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Strong performance by ThirstyBear Joel, Jacob and Piers at US Nationals 35-39

Piers fighting his way to the top.
Piers fighting his way to the top.

Joel, Jacob and I got the pleasure of doing the Road Race, and the Crit together this year.  I also did the TT.

The TT:
I finally got all decked out with new disc wheel (thanks Jan!), new helmet, and shoe covers (Thanks Alan!) and managed to properly assemble all of this equipment before the start. I blew past my hairy legged 30 second man in less than a mile.  I felt fine for a little while then started to feel not so great after 6 miles. I slowed down a little trying to keep everything for the road race.  At the turn around I was about equal with my minute man, but looked back to see a tight pack of 4 cyclists all bunched up behind me.  I really was not enjoying the altitude and then realized why a new helmet was not a good idea.  I bought a size to small and started to get a severe headache.  I was about ready to stop and pull over by mile 15.  New equipment day of race no no strikes again.  I rolled in for 14th happy to just not have spent any energy and gotten ready for the road race.
Steam train Piers Barry dig deep at US Nationals Time Trial
Steam train Piers Barry dig deep at US Nationals Time Trial
Jamey Yanik won the TT in a scorching 43:10.  An average speed of 29.2MPH over a few climbs and rollers at 4300 feet.  He also had just won the National titles in MTB XC and MTB Short Track so this was a bit ominus for the road race where he was 2nd last year.
The Road Race:
We did a nice recon of the race course with descent, one loop of the lake and the long final climb to the finish on Thursday.  It seemed like a great course for me.
Jacob had been in town since Monday.  I had flown in Tuesday.   Joel rolled in late at night Thursday for the Friday race.  We were a bit worried he was lost.
Day of the race we got Pelophant transportation again and suited up.  The descent was incredibly fast and despite what I thought was good positioning I was behind a gap.  Fortunately this just closed up for 3 uneventful laps around the lake.  As predicted Chris Evans went in a break to try to set up Stefano Profumo.  No one seemed to care and then with half a lap to go the pace heated up and the break was nearly back by the base of the climb.
This was unbelievably fast with the pace ramping up more and more with each half mile.  When Yanik and Owen Shott attacked they just rode away.  This shattered the group all over the road with huge gaps opening up.  I was now in the group of 3rd-6th place.  I managed to hang on with a small gap to the 3rd and 4th riders.  I descended the twisting sharp section in the middle quickly and it was 3rd through 5th all together.  Unfortunately a couple more riders bridged up.  At this point I was with Nor Cal guys Matt Adams and Jason Siegle.   When Matt jumped I thought this was too early.  Then I was suddenly in the red zone for a second.   At that same moment a couple riders behind jumped hard up to Matt and I was left with a 30 meter gap I just could not close.  Over the next mile Matt and Cameron Hoffman rode up for a 3/4th finish.  I was with the group of 5/6/7 and was just off my usual climbing game by a tiny bit.  I ended up 7th with Jacob Berkman 30 seconds back for 8th.  Joel had done a ton of work on the front making sure the gap to the break stayed close and he rolled across for 32nd (beating the pants off Kayle Leo Grande who was weighed down by his excessive neck tattoos).
I had thought I could get a top ten, but would have loved a podium spot that was  just a short distance away.  That’s why there’s next year.
The Crit:
After seeing nasty crashes in almost every single race I was pretty nervous.  This was an 8 corner ordeal of 75 minutes.  But all those corners kept the pace a bit slower that it would have been otherwise.   Chris Evan and Matt Adams tried some fruitless solo breaks.  Jacob made sure that no one snuck up on us by successfully tail gunning the entire thing.  Joel tried a little move off the front.  With 2 to go I punched it as hard as I could and rode 1.5 laps on the front with the hope that someone would come up and help or that a late break would form.  This didn’t happen and I got swamped with 4 turns to go.  Still it was really fun — something I generally don’t say about crits!
Next up touring next year’s Nats course in Winston Salem
As has been said so many times I love being on this team which richly deserved the BAT competition win.  The house was great and I really enjoyed the whole trip.

Piers Barry MD

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