This past weekend I competed in the Paracyling Track World Championships. It was my first international race.
To be perfectly honest, I was terrified going into the first camp. I almost threw up as I pulled in to the Home Depot Center. It was hard. There were a lot of times I didn't feel like I could ride as hard as I was supposed to. There were times that I was disappointed with my performances. But as each day passed, I became more confident and ready to compete at the next level. I feel extremely blessed to have two friends at camp. Slowly I made more friends on the team, but I will be forever grateful to FF* and G for their encouragement, answering my stupid questions, loaning me gears (I promise to give them back) and making me feel a part of the team. Rumor has it FF may have done some laundry for me at some point!
After a month of preparation with the National Team (and getting team clothes, (woohoo! No longer a second class team member), we entered the final camp that would lead us into the competition.
As teams from other countries began arriving at the hotel, it all became even more real. But the first big hurdle I had to get through was classification. Now, we all know that classification was a difficult experience at Road Nationals. I was classified as a C4 and told I was one point from being a C5 (C5 is the least disabled and C1 is the most disabled). I had all of my ducks in a row. I had a gimpy speech prepared and all the reasons that my disability affected my riding. I guess I did a better job than I expected because the international classifiers decided I was a C2. I was a little shocked to hear this. Personally, this is better for my long term trajectory as the C2 time standards are lower and the competition should be a little slower. From the perspective of the team, it would be better if I was a C3.
I raced on Thursday and Saturday. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I was going to be. In fact, the 500m race on Thursday went extremely well. I placed sixth out of ten, while not stellar I accomplished my goal of finally beating someone in a bike race. My time of 47.49 also qualified me for the National B team and was a PR by almost 4 seconds. Thursday did not go so well. I also placed sixth in the 3k pursuit with a time of 4:44. This was a few seconds off of the national standard and 3 seconds off of fifth place.
A video of one of my races...
This is what I looked like after the race.
I'm proud of my first international race. Some things could have gone better (like being able to hear my splits during my 3k), but I didn't embarrass myself, I made a national standard (and thus the national team) and I didn't crash into the infield.