Vital lessons learnt for Nicholas Narraway and Caitlin Conyers in gruelling criterium series
Nicholas Narraway admitted he learnt a number of valuable lessons competing in the gruelling Tour of America’s Dairylands Criterium series in the United States.
Narraway and compatriot Caitlin Conyers, both took on the daunting event which consists of 11 straight days of competing in 11 different communities throughout southeast Wisconsin, involving about 1,100 male and female professional and amateur athletes, with as many as 450 racing daily.
The 19-year-old, who is in his first year out of junior racing, was among the highly competitive Pro 1 category and secured a host of highly respectable finishes, consistently finishing midway in the final placings in races which consistently had 20 to 30 of the 80 or more starters not completing the courses.
While Narraway was critical of his own performance, he attempted to focus on the positives of an overall encouraging series which has furthered enhanced his progression racing at higher level.
“This is my first year out of being a junior and I knew I would be pushing myself by entering the Pro 1 category.” he said. “The Tour of America’s Dairylands series has been my longest stage of racing that I’ve done so far.
“I had hopes of doing better but after the first few races I had to settle in and focus on doing my best to hold my own as a solo rider against the big teams and their race tactics.
“Seeing that 20 to 30 riders were pulled, crashed out or did not finish each race, I worked hard to find a balance of being in the breaks, bridging the gaps while saving enough energy for the sprint finishes, so that I wasn’t the one off the back.
“I have to look at the positives, I was always within seconds of the winner when crossing the line. Almost every race came down to a sprint finish, I am not a sprinter so the finishes were important for me, how close to the winner could I get.
“Overall it is all the lessons learnt, while watching teams tactics and when riders would work together and when it was a free-for-all, that I will be looking to build on.”
The series also proved a valuable learning experience for Conyers, who also secured a number of promising results competing in the Women’s Pro 1 division.
“The criteriums here in the United States were very different to road racing and what I’ve been used to,” she said. “However, it’s been really good for me to be out of my comfort zone and compete among the 60 or riders in each of the criterium races.
“That really helped a lot, building up and improving not only my technical skills but also my confidence.”