PDX Devo team member, Joe Lukens recently traveled to Asheville, NC to race in the USA Cyclocross National Championships. This is his report.
Overall I would consider my cyclocross season a successful one. Starting way back at the end of August, I started racing with a bit of doubt. I was not getting the results that I wanted, and people I was used to beating were getting the best of me. I soon became very frustrated with myself and overreacted. I had to calm down and listen to coaches, friends, and family who told me it was just the start of the season, and that soon the training would pay off. Sure enough, it did. I was able to have many solid results in the Cross Crusade and the Junior Cyclocross series. With a successful OBRA season behind me, and Joel Fletcher writing my workouts, I felt ready to tackle the tedious months before nationals.
At last it was time to travel to North Carolina. Perhaps my favorite part of cycling is the people you get to meet. All of my biggest OBRA rivals are also my closest friends. Seeing all of my friends from the Bend Endurance Academy made even a long day of flying feel fun and exciting. Our time as a group and riding together around the endless Biltmore property was one of my highlights of the trip. Every one of us seemed to appreciate the time together off the bike as much as, if not more than, we did riding. People from all over the state, and all different teams, were able to work together and show support all week long.
As the Junior 15-16 Men were the first race of the day, and the Junior 13-14 Men not much later, it was a very early morning for all of us. Although sleepy, I woke up with fresh legs and felt excited rather than nervous for the big race. The course was a combination of steep, punchy climbs, slippery, steep run-ups, and steep, technical descents that did not allow for any rest. In my opinion it was the hardest course that I had faced all year. With a starting position of 78th, in the 10th row, I had the challenge of picking off riders in front of me. I had a great first lap, avoiding a crash on the start straight and working my way up to around 40th place. Unfortunately, I took a spill on one of the technical descents and tweaked my neck in a very painful way. Although my legs felt great, my asthma and neck held me back. I held off as many riders as I could, resulting in a very disappointing 58th place. After having the chance to think over my race and eat several free waffles, I felt happy and thankful to have this opportunity to race. Congratulations to Henry Jones, who had an amazing ride to fifth place in my race. Also congratulations to Ryder Utrecht, finishing fifth in the 13-14’s, even with a flat tire. Most importantly, congrats to Kent Ross, who brought home the title of Doughnut Race National Champion.
I took away a lot of good things from this trip. Although my race was not what I would have liked, I still had an amazing time. The experience of racing at a national championship allowed me to see cycling at a much larger scale and helped me experience it from a different perspective. I am thankful for everyone who helped get me there. I couldn’t race at all if it weren’t for all of my family members and their continuous support. Also thank you to Steven Beardsley and Joel Fletcher with PDX Devo for their endless support of me and my teammates, as well as all other juniors. Also, thanks to the HCH-RPM Mortgage team for chipping in to help with the cost of my trip. I am very thankful to be part of the OBRA community, whose members value each other as much as they do racing. This experience has made me eager to train harder and continue to achieve better results and experience new things next season. I can’t wait to see what happens.