My first National TitlesOwen Daniels
Attending National Championships was an adventure from the very beginning. It all started with a thirteen-hour road trip from Fontana, California to Boise, Idaho, all of which with wife and dog in tow. This season has been anything but simple as my health has been unpredictable with multiple infections and contracting COVID-19. Being a part of Nationals was an accomplishment that seemed like a distant dream earlier in the season. None the less, I was motivated to attend and dominant in any way possible. On the long road to Boise, I had plenty of time to contemplate the planned races ahead. Races included a time-trial, a road race, a criterium, and a team relay.
Aside from preparing myself to push to my limit in performance, I had the 110 degrees plus heat against me. The first race of the trip was going to be a 15-kilometer time trial in extreme windy conditions. I was able to take away the medal for the Men’s H3 Time-Trial by two and a half minutes, claiming my first National title ever! Day two agenda consisted of a thirty-minute criterium in front of the Idaho State Captial. The criterium was fast and the leaders averaged 24 miles per hour. Leading the pack for most of the race was myself and Matt Tingley (Men’s H4 Handcyclist), taking turns in the front and pushing the pace. I narrowly missed the overall win to a strong sprint unleased by Matt Tingley on the final straight-away. This is my second National title of the weekend, congratulations to Matt Tingley for taking the Men’s H4 National title for the criterium. Following the criterium, I participated in the team relay around the downtown streets of Boise, Idaho. This race was scheduled to be held in the hottest conditions for the weekend, with temperatures soaring above 107 degrees. For the relay, I collaborated with Alicia Dana and David Berling. With amazing teamwork, we were able to take the win claiming another National title, making it the third championship for the weekend.
Lastly, we were scheduled for the road race that took place an hour outside of Boise with amazing scenery and open roads. Although I did not receive much sleep the night before, I had one more win in my sights. The road racecourse was five laps around the 6-kilometer circuit consisting of punchy hills and technical turns. When the race started, the Men’s H5 competitors proved to be too strong on hills, causing the field to split early in the race. The chase group was, once again, led by me and Matt Tingley, consistently pushing the pace. For the first three laps, the large chase group stuck together until the fourth lap where Matt Tingley, Mike Sales, and me were able to breakaway taking the chase group down to just three competitors. The final climb to the finish was long and steep, this proved to be my breaking point for the weekend. Mike Sales and Matt Tingley were able to pull away from me on the climb, but they are both in the H4 classification, so they were no threat to my fourth National title. I was able to cross the line first for the Men’s H3 category, taking my fourth National title and renaming myself as a four-time National Champion.
None of this would have been possible without the support of my wife, family, and sponsors. Thank you to Cotie Williams and Team Possabilities for the continued support in following my dreams to be one of the fastest handcyclists in the world. I still have a long way to go to reach my full potential, but with their continued support I know I will continue to get better. The National titles were the cherry on top of one of my best seasons in the eleven years that I have been racing. I thank God every day for the ability to compete and follow the path he has set in front of me. So, for now its time to keep training and look forward to an even better 2022 race season.