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We Got A Winner!!! Thirstybear p/b Akamai Anne Valta Wins Bronze at World Championship in Denmark and TWO Gold Medals at US Nationals

It’s almost surreal. This season is finally over! As I was getting ready for the Worlds I thought this day would never come. And especially when things had started to take wrong turns after Districts TT, and I was losing my confidence. I got really sick two days after returning from Sattley, and was boiling on my sofa watching TdF with 100F fever. When a week went by, I succumbed and asked for a short regimen of antibiotics as my fever and hacking cough didn’t want to leave my body. I could see my Worlds dreams fade away in the distance…

Back on the bike the last week of July I felt weak and unmotivated. I also had to deal with Worlds logistics (USA cycling was messing me up with license issues), wheel problems (new front wheel I got was too high and rubbing on the top of the fork on my TT bike), and just general nervousness of the task at hand (“what am I thinking traveling to Worlds and trying to race with some really great gals from around the world??”).

Finally in Denmark I was totally overwhelmed and wide-eyed with everything I saw and heard, and had a minor crash a day before the race requiring me to spend some time in a local Specialized store (they had two excellent stores just a short drive from our hotel in a community of 25,000 people!). The race day came and the wind was howling but at least it didn’t rain while the women raced (poor men had to fight with the wind and puddles). The 12 mile course was the most technical I’ve ever done on my TT bike. It had 8 turns and the second to last one (less than a mile from the finish) was on the bottom of a fast downhill. As I was hunched over in the aero position going 43mph, being pushed around with gusty cross wind all I could think was “you can’t crash this close to the finish but you do have to come up soon and shift to a lower gear to get out of that turn!” I heard there were some unfortunate riders who did crash pretty hard :(.
My initial feeling of the 3rd place was a huge disappointment. I wanted to win. In the hindsight, I was up against pretty experienced riders (1st place woman won it last year as well). I hadn’t practiced in those conditions (some wind yes, but not wind AND lots of turns), and I was out of my comfort zone with the traveling part and the grandeur of the event. I was the 5th fastest woman among the 120 female competitors, so at least that made me smile a little. Now all I had to do was to make a quick turnaround and race in the Nationals, 6000ft higher and with 9 hour time difference in less than a week…

When I got to Tahoe some 24 hours after leaving Denmark, I felt like I had been hit with a wrecking ball. My heart rate was sky high and I wasn’t sleeping well. My two rides over the weekend before getting to Utah weren’t too encouraging. I got the sinking feeling that I had swallowed too big of a bite doing two huge events in such a short time with long travels in between. And of course everyone was expecting me to win in Utah again, including myself.
But I swear there is something magical in that place because after some restless nights in my tower of power (as I called my room in Ogden’s team house), because when I was warming up on my trainer on the day of the TT, I felt awesome. Although I had the same initial feeling as Chris did (slower on the outbound leg), I was pretty confident since I was catching up on my slower competitors, and at the end I was able to PR by 1.5 minutes on the whole course. It felt really good to win again and I was almost able to get the best time of the day for women (off by 9secs). The pressure was off now, and I could just go and have fun in my RR (if you can call a painfully slow slog to the bottom of the final climb fun?! 🙂
I mostly wanted to write this email to have a chance to thank everyone who’s been part of this season’s success for me. I raced 24 races and placed on a podium in all but one. So many of you helped me get ready for Worlds and Nationals by lending/giving me equipment, driving me to and from Utah, handing bottles, food etc, giving advice and encouragement, and by cheering and pushing me forward. Thank you! I’m forever grateful for all that. I also want to thank our sponsors and anyone outside this team but somehow connected to it who’s been part of this season’s success. It all counts. Happy to have such great people around me. I’ll see you all on the Tam climb!
Anne Valta from ThirstyBear p/b Akamai wins 2 gold medals at US Nationals Masters RR and TT.
Anne Valta from ThirstyBear p/b Akamai wins 2 gold medals at US Nationals Masters RR and TT.

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