I was very fortunate to be able to travel home for the Guyana National Road Cycling Championships and come away with the win after completing 100 miles along the East Bank and Linden Highway. It was a grueling event with all of Guyana’s top cyclist coming out to compete for this year’s title. The event and competitors pushed me to my absolute limits mentally and physically, but I was thankfully able to keep calm and stay patient to ensure that I had conserved enough energy for the most critical phases of the road race that took place on the East Bank roads.
The race was very conservative at the beginning, with all the riders seeming to have the same strategy. Three riders eventually formed a small break going onto the Linden highway. Since we were not even at the halfway point, I decided to wait a little while to see what would happen to the break before committing myself to a chase. As the halfway point approached, the gap had grown to 2 minutes, but a mechanical for one rider and fierce attack from another quickly shattered the break. With now only one rider off the front solo and some confusion, I decided not leave any more to risk and that now would be the time to try to bring back the leader. While I did not have any teammates, a number or us were able to effectively organize and after some tough chasing we were all back together with 30 miles of racing remaining.
We exited the Linden Highway and turned onto the East Bank Public Road together. A few riders immediately attempted some solo moves that were fortunately short lived. Seeing that a break was unlikely to survive, I decided my best strategy would be to conserve as much as I could for a sprint finish. Making a call like this is always a gamble, but it was going to be my best shot given the significant amount of energy I had spent earlier to make sure the early breakaway did not steal the race.
With 10km to go, I found myself riding defensively on the front of the bunch making sure that no one opened up a dangerous enough gap to threaten the win. As I continued to cover attacks, I sincerely became concerned that I may not have the legs to properly contest the finishing sprint. However, after a few more attacks and covers, I became a little more relieved as it seemed clear that all of my competitors were in exactly the same position. We finally made the turn onto the finishing road and in the distance I could see the flag waiving straight ahead of us. Still sitting on the front of the group, I knew that I would have to time the sprint to absolute perfection in order to win.
Approaching 250 meters to go, I jumped as hard as I could. For a split second, I thought to myself that my jump was too weak and that someone else is sure to win. But then I thought about how hard I had worked to get here and dug deeper than I had ever thought possible. I could feel the cramps ripping at my quads as I tried to ignore the pain. From out of the left corner of my eye, I could see the pink jersey of my longtime nemesis creeping up alongside me. With the finish line directly in front of me, I just barely had enough energy to throw the bike at the line. As we crossed, I wasn’t even sure who had one. When I finally lifted my head and looked around, it became evident that I was the new national champion! This is by far the best win of my career and I cannot express how thrilled I am to wear my national colors for the next year.