There are a lot of important races and chances for results throughout the season, but the national championships for whatever reason always seem more important to me than other races. Not everyone feels this way, in fact it seems that recently most u23 riders place less and less emphasis on nationals. For me I always feel a little more pressure at nationals than I do at other big races. Maybe it is because I still have not quite let go of a couple years ago when I got second at nationals when I had the fitness but not the head to win it. So either way, for whatever it is nationals always feels like a magical event to me. One day you can be no one and the next your national champion, and everyone has that chance. To me that makes it very special. For whatever reason the past few years when I have lined up I have always had this feeling that I had a chance to win no matter what the course or who was there, that for some reason I do not always have at other events.
At the same time I have a lot of a love hate relationship with the national championships. It almost does not seem to matter who is racing or what the course is, I am always in the mix but never seem to be able to finish it off. In 2009 I rode away in the junior race only to be joined by Max Durtschi and outclassed at the end. In 2010 in my first year u23, I was probably in way over my head but for whatever reason I just did not care. Anytime Howes, Talansky, or Ben King would attack I would turn myself inside out to follow them, as if I was a contender for the win. To be honest looking back on it, it seems comical. But if anyone had asked me what I was doing covering so much more than I knew I could handle, I would have told them I was going to win. Eventually Ben King went when everyone else couldn't and him and I rode away. Again I could not handle it, and eventually he rode away from me as well, but this time the pack rode up to me. Last year in 2011, I missed the winning move but took an opportunity to go across the three minute gap with some of the strong boys. When we got there I was totally done and was barely able to get one bottle from the car to give to Evan and claim a stake in his excellent ride for 3rd. This year I was again in the mix and was in the move without too much trouble. I rode it out for most of the day but just wasn't on the day I needed. We got put behind the 8 ball and I had to ride to try and salvage something but like I said I wasn't on the day I needed. Rob Bush was the quickest in a three up sprint between maybe the three quickest guys in the race.
So that is the end to another nationals for me. It has been four years of being in the position to win, but being unable to finish it off. It's an interesting feeling I have for the national championships, but it is a good one that keeps me wanting to come back, at least for one more year I think.