Friday June 22, 2012
Augusta, Ga--Cycling's national championships made the move to downtown Augusta Friday for what's best described as NASCAR on two wheels. It was the criterium races. A six turn track through the streets of downtown, with the bikes reaching speeds around 40 miles per hour
One of the day's marquee events was the pro men. 142 cyclists sometimes riding five and six wide for 50 laps. Lead changes, there were plenty of them, with small packs breaking away multiple times throughout the race. In the end, though, it was a guy at only his second national championship who had just enough in the tank to call himself a national champion.
"I just said to myself in my head, 'This is a national championship. Just give everything you have. Don't leave anything on the road.' So, it's all a mind game at that point. It's whatever your legs have left is how hard you can push yourself, and so, at that point it was just everything I had."
In the middle of the madness was probably the most memorable part of the championships with the announcement of this year's Paralympic cycling team. Over 100 hopefuls took the time trial track yesterday, and tonight just 13 heard word that they are going to London for this year's Paralympic games. Allison Jones was one of the thirteen, and she's no stranger to it. With three trips in skiing and now her third in cycling, Jones is the veteran of the group, but the feeling never gets old.
"It means the world. This is my life, and I enjoy doing my life the best that I can and having a great time at it. I'm super excited to be that person and be who I am and enjoy every moment of it."
The racing is far from over. It ships out to Fort Gordon for road racing the next two days. You can still see all of the country's best cyclists hunt down one last national title before the event leaves town.