International Travel for an International World Cup Race… FinallyCotie Williams
Traveling internationally for the first time since the pandemic is something I will always remember. Since the first World Cup Race was actually going to take place in Belgium, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because I finally get to compete against some of the best in the world and nervous because I am traveling overseas for the first time in a long time as well as, well I AM COMPETING AGAINST SOME OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD!!! Getting on the airplane in Washington DC was normal until the doors closed and we started to taxi. That is when I realized that the plane was near empty. There was literally no one sitting anywhere around me on the flight to Belgium. It was really cool and kind of eery at the same time. I felt like the team had chartered a private jet to take us to the races. It was also the scene out of a book where we had all been left behind. Anyway, other than that the trip was uneventful. We, Team USA and I, arrived into Belgium run time to complete a 10 day quarantine period, take 2 Covid-19 tests, train, and get acclimated to the time zone before we start to race.
World Cup Time Trial
After more than a year and a half, it is finally time trial day on an international event. After all the training through the pandemic, it was finally time to put my training to the test. I had plenty of time to check out the course and acclimate to the area after the ten day quarantine period.Now it was race day. It was time to get my mind right and warmup for the biggest time trial so far. I had a good warm up, the bike was ready to go and I was off to the start ramp for my start. 5..4..3..2..1.. And I am off for my first time trial in international competition. Nothing left to do but be disciplined and just do what I can do. Once I cross the line after the 20 Km TT, I do not feel the best. Something had felt off and I was a little disappointed in my ride. I felt like I left time out on the course somewhere. I ended up finishing 9th in the H3 class. I was really wanting a podium result and wanted to show the world how har I had worked over the past year. I, personally, feel like I am more of a road racer than I am a time trialist. But, as one of the coaches told me, this was still a pretty good time trial for a road racer. Now it is time to recover and prepare for the road race in 2 days.
World Cup Road Race
After the time trial, I was honestly disappointed in my 9th place finish. I had to get over it quick and get my mind right and motivated for the upcoming road race. In the morning of race day I watched a movie called “Facing the Giants.” After watching it I realized that I needed to be just as grateful for the 9th place as I am for a win. It is part of the journey and makes me a better rider to learn from. It was time to praise God for the 9th place and for the entire journey that I have been on since I started my cycling career. Once I did this, I was ready to go to the team pit and get everything ready to race. Once I got to my bike I had a little talk with it. It sounds funny to say that I talked to the bike but essentially my bike is my teammate out on the course. As long as I take care of it, it will take care of me out there. I was just getting myself more and more pumped for the race.
The bike is my comfort place. Once the race starts there is no more thinking about nerves or having any anxious moments. It is now just about riding the bike. And riding the bike fast. The race starts and it is all about stating with the front group. In the past it took a bit of an effort to stay with these fast riders. Today, it felt like I should be with this group. It is 70 Km of just staying calm and reacting to anything anyone in the group of 10-12 riders throws at us. The race came ended in a bunch sprint of about 10 riders. I was one of those riders. Its one of those things that is really exciting to think that I would be in that bunch sprint with most of the best H3 cyclists in the world. But, I should be there. With about 300 meters to go I see a rider start to make a move so I know that it is time for me to make a move as well. As we get closer to the line, I see the French rider going past me from my draft on the left. So I drop into his draft and give it my all. As I cross the line, I get the Italian rider on my right by half a wheel length for 2nd place. SECOND PLACE IN A WORLD CUP RACE!!! This is an incredible result. This is what a year and a half of training pays for. Not only have I made my first international podium, I have finished higher than any other USA H3 rider ever in a road race. I feel like I am starting to make a new standard for the level of H3 rider in the United States. I am so stoked for this result. After the time trial I was a little disappointed but after the road race I am so ready to get back to work and excited to prepare for the Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis. I needed to thank God for my time trial result. I definitely praise God for this 2nd place and my first podium result. “Praise God when we win and Praise God when we lose.”