amy alison dombroski

2009 Blogs

The bread and butter of every season is the National Championships – where one rider, the one who bests the best takes home a title.  It was with excitement that I boarded the plane to Oregon 2 weeks ago for 2 weekends of important races – Portland USGPs and Nattys.  USA Cycling did it proper; making easy travel for us, as many racers chose to hit both weekends, with a mellow week in between.  Bend is a wicked town, and it has been great to have both road and cyclocross National Championships there.  The crowds were off the wall on Sunday!  Such support for this amazing sport!  A huge thank you to Bend for pulling off a first-class event.  

After Portland USGPs, Dave Drumm (master mechanic) and I drove blue Betty down to Bend on Wednesday.  Betty is a 1980 VW Westfalia.  Apparently heat was optional back then, so as we were driving in the negative degree temperatures, we were both bundled to the brim with teeth chattering and ice cube feet.  The engine in Whoa Blue Betty is comparable to my 2-stroke scooter, so we were rolling at a whopping 30mph up the pass toward Mt. Hood.  But we made it – we arrived in style.  On Thursday I was able to check the course out and was stoked; it was a wicked fun course and offered a bit of everything.  From there it just became a waiting game until Sunday.  Too much waiting.  

The Schlamm entourage – Simon, Dan, and myself stayed in the awesome Mill Inn B&B.  The place was booked with riders, so the waiting game was tough as every day someone was getting ready to race, while I had to keep my race nerves at bay.  But it was all in good fun, and it allowed me some time to catch up with people.  Kerry B made the trip from Cali to win a jersey.  KCM took a little vacation bike-less (yes, KCM w/o a bike!) Karen – world champion time trialist turned cyclocrosser tore up her race with a podium finish to boot.  Dave Towle was in town and on the mic, great to have his encouragement! On Friday Joan and Nicola had a fantastical dinner party with a great group of people.  And Sunday finally came.

With an earlier start time than I’m used to, at 11:15am, my normal routine needed a little tweaking.  Simon was my sounding board, alarm clock, and brain through this week…otherwise I wouldn’t have made it outside of the coffee shop.  

The race started out fast with Katie grabbing the hole shot.  I didn’t have a great start and for half the first lap was stuck behind traffic.  Finally, the 2nd time through the pit I was able to move through people, and by the time we reached the stair section was in 2nd, on my quest to ride near Katie.  My head was in it, I was nailing the technical sections, riding good lines, powering out of corners, and had Katie on about a 15-20 sec leash.  On my 3rd lap (?) I went down on an icy corner.  With the thawing temperatures during the day and freezing at night, that course was slick.  There was a turn off of pavement and onto dirt that was shaded from the sun, and was all black ice.  I went down fast, like Jenga.  At this point Meredith was closing in on me, and made contact.  Through the start/finish stretch she threw in an attack which I tried to hold onto.  But after the crash I lost my head and panicked.  I began riding stupid lines, couldn’t relax, and for 2 laps was a rattled cluster.  Finally I regained my composure on the final lap, and started to chip the gap to Mer back down, but it was too late.

Third at elite Nationals is something I should be very happy with, as it is an improvement from last season.  I have also had loads of luck this season, crash and mechanical-free, so a misfortune is bound to happen some time!  However, it is important to learn something from every race, and I know my fault was not being able to remain relaxed when the race didn’t go exactly as planned.  You can’t plan a race – you can only go into a race with a plan and improvise as it unfolds.  

Nationals was supposed to be my final race of the ‘cross season.  After Portland I was becoming despondent that I only had one race left.  Finally everything was dialed – my equipment, program, training, and it was ending!?  On Saturday evening, with the end hours away, I booked a ticket to Belgium!  So after the race on Sunday, Dave and I drove back to Portland for an early Monday flight to Denver.  I was home at 3pm on Monday, washed my clothes, revised my packing, picked up some derailleur hangers from Joe, and some new Pearl Izumi shoes, and Dave Towle came to the rescue, and drove me to the airport this morning.  As I write I am on a flight to Chicago, then to Brussels!  

First race is Scheldecross on Dec 18th, Kalmthout World Cup on the 20th, Zolder World Cup the 26th, Diegem the 27th, Loenhout the 29th.  From there…it’s still a bit in the air.  Worlds is a possibility, but so is an off-season.  

It really does take an army.  Loads of thank yous to Primus Mootry, Schlamm, Clement, Excel Sports, Ollett Coaching, Reynolds, SRAM, FSA, TRP, Oakley, KneadEd, I/O Bio Merino, Pearl Izumi, AceCo Sports Group, Ritchey, Lazer, Hudz, Rotor Components, USWCDP, for making my season possible.  Thank you to my ring of support – all the cowbelling all season long has been tremendous – both at the races, and miles away, I thank you for it.  The mob of Coloradoans who made the trek to Bend – thank you for cheering me on.  I am happy to represent you ALL for s’more races across the pond!  I will do my best to race fast and keep the updates coming.  I hear Belgium is beautiful this time of year…

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