I said it wasn’t easy, didn’t I? Well, it was not easy at all.
Saturday was the Team Time Trial and due to some confusion with signing up – Greg Phillips and I were left to work the course as two. Greg was much stronger then me and full of energy to do well as two; in actuality I spent much of the course trying to chase and keep pace with him. It was windy! I liked when we came in, together over the line, as a team, and our other members: Reggie, James, Keith, Alex, and Winston did brilliantly in 5th place and just a minute behind the first place finishers. After the trial we cycled leisurely back to the Wheel World Cycle Shop and I exchanged the time trial bike for my road bike with Winston’s fast wheels for the next day’s race.
Sometimes waking up on a race day feels like how it feels to wake up on Christmas or a Birthday. There has been so much anticipation built up to the day- I wake up in a knowing that the day is expected to be special. To Hunkins drive I went: and there everyone was brilliant in their country’s colored jerseys. And the Jessups All Stars eager and ready for their first road race amongst scores of the regions top cyclists. How daunting and intimidating it could be, yet the All Stars appeared confident and looked like naturals in their new cycling outfits sponsored by Reggie, Frank Ashley, and Winston…downing red bull and chasing it with water, helmets on, ready. And Winston was there able somehow to be everywhere at once and meet everyone’s needs. And Team Nevis in their red and yellow jerseys… radiant, stunning- they did not seem nervous a stroke or beat, and instead offered me advice, encouragement, support. And Veronica there with Kenneth preparing themselves to ride support vehicle for us. Asking what I needed- Winston had given them a bag of three drinks and water and red bull and snacks to give me through out the race.
After a representative from each team spoke we lined the start line and a few moments later- we were off…once around town…and then into the race. I followed my instructions: stay behind Terri’s wheel. She came ahead of me in St. Martin and is known as Terri the Terror on the road, so I was told to follow her wheel, keep the pace up and attack when going over the by pass….so with that in mind, when she hit Keith’s wheel and lost balance on her bike falling over, I momentarily did not know what to do. Who do I follow now? And the pack surged forward. I went to catch them, and just as I did at Galipot they surged again, and again I went to catch them and then Terri was behind me. So, the two of us worked together, I first following her into the wind then she says your pull so then I go then she, like this and I wonder if we can catch the main group again? Then coming up over hurricane hill, a gentleman was attempting to give me back a bottle, I slowed to take it and Terri took the moment to go and up over the hill before me. And so I stayed behind with her in sight chasing her all the way up cotton ground and up the by pass and I passed Winston and Greg and they said go Kristina catch her…and then coming into town was Greg again and he says to me: come Kristina let me pull you to her. That’s what he did! How unselfish! And I rode behind him from town to the top of Jessups and he said: go Kristina- cause she was right there, working with a fellow from St. Kitts. So I went and was behind her in sight and another fellow from St. Kitts and then Alex was with them too, and up over hurricane and then down, finally nearly to the back of their wheels coming around to the airport…
A little more, then once there could rest and work with them and think about the next lap and a half to go…when from behind a bus sped forward and its side ran into me flipping me and my bike backwards landing on my left side. Veronica pulled over and Kenneth ran out, another car stopped and a lady ran out, and the driver of the bus stopped too. I stayed on the road a few seconds, stunned, considering if I was all there and tentatively checked to see if everything moved. It did. And then I was angry. Angry because I knew this meant she was gone and out of my reach…my aspiration to try and win demolished. I did not look to see if or how badly I was cut- I only yelled venomously at the driver after he asked me- what I was doing on the road. I told Veronica to put on my chain; I got back on my bike and continued to cycle. And as I continued into the airport there came Terri and the two fellows from St. Kitts and Alex returning. Pick it up yelled Alex. The bus- I screamed back and tried to push my pace to catch them. Well, I spent the next half of the race doing just that, alone, in the wind trying to catch them. On the third lap coming around to the airport again there they were, them four, I had made no head way, but at least at not fallen more behind.
That lap and a half, that was not easy at all, and it is difficult to explain how doing something that is so hard and causes so much suffering can be so loved. But I truly loved being on that bike in that race in those moments or hours. I felt such a vast amount of love and enjoyment even while spitting pain of the exertion. How can I explain this to someone who does not love cycling or sport, some act of greater determination. I not for a second wanted to be anywhere else, that is exactly where I wanted to be, and wanted to continue a fourth lap because I could, however after stopping realized my cuts were paining me and maybe I ought to call it a race. Wait for the next one. See, the truth is I did not want it to be over. Those moments I just was. Everything that I have ever been hurt or angered by went into the petal stroke, everything I loved and was grateful for: into the pedal stroke. I let my knees come up and my heels down and let my feet roll like scraping grass and roll over and me and the bike we used the downhills and worked the uphill, and glided up the false flats and did not cower to the wind. And I am certain that I would never have had this, whatever that and this now is if it were not for Team Nevis. Having those moments as a person has made me a different kind of person. And I more then even before want chance to give that understanding back.
At the beginning of the race James said that training was to prepare for the races. And I did not agree with him, I said no- I have to race because I like to train. So I do the races so I can participate in the trainings. But now I see where he is coming from. All that training we do and who we are and who else is there and the weather and factors like accidents and other undetermineds are there and then there is the race. In the race everything is tested, and the true will and raw emotion of what is human is exposed and used. I will continue to train and will continue to race. This time coming second…next time impossible to tell, but I tell you, I will continue to become better.
Since us elite females did three laps: Miranda came in third and Jessica from St. Kitts came fourth, we were able to watch the top contenders in the elite male come in. the first three came in with no sprints and large gaps between them. First was: KRIS PRADEL from St. Martin, second: ROBERT MARSH from Antigua, and DAVID NANGAPIN third from St. Martin. Then there was a sprint in for fourth and fifth and TYRONE THOMAS took 4th and RONNIE BRYAN 5th. Following them a larger pack of about 12 came sprinting to the line including James Weeks. Winston and Greg were already back as they had much race organization to attend to. How they organize a successful huge cycling event and compete same time is a wonder! From our team Reggie Douglas came in after, as unfortunately he too had suffered a fall and raging leg cramps. Alex had finished early and Keith came in finishing the course. Also from our club competing was Valerie in her first race on her first road bike coming third in the novice category and Matt coming second in the novice.
First in the novice category was Jessup All Star Godfrey Todd, in his first road race on a road bike. Speaking of the success of the All Stars: Quincy Ferguson took first place in the Junior category and Kyle Tweede took second. Morgan too competed in the race but was unable to finish due to a puncture, and Team Nevis member Shawn Brear came third after suffering a puncture too. The All Stars were jubilant and wound up after their race and continued to ride up and down the place. And Veronica and Kenneth were so proud. They were the best support vehicle ever! Handing over waters and Gatorade and encouragement, behind me the whole way- thank you! How lucky I am to have them. After the trophies were awarded Veronica drove in front of me and the boys and she blared the horn while Kenneth held the trophies the All Stars had won out the window and up into Jessups Village we went with noise and accomplishment. Those boys were energized! I was working to keep pace with them….and then sadly to Oualie to return Winston’s bikes and return home.
Later Keith picked me up for dinner with the athletes, and there we all were after the race after the day, eating and laughing, friends bounded together by what we did together, by our common love for something beyond our selves. And let me tell you, this heroine does not mind being around a lot of attractive strong men passionate and able to do what they do. Does not mind at all….!
But even being with them all, I know who are the best and who owns my heart for ever and who I must dedicate any and all success I have or ever will achieve in this sport and that is: Team Nevis!
Hope to see more of you on the road for the next one. Why not…If I can I am sure you can too!