Race Report: Sally Aston takes on Masters Road Nationals

Sally Aston (Bicycle Haus Racing) headed to USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships over the weekend in Ogden, Utah for her first-ever national race.

At age 40, Aston has been tearing up Arizona bicycle racing with a road race state championship under her belt and numerous other wins. She also gives dudes a tough time at local rides on a weekly basis.

Aston sent us this race report from nationals:

“USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships were held in Ogden, Utah this year, and despite only being in my first year of bike racing, I thought it would be fun to try racing at the national level.

“I headed to Ogden with my friend Woody (Jim Woodburne from FASTER), who was also racing the road and crit races. When we arrived, it was obvious from the bike racks, compression gear and shaved legs that this cool, little town had been taken over by cyclists.

“Although we didn’t race in the time trial, we caught up with some friends who did, and we learned that the time trial course on Antelope Island was interesting – riders passed by buffalo staring at them as they raced on the course! We also got some intel about the road course, which would end on a tough seven-mile climb at 7,000 feet.

“Friday morning was chilly and sunny. We drove from downtown up to the ski resort, Snow Basin. It was a beautiful drive up and we got to preview the descent we would make during our road race. It was difficult not to be nervous and intimidated when I saw the finish area, the lean looking riders and the course profile. This was definitely going to be a race that favored those who live and train at altitude, and have a climber’s build (not me).

“My race started at 8:20 a.m., and I was thankful I had dug the arm warmers out of the closet. We started out with a one-mile climb out of the ski area then a fast six-mile descent down to the reservoir.

“Our group of about 15 riders stayed together and the pace around the reservoir was calm and steady. Any attempt to go off the front was quickly shut down. This allowed me to enjoy the beautiful course, but it meant that the real race didn’t start until the climb, which was unfortunate for me.

“I just couldn’t match the surges – these girls were amazing climbers and I held on as long as possible. I felt like I was working way harder than my power numbers showed, and the altitude was a factor with about two miles to go. I was with a small group of riders and was able to separate with one kilometer to go. At the 200-meter to-go sign, you can see the finish but the grade kicks up and when I stood up to “sprint” I had nothing! It was a very cool experience to finish on a climb like that.

“I ended up ninth in the road race. To do better at that race, I should have definitely done some rides in Flagstaff, lost some weight and ridden many more hills!

“I stayed and watched the men’s races that day. There were some very impressive breakaways and sprint finishes.

“The crit races were held on Saturday. It was a really cool course in downtown Ogden that includes a short hill. I didn’t race until the afternoon, which allowed spectating all day. My race was going very well. It was faster and smoother than most of the local crits.

“I was very glad to still be in the mix on the last lap until someone took a corner poorly and there was a crash. I almost made it through but a bike slid into me and I went down. I’m disappointed to end the season with a DNF, road rash and a sore back, but overall, it was an awesome weekend of racing.

“I learned a lot about competing at the national level (it’s humbling!) and gained experience racing with riders who have been doing this for 20, 30 or more years (I have a lot to learn!).

“Master’s nationals will be held in Ogden again next year. I might try to go back and get revenge on those courses.”