When they published the schedule for this year’s USA Cycling Masters Nationals, I felt the heads of hundreds of masters racers shake in unison. Why would anyone schedule the road race (for the biggest fields) the day before the time trial? The answer that came back was: we’re trying to minimize people’s travel expenses.
Guys like me were then faced with a decision: do the road race and likely lessen your chances in the time trial? Or skip the road race and put all your eggs in the TT basket? Or just do the road race and forget the TT?
I waffled. After finishing 5th in last year’s TT then crashing in the road race, I was looking to place better in both events. Even after signing up for both, I waffled. After a good ride at the Ohio state TT championship (3rd overall), I waffled more.
Thurlow Rogers (winner the past 3 years) was not signed up. This could be a real chance for a top 3 in the TT. The road race is more of a crap shoot; you never know what is going to happen. Why not focus on the TT – the race where you can most control your outcome?
Either way, I knew there was a good chance I’d end up regretting whichever decision I made. I hate that feeling.
In the end, I decided to do both races. I told myself I would do the road race without worrying about saving it for the next day. It didn’t work. Three riders got away 5 miles into the race. One of them was one of the “danger men” I planned on watching. But I was trying not to do too much work too early. They stayed away, subsequent attacks were chased, no chase could get organized, and I decided to stop with 5 miles left to start recovering for the next day.
It felt like a wasted effort. Not how I like to race.
The next morning my legs felt decent considering the minimal recovery time. And I had a decent ride. I felt like I got pretty close to the right pacing, considering the hilliness and having ridden the course only once beforehand. But when I crossed the line and saw my time, I wasn’t too confident of making top 3, let alone top 5 again.
It was very close though:
1 Matthew Wukasch 00:30:16.80 Champion Porsche
2 Kevin Metcalfe 00:30:24.40 Team Specialized Racing Master
3 Brendan Sullivan 00:30:38.00 Iron Data Racing
4 William Henry 00:30:47.40 Vic’s Espresso/Peerless
5 Simon Walker 00:30:48.00 Suburban Health Sports/Soroff
6 Brian Batke 00:30:49.10 Carbon Racing
Before getting too regretful, it should be noted that 2nd and 3rd like me did the road race (and congrats to Brendan Sullivan, who I beat by 1 second in the TT last year). They might now be thinking, “could I have won the TT had I not done the road race?”
Yes, regret is a cruel emotion.