Finished and survived my first two weekends of racing, can't believe it's that time of year again. First weekend in Fontana, California, the warm weather was definitely welcome after a couple of cold ones in Calgary. However, the smog level was pretty unpleasant, you couldn't even see the very large mountain just outside our hotel window..yuck.
Picked up my bike from the Trek tent on Thursday afternoon, it's a beauty, and test rode it on the course thursday and friday. Saturaday was the XC, same course as two years ago, with some steep climbs, fast descents and a ghetto with lots of glass. The race started good and I found myself in the top 10 feeling great. The first two laps I pushed the pace pretty hard and worked my way up to 5th, which I battled back and forth with Emily Batty (Trek Toronto) and Kelli Emmit (Giant). Half way through the third and last lap, I found myself in 7th place just behind Emily again and had my first good crash of the season....and honestly thought "if I lay here long enough, someone will take me away". I'd gotten the stem hard enough in the groin to wind me, and the elbow deep sand didn't seem to break my fall that much. I almost managed to hang onto 8th place, but fellow Trekkie Lea Davidson got me with less than a km to go. All in all, happy with the 9th place finish.
Sunday was the short track. For those who have never had the pleasure, it's basically an off road crit. Again, I had a great start, top ten off the line. The course went up the bottom of the 4 cross course, and each time up I found the energy to punch it a little and move up. After three laps I was in no man's land in fourth place with the lead group of Georgia Gould, Katerina Nash and Wendy Simms just ahead, and the chase group of about 5 just behind. What do I do here? Sit up and wait or hammer? I choose the later and spent the next 20 minutes time trialing away managing to hold onto fourth place, my first ever NMBS podium.
Friday evening was a Super D race (this weekend was a stage race, so we had to do all three events). If anyone has ever been to McDowell Park just outside of Fountain Hills, you'll know there is very little elevation change, so the Super D should really have been called a TT. It was actually a pretty fun course, fast and lots of swooping corners. Off the start I somehow managed to beeline it for the first cactus in sight and thus road the entire 20 minutes with painful thorns in my glove. Had a solid ride, jumped a rattlesnack, felt strong and finished in 5th place.
Saturaday evening was the Short Track, with call ups based on the Super D from the previous day, so needless to say, I had my first front row call up. The course had a lot of false flats and a steep loose run up section, so it made for a very challenging race. Off the start, I felt great and decided to try to hang with the leaders...but slowly my legs decided they had other plans and I had to let off the gas a little. Dropping back a couple places, I found my grove again and battled it out the girls there, and finally finished up in 9th place.
And finally, Sunday was the XC race. With each lap being 10 miles long and bout 40 minutes, the women's race was cut to 2 laps, which was very welcome due to to the 31 degree heat. I had a great race, battled back and forth with various racers through out the whole first lap. Slid out in one corner in the first lap and lost half my shin to the sandy pea gravel, but managed to jump back up and stick with the group I was with. Going into the second lap, I was feeling great and pushed it hard to make up a couple of spots and move into the pack just ahead of me. This is a great course for working together and sharing the workload, so slowly we started picking off racers. After cresting the last longish climb, I found myself in the group of 2nd to 5th place, with Katerina Nash, Catherine Pendrel and Delys Star (Australian national champion). At this point I was feeling really good, and moved around Delys who was starting to drop off the back. With less then 10 minutes to go, all I hear is PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST. What's that you ask? A rear flat :( I put in a shot of CO2 and it holds, so I hop back, not having lost much time, and the tire blows again. This time I check and there is a cm gash and all the stans is ooozing out. By the time I put a tube in and limp my half flat tire back in, I've dropped back into 24th place and lost about 6 minutes (got to work on the tired change).....yes, I'm a little bummed about this one. I finish the stage race in 11th place overall, not bad considering the xc.
I'm home now, for a week of school and recovery from some serious bad guts, and I'm heading over to Europe on Monday for the World Cups and chocolate waffles..mmmm.