twice at Junior Nationals if you don’t have the goods. She has the consistency to be on the podium in any type of race. The best are here at Nationals and Kayla is right there with them. We tell her – she belongs.
Tomorrow is the National Time Trial. We don’t expect much there as neither of us have done much time trialing. The TT is won on the uphill leg, Kayla goes uphill fast. Hopefully this will bode well for another podium.