US Paracycling OpenCotie Williams
Day 1 – TRAVEL DAY
As I sit in the terminal waiting to board the flight from Houston to Huntsville, I am relieved when I see my bike and wheels go up the conveyor belt into the airplane. That, to me, is the most stressful part about the travel day is 1, that all my equipment arrives and 2, that it arrives safely. The plan for when I arrive in Huntsville will be pretty easy. Just a van, check into the hotel, and clean and build my bike. I will have my bike ready for tomorrow to see the course for the first time in person. I may do a little testing of different wheel configuration but that will be determined by the weather and traffic of the roads. I will get some wheel testing done though. As of now though, all I can do is relax while on this flight and know that I have done all that I can in my training to get me ready for this race. Less than one week now for the time trail that will determine the Team USA Roster for the 1st World Cup in Belgium. And the first step in the 202one Tokyo Paralympic Season.
Day 2 – COURSE RECON
The bike and all my equipment have arrived safely. Everyone in Huntsville, Alabama have been very welcoming and super helpful. Many of the people here know why we are here and those that don’t see the hand bike and ask questions. Once I have told them about the race this weekend’s they are super receptive and excited to check it out if they can.
The course is not closed until race day on Saturday and Sunday. So any rides on the course have to be pretty conservative. The real worry before checking it out is that it was going to be very technical with all of the turns. After riding the course for the first time, it is definitely not as technical as I thought it was going to be. In fact, it will be fast. Now that I have my first day and rides on the course, I just need to make sure I keep myself and my equipment ready for the race this weekend.
Day 3 & 4 – TRAINING DAYS
Even though I am in a hotel and the race is this weekend, I still need to do some good training rides. Day 3 I have 2 rides to do and since I don’t know the area too well, I have decided to setup a trainer in the hotel and do my rides inside. Its not the most exciting day while I am here in Huntsville but it is effective. Day 4 has me pretty much doing the same thing. Friends and family often ask me what I do while I am on trips to race and the honest truth is that I really do not see much outside of the hotel room or the course. I don’t really go sight see or take in much of the sights. I treat this like a business trip because that is what this trip is to me…business.
Day 5 – TESTING
The day before the time trial. Even though I have done a course recon, I have not been able to test many of the turns with speed. Today is the day that I find out where a lot of the braking points are and the speed of the turns. A lot of people may have already done this testing but this keeps in fresh in my mind for the races. After I get off the course, it is time to get the bike race ready. Cleaned, maintained, and prepped so that all I have to do in the morning is load the bike and head to the course. I am now as ready as I can be to complete my time trial.
Day 6 – TIME TRIAL
I am at the course with the bike ready to go and sitting on the trainer. I got the start list earlier and found out that I will be the first H3 to go. I was a little irritated when I found this initially but after thinking about it I had a better understanding of the start list. I will be the first to go but I will have a clear course in front of me and the rider behind me will start 1 minute after me and will also have a clear course. So it does make sense in this case. With everything from the bike to myself prepared, I am ready. Now it is just a matter of making sure I do what I need to do when I need to do it. Starting with a proper warm-up. Once that is complete I head to the start ramp for my start time. It is the time I have been waiting for for over a year. 5…4…3…2…1… Ride like you are a machine. The first stretch is just a long pretty straight road that I just need to maintain my speed. Then comes the first left turn. This turn I felt like the bike was on rails. I get through the next few turns and I ma just feeling it. Today is my day. The final turn is a U-turn and then its just a straight line with a small climb at about 500 meters to go. No matter what I have left I need to leave it all out there now. The line comes up and I cross it and all I can think is wow that was fast. No matter what the time was that I officially did, that was a fast time trial. Then I hear the time was 22:02. I am psyched with that and know that this performance will definitely help me make the Team USA Roster for the first World Cup in Belgium. This performance didn’t just get me on the podium, but it was my day to be on the top step. Everyone is getting so fast and I am so blessed that the training has been working and that today just happened to be my day.
Day 7 – ROAD RACE
The road race started with only the H3 starting together. It was 4 laps of a little over 12 Km per lap for a total of just over 48.5 Km. Not long after the start did the competition thin out to just 3 riders, K Hillary, B Lyons, and myself. It was like that for the whole race until the end when I sprinted at the bottom of the hill with about 300 meters to go. I ended up winning the road race in front of Lyons and Hillary who both are very strong racers. They pushed me to the end this race and I was very fortunate to take the top set of the podium justo in front of the two of them. Overall I am very happy with my results at the US Paracycling Open in Huntsville. Now time to get back home to train and prepare for the first World Cup Race since 2019 in Ostend, Belgium.