Better late than never. Gage Hecht recaps his first big UCI Under 23 weekend!
I always enjoy the time that I spend competing in bike races, and this weekend was no exception. Because this was my first big UCI weekend with a U23 category in it, I spent the week before imagining what the new racing would be like.
What better way to start a trip like this off, than a road trip? On Thursday we headed across the Great Plains. Road trips are always a good opportunity to bond with teammates. As boring as seventeen hours in a car may sound, its pretty fun with this group.
After our arrival into Cincinnati, we were able to go to each course and get familiar with the features they presented. These are the days that you go out and hit one section hundreds of times until you know that you have found the line that will be the fastest. For me, it’s one of my favorite parts of racing outside of the competition itself.
After a lap or two around the Devou Park course, I realized that because of the combination of speed and extremely technical sections, the Pan-American Championships would ultimately play out to be an elimination race. A group would form and throughout the race, riders would make mistakes and be dropped from that group. Knowing this, I set a goal to stay within the top three riders with the hopes of making the podium.
The day of the race hit and the excitement had built up. We arrived at the venue early so we could watch Katie race. After a day of watching others race, it was finally my turn.
I made it through the first lap unscathed, but I continually came close to others falls. After a few laps, the race had come down to Curtis White, Spencer Petrov, and I. The remainder of the race consisted of constant attacking. By the time three laps appeared on the lap counter, I was doing all I could to hang on to the group During the final lap, Curtis left Spencer and I. It came down to a sprint, and I was barely able to pull around Spencer at the end. I was so proud be able to stand on the podium of the U23 Pan-Ams.
On Sunday, Brannan and I woke up and rode to the course. It was nice to be in a house only miles away from the course. During Katie’s race, Brannan and I cheered from the enchanted forest. While there we got to observe how the different routes behaved. Later on in the day, Ashley, Brannan, and I hit the course for the last time together. We all agreed that the race would be very fast.
I ended up having a slow first lap. A combination of bad luck with accidents and mechanicals due to hitting the ground. After finally getting rolling, I began to find my way through the riders. I eventually made it into seventh place. This stands as one of my best finishes in an Elite UCI C1.
Looking back on things, I am very satisfied with the way all the racing turned out. The points and experience I gained will pay off throughout the season and my career. I cannot wait for the next trip with the Alpha Bicycle Co./ Vista Subaru!