Ryan Eastman 15-16 year old Junior National Championship Time Trial
I was expecting it to be hot and humid in Pennsylvania but when we got there it was actually pretty nice. I had one day to get ready before the first day of racing, the time trial, so we went out to ride the road race course. So the day finally came on Friday the 13th, the day of the time trial. It was a 20k race back and forth on the freeway; my start time was around 10:30. The weather was nice but a little cloudy. I was warming up on the trainer looking around and I guess I was a little bit nervous about my first nationals and how it was going to play out, but I was so excited to be there. I got up on the start ramp and the clock started to count down from ten, I was so anxious to just get out on the road, and then there was the beep and I was off. I sprinted off the start ramp and then got into my aero bars and I was off pedaling at a high cadence down the freeway. The course was a little weird because it went off the off ramp and swished back to go down the on ramp. I pedaled my way though that and got on to the straight out and back part of the course. Now this was my first time trial so I wasn't sure exactly what to do. I guess go as hard as you can until the finish line.
I was riding my way out to the first turn around and I was feeling pretty good. When I got to the turn around I was a little confused. It looked like the cones were going in ten different directions. I went around the corner and sprinted out of it. On the way back there was a head wind that didn't feel so good but I pushed my way through it to get to the next turn around. By this time I was a little tired but at least I had a tail wind. I started to feel better and I picked it up a bit. I looked on the other rider’s faces and it looked like it was wearing on them also. I went through the last turn around to face the last 5k. I was riding and I was having such a good time. This was awesome, with about 2k to go a guy passed me and I used him to pace me. With 1k to go it was a slow drag up to the finish and with 100 meters to go I sprinted as hard as I could, coming in with a time of 30min. 46sec. In the end I got 69th with 92 guys in my field.
Junior National Championship Road Race 26th place
This was the race that I was looking forward to the most out of the three, because it was the longest, there was climbing and it was 48 miles. The day started out with some pretty heavy fog but by the time my group went off it was clear and sunny. My race was delayed about and hour and a half due to the massive crash in the 17-18 race. So they decided to neutralize our start. The start was on top off a ski resort so we descended down a ways before they gave us the go ahead to start to race. Now we had three laps to do and then we would climb back up to the finish on top of the resort. It didn't start out as fast as I thought it would but then it slowly started to kick up. It was weird racing in this big of a pack. I'm used to racing with around 25 juniors but in my race there were 92 guys. It was definitely cool though.
We got to this steep little pitch in the road where I thought it would brake up a bit, but it didn't. We flew through the little rolling hills of Pennsylvania until we reached the climb on the course. It was probably about a kilometer or so but it was pretty steep. I knew for sure that it would brake up a lot here. I made the left hand turn and then drilled it up the climb. Quickly one by one people were dropped off the back. I stayed with the pack. Once we reached the flats there were a few attacks, none got away. I made another left hand turn and went across some big rollers and descended down to conclude the first lap. We went around and reached the climb once again, about half way up I let a gap go and they slowly started to ride away. For some reason I wasn't feeling good on the climbs and that's where I should feel the best. I crested the top of the climb and felt horrible.
A small group formed with me and we started a pace line and that lead pack seemed to be getting closer and closer until I was finally in it. Now I was really tired, luckily there was a short decent coming so I could recover. Thankfully I did and was feeling better. Now we were on our final lap, there were around 4 or 5 attacks but everyone else chased them down. Once I reached the climb my plan was to set a steady tempo up the climb and save a final burst for the top of the climb. I did exactly this and it worked to perfection but I was about 15 meters away from the back of the peloton. I got to the top and they just slipped away from me. I was a little disappointed because I just wasn't climbing the way I always do. I got in a group with about 10 other guys and we worked together in a pace line and I started to just have a really good time. I was feeling better and better.
The group and I reached the climb that would bring us to the top of the resort to the finish and I started to lift the pace. Me and another guy rode away from the small pack and then in the distance I saw Edan (who is a strong rider on Davis Bike Club) so I knew that he and I could work together and make this gap that I had bigger. So I lifted the pace and dropped the other guy bridging my way up to him. He was with a couple of other riders as well, and once I reached him we took off working together extending the gap. We rode hard and strong and man I was having a great time, I also was climbing a lot stronger. We got to the 200 meter sign and then we started to sprint the final kick up to the finish. He crossed the climb around a wheel ahead of me. I had nothing left. That was an awesome race it was so fun, and I got 26th out of 92 guys so I improved a lot from the time trial.
Junior National Championship Criterium 33rd Place
I finally got to sleep in because my race wasn't until 3:30pm, but unfortunately it stated to rain in the afternoon. When I was driving to the race it really started to come down hard. I road over to the tent in the pouring rain and thankfully it stopped and by the time that my race started the course was basically all dry. We were all at the start bunched up to fight for a good position. We started to feel little water drops, but the race started off with a sprint as usual. I didn't have the best position around a third of the way back. It was hard to move up because I would get the accordion affect and once I would get back up to pace, the field would spread across the road. I slowly moved up a bit but it was tough. We got deeper and deeper into the race and it got wetter and wetter, but I was having a good time.
The race whittled down to a smaller group due to the riders that got dropped and then pulled. The race was getting toward the end and I knew that I needed to get up the re but for some reason I couldn't. Now the race was around 3 laps to go and it just started to pour really hard. It was raining so hard the rain drops hurt a bit when they hit you. I actually thought it was really cool. Obviously some other's didn't and they started to slow down leaving these gaps that I was left to bridge. I was feeling awesome so I did just that, it was raining so hard that when I had my mouth open it would fill completely up with water every 20 sec. It finally got to be too much so now I was about 6th wheel back just behind the pack and we flew through the last corner to the finishing straight. I didn't feel like sprinting, then suddenly I did, and I just gave it everything I had and I passed around 5 or 6 guys coming in 33rd place. I was very happy. I road up to the tent to Laura dripping wet and said, "Man that was the Best Race ever." I just had a really good time.
Over all, Nationals was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The big accomplishment for me was just going to Nationals since it was my first season racing. I had to race so hard to get those upgrade points so I was able to go, and I am so glad I did. I am really looking forward to next year because I will be one year older, stronger, and more experienced. Great job Team Swift!