Cycling season ends with a bang

Trevor Johnson, center, and other bicyclists get ready to kick off an 80-mile road race in Fort Collins, Colo., May 8. Johnson won the overall title for the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference Division 2, which named the U.S. Air Force Academy's 2009 cadet cycling team as collegiate team of the year. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Trevor Johnson, center, and other bicyclists get ready to kick off an 80-mile road race in Fort Collins, Colo., May 8. Johnson won the overall title for the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference Division 2, which named the U.S. Air Force Academy's 2009 cadet cycling team as collegiate team of the year. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The 2009 cadet cycling team was recognized as the "Collegiate Team of the Year," finished on top of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference-- Div 2, and supported our top rider, Trevor Johnson as he went on to win the overall title for the RMCCC. The team hosted "the best" race of the season, and also qualified to attend the National Championships in Fort Collins, Colo., where it competed against schools from all over the nation.

Collegiate Cycling Nationals consists of three events, a road race (70-mile hilly course), criterium (75-minute race with multiple laps of a 1-km course), and a team time trial (18 miles where the team works together to get the fastest time).

The weekend was a success.

Friday: The road race in Fort Collins was the hardest race course in recent Collegiate Nationals history. The team raced with six riders including: Trevor Johnson, Preston Moon, Adam Kruse, John ShalekBriski, Justin Goodin and William Gates. Members worked extremely hard to ensure Trevor Johnson (the team leader) was well placed to make his attack from the field of cyclists. It was no surprise that a small group of elite riders including Johnson fought it out for the National Title. Trevor finished 6th ... the best finish for an Air Force rider in the road race in nearly a decade.

Saturday: The team raced the criterium with four riders including: Preston Moon, John ShalekBriski, Justin Goodin and William Gates. Trevor Johnson and Adam Kruse sat out and rested in a strategic decision to focus on Sunday's team time trial. Again the team worked great and put ShalekBriski into great position for the final laps; he finished strong in 12th place.

Sunday: The team time trial consisted of Trevor Johnson, Preston Moon, Adam Kruse and John ShalekBriski. This event requires guts, teamwork, communication and aerodynamics. To race this fast for this long, riders must ride two to three inches away from each other's wheel (on tires that are only 22 millimeters wide), using the draft created each rider pulls hard at the front and then rotates off and rests at the back of the line of four riders in the draft. This, in turn, makes an entire team faster. It's a perfect match for our Air Force team and winning the national championship was a team goal from day one.

The team knew to win it would need to beat Princeton and Furman universities. It started extremely fast--requiring an average speed over 30.5 mph over the rolling 18 mile course to get the win.

In cycling, the statement "you must risk losing to ever have a shot at winning" rings very true ... the team threw caution to the wind and took the risk.

At the half-way point time checks indicated the cadets were only a few seconds behind Princeton, were picking up speed and closing the gap, and were on their way to a national championship. There's another adage, "you win some, you lose some and some days it rains" and for the team it started to pour. An untimely flat tire followed by a spectacular crash ended the team's dream.

Team members picked themselves up and rode hard to the finish.

Although the collegiate season is coming to an end, many of the underclassmen will race throughout the summer while the first classmen will be off to bigger and better things.

Trevor Johnson, for example, will experience a dream come true and race in Belgium at the professional level for over a month before he attends pilot training. Preston Moon is off to pilot training at Vance and Adam Kruse is AFIT bound for graduate school. As for the author, I am PCSing in a month and my fondest memories of this assignment will be those of the cadet cyclists learning to lead, mentor and win ... in that order.

The cadet cycling team would like to especially thank the Athletic Department, the AOG, and club sports for their amazing and continued support.