Who wants to do intervals when you can race? I don’t get to do a Grand Tour, so I might as well invent my own. I recently completed the AMT Classic. The AMT Classic consisted of 10 days of racing from the mountains of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic straight into the plains of the Tour of America’s Dairyland. Why? Why not. Welcome to my own personal stage race, where you are guaranteed to finish with some extra cash money, race fitness, endless smiles, and of course chocolate milk and beer.
I was honored to be a part of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in its last hurrah, as Breakaway Promotions is saying this is the last year, but we all know they will be back. A race with that unique cocktail of a supportive community, breathtaking scenery, and challenging courses, won’t stay away forever. And when they come back, I will be back too. Although I really wanted to win the race, I had to leave the first four stages of the AMT Classic with a mere 2nd place overall at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Thank you for the memories, Mt. Hood. I know I gained fitness and confidence through your grueling stages, and met many great people through the race and learned more about myself and my ability. Now can I have to win the next time.
The good thing about bike racing is that there is always more bike racing. More bike races to perfect your skills. More bike races to make mistakes. More bike races to learn. More bike races to win.
Although I am partial to long stage races, I thought it was time to mix it up with some of my teammates and the sprinters of the Midwest. We can’t let the sprinters have all the glory and chocolate milk, can we? The Tour of America’s Dairyland is a tremendous opportunity to race each day with a fresh perspective and a new goal with its welcoming and laid back format of many races and different venues. If something doesn’t work one day, you have many more days to test out your other weapons in your arsenal. I could take a deep sigh of relief when entering the Cheese State as I was reunited with teammates and many options for the races.
Two road races and four criteriums later, I had stolen two stages of TOAD and drank my fair share of chocolate milk, and Exergy TWENTY16’s sprinter and super track rider, Cari Higgins, finished 3rd overall. At the road race that circumnavigated Road America, the NASCAR track, I attacked with 1.5 laps to go, and although the men had previously passed us, I did get to fly by the men’s field as they were neutralized for my solo attack for the win. Gentlemen, I know you are fast too, but you have to give me credit for wanting to feel important as I got to speed into victory with style. Thank you for proving to me that chivalry is not dead, and giving me a boost of confidence into a great finish.
Racing is fun. Add thousands of cheering fans and a Friday Night Fish Fry, and it gets even better. The Downer Avenue Criterium, Stage 9 of the AMT Classic, was like no race I have ever done. With over $2,500 in primes alone, including one $1,000 Ultra Prime by Ben’s Cycle, the race was pure chaos fueled by the energy of the crowds and a warm Milwaukee night. With 8 laps to go, I countered a previous prime, and not only snagged a $1,000 prime 2 laps later as I continued to escape from the sprinters, but also stayed solo for a very dramatic win. Wow. More chocolate milk, a giant check, and a win. It is fair to say, I love Milwaukee.
Proof that the AMT Classic was not a fixed stage race, I did not win every stage of my own personal Grand Tour. However, I did take a little treasure from each race I competed in. Constantly learning, constantly growing, and constantly finding where my limits are, if I even have any. This makes you want to make your own Grand Tour too, doesn’t it? I returned to California and all I wanted to do was to keep racing. I had to join the Davis Bicycle Club at their 4th of July Criterium just three days later, and then get a taste of the rough roads of the Leesville Gap Road Race that make the cobbles of Europe look smooth as silk. Standing on top of the podium at Leesville Gap, it was a watermelon trophy instead of the Full Sail Brewery beer of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, or the chocolate milk of the Tour of America’s Dairyland, but it was just as satisfying. Bike racing sure beats training. Next year, why don’t you sign up for the AMT Classic?