What: UCI Cyclocross World Championships
When: Saturday and Sunday
Where: Louisville, Ky.
More info: http://louisville2013.com/
F or Boulder's Meredith Miller, traveling to Madison, Wis., for cyclocross nationals was like stepping back into a time machine. She played varsity soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, long before she even knew what a cyclocross bike looked like.
Miller, who finished eighth at nationals, wasn't thrilled with her finish, but it was enough to solidify her spot on the U.S. team for the UCI Cyclocross World Championships Saturday and Sunday in Louisville, Ky.
Before she left, we checked in with Miller to see how she was preparing and what type of results she's looking for at worlds.
You finished eighth at nationals in Madison. Walk us through that race.
That was one tough. Going into nationals I felt like I could have a really good race. So that morning (of the race) I got up, I went out to the course and I watched the D-1 collegiate men's race to see how they were handling the race, and it looked like it was really fast conditions. I got to the start line of the race feeling relaxed and confident. It was just going to be a matter of how my legs felt that day.
I had said all along it wasn't going to be the fittest or fastest rider, but the one who could handle the conditions. We started the race and I was feeling really good and then halfway through the third lap was when things started to fall apart for me. I had a crash, had a major mechanical, spent a lot of time off my bike trying to get the mechanical fixed, saw a lot of people going by me. We only did four laps so there wasn't a lot of time for me to make that time up.
Were you surprised to be named to the U.S. team for worlds?
I thought the announcement for the worlds team was going to come out Tuesday morning. ... I visited a friend and her husband that night. We were looking through their wedding album I wasn't even thinking about world's selection. My phone was somewhere else in the house.
I kept hearing text messages come in and phone calls come in. Finally I was like 'Alright what is going on?' I went and checked my phone and the last message that had come through was "Congrats on the worlds selection." It was a nice way to find out because I wasn't sitting around chewing my nails, hitting refresh the whole time. It was also nice to get that news before I left Madison so I could finally make peace with nationals. At least it softened the blow a little bit.
What's been your training schedule leading up to worlds?
I came back from nationals and there was a lot of mental fatigue from that weekend. I ... had a couple chill days to recollect my thoughts and composure and all that, then refocus on the training. We have 'Wednesday Worlds' here, where a group of people get together on their 'cross bikes and go do mock bike races.
I've also done some motorpacing. I've been doing sprints and efforts riding behind the scooter. The other days it's making sure I'm as relaxed and low-stress and off my feet as much as possible, recovering. A lot of athletes think if they're recovering that they're going to lose fitness, and that's one of the most important parts of training is the recovery.
You hurt your hand pretty badly earlier in the season at the Providence Cyclocross Festival. Has it affected your racing?
As soon as I crashed I knew I had done something to my hand, and I was bawling, not because it hurt, but because I knew there was a consequence. I knew ... I was going to be off my bike for a while. My surgery was a week after my crash so it was kind of that week that I lost time.
After the surgery I only took a couple days to rest and then I was back on the trainer. I was able to start training hard pretty much right away. I had to spend a solid five weeks on the trainer, which it's tough for most people to do for one day, much less five weeks. It was eight or nine weeks after the actual accident before I came back and raced again.
What's your goal for worlds?
I think a top 10 at worlds, I'd be happy with that. It's funny, you set a goal for yourself and unless you actually win the race there's probably always a slight bit of disappointment when you're done, and you replay the race and you think 'I could've done this better, I could've done that better. If I had done this instead maybe I could've gotten one place better.'
I think a top 10 finish is realistic. I can't put a number of exact placing, I think saying top five would be a little ... we'll see. We'll see when we get there.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.