Race Report: Collegiate Nationals (Fo Co Fo Sho)
Sorry this race report is incredibly late but between finals and my sister’s graduation I just didn’t get around to it...but for those of you who are still on the edge of your seat wondering what went down at collegiate nationals this year read on...
Bad Bryce and I left town early afternoon after I took the anatomy practical. It was raining and hard to see but I had taken Shaun’s advice and brought enough snacks to keep everyone happy. We stopped in Bozeman to pick up the rest of our posse: Montana’s very own conference champ, Corey Meyer, who would be racing, Kyle from MSU cycling along for support and Kyle’s dog Ronald. Needless to say it was a cozy 11 hour drive in the van and the five of us were the best of friends by the time we rolled up to Kyle’s sister’s house in Fort Collins at 2:30 in the morning.
The next morning we woke to blue skies, no wind, 75 degrees and it was sunny...weather none of us had seen in a while. Everyone was really anxious to get on a bike but we ate a leisurely breakfast of waffles and turkey bacon in the lawn first. Next we rode the course. It started low and quickly climbed up in the foothills where there were beautiful views of Fort Collins and the reservoir. My one impression was: these hills don’t mess around! They were both long and steep and I knew I’d have to pace myself. I could just imagine the field exploding into a million pieces on them. Later on we went to the Hilton to pick up numbers and all that other junk. We saw the Women’ Cycling Magazine trailer and there were actually people getting interviewed. That was when it hit me that collegiate nationals was a legit event and I was there!
Friday I woke up and it was really windy. And I mean really windy. It didn’t matter though women’s D2 started at 8:10 and at least it was sunny. When we lined up I was really nervous. I waved at Bryce. I kept telling myself it didn’t really matter how I did because I made it there and that was more than I was expecting. I just didn’t want to get completely dropped. Once we got out of neutral the race got fast quick. Everyone knew that the first big hill was going decide a lot. If anyone couldn’t keep up it would be really hard to chase because the wind was so bad. When I saw the hill it looked like a giant wall and my stomach dropped as I got ready to hurt. A bunch of girls just took off but I knew they would die and I tried to find a good hard pace that I could keep. I’m not going to lie: I felt like crap. I kept thinking “Oh, if only everybody could see ‘the climber’ now...suffering like a common flatlander.” By pacing myself I was able to overtake a bunch of the over ambitious ones but at the top I saw there was still work to be done with about ten girls up ahead. I heard my friend Daisy from Western behind me so luckily I was not alone because Daisy can do serious work and we were able to catch them with minimal difficulty. There was still much climbing to be done and the pace stayed pretty rough. Finally, things began to flatten out and a group of 20 or so coalesced. All of sudden I felt like I was going to bonk and I realized I had just climbed all over the foothills without taking one sip of water or eating anything at all. The problem was that I was breathing so hard water couldn’t really make it down my throat. I kind of panicked but then after searching my pockets I realized I had my trusty bag of M & M’s! I stuffed a giant handful in my mouth and breathed with my mouth open until they melted and the candy coated chocolate dripped down my throat in between panting. Then I would pour water in there too and let it trickle down, trying not to choke. After doing this several more times and also stuffing goo into me too I was able to recover. The pace relaxed and I was able to just hang in the draft with all my friends from the NWCC. We realized that as a conference we were looking pretty strong especially Lydia Tanner from Bozeman who was just eating up the hills while breathing through her nose. We were also the most friendly conference, we were like one giant team almost. The camaraderie was awesome. The race continued, a few crappy attacks happened mainly coming from MIT, but things didn’t get serious until the final stretch. Of course there were hills so as the pace picked up things got strung out but then there was the final wall and this time there was a head wind going up it. This is where it really mattered. Everyone was in their lowest gear and just suffering...we must have been going so slow. I was reminded of that scene from Fantasia where all the dinosaurs are walking across the desert and they just keep falling over dying. I mean seriously, one girl from Whitman literally just fell over and Daisy said she saw people walking up it! I don’t even remember the last part, I just kept telling myself not to faint. Then there was the descent and the finish. There were about ten of us...we were coming into the last stretch...I was in the back of the group sucking wheel waiting for the sprint but still working really hard...then there was this huge gust...Emily R. from Whitman got blown over and some of us lost the wheels in front of us...I was out of winning contention but was still able to sprint past a couple people into seventh. I was so happy I was smiling before I even crossed the finish line. I had finished with the top group and I couldn’t have been more elated.
The crit started at 8:00 for us the next day. Warming up on the course I wondered what the race would be like. Every other crit I’d done had at least one hill or a hard turn that people could take aggressively to break things but this was all flat and really wide corners. The race started fast but we remained one be group. On the first prim lap Lydia and I were trying to move up but then some MIT girl swerved and crashed Lydia. It slowed a bunch of us down but we were all alright and Lydia was back after her free lap with all kinds fury. By the second prim I was kind of bored. I didn’t think I would be competitive in the crit at all so I just decided to put myself out there and see what would happen. I was up front and I ended up sprinting past all kinds of people to get third. I was so surprised, I just looked at my legs in awe because I had no idea they could do that! The next prim I was second and I heard the announcer say something like “And that was Lindsy Campbell from the University of Montana..?” as if he was really surprised or something. By then I was just like “Damn strait it’s me, I didn’t ride a steel bike through a Montana winter to come here and screw around.” The fourth prim I was in a bad spot with Kendi Thomas and some others on my wheel chasing down Daisy. I thought for sure they would all sprint past me but I just went for it and rode them off my wheel and got second again. I think that was the best part of the whole trip. I got third on another one but by the finish I was pretty tired and everybody was getting aggressive. I couldn’t get a good spot but I gave it all I could when I had room and ended up in twelfth. Later I found out I was tenth overall. I was ecstatic. Still am.
Thanks for listening. I can’t put into words how awesome it actually was. Also, thanks to everyone in Missoula. It was so cool to check my email, f-book, and my phone every day and see that everyone was cheering me on and excited for me. I hope to have more UM cyclists there next year!