BLOOMINGTON — Nothing about Tabitha Sherwood’s Individual Time Trial run went according to plan, except the most important part—she won.
Sherwood overcame less-than-ideal track conditions on a borrowed men’s bike to win the women’s ITT in her fourth and final try. After finishing second two years in a row, Phoenix Cycling’s lead rider left no doubt she’s among the class of the field by posting a 2:35.48, exactly 1.5 seconds ahead of Delta Gamma’s Kristen Bignal in second place.
“Four years hard work finally worth it,” Sherwood said.
Sherwood’s time was the lowest since Kristi Hewitt ran a 2:34.0 for Wing It in 2009.
The bike she was supposed to ride was in bad shape after a teammate rode it through the heavy rain that fell sporadically on the track throughout the night. In need of a bike, Sherwood asked Cutters’ Erik “Trevor” Schwedland , who also happens to be her roommate, if she could borrow the one he used earlier in the night.
“I’m on the taller side anyway and can ride a men’s frame,” Sherwood said. “So I was like, ‘Hey Trev, can I use your bike?’ He switched out the bars for me and tried to get the saddle height right, but it wasn’t quite correct and that slowed me down a little bit.”
Despite the sudden change in events, Sherwood flirted with breaking the women’s ITT record. Her only regret was that she said she could have been faster.
“With all the conditions not going the way they should, I’m satisfied,” she said.
Sherwood’s road to the top of the ITT charts has been filled with adversity. Along the way, she’s plowed through anything that could have stopped her without slowing down.
Even after fracturing her hip and suffered a mild concussion last March, Sherwood didn’t miss any time in 2015’s Little 500 Spring Series, finishing second in both the ITTs and Miss-N-Outs even with the lingering injury. Then she paced Phoenix to a second place finish on race day in the team’s first ever Little 500.
Sherwood has become perhaps the most dominant rider in either field, men’s or women’s and is riding as well this year as she ever has in her cycling career. That’s only fed into her confidence a little over a year removed from her injury.
“I wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent (last year),” Sherwood said. “I’m in about the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. This is ridiculous.”
Sherwood made a nearly seamless transition from riding with Collins in 2013-14 to forming Phoenix in October 2014. Although the ITT crown is rewarding considering all she’s had to go through to win it, Sherwood couldn’t help but downplay it knowing the race is a little more than two weeks away.
“It’s ITTs. They don’t matter,” Sherwood said. “What really matters is April 15.”