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DENVER (VN) — Since I have last written much has changed in the world. Actually, that may not be true. I am going to guess that much has changed in the world, but to be honest I have been immersed in my little stage race bubble and don’t really know much about what is happening in the world at all. It is true that even while not racing I tend to not know what is happening in the world around me. However, since I was in a week-long stage race that ended over the weekend, I am going to seize the opportunity to blame my ignorance on the recent race for a moment.
I may not know much about what is going on outside the bubble, but I have many great stories to share from within. The last three days of the USA Pro Challenge were wonderful. Just to catch everybody up to speed here is my quick and dirty race report.
Stage 5, Vail Time Trial: Flat, uphill, finish, gasp for breath, enough of that for one day.
Stage 6, Loveland to Fort Collins: Very fast, slow for about five minutes, pretty fast, a little faster, very fast, finish.
Stage 7, Denver Circuit Race: Start, cheering fans, turn, cheering fans, turn, cheering fans, repeat, finish.
It may seem like I am leaving a lot of the race out, but to be honest I am not. The racing was fast and almost a blur. Doing races like the Pro Challenge is interesting because in the race I find myself just wanting it to end so the pain will stop and I can get onto the ice cream portion of the day. Afterwards when I think back on the race and can’t remember all the details, however, I always find myself disappointed and wishing I had taken it in a bit more.
I may not remember all the details of who was up the road when and what a certain climb was like, but there were a lot of moments that really stood out for me. During one stage we were under a blue sky and a bright sun when it started raining. The sky didn’t darken, barely any clouds were above us, but for a good 10 minutes it rained a good mountain rain on us. I had the honor of being the token Coloradoan at the race for Bontrager, so all my teammates were asking me what was going on. I couldn’t do anything but just smile and say, “classic Colorado.” For me, it was moments like that rainstorm that stood out, and there were a lot of them. Good roads and good races happen all over the world. What made the Pro Challenge so special though was that there were a lot of moments that were simply classic Colorado.
So now I am back at home thinking about the race and I have to say I truly enjoyed it. The ending was bittersweet, though. Bontrager finished third in the team classification and Lawson Craddock placed seventh overall, which was awesome. Although knowing it was the last race of the season, and the last time I may ever race on the same team with some of the guys again was a tough pill to swallow. Next month I will head to Italy for the under-23 world championships with USA Cycling so the season is not quite over yet. But I have never had as much fun and success racing as I have this year, and I owe it all to my teammates on Bontrager, our fearless leader Axel Merckx, and of course the best soigneur in the business, Reed McCalvin.