Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Trip to Remember

Wow, what an amazing weekend! I feel like I'm still on a cloud. I couldn't be happier right now. First and foremost, there is no way I could have gotten the result I did without the amazing support of the HRS-Rock Lobster crew that we had out there this weekend.

Rob and I arrived on the scene Saturday morning and got our first glimpse at the course by watching both the junior and U23 National Championship races. We sized up the start and all the sections of the course that needed to be figured out. Then we hit the course for a 1/2 hour while it was open before the elite men's race. The course was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Wide-open, perfect conditions, and a power course if I'd ever seen one. Immediately, I was pumped. I could write off any concerns I may have had about "handling" the technical stuff or dealing with the conditions, (which we all know is my huge weakness). I honestly wasn't nervous. I was just excited to have this opportunity to race such a perfect course against the best riders in the country.

I had unbelieveable team support. Let me explain how important it was for me on Sunday. First, I had Rob, Ryan, and Paul with me hours before the race making sure everything was fine tuned for the start. Then, Josh and I rode the course together during the open course and he made sure I knew all the secret spots to take advantage and save energy. That was key Josh, thanks.. I used a lot of your tips. When it came time to start, the nerves really started to kick in. I found myself in the very back of the field with only 2 rows behind me. Simon, Ryan, and Rob were all there with me for this most scary time, which I was also very grateful for. They kept me smiling and as relaxed as possible.

So the whistle blows and were off. The start was a long pavement uphill section. I thought I'd be able to move up, but I wasn't going anywhere. No gaps opened up and it seemed like we were actually slowing down instead of accelerating. Meanwhile, the leaders are sprinting away. I couldn't worry about this now though, I had one thing to worry about and that was my race. So, I took positions as they opened up, sometimes gaining 5 at a time and sometimes only 1. Eventually, I was riding in the top 15. I would have had no idea what place I was in if it weren't for the people on the sidelines yelling at me. They made all the difference in the world and honestly, that's the only reason I was able to keep moving up. At every section of the course, there was an HRS-Rock Lobster member screaming at me to keep moving up. I had to keep my game face on the whole time. It felt like I was racing for everyone that was cheering for me. I didn't want to let them down. One by one, the riders came back to me until I was riding with 1 other girl and we were 9th and 10th with 1 lap to go and 8th place in sight. In the very last technical section, a run up over stairs and around a tree with lots of roots, I was able to get my handle bars just ahead of the 8th place girl and beat her to the downhill. It dumped me off onto the finishing straight, an uphill section about 50 yrds or so. I thought I had dropped the girl I just passed but I looked back just to be sure and there she was, engaged in her sprint, coming straight for me. I certainly wasn't going to give it back to her, so I started my sprint too and was able to make it to the line in 8th just seconds behind the 7th place rider.

It was truly an amazing weekend of racing. I owe so much to the people who were out there yelling for me and helping me prepare for this challenge. I was honored to represent this team at Nationals. Thanks to everyone. - Shelley


Olaf Vanderhoot said...

that kicks ass.

Velo Bella said...

great report!
Michael had you pegged for a top ten finish.

swiggman said...

Notice the rider's style......super low and compact on the bike, more like a track rider. Shelley has a distinctive and efficient style, much like Katie Compton and little like anyone else in the race. She generates a lot of power while keeping aerodynamic.....a recepie for success!

Brent Chapman said...

sweetness.. What a great day for you!
Congrats little one!


Jeff Patton said...

Great finish, congratulations!!! I listened on the internet, overcome by proudness (if that is a word).