Seriously I don't even know where to start! Our long weekend in California was so freaking awesome!! I am super bummed to be back and already missing the warmth, the sun, the green grass and racing my mountain bike in the dirt!!!
Bonelli US Cup was a top notch event and the race organizers did such a fantastic job. I wish I lived in Cali so I could race it every year! It really felt like a legit race and the course was marked extremely well. I personally loved this dry, rocky course since it was so different than riding here in Minnesota. The course was a mixture of single track and fire roads but also had some twisty technical sections thrown in with drop offs, logs and one really sketchy rocky downhill. There was also a couple of big hills with just over 20% grade! Um yeah, I wasn't really ready for that kind of climbing and damn near fell backwards on the this climb during the first lap!
The Cat 1 XC race started at 8:30 am!!! on Saturday morning. Geesh, you know you're triathlete turned mountain biker when an 8:30 start seems early :) I was able to nudge myself up into the front row pretty easily and ended up having an awesome start by totally getting the hole shot. But that lasted about 2 minutes as one thing I've realized as of late is that I do really well for the first 2 minutes or so and then really crappy for about the next 5-10 minutes. So yep, I was passed by 3 girls in the first 3 miles of the race. 2 of these gals were like 15 years old???!! I remember thinking I am getting my ass kicked by a couple girls half my age!!! I was really impressed at how well the juniors raced and really threw it out there in the beginning of the race. The last 2 miles of each lap had more fire roads and power climbs and I seemed to be making up some ground on this section. Heading into lap 2 I had worked my way back into 2nd place, but I seriously had no idea where the gal in the lead was cuz she was so far in front of me! Finally as we were rounding out the 2nd lap I saw her and was able to make a pass on one of the climbs and hold on for the win!!! I still can't believe it... I had hoped for a top 3 finish at this race, but to come home with the win was beyond my expectations and I think I am still in shock!
Afterwards I slammed down a recovery drink and attempted to take a nap before the Super D race later that night. I was seriously pumped for this race because the course was exactly the same for the pro women as the cat 1s which meant I would be able to compare my time. Well that doesn't work out so well when you ride like a goober over a rocky section and gash your tire!! DNF ugh. I was totally spazzing Saturday night about my tire gash and whether or not to change out the tire or put a tube in. Surprising I know. Turns out that Stans sealant stuff really is the bomb and the tire held air overnight. We decided to gamble by racing the tire in Sunday's short track...this is so not my style.
The Short Track race was Sunday afternoon and was a total 17 minute sufferfest!! I had cyclocross flashbacks as I felt like my body was going to explode the entire time! Short Track is really neat as the course is only like .7 miles long and we ended up doing about 7 laps total. This is fun for spectators and also fun for us racers as we get to hear the cheers each time we pass through the finish chute. Once again I got the hole shot (barely this time) and then of course was passed at rapid speed up the first climb!!! Hot damn ....I need some of that mojo! I was finally able to take over the lead by about the 3rd lap and hold on for the win.
Big thanks to my rock and sherpa, Tom who always convinces me that I am capable of accomplishing big things!! You are amazing. Huge thanks to my coach Matt, having not been on the mountain bike at all this year I knew I would really have to rely on my fitness to win this race. As it turns out our training plan had me exactly where I needed to be. Matt and his wife Tricia were both incredibly nice, going above and beyond by having us over for dinner Saturday night. It was really neat to get to know both of them and their Star Wars loving son Ryder. Also turns out Tricia makes a mean homemade pizza! I was scared I wasn't going to get Tom to come back home with me...