By Katie Aman
For those who have only known me for a little while, you may be surprised to learn that the U.S. Pro Road National Championship for 2019 was never on my 2019 race season calendar. Even in the spring, during the collegiate season, I was not planning to attend the race. Collegiate Nationals was my target race and that’s what I put my energy towards in training - it’s what I told my coach we should aim our energy towards. “Seriously, Katie? With all the impressive results you captured during 2019, how could the most important event of the year not make it onto your season plan?!”, one with a shred of logic might ask. Well, it’s because I was only daring to dream about the idea of U.S. Pro in March. And by dream, I mean sit staring into space during my literature classes thinking about how amazing it would be to go to such a big race. Not the type of dream you necessarily see coming to fruition as a category 3, female rider who could barely attain anything better than a mid-pack finish in any type of road race during the prior season.
Thankfully, I got a little more serious last December and decided to have Coach Dave Mcintosh help me out with training. So by the end of the spring collegiate season in 2019, I was outperforming my expectations by a lot and surprisingly had the points to upgrade to a category 2. The women in the pro field at Pro Nationals must be category 2s or higher, so I realized that I could attend the championship about 6-8 weeks before the race weekend. Shortly thereafter, I joined GLV and won my first elite road race at our Purgatory home race, surrounded by enthusiastic teammates driving Zipcars and waving orange flags. I was so thrilled to join the team, because it meant I would have teammates to show me the way both at local races and at Pro Nationals, which was a huge asset to me. It made me a lot more excited to go to Knoxville to compete on the National stage having Clio and Mer with me in the same hotel. We were then able to support each other through the TT, the Crit, and the Road Race.
The racing in Tennessee was unlike anything that I’ve experienced before - octane, high-energy, aggressive, tactical, and just plain brutal. It was remarkable to line up with some of the biggest names to compete on such a high platform. Clio crushed the time trial for the U23 women, and Mer was able to put in good efforts in both the crit and road race. I was satisfied with my TT, felt really intimidated in the crit (and realized what I need to work on!), and had a really good run of it in the road race with a 26th place overall out of 70+ starters. I hung in with some of the best and on a really hot day where many fell victim to the heat. I think I put in the biggest effort I could on that day and in 2020, I will be trying to make progress in my pack riding skills so that I can try in be with the leaders for that final sprint. It was really special having the event live streamed so that my boyfriend, Zack, and other family and friends could watch me racing live. Apparently, I was easy to pick out in my pink shoes and pink helmet! Brad Sohner even gave me a shout out, giving credit where credit is due in mentioning our full team name. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a positive experience in Knoxville. I was a little nervous, but I was surprised that I wasn’t as nervous as I am usually at bike races - I think I felt so overwhelmed that I didn’t have time for nerves while preparing to line up against some of the nation’s best female riders. I really appreciate the support GLV gave me to make my Nationals’ dreams come true - from AJ standing in the blazing sun to hand out bottles, to the sponsors who made it possible for us to partially fund this trip. I hope that everyone on GLV is proud of the rider and person who they have helped me become.