MSA Endurance Team Competes at Junior Road National Championships
This past week, members of the MSA Endurance Team as well as the Summer Team competed in the Junior Road National Championships in Augusta, Georgia. Over five days the athletes compete in three separate events: the grueling test of endurance road race; fast and technical criterium; and “race of truth” individual time trial. The championship events take place each summer and are the largest stage upon which the Team competes all season.
Rising sophomore Ashlyn Woods was the first MSA rider to compete in the Women 15-16 road race. Seasonal hot and humid temperatures were exacerbated by a venue that offered virtually no shade and very little breeze. As her race got underway, Ashlyn was always seen sitting comfortably near the front of the peloton, but after the half way point, the heat began to take its toll. Despite losing contact with the group on the fourth lap, Ashyn showed her tenacity and bridged back up to the group solo and regained contact with just under a lap to go. Despite being gapped off slightly on the run to the finish line, Ashlyn still managed a very respectable 19th place.
In the time trials, MSA students Chris Keeling and Jake King started the day with impressive finishes. Fortunate to have early start times before the temperatures climbed high, Chris and Jake finished 21st and 44th, respectively, in the incredibly talented 120 ride-strong Men 17-18 field.
Next up was Ashlyn Woods, who flew around the course and for a short time was in the “hot seat” with the fastest time in her category! As more and more riders finished, several managed to beat her time, but by mere seconds. When everyone had finished, Ashlyn had finished 6th, just four seconds off the podium!
In the Men 15-16 time trial, Sam James, new Team member Spencer Virtue, and Summer Team rider Parker Brookfield were all flying the teal and green. Spencer was the first off and shot out of the start house like a rocket. Sam and Parker started several minutes later, both looking for a high placing. Spencer placed 71st with a time that was much stronger than the result suggests, while Parker was able to shave over two minutes over his previous year’s time to finish 57th . Sam had a very solid ride to finish 49th, a result which showcased his continued improvement in the discipline.
The criteriums were all fast-paced and full of action. Ashlyn looked comfortable in the group all day and even launched an attack with two laps to go. Despite being brought right back, she still finished safely in the group in 21st place.
The Men 15-16 saw a huge field of motivated riders take the start. Unfortunately, mechanical issues forced Spencer from the race early, but left him all the more motivated for the upcoming road race. Sam surfed comfortably in the field until a late-race crash opened a gap in front of him, but he still finished a respectable 40th. Parker stayed near the front of the peloton all race, and entered the final lap in second wheel. Despite being shuffled back slightly on the back straight, he was still able to launch a great sprint from the last turn and finished an impressive 17th place!
Both Jake and Chris suffered mechanical issues during the Men 17-18 race, and while Chris was able to jump back in and hang on to finish 34th, Jake was forced to abandon due to an ill-fitting neutral bike.
The week ended with the Men 15-16 and 17-18 Road Races. Temperatures remained high and fatigue from the previous days of racing made every mile seem daunting. Parker again rode well, and after covering several attacks, was able to hang in the main group and finish an excellent 38th. Sam held tough despite not feeling great, and only came off the peloton on the last lap to roll in a still respectable 49th. Spencer was caught up in an untimely crash early in the race, but despite the setback, showed his class and perseverance by putting his head down and finishing the race strong in 64th place.
Chris and Jake were feeling great and on track for great finishes, but, as seems to happen far too often in cycling, both were held up and forced off the road by a late crash. Chris still managed a solid 35th, while Jake rolled in just moments later in 63rd.
All in all it was a successful week for the Team and a tremendous learning experience for every rider. Motivation couldn’t be higher as training continues for the remaining races of 2012 and next year’s National Championships!