Hard lessons…

June 24, 2010

Today’s result is a bitter pill to swallow.  Getting beat by fractions of a second in a road race when you know you screwed around and left a lot in the tank and then getting beat by a two-time National Champion sprint monster does not equal what happened today.

We previewed the course three times.  We know the old excuse: “you should know the course”…..   There’s not much more as a dad I can do.   We’ve never been here before.   They did not have any kind of markings set up when we pre-rode the course, we just assumed we knew where the turn-around might be.  They asked us not to be on the course after setup even though it is still an open road.  The most irritating part, and anyone with a teenager will feel my pain, when we previewed the course the first time in the truck, there sleeps my Kayla in the back seat.

So what happened?   Kayla was the first 15-16 womens competitor to roll out of the gate.   She was the first TT’er of the day to roll to the 20K turn-around point.   Kayla turned at the younger kids 12k turn around, the same point everyone else was turning at…and they let her do it without an inkling of indication that she was not to turn there.   Unfortunately, the younger boys and the paracycling were still on course so they still had the first turn-around going.  So when Kayla comes screaming back into the gate with a time in the 19:00 minute range, we knew something was bad wrong.

So we take this one as a learning lesson.   We know she could have podium-ed again, if not won it outright.  The funny part, she comes in around 3-minutes behind the time of one of our own – Danny Parks of GSTenzing – who won the boys 13-14 field and is currently knocking on the door of the Cat2 ranks in Texas.   Now that’s fast and impressive.

Gonna take a while before the sting of this one goes away.

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One step up

June 24, 2010

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.


Local news coverage of Kayla’s race

June 23, 2010

Race is profiled in the following link.   Shows some mid-race coverage and the sprint finish…Kayla’s in red.

http://www.ktvz.com/video/24000038/index.html


2010 Junior Nats Road Race – in the books

June 22, 2010

The start line:

Shimano neutral support vehicle.  Several of these following Kayla’s race.  Watching her race gave me goosebumps –   there was a 2-3 minute train of vehicles preceding the pack.  Race director vehicle, technical support vehicle, myriad of police motorcycles and cars, media vehicles, you name it.   Really awesome to watch and be a part of.

The awards ceremony


Preliminary Road Race results

June 22, 2010

Just a short update on today’s results before we head to the awards ceremony. Kayla got 3rd. The race had 30+ entries including last years 13-14 RR winner, 15-16 RR winner and 15-16 Crit winner. Several State Champions in attendance. Lots of strong competition.

Race broke apart on lap 2 (10 laps on the circuit) with a seven girl break, with Kayla in it, going up the road. Kayla said it took multiple attacks by several different girls before anything would stick. Two girls were isolated in no-mans land about 1 minute back and then the pack sat anywhere from 3-5 minutes back.

The two girls in no-man’s land made it back on within the last half lap as the break was getting real lazy and slowed down. So the finish was 9 girls.

Although 3rd place at her first Nationals race is a very good result, what hurts so bad about it is, she was probably the most capable of decimating the break by attacking on the hills. I kept watch of her temperament as she went by each lap – Kayla looked like she was at a slumber party. When Kayla races Women’s Open back in Texas she sometimes will look like she’s been in the ring with Mike Tyson for a few rounds. She never even looked winded – not once. Making faces at me on the uphills, I knew the race was too easy. Unfortunately she had two bad pieces of intel that she rode by which probably cost her the race.

One, I told her NOT to show too much strength. Several of the other girls have articles written about them, have their faces plastered on the internet in CyclingNews etc… Kayla is a total unknown in the field. No one would know who she was or be watching her (very important). I didn’t want to give them a reason in the race to start watching her.

Two, we surveyed the finish and decided she needed to go into the final turn in number two or three position. Well, it turns out that race is won by the entry into the last turn. We watched the 13-14 boys field sprint and the 1-2-3 position going into the turn is exactly how they finished. We got this info too late to get it to Kayla who was already on course. She did exactly as told, lined up in third position and that’s exactly where she finished. She was swiftly closing down 1st and 2nd position but there was not enough road left to the finish. Clearly the strongest sprinter in the field – as usual.

As they say, the race is not always won by the fastest but the smartest. Today we did not have the correct tactics.

If we had it to do over again – instead of making faces on the climbs, I would have had her ripping legs off. And own that last turn, own that turn….

Third place is excellent though, we’ll take it!  Off to the awards ceremony.   Tomorrow is crit day and we’re taking no prisoners.


Bend, Oregon

June 20, 2010

Bend, Oregon – 3625 ft.
Aztec, New Mexico – 5686 ft.

Interesting that Bend is 2000 feet lower than Aztec, where I grew up, yet Aztec is a desert and Bend is similar to the mountains of Colorado.

Bend appears to be a mountain cycling mecca. They’re also very progressive when it comes to accommodating riding a bicycle on the road. Texans have a long long way to go.

Pre-ride of the crit course, road course and time trial course are complete. Glad we brought winter gear. Everyone we saw was in full leg covers, arm warmers and rugged up. 103 in Texas and 95% humidity (when we left)? No thanks…


Quick update…

June 18, 2010

Camped out in the Comfort Inn (roughing it) near the Great Salt Lake, Ogden, Utah. Spent yesterday at the family homestead – Aztec, NM.

Eating too much, exercising too little.