Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frustration at Nats

Day 2 Criterium 13/14 Shane Scoggin. I a going to blog about it coz it is going to take me some time to get over and I have to figure out how to apply my frustration in a creative and logical fashion. Shane is at his first National Championship here in Bend, OR with his family and the NCVC support crew. This support system is awesome. Parents, coaches, other parents, fellow teammates. We are all from DC so yeah, it is a trek getting out here. This is "the show", national championships. USA Cycling is the federation behind putting on these events.

Shane was nervous day 1, so the RR was a learning experience. Lining up with 90+ kids was a first for him, seeing the big National Championship banner is WOW, they have a real stage and real annoucers. Yeah Nationals are big. So you would expect many details to be taken care of. Like having a good technical director on board for having the courses approved.
Shane and I went to try and figure out the crit course after he rested up from the RR. We talked about how he is a big fish back in Mabra but out here, there are big fish from all over the country. So in this form of race, we need look after all the details and handling nerves is one step, in many, of learning how to bike race. He realized he needed to get some chow down pre race and work on calming his mind. For a 14 yr old, this is alot to figure out.
The course on paper was wrong, god knows how many national championships I have been to and the courses have been wrong on paper. But I kinda figured out the course - and we rode it a few times. It had some very tight turns, turn 2 and turn 5 especially were very tight. I was not happy thinking about how 90 kids were going to navigate that course and I thought maybe I have the course wrong. Well turned out I had the course right. My stomach was very upset, thinking about Shane on that course with kids half his size - trying to "race" a course this technical with kids of all different size and putting out maybe a max watts of 300 vs max watts of 1200+. It was not going to be a good situation. I of course pushed all this way back in my mind and was ++; I told Shane he had to get good start and he had to go like hell from the gun. It was going to break up into million pieces and if he didn't get out in front, it would be over. He had a good lineup before the callups, 2nd in line. There were 2 tiny kids in front of him (who crashed as soon as the gun went off). I told him he had to get to the start line as soon as they were called up; he wasn't aggressive enough and ended up about 4th row. Not good.
Race started and there was a crash 20m from the line, even before turn 1. Turn 2 - about 50m from the start, 2nd big crash. Shane was in this one but took a free lap and got back in. They put him in way back, and he chased all the way back to a group going for 7th place. There was a kid # 656 I told him to get on from the gun, but 656 and the guy who eventually won (who won the day before and got a call up) jumped from the gun and these 2 were never seen again; they lapped the field. So there were 2 up front, a chase of 4, then a group of about 7 which included Shane. Half way through Shane left his group and tried to bridge across. He was going very well but the group of 4 was working very well together. Shane gave it an all or nothing effort, but when the leaders lapped the group Shane was originally in, this group >> in pace and Shane was brought back. He was out there about 5 laps on his own. He as brought back and for 3 laps he was 200% in the hurt locker. Wasn't good and all I thought was what will I say to him post race if he gets popped. Will I be able to make him understand how GREAT it is to actually RACE and not settle for less. Shane is a Champion. I coach lotta people, have for years now, and all of them are different. This kid has heart. A big one who likely also has a big stroke volume, but he has a heart that goes for the W. He was suffering like a dog and long last, with 3 to go th pressure came off; the 2 guys who lapped the field decided to let the chase group of 4 stay clear. It was 3 to go and Shane had just made contact again with the group he had originally been in (he had been slightly dropped, after he had put in his move to bridge across). I thought okay is he smart enough to rest for 2 laps and go for it?? Answer is HELL YES he knows. Coming into one lap to go, he jumped again! and had a clear gap. This woulda given him 7th. The 5th turn on this course is really tight and we had talked about this corner; he could win it or lose it here. Well, he was after it. But he went into the turn hot and didn't make it out. Suzanne and I were waiting, waiting, and we realized Shane musta had a problem. Then we heard Larry and Justin yelling Shane was down and it wasn't good. Man, the emotions - I am not very good at dealing with this part of racing. My heart sunk; I could tell from his eyes, when he went through that last lap off the front he was determined. The day before he was sad, he was very bummed out about the RR and I knew he was ready for revenge. That was what I saw in his eyes and I held my breathe, knowing that last turn and knowing the possibility of disaster. When you have + in bike racing, it is magic. When you don't, well very sad. This is always the way.
We got down to that corner and Shane was down. I saw his legs all banged up and thank God Jim Wilson was there, who always calms me down. There was a great medic there and Shane was responding very good, so I could at least sign a +. He got up and walked, and whereas I shoulda been filled with joy, I was really angry. There was a USA official there and I was angry, this course shoulda have NEVER been a course for the 10-14 kids. Never. Just the site of anything USA Cycling made me angry at that moment. I may be completely wrong; but I don't think the federation is cutting it right now. I haven't thought this for years actually. Maybe it started with Sue Haywood getting screwed yrs ago. And Sue is class.
When I saw the course and then knew it was the course I had thought; I knew the corners were going to coz major chaous. They did; as Shane was getting cleaned up (he is banged up just about everywhere but nothing major major - just serious ouch covering his body), I asked the medics how many kids had been in there..... more than 25. I heard in the 10-12 most every kid was pulled.
Why do you approve a course, that anyone with 1% of cyling racing brains and technical experience, knows will coz nothing but disaster? The amount of money they charge just to race at Nationals, the fact it is Nationals and people come from all across the USA with bike transport costs alone outrageous, the fact this is Nationals and kids come expecting to race (racing 1 km of a 20km race after traveling halfway cross the country or more is not racing), parents taking this as their vacation etc etc etc etc. Okay - unacceptable. Unacceptable.
That course should never have been approved for these kids. I feel all those kids and parents have been robbbed. What kinda experience did they take home? Bend has a great downtown crit course they use for the other cats (15/16, 17/18, U23) - use some of the profits USA Cycling is reaping in and make it happen. US is trying to grow JR cycling; by last nite??
I don't have the answer but I do know that anyone with any experience in racing, knowing kids even slightly; would conclude that course was unjust. I don't know if I can do anything to remedy this or improve but I am invested in JR cycling and what happened to Shane last nite was absolute bullshit. He shoulda not been racing on that course. He is one of the strongest kids, all the way from DC, racing out here in OR. Paid a fortune to get his bikes out here. Had both parents come out. He is supposed to be taking off on his TT in 17 minutes but instead he is here giving all his TT stuff to the others so they can race. Breaks my heart. He is up walking and this is great. But he should be taking his last pee right now before his start. I know he woulda set one of the fastest times today.
If I can find a video of the start; which shows the crash right off the line and the discrepancy of kids in this race - which USA Cycling should be able to predcit by now??, I will post. Kids 70 lbs vs 160 lbs on a course as technical as it gets. And this is the "show". Gives the kids a great experience, one which they will of course take home and dream about, training even harder. That was a joke. When can we do it again..

What I also need to get an answer to - does an athlete have to pay to protest a result? For example, when the officials screwed up Russ Brown's time this last weekend at TWC, did he have to pay the officials so they would possibly correct their mistake? If this is true, I am going to go even more insane. Where else do you get paid for up??? If this is the rule I am waging a war. Getting paid for screwing up. Now that's why we pay more every year to get a license. Awesome.

I only had one cup of coffee. What do I know; I am only a coach and raced for most of my life. I will be long dead to see IF the day ever happens where we as a nation think Preventive instead of Corrective. Preventive takes in much less profit.... greed and ego drive the corrective version.

Today is time trial day; off to the races. Let's think ++. That who I am.

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