Spring Break training is a key turning point for Beta Cycling. As students across campus gear up to travel to warm, beach locations, Beta Cycling prepares for an important week of training. The long base rides of the fall have faded with the winter and spring brings short, intense workouts. What follows is a recap of our racing, spring break training, and notable moments.
The first weekend began as John, Joe, and I moved into Kyle and AJ’s house. The whole team rose early Saturday morning and headed down to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the Cardinal Criterium at Long Run state park. Despite forecasts of rain, it turned out to be a warm and sunny day, perfect for racing. The day began with AJ, Joe, and I competing in the CAT 4/5 Criterium. This race got off to a blistering start and riders averaged 25 mph throughout the 30 minute race. All three Beta teammates were well positioned in the pack on the final lap. Approaching the final sprint, there was a crash and a bike of another rider ended up coming down on top of me (I did not wreck), it did unfortunately cause AJ and Joe to swerve into the grass and go mountain biking for a brief moment. I ended up sprinting with the top field and finished in the top 20 of my first criterium, a result I could continue to build on. Luckily, AJ and Joe still managed to finish in the mid-thirties out of 90 riders despite their mountain biking detour. Ultimately, it was a great first race and learning experience for me. My day was over after this race, but the rest of the team’s day was just beginning. The CAT 1/2/3 race was next. This would be Kyle and John first opportunity in a race of this caliber and were prepared to take on the fastest riders of the day. However, John got caught behind a big crash on lap one which made it all but impossible to catch the speedy pack. Kyle, who was more fortunate, was flossing with the pack throughout the entire race as the last lap was quickly approaching. He was in solid position to finish at least top 20, an impressive feat considering the pace and duration of this race. He unfortunately got caught behind a wreck on the last lap and assisted a younger cyclist who had broken his wrist. Despite failing to finish the race, The CAT 1/2/3 exposed both Kyle and John to very fast and fun racing. Next up was the CAT 3/4 race which AJ and Joe were set to compete in. This was a solid overall race and both Joe and AJ finished in the pack sprint despite already having raced earlier that day. Long Run Park was a great introduction to spring break, but now it was time to return to the Little 500 track.
Two-a-days at the track commenced on Monday. The morning was spent doing ladder workouts and the afternoon consisted of multiple team pursuit efforts. These efforts pushed me to my limit, ganging on with my veteran teammates doing 36 second laps was one of the most challenging things I have done physically. Tuesday and Wednesday were similar efforts with a bit more recovery mixed in. Our two rookies, Colten Renier and JJ Jaggard, arrived Wednesday to begin training after spending the weekend at home with their families. They trained hard and quickly learned how to perform solid exchanges, a very encouraging sign for the future of Beta Cycling. Wednesday night was spent doing ITT repeats. This workout really pushed all of us to our limits. Thursday consisted of more team pursuit efforts and Friday was a recovery day in preparation for our weekend of racing in St. Louis. Our legs were all tired, but we could feel the gains we had made throughout the very intense week. We were ready to race again.
The second weekend was spent in St. Louis. First off, I would like to start off by saying thank you on behalf of the entire team to the Mower family for housing, feeding, and taking care of us during our weekend in St. Louis. They were a tremendous help are and we greatly attribute our successful weekend to their generosity. Saturday we competed in the Carondelicious Criterium. It was a chilly, but manageable day for racing. The day began as Colten, JJ, and myself raced in the CAT 4/5. We all competed our hardest and finished with some strong results, Colten and JJ ended up finishing in the pack sprint and I finished in 8th place. Next up was the the CAT 4 race was next, where Joe and AJ would be competing. After a few laps they were in great position, and were set to go off of the front until AJ had a technical issue with his cleat. He unfortunately could not finish the race, but Joe finished a very promising3rd overall! The final race of Saturday was the CAT 3. Kyle and John raced very well and John finished top 10 and Kyle was right behind him.
Sunday began with a thin layer of snow covering the ground and sub-freezing temperatures. Again, Colten, JJ, and I bundled up for a CAT 4/5 criterium in Forest Park. I felt strong during this race and finished in 3rd place, just getting edged out for 1st and 2nd in the final sprint. Colten came in at 8th, a fantastic finish as this was only his second race ever, and JJ showed a strong effort as well. The day would take a turn for the worse with the Cat 4 race up next. A terrifying wreck midway through the race caused Joe to go down and break his collarbone. AJ finished in the middle of the pack, and quickly got dressed as he and Kyle headed to the hospital to be with Joe. Losing Joe’s strength, fitness, leadership, and veteran experience is going to be a test for our team, but I’m confident we will persevere and work that much harder to make up for the loss. Our program is structured to be resilient in times like these and, although this is a major loss for the team, we are still one of the strongest teams on campus and will be competitive come race day. Despite losing Joe, spring break was a success for the team this year. All team members are looking strong and have made huge physical gains in the last year. Team camaraderie was great, and I feel as if I grew much closer to my teammates during the week.
Next weekend begins with Qualifications on Saturday, we have drawn a time of 8:10 in the morning. We could not be more excited about the start of the Little 500 season, and want to ensure our incredible donors that we continue to be one of the most successful programs on campus. None of our success could be possible without our alumni support, and we hope you can continue to be our backbone these next couple of weeks. With the start of spring series come the cost of nutrition, race day parts, and uniforms. Any amount of donations we receive will be put to great use, and will help us reach our goal of taking the checkered flag on April 16th. Thank you all for your continued support, and we look forward to making you proud over the next month.