The Carson City Off-Road was a great event and Epic Rides did an amazing job putting it all together; from the announcers, good people and of course the trails! I raced the 35 mile race along with my teammate Alexander Hill. Towards the beginning of the race there was a long road and I stayed on the draft of another rider. The pace began to be far too slow so I made the pass and continued up a long fire-road. From there I was still feeling fresh and we were beginning to near the top of the climb. I was ready to go hard at this point and I began to start a sprint and bomb the decent. But just as I began to start a gap I punctured my tire on a rock! Still hoping to get back into the competition I let the Stans sealant try to fill the puncture then shot the tire up with a C02 cartridge. Unfortunately it didn't hold so I resorted to putting a tube in. Once I finally fixed it I easily lost about 5 minutes but I wasn't going to give up that easy. Seeing that the tube was holding I starting to pick up speed again but I only got about a half mile before I got a pinch flat and had to stop again. The course was extremely rocky and I got very unlucky. At this point I didn't have another tube so I had to walk a mile or so before another rider stopped for me and gave me a tube. Taking off the tire again I pumped up the tube but realized something was very off. The tube I got was a 26 in. tube! So once again I put the tire back on and continued to walk for quite sometime until a sweep came. The sweep helped me out and got me another tube and I got rolling again. I only made it about 100 yards before it was flat again though. So at this point I figured there was something sharp that was in the tire popping the tube, but I felt my fingers through the tire and nothing was there. I continued to walk another mile or so until someone else stopped and gave me a c02 and a 29 in. tube luckily. This time the tube held and I was able to ride back down to the bottom. Overall it was a very frustrating experience as I was in the lead, but anyone who races knows the good races are not without the bad ones. The main thing is to not let something like this event stop you from coming back just as hard the next race. I'm going to keep training and come back ready to crush it at nationals!
The Carson City Epic was a terrific experience for my first long and hard, epic of a race! I chose to do the 35 mile race instead of the traditional 50. I had never raced any where near 50 miles before especially at high elevation, therefore the 35 was perfect. My race included a grueling start loop followed by the customary Carson City ridge-line course loop. Nothing to joke about!
Having already ridden the course the week prior, I felt pretty confident that I could perform well. Feeling great the morning of, I was becoming more nervous to start my first big race. I geared up my bottles and nutrition hoping it would be enough to hold me down for the entirety of the race. Rolling up to the start line I was amazed on how many people where about to race. With a mass start I was near the front and was feeling great. I wasn't completely sure on how to pace myself at the beginning but I was just focused on not trying to blow up all my matches on the start loop. I had a group of fast guys with me for almost the majority of the race which made me very motivated and focused to keep up with their tempo pace.
The long rocky mountain downhill is where I did most of my fumbling. Tired from the climb I was trying to keep great composure but sometimes that got the best of me. I had a big train of guys behind me during a steep switch back and my front tire washed out causing a guy to ride right over me. Displeased I got up and focused on passing this group and giving it all for the main loop. Rounding out the start loop and grabbing my feed bottle I knew I needed to kick it into gear!
The heat was definitely a controlling variable the entire time which made it an even more grueling race. During what felt like an endless climb, I persevered to the aid station where I refueled with a pickle and blocks. That gave me the energy to finish off that final climb and go hard. I was starting to feel fatigued on the downhill but luckily my scott spark was here to absorb every rock and root to help lessen the intense terrain and help let the bike flow. Giving it my all in the heat is exhausting and I couldn't wait to cross the line. The whole race I wasn't to concerned on my placement but come to find out I finished first in my category! That made my day even better.
In the end, I'm glad this race is done and dusted and hopefully it will be a great training factor for Nationals coming up this July! I definitely plan on going to more races like these especially hosted by Epic Rides because of how well put together everything was and how great the riding is. Good job to my teammates, Alex for grabbing a 1st place in the 35 and Colin with his 4th place in the 50! Nothing was easy about this race!
This was without a doubt, the most surprising and exciting race of my entire life. From a training perspective, I felt ready for this race as I had been tapering for the week and my hard workouts of the week went well. To prepare, I also kept my sleep schedule on track and made sure I was eating healthy, also, I did yoga on Wednesday morning and in the afternoon did a Float tank therapy session to help my muscles and mind relax and get into a good place. Friday night, I went to bed around 8pm and woke up at 2:30am before hopping in the car and being drove to Carson City by my dad. Rolling in around 6am, I ate some oatmeal,as pre race tradition, and then headed to the registration tent and got my number. I watched the 50 go off before warming up before my race. After a 20 minute warm up, I rolled to the start line and ended up starting about 3 rows back from the start. As soon as the race started, Sean and I made our way to the front and sat on another Junior rider's wheel for a few miles as we headed up the start lap climb. I felt really good up this climb and Sean and I broke away from the rest of the pack we had formed in the beginning of the race as we hit the singletrack, during the descent, Sean suffered a mechanical and I went solo out front for the remainder of the start loop, at the bottom being caught by Kenny Wehn, another 35 rider from Stans NoTubes. I felt really great after the start loop and decided to race my own race while heading into the main loop, breaking away from Kenny on the first stretch of climb. I stayed very focused for the climb and just hammered it out. Passing was a breeze as everyone in the race were really easy going and willing to move over, which was awesome. The entire second lap I just kept telling myself to race my own race. In the end, it totally worked out. I hit the road after the singletrack had stopped and was met with a police escort to the finish line. Not only did I win the Junior Men's category by an hour, but also won the overall for the Carson City 35, with over 220 riders! Probably the happiest I've been after a race ever, it still hasn't hit me but I'm stoked. I got to do my first ever interview for mountain biking. Super successful day, can't wait for next year.
93 miles of gravel and dirt roads and 7000 or so feet of elevation gain, with a few creek crossings and washed out two tracks thrown in for good measure. The event t-shirt also hinted to the infamous 'vicious cows' section of the ride, where belligerent bovine encounters were said to be almost as perilous as the inevitable leg cramps at mile 75. With empty valleys devoid of any civilization and 6 hours of riding uninterrupted by cars, the 2017 Lost and Found Gravel Race was an event that promised to have every participant lost at some point on the ride, either physically or mentally, then reel them back in to a 'found' state, either with the occasional orange ribbon on course peeking from behind the next corner, or the bacon and bourbon handups at one of the 5 aid stations on course.
I had heard murmurings of the good times that were had at last year's rendition of the Lost and Found, an event that I missed due to other commitments. The stories of perfectly stocked aid stations, gourmet meals before and after the race, and late night dance offs, all set within the idyllic mountain setting of Lake Davis had me eager to test my mettle. After all, this event is put on by Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, the same folks who bring us the infamous Downieville Classic, a 'cross country' mountain bike race more akin to a weekend long frat-party than a top notch XC affair, but that's beside the point. Somehow, after talking myself into registering only a few weeks prior to the event and only hours before it sold out and hit its 1000 rider cap, all I seemed to remember of the stories were the good parts of the weekend, and mentally blocked out the other stories of what it takes to complete 93 miles at race pace on dirt. Oh well, I figured, it's just a bike race, how bad could it be?
After spending all of Thursday getting my Scott Addict CX dialed in for the event, with fresh brake pads and a bleed for my SRAM Force brakes and much-needed bottom bracket and headset overhaul after the harsh winter of cross racing, I loaded up my truck with all the essentials for a weekend of good times, like several pounds of breakfast meats, a fishing pole, and my trusty morning coffee supplies. I was going to have a good time; regardless of whatever happened on Saturday. After pitching my tent and setting up a camp all too big for one man, I rolled over to registration and rendezvoused with all the characters of the sport that races like these pull together. After a short pre-ride to scope out the first and last climbs of the next day's monstrous course, I settled in to camp, threw my line in the water, and waited for night to fall.
Laying in my tent that night it finally hit me, I wasn't here just for the camaraderie and fun, I had to ride 93 miles tomorrow. And not just ride 93 miles, which I hadn't done for over a year, but race 93 miles, a feat I had never before attempted. Nevertheless I hit the hay with the assurance of the safety net of 999 fellow racers and 5 well stocked aid stations and party stops, should the need arise. The next morning I awoke to the sun at a well-timed 6 am, minutes before my alarm was set to go off and shatter the calm atmosphere of the campground. After a well cooked camp breakfast, 8 am rolled around all too quickly and it was time to set off. I rolled over to Coot Bay staging area and took the front line with around 50 or so other Pro racers heading out for around 5-6 hours of pain and punishment. After the neutral start following the Yuba Expeditions shuttle van, we hit the first obstacle of the day, the first dirt climb, and the race was on. Immediately the pace was upped, and I was working really hard to stay within sight of the front group. After I crested the first climb, I was within sight of the lead group of around 7 and I knew I had to catch them or I'd be in no man's land. I pedaled as fast as my gear would allow on the next descent and into the base of the second climb and caught back on to the lead group. After extending our lead on the second climb, the group set a blistering pace on the gravel and dirt fire roads through the valley. I was reduced to following the faint outline of the jersey in front of me, matching his body movements to avoid obstacles and ditches hidden by the massive cloud of dust in his wake. After reaching the first aid station, the pace let up just enough for me to look around and realize the company I was keeping. The group consisted of Geoff Kabush (Scott-Maxxis), eventual winner Carl Decker (Giant), Barry Wicks (Kona), Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz), Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh Clement), Anthony Clarke (Squid Bikes), and Chris Jones (United Health Care). This was a group of dudes who knew how to ride. And how to ride fast. After a brief breather where riders hopped off to take bathroom breaks and the group kept rolling at a conversation pace, discussing upcoming races and plans for summer, a chase group caught back on to us, and we were now a group of 20 or so.
The pace continued to be relaxed, and I took a few turns up front, getting to know other racers and taking my turn in the wind. Eventually, Carl and Geoff decided it was time to really race, and moved up front to attack on one of the rolling descents. I jumped up and joined the group, moving at breakneck speed through the loose and rocky forest. Just as we were approaching the second aid station, around mile 35 or so, disaster struck. On one of the high speed descents, my front tire, obscured by dust, hit a rock or rut and I was hurled into a barrel roll on the ground at 30 mph. After rolling off the trail as not to be run over by the group (one guy still managed to hit me), I laid there for a few minutes assessing the damage to make sure I was still in one piece. After assuring every thing was still functional, I rolled onto the next aid station, where I fixed my bike and took copious amounts of sour patch kid hand ups and watched most of my race pass me by.
The next 15 miles were some of the toughest of the race, as I had no one to ride with and was seriously contemplating the meaning of life as I rolled though the forest, alone, bruised, bleeding, and hungry. After another refuel at mile 50, I caught a group of local guys I knew and joined in and rode the next 25 miles with them, hanging in and hiding from the wind. At this point my legs were on the edge of cramping and I had to ride right at the edge of cramps to balance speed and hopes of finishing cramp-free. After a much needed bacon handup from Paul of Paul Components at mile 75, I was energized and motivated to finish. After a few creek crossings and navigating the notorious 'vicious cows' section (I saw no cows), I was within spitting distance of the finish. I got so excited I decided to lay down the power up the second to last climb on the pavement, a choice I would soon regret. Right as I hit the final dirt climb of the day, my legs started cramping, an eventuality I had been trying to fend off for the last 85 miles. After climbing that section 3 times slower than I had in pre ride the day prior (check Strava, it happened), I limped up the pavement and across the finish line in 5 hours and 52 minutes.
After spending half an hour laying on the ground, I finally got some food in me and began the recovery cycle. Luckily for me there was a catered post race meal, and plenty of food being made back at camp, so all I had to worry about in my cracked state was staying upright, which I did, but barely. That evening people from campsites all over gathered around the campfire as we all took turns telling our stories of the day's adventure and what we faced out on the race course. Snacks and drinks were passed around and everyone soaked up the outrageous tales of triple flats, racers drinking entire bottles of liquor on course, and the fine art of peeing from a bib short. As the sun set over the lake I thought back on my effort and what I had accomplished. Maybe next year I'll do some bigger rides before Lost and Found to help me prepare. Or maybe not, seeing as I didn't die this year and it all just adds to the adventure. Either way I know I'll definitely be back!
Coming into the Grand Junction Off Road I was expecting an easier time than the last Epic Rides event, the Whiskey, with only 40 ish miles on tap and 'only' 5500 ft of climbing. Boy was I wrong. To make the most out of the 1000 mile journey to Colorado's western desert I decided to make a road trip of it with a friend, leaving as soon as I finished up my last final exam, officially starting off Summer break with a bang. When we arrived on Friday, after the 2 day, 1000 mile drive over, I was pretty tired but excited to be racing in such a cool place. Racing kicked off Friday night with the Fat Tire Crit and it did not fail to disappoint.
I was able to start on the front line of the race, which was a major help in a race which consisted of endless .75 mile laps with 8 turns, sprint, turn, sprint, turn. The race started really fast, and I was working my hardest to stay at the front of it, ready to respond but out of trouble in the back. About halfway through, Geoff Kabush (Scott-Maxxis) jumped off the front and started a solo attack, and the pace really picked up. I jumped to the front and did my best to help reel him back in, taking my turn making pulls when needed. After a few laps, Todd Wells (TLD-SRAM) and Carl Decker (Giant) broke away and splintered our chase group. I did what I could to stay in the front, but was afraid of getting caught in a crash, navigating the many corners and curbs, and rolled across the line in 20th after 25 minutes of anaerobic awesomeness.
After a bit of a preride Saturday, Sunday was the backcountry race. Going into it I was expecting a real challenge with all of the technical rock and slab riding Grand Junction has on tap, but also looking forward to the new experience. The most treacherous part of the whole race was the first 3 miles on pavement, as the massive peloton weaved around traffic pylons and dodged parked cars, everyone on red alert for the next hidden obstacle. Luckily no one went down but it was really close a few times. Once we hit the dirt the race was on. A few bottlenecks up the road caused a traffic jam and I was forced off my bike to run up the first few climbs. After settling back in we hit the major hike-a-bike section of the day with a solid several hundred yard rock ascent, everyone settling in and just trying to make it up the loose and rocky trail. After the stop and go nature of the beginning, we hit the first descent of the day, Butterknife trail. I was sitting mid pack or so going on and feeling pretty good. In that 10 mile section of trail I passed probably 15 people stopped with flat tires from the super chunky terrain. Luckily my Stan's No Tubes Valors and Maxxis Icons helped carry me to a flat-free race. As soon as I hit the first major climb at mile 20 I knew I was cooked. I was out of water and my upper body was mush from the 20-mile rock garden I had just ridden. I ate some food and settled in, riding a pace I knew I could sustain at my current cracked state but still move decently quick. By mile 30 everything had changed. My legs had started cramping and any hopes of a speedy finish were dashed. I just wanted to finish. After taking handups of cupcakes, pickles, and coke, I got a second wind at mile 35 and felt like things were starting to turn around. Unfortunately though a few rock gardens later my legs began their vicious cramp cycle again and I was forced into limp mode. My only motivation came at mile 40, with the finish line only a few miles away when a racer from behind yelled," the women are right behind us, let's go!" Somehow I found enough strength within to drill the last section of pavement and not get passed by the women, although they are super fast and I think the winner probably beat me with our staggered start time taken into account, these gals are cray!
Overall though it was a race of mental strength and one I'm just glad I could finish. It was humbling to be put in my place by a race again and be reminded of what this is all about. The fun, and the pain. These endurance races haven't gotten any easier yet, just more educational. Hopefully I can put it all together for Lost and Found and Carson City the next few weekends!
After the race we rounded out the road trip by spending some time in Durango, riding the epic mountain singletrack around there, including the famed Colorado Trail, as well as some in-town trails Quinn Simmons was kind enough to show to me. After a hard weekend of racing; relaxation by the lake, some fishing, and a whole lot of gourmet camp cooking was also in order. On the return trip home we were able to stop in Moab for a quick rip around some of their local trails and it was amazing. The views were incredible and the trails were world class. I wish I could've spent more time there but I'm glad I got to see what it was all about at least. My biggest takeaway from the week though, besides the fun, was the capability of my Scott Spark WC. Riding trails on my XC race bike most people were riding on full on trail bikes was pretty rewarding. The spark made the climbs nice and easy but still was able to hang when the trail got rough. Super impressed with this bike! That's it for now, stay tuned for the next summer adventure!
This past weekend is a weekend I will always hold near and dear to my heart. It held lots of firsts and lots of lasts for me. It was the first time bringing the new edition of our family (our dog Darcy) camping, and first time having my dad and brother watch me race states. This also would ring in my last high school state championships and seeing many faces I have come to know the past four years.
Racing in the NorCal league since a young freshman in the JV category my goal was and always has been to leave it all out there on course, especially in a field of competitive girl racers hungry for a podium spot. I thought to myself as I sat on the line eyeing the competition and knowing that I had done everything I could to prepare for this moment. Nonetheless, I felt tons of nerves as I do before every race. Thankfully I had my coaches making me laugh from the sidelines and I couldn’t help but to smile and ease the nerves. Vanessa counted us down and the 40 or so of us were off the line and sprinting our way towards the long climb ahead. The group split up and right away Mina and Gwen were setting a speedy pace. I knew that I couldn’t hold that pace so I put myself in 4th knowing that I had people in sight to chase and people behind chasing me. On my first and second laps I felt kind off my game with too high of tire pressure and little air in my fork and shock, feeling more sluggish than I wanted to but I remained focus.
Finally, when I was catching back onto the group I found myself on the ground in the matter of seconds! I couldn’t believe it as I picked myself off of the simple dusty downhill and scrambled to get back on my bike. Taking a pretty hard fall covered with plenty of dust, blood, and a little bit of mud with a lap to go. Getting back on my bike I felt pretty shaken up mentally as it is difficult to be in a race and take a spill. Behind me I knew the girls were going all in for the final podium position. Coming into my third I heard my coach Mark Ferry yell “give this last lap everything you’ve got.” By now my momentum and energy levels had worn off quite a bit, and I couldn’t grip onto getting myself going again to pick up where I left off after my fall. Sadly, I was passed by 3 riders up the climb but I could see them just 100 feet or so ahead of me. This definitely was a close race, and it was bittersweet to be 10 seconds off the podium this year after I had a mechanical during states last year resulting in me to finish off the podium.
Reflecting and writing this a week later and the satisfaction of being able to leave it all out there on the course and put in a solid effort alongside some speedy ladies. The competition in women’s mountain biking seems to become more fierce each year and that’s very exciting! My Cycling Development teammates had great races and it was loads of fun spending the weekend camping with them and cheering from the sidelines. In the grand scheme of things… it’s just bike racing. Mountain biking especially is so humbling. There are good days and bad days and we have to appreciate them all. I couldn’t do what I do without the support and guidance of my coaches Jon Hyatt, Chris Sargent, and Mark Ferry. And I loved having my family there to cheer me on and it was the highlight of my season. ALSO a big big big thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, high school teams, racers, etc. involved in making high school racing into what it is today… you all ROCK and keep riding!
My final states race was a memorable and bittersweet time. The racing was hard, but the event was fun and filled with memories that will last. Petaluma is a fantastic area, and a beautiful course was set up for us to race.
On the Saturday before the race, we headed out to Petaluma for the pre-ride. Fortunately for us, the drive was fairly short, no more than a few hours, and we were at the venue in good time. The venue at the ranch was beautiful, but windy for previewing the course, nevertheless, it was a good ride, and I was feeling confident going into the race the next day. That night, the ranch owners generously put on dinner and live music in the barn for the guests to enjoy! The food was wonderful and it helped to calm all the nerves before the anxiety filled event to come.
On the morning of the race, I came to the pits as the girls were beginning to line up. Watching them race gave us an idea of how the course conditions were. There were numerous crashes, which helped us realize that being in front early was key to doing well this race. Eventually, the time came to start warming up, and I got on the trainer, doing my best to block out the surrounding festivities and focus solely on what I needed to do.
Once I was warmed up and ready to go, I headed to the start line, arriving just as my wave was being called up. I took my place on the start line, and couldn’t help but think back to the first time I ever rode with my team. When I joined the team, I could not have imagined being in the front row of the varsity state championship. The countdown to the race start snapped me out of my nostalgia, and just like that, we were off.
On the first lap, everyone was pushing hard to get to the front. With a course that had basically one climb followed by a single descent, the entire pack stayed together for the most part. I was sitting second wheel, behind Xander Sugarman, and we charged up the hill. Coming around on the first lap, there were probably about 20 guys with us, all in a line up the singletrack.
I wanted to push the pace somewhat to try and get a gap, which is exactly what happened. Xander upped the pace, and got away with one other, while I was in a chase group with two others. I was still feeling good on this lap, but pushing as hard as I could, I still couldn’t catch up to the leaders. After two I was sitting in a respectable third, leading out the group of three.
On the third lap, however, I began to feel the fatigue. My legs started to burn going up the climb and I willed myself to hang on. I knew I couldn’t let anyone else slip away, but I could not hold on as one of my group of three dropped me and the other. Now sitting in fourth, I tried to keep the pace up as I definitely wanted a podium spot.
On the final lap, just as we passed through the finish line, Dylan Fryer attacked from behind me. After pushing the pace for three laps already, my legs had no response. He dropped me and went on to punish the rest of the racers in front of us as well. After being dropped three times, I was tired and my legs were basically dead. I was passed twice more before the end of the race, finishing in a slightly disappointing, but respectable nonetheless 7th.
Overall, I would have hoped for a better result, but I am happy with the effort I put forth and I have no regrets about my four-year high school mountain biking career. For me, it’s Nationals in West Virginia -- and then off to race in college for Colorado State University, which should be an equally invigorating experience.
Leading into the State Championship Race I retained the leader's jersey from NorCal. Winning NorCal there was a lot of pressure to perform well at states from myself as I knew I should be in the front, I just had to get my mind in the right place. The weeks leading up to the race my coach (Jon Hyatt) made sure to give me ample time to rest my legs and help me peak for this race. With this in mind I felt ready physically and mentally as this is what I was training for all year. The morning I traveled to the race I even shaved my legs for the first time. When I finally got to the line and my name was called my heart felt like it was about to explode I was so nervous. The few minutes I had to wait on the line before the race started felt like an hour there was so much anticipation. Once my race started it was a full sprint to try to get into position. I quickly fell behind Matt Saldaña and a crazy fast pace was set. Within the first half mile Matt and I had already dropped the rest of the competition. I fell in behind Matt's draft and tried to hang on for dear life. Being only one beat below my max heart rate I knew I was in for a brutal ride. I hung in with Matt for the first lap but he broke away from me on a major hill climb the next lap. I was able to slowly close the gap from about 40 seconds to 30 thanks to people keeping me updating along with my coach Mark Ferry. As the race wasn't even close to being over I kept pushing and I was told there was a 10 second gap after trying to catch up. This was motivating and I kept pushing but unfortunately with the course being so bumpy I bottomed out my suspension and ended up going over the bars. This easily set my back 20 seconds but I got back up and kept going. I ended up finishing the race in second not to far behind Matt but I gave it my all and pushed myself to a new level I had never gone to before. States was a great experience and my whole year has been and incredible journey to get where I am now. I couldn't have achieved what I have this year without the help of my coaches , my teammates and my family.
What a fantastic end to my high school NorCal racing career! This final race of my senior year season left me feeling satisfied with all that has happened over the past four years. The race weekend started off on Friday driving down to the brand-new course at a fantastic venue in Clearlake. We arrived and set up camp with many of my teammates. After pre-riding the course, we all went back to camp to eat some dinner and have fun that evening before the race. The night before was a blast with all the camping festivities that occurred.
Before we knew it, the morning had arrived and it was time for the races to begin. The women’s races were first as always, and the rest of us eagerly anticipated a report on how the course was at race pace. The consensus was that the course was very tight and would therefore make for a technical and difficult race. As this was unlike any other course we had raced, our race strategies had to change somewhat.
Nevertheless, noon still came and the race was set to begin. My strategy was to pin it at the beginning to try and establish a breakaway early that would hopefully maintain position through the race. The gun went off and I sprinted for the hole shot. I got the front position and took the usual five lead riders with me. We had a gap on the rest of the group within the first 100 yards and the race was on! About ¾ of the way up the first climb, the initial sprint took its toll on me and Xander Sugarman and Tate Mentjies took off leaving me with Dylan Fryer and Julian LePelch. Soon after this, Dylan attacked and I could not hold his wheel.
I rode the rest of the first two laps of four completely alone, suffering along the way. Fortunately, I kept the pace up while also being able to recover and regain my focus. Going out for the third lap, my coach told me that I had made up almost 30 seconds on Dylan and Julian and that they were only 10 more seconds in front of me. Knowing this gave me an extra boost of motivation and I picked up my pace and caught the two in front of me by the top of the climb. I knew I could push through and drop them both if I attacked, so I made a move and went as hard as I could for a few minutes to establish separation. I managed to drop Dylan, but Julian was still with me. Going into the final lap I was in third, with Julian right on my wheel. We were together for the first half of the lap until I started taking risks and pushing the pace through the technical latter sections of the course. Fortunately, I made no mistakes and the risks paid off, allowing me to get away from Julian and finish in a highly respectable third on the day.
This was the final race of the NorCal season and overall I finished up with a second place in Varsity, which is an amazing result of which I am extremely proud. I did miss the actual podium ceremony as I had to leave to attend senior prom! Still, I am overjoyed with the results of the season and now I am ready to prepare for States on the 14th !
I’ll start my race recap off with a quote that definitely has applied to me over the past couple of months. “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Well, after 6 weeks in a row of being on the road racing bikes every weekend, the fact of the matter just became my reality. Coming into NorCal Championships always ends the long block of intense spring racing and while it’s nice to get a week break, it’s also bittersweet to know that this was going to be my last NorCal race EVER before heading into State Championships on May 14th.
The crack of dawn rolled around and I was on the road again to make the trek to Lower Clearlake to pre ride this course that many that rode the day before described as “technical, climby, with lots of switchbacks.” It didn’t sound to favorable to most and right away I knew that this type of course would be great for my strengths as a rider and confidence to take risks and leave it all out there.
On the line I experienced excitement and a little bit of jitters as my competitors and I caught up on each others past couple weeks of racing, made some small talk, and soon enough we were off! We made our way through the grassy bumpy fields into a switchback climb that soon filed into singletrack. I knew that positioning would make all the difference in this race since there wasn’t too much room for passing girls or the possibility of error. I put myself in third wheel behind a speedy pace set by Kate Kelley. The group of 6 stuck together but I could already tell we had made a gap from the rest of the field. On a switchback climb Kate made a small mistake allowing Mina to take the lead and for the rest of us to follow. Mina held a consist pace and we came through the finish with a small gap on the group of 5, but they would continue to catch us on flatter parts of the course. Coming through the feed zone I was glad the pace slowed down quite a bit, so I threw my bottle to grab a fresh one and began to visualize my next lap. Everything was going to plan, my legs were feeling strong, and most of all I was focused on the moment. I knew the time to rip attack and rip each others legs off to the finish would be coming on this third lap.
Mina took off while I dug myself to not let her slip from me. I began to suffer a ton and make a few mistakes so Clodagh came around me. It was nice to have her pacing me just a few seconds ahead so I had someone to chase and motivate catching the leader. It was a close race and a great effort by everyone on the podium! I was more than happy to finish in 3rd, and to come away knowing I left it all out there!
Again, I can’t believe we are wrapping up HS season and my last one to boot. These past 4 years with Cycling Development and Vista Del Lago High School have been some of my best. I am beyond thankful for all of the memories made, opportunities presented, and race weekends that have come from my cycling family and the NorCal League. I’ll see you all at Petaluma for State Championships in 2 weeks of time! :)
After a very successful Sea Otter weekend along with a great weekend of training featuring me having some of my favorite workouts on the bike I’ve had all season, I was pumped for the last NorCal of the season. This season for me has been all about learning, racing as a Junior with the big shots in Varsity hasn’t been easy at all, but as the season has gone by, my confidence within these fast races and knowledge of how they go down has improved significantly.
Having a call up in this last race was honoring to say the least, as I’ve maintained and proven that I can race amongst the best in the league and have remained in that top 10 bracket, even with some races not going to plan. I woke up early and drove up to Clear Lake the day of the race, sleeping in the car as my dad drove then pre-riding the course before the Varsity Girls headed off. The course was a lot different to anything I’ve ridden for a race. Sharp switchbacks, tight single track with not a lot of room to pass, steep punchy climbs, and some creek crossings thrown in there just for the fun of it. One thing that the entire course had in common though, was bumps……lots of bumps. Now, being a 125 pound guy, Im pretty light so I tend to bump around a lot over rough courses. Overall though, with the fitness I knew I had, and a good warm up, I rode over into my start line at 12:20 under the blaring sun ready for whatever was coming.
As we all sprinted towards the single track, I got a little caught up in the pack and slipped into 8th hitting the trail, not ideal but we quickly formed a group as the lead group pulled away less than 3 minutes into the race. This was due to a rider pushing too hard then bonking at the very beginning of the race, forcing him to pull off and recover and leaving us with a gap not even 5 minutes into the race. I held with this group for the first lap before dropping back into a group of 3. We held this for the second lap. Going into the third lap, after fairly consistent laps, my lower back started to bug me a lot. Along with the intense heat, this actually caused me a great deal of discomfort. Fluids were a huge deal in this race, to make sure I wouldn’t cramp, I had to intake around 2 and a half bottles.
I would say the third lap of this race was probably one of the greatest mental challenges I’ve been dealt all season. I knew I was not in an ideal position for the race and that all parts of my body were being rattled around by this course. Coming around for the last lap, I took a bottle to dump over my back, reminded myself that bike racing is just fun, and just kept it together as I rounded the single track for the fourth time of the race. Rolling through the finish in 13th was not rewarding, but that’s racing. It wasn’t a great race for me and that’s just something I have to deal with, but as my coach told me after the race, you learn more from the tough races than from the ones you win. After battling with my back bugging me and the intense heat, I was proud of myself at least.
This first season in Varsity has taught me a lot, it takes everything you have to race amongst these guys. After months of blood, sweat, maybe some tears here and there, I’m happy with my NorCal season. With ups and downs, I’ve enjoyed the experience greatly and am excited to put in the work for next year after this season is over. States is the last challenge for my high school racing this year and I’m gearing up for a challenge as we take on the SoCal Varsity squad in one big race. This week though, I’m switching gears for some AP testing and some SAT work, while still training and building my fitness to ensure States will be a good one.
After a stellar few days of Sea Otter under my belt, including a solid Pre Ride on Friday, watching my best friend rip it up in the downhill, and having the honor of meeting my idols and Olympic Gold Medalists Jenny and Nino, all while having a blast with my team mates and friends at the festival, I was finally ready to race. With all that plus more behind me, escaping the craziness of Sea Otter early on Saturday afternoon to get off my legs, hydrate, and rest the day before my race was a key part to my result this weekend. After a good dinner too, I hit the hay before my alarm beeped off at 5:30 the following morning. Going through my race morning prep on auto pilot as I have so many times this spring, I gathered my race gear, grabbed my bag and headed for the track around 6:30 after eating my traditional race-day breakfast. I rolled into the Mazda race way around 7, went to my coach’s camper to grab my bike then headed over to the team pits. After watching my team mates roll out on their Cat 1 race, I focused completely only own task ahead.
Attaching my bike to the trainer, grabbing the bottles I had loaded with Osmo the night before then hopping on my bike, I began rolling to start my warmup. I have my warmup known by heart at this point in the season and just went through the motions. After a great warmup, I through on my jacket and rolled to the start line, butterflies in my stomach. When I got to the start area, 40 racers were already there, 16 more to come to make a huge pack of 56 talented young racers. I looked ahead, stayed calm and waited for the start. As soon as GO was yelled, I knew where I had to go and got there as soon as possible. After learning the hard way the past two years, I now know that positioning is everything at Sea Otter. 30 seconds into the race, i’m up sitting in third, aero tucked to match everyone around me trying to conserve energy for the long circuit ahead.
Cresting the first climb, I’m in an early break of 6 riders heading down the fast first descent. One that would later break into 4 after a mile of the first single track section. With a new SRAM Eagle chainring on my bike, staying up with the front pack was not a problem, and not spinning out on the long downhills helped my race a ton. Around mile 7, with the sand pit behind us and our solid lead group of 4 out in front, featuring a fellow team mate Josh, I felt comfortable as we settled into a rhythm. The course started to blend together at this point: fire road, single track, asphalt…repeat. We all stayed closely knit together and broke further from the pack behind us all the way up the grinder of a climb when approaching Couch Canyon. This is where things started to shake up. The last mile an a half of the race, our group of four began to separate and I found myself at the back, trying to grit my teeth and push every piece of energy I had left in me to the finish. Hitting the asphalt on the race way, we knew our finishing positions. As I sprinted to the line, I couldn’t be more stoked. Going from almost last in 2016, to 4th out of 56 riders in 2017 at one of the biggest races of the season is an amazing feeling. Also to make it better, my team mate Josh won the race, and I couldn’t be happier as he deserved it more out of anyone in our front pack.
A successful weekend out at Sea Otter with a great result makes me hungrier than ever to get back to the world of High School racing next weekend to see what my legs can do.
The Sea Otter Classic provided a great weekend of racing. After traveling down Thursday afternoon I picked up my race packet at registration and helped get the team pit area set up. Once we were all set up I headed to the hotel to get a solid meal and a good nights sleep before Short Track on the following day. Waking up in the morning I was able to get a good breakfast in and then headed over to the venue for my first race. Once the time came to start warming up I hopped on the trainer and began my routine. After completing my warmup I went to the start line and was ready to go. I was disappointed with how far back I was positioned on the line. With that in mind I knew that I had to get off to an aggressive and fast start. However once the gun went off I found myself boxed in for the first several minutes and was unable to move up in field. After the first lap the race began to spread out and I realized how far back I was from where I would have liked to have been. However I didn't let that stop me, my legs felt great and I went full throttle and began moving up. I found my self jumping from one group of riders to the next until I settled in with a group of riders at the start of the 6th lap. Going into the 7th and final lap of the race I found myself at the lead of my group. Once we hit the pavement that led us into the only climb on the course I stood up and gave it everything I had and charged up the hill. Near the top of the climb I was able to gainanother spot. I was then able to hold that position to finish in 46th place in a stacked pro field.
After completing a pre ride of the XC course with my teammate Cody Schwartz I headed back to the Hotel to rest for the XC race on Saturday. After arriving at the venue on Saturday I was feeling a bit nervous for the race due to how fatigued my legs were feeling from the Short Track race. Despite this however I was able to get a good starting position on the line. The race was full speed from the moment the gun went off. After losing a lot of places during the initial sprint up the starting hill I was able to settle into a pace. For the remainder of the race I found myself slowly but surely moving up in the field. Coming up to the finish of the 5th lap I was disappointed to see the USAC officials telling me to exit the course. I was able to come away with a 74th place finish. Although I was disappointed that I was pulled from the XC race I was happy with my performance and was ready to enjoy Sea Otter without worrying about my race! All in all Sea Otter went great and I can't wait until next year.
Community and Fun. Those were the two words uttered by Guest of Honor and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee Zapata Espinoza at the Pro Rider's Meeting on Friday. That was the core of his message to the nearly 150 pro riders in attendance, and the reasons he says mountain bike racing has the allure and draw it does for him and why he has been involved in the sport for so long. After the ceremonial flask of whiskey (the underage riders didn't partake, don't worry) was passed around the room and made its way back to Zap, empty, Zap handed the microphone back to Race Director Todd who proceeded to lay out the plan for the event weekend and raise the stoke level in all of us. With thousands of riders and even more spectators in attendance for the pro and amateur races and event weekend, and most of downtown shut down on our behalf, not to mention the beautiful weather, this was shaping up to be an epic weekend.
The weekend started out on Friday with the Fat Tire Crit, a popular event among racers due to its unusual format of close quarter Crit style racing on crowd lined city streets, all on mountain bikes. The Crit course featured 8 corners and a steep kicker of a climb 2 turns in, dishing out the pain each and every one of the 11 laps. The race started with a ceremonial shotgun blast from a man dressed in cowboy attire, adding to the event vibes. The pace started out extremely fast, and everyone rocketed up the climb, jockeying for position. The climb was followed by a high speed descent into downtown and several more 90 degree corners before the finish arch. Everyone was full-aero tuck into the descent and on the gas as soon as the road straightened out. I worked to stay with my group throughout the first half of the race, pushing the pace up the Union Street climb every lap. About halfway in Geoff Kabush (Scott) and Christoph Sauser (Specialized) attacked on the hill and bridged up from the chase group we were sitting in to the front of the race. I jumped on their wheel and tried to follow on up to the front but I ran out of steam at the top of the hill and fell back into the chase group. I took turns taking pulls the rest of the race, attacking up the hill where the spectators were cheering and shouting, and focusing on being as fast as possible through the fast descent. I hung on to my group and crossed the line about mid pack overall, exhausted from the 25 minutes of lung-burning craziness and fun. Also I'd like to extend a huge thanks to Chris at Fox for helping me get my lock-out dialed after a last minute mishap before my race, Mike at SRAM for the last minute derailleur tune (I promise I take care of my stuff), and Kenny at Stan's for replacing two spokes that I managed to break during my Crit race and helping swap over my XC tires from the Crit tires. Without the support from people and companies like these I wouldn't be able to do what I do.
Saturday was the day of racing for the Amateurs and an opportunity for rest and final course recon for everyone else. I was able to recover from the previous day's effort and get out on course to pre-ride the first 15 miles of the backcountry race and take the time to enjoy the awesome mountain trails and the beautiful views, something I wouldn't be able to do on Sunday bombing along at race pace. After the PreRide I enjoyed some time in downtown checking out the live music and talking with sponsors and vendors. Hanging out at the hotel getting the Spark dialed for the backcountry race, I was set up next to the Specialized mechanics and was able to chat with them for a minute, talk bike, and borrow some tools (I forgot a shock pump and functioning tire pump, oops). They were truly genuine characters and a testament to the mantra of the weekend, community and fun, not caring what team I rode for, just stoked I was out there racing.
Sunday morning was the backcountry race, a 50 mile affair that ascended almost 7500 ft in its entirety. The race started off with a pavement climb where riders sorted themselves out somewhat and everyone prepped for the race ahead. Once we dropped into the dirt climb, I worked my way around several groups to better my position going into the single track. I knew this part of the trail ok as I had ridden it the day before and I was able to ride smoothly and maintain position and even pass a few guys. We then hit another dirt road climb, featuring the infamous 'wall' where most of the field was forced to get off and run up the short pitch. Through the next 5-10 miles the trail was single track and meandered up and down the steep hillside. I was moving up through the field on the climbs and gaining sight of the next group on each descent. At this point in the race, we were about an hour and 15 minutes in and were getting ready to go down the infamous out and back at Skull Valley. Going into the descent, Barry Wicks (Kona) came to the front of our group of 5 or so and helped push the pace down the long 8.5 mile descent. Going down the road we passed the lead of the race coming up and I counted about 35-40 riders ahead of us, meaning I was sitting around the top 40 or so of the race.
I wasn't able to grab my drink mix feed at the aid station and instead took a neutral water bottle, a mistake that I would feel later on. The climb from Skull Valley to the top took over an hour and was one of the hardest ride segments I've done in a long time. My legs started cramping about halfway up but I was able to ease up and eat some food and push through it. I motored up the climb, sitting in about 40-45th going into the final descent when disaster struck. On one of the final descents, about 45 miles in, my legs and arms started going into total muscle crampage. On the next climb I had to hop off and try to hobble up the hill. My legs had a different idea and they instead locked up completely, fully rigid with me unable to do anything about it. I tried punching them, drinking and eating, and yelled obscenities in the middle of the forest trying to coax my convulsing legs into some semblance of forward progress. Finally after about 5 minutes of this they finally gave in and my knees unlocked, and I was able to crawl along the trail. My method from here on out was to walk a few hundred yards, stop when my legs inevitably cramped up again, hop on the bike to coast the descents, and repeat. I was moving at a snails pace but it was progress. I was going to finish. After floundering down the mountainside resembling an overgrown child on a strider bike, and several embarrassing half-crashes in creek crossings, I finally reached the road. I mustered up everything I had left and pedaled towards the finish. I almost caught the group of 5 just 15 seconds ahead of me at the finish, but my sputtering legs had nothing left to give. I finished that day in 58 out of 98 registered and more importantly all in one piece.
My first Whiskey was definitely a huge learning experience but also a validation to my goals and training thus far. I saw what I was capable of in a competitive field and learned more about how by body reacts when pushed to the extreme (not well if the feeling of my legs 24 hours after is any indication). I also was able to hone in my nutrition strategy and equipment choices for these endurance races. Overall the event definitely lived up to Zap's overarching message of fun and community, with smiles and stoke at every turn. I can't wait for Grand Junction in 3 weeks!
The Sea Otter Classic is an event I look forward to all year long. A weekend starting on Thursday in one of the greatest possible locations, Laguna Seca. A few days of touring the expo to see new technologies in the bike industry, watching racing of all disciplines, and trying not to get sunburned too badly are capped off by my race early Sunday morning.
The weekend started after school on Thursday, with our familiar road trip down to Monterey. Arriving in the late afternoon, we simply set up camp and enjoyed the evening with some of my teammates.
Friday was a day to explore the expo and pre-ride the cross-country course. We talked with sponsors at ESI Grips, Schwalbe, and Jakroo. The pre-ride was a good opportunity to get a ride in, and familiarize myself with the Cat 1 parts of the 28-mile loop. Also on Friday was the pro short track cross-country. Three of my teammates, Lauren Desrosiers, Cody Schwartz, and David Duncan raced in the highly competitive field. It was a blast getting to watch them compete against the best in the world. After the short track, our team had a photo session with the reigning Olympic Champions, Jenny Rissveds and Nino Schurter!
Saturday was filled with a little bit of watching races, a quick ride, and a lot of resting for Sunday’s early start. The rest of the pro cross-country took place on Saturday and once again I enjoyed watching the incredibly fast racers compete. I did a short but hard ride to open the legs up for Sunday’s race and then spent the afternoon lounging at the campsite and doing my best to stay out of the sun.
The alarm went off early Sunday morning, giving me the 5 AM wake up call for eating breakfast before the 7:30 race. I ate and put on some layers to head down towards the team tent.
Getting on the trainer at about 6:45, I set about mentally preparing myself for the race. By the time I got to the line, I had taken off all my layers except for arm-warmers. The weather was shaping up to be plenty warm even for the early race.
At 7:32, my race began. The pack of riders stayed together extremely well for most of the first part of the race. After a few miles of single track, I found myself near the back of the pack and decided I should try to move up. Coming onto a gravel fire road, I made a move and pushed my way to the lead group. I stayed with the lead group and we got a slight lead until about halfway through the race, where we encountered the sand run-up.
The sand run-up was a hill where dismounting and running for about 5 minutes up a hill was mandatory. I started strong up the hill, but quickly my legs started to burn intensely and about 10 people passed me. When I finally crested the hill, my legs felt super shot, but I set about making up time.
In the second half of the race I caught a decent number of people and worked my way back up to the top 10. Unfortunately, I was tired and not paying attention on a descent and crashed with about 2 miles left in the race. The crash rattled me and it took me a couple minutes to collect myself and get back on the bike. The crash cost me a lot of time and about 15 places. Overall it wasn’t the result I wanted, but I know I can do better if I manage to keep the bike upright!
Overall, Sea Otter was a fantastic weekend filled with the usual adventures. The expo was fun to look around and the race, although it didn’t quite go to plan, taught me several lessons that I can use to improve my racing going forward. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Sea Otter Classic!
With tens of thousands of bikers and spectators and hundreds of vendors and exhibitors descending upon the 27th annual Sea Otter Classic, in sunny Monterey, this was shaping up to be one of the most action packed, fun filled events in recent memory. Over the last few years, as I have become more and more involved in racing and the industry as a whole through working at the shop and racing, Sea Otter has become an event I attend in part so I can meet with friends, fellow racers from out of state, and industry insiders always excited to share their latest innovation. That and the racing. This was Sea Otter number 6 for me and the racing has only gotten more and more intense from my first year racing, in the Cat 3, 14 and under division.
This year is my first racing in the Pro division, a huge leap from the Junior fields of the prior two years. This leap from competitive Junior racing to Pro racing also has a huge learning curve associated with it, as the races are of a completely different format and the racers are of a whole another caliber.
Things started out for me Friday, with the Short Track race. Going into this myself and the other racers were expecting the usual format of 20-25 minutes of racing on a tight course with 2-3 minute laps. Unexpectedly though, we were thrown a curveball, when we found out the course was actually run alongside the racetrack, running through gravel, mud, pavement, and a deep sand pit on the last descent; and would last for 7 laps, each consisting of around 5 minutes. After a thorough warm-up I toed up to the line, eager to start an intense 35 minutes of dirt-crit style racing. I was able to start in a decent position, about mid pack of the riders who weren’t calledup. When the gun went off, I jumped off the line and gave it everything I had. I bobbed from the left side of the track to the right side, shooting through holes and gaps in the field at top speed (We hit 31-32 mph consistently on this basically flat section of track). I worked my way through the field, bridging between groups and just giving it everything I had to gain positions. I had the best 20 minute power of my life in this race and it hurt sooo good. About 20 minutes in I was gaining on the main chase group, when the guys that had been sitting behind me jumped and rocketed around me, and I had nothing left to respond with. With only 10 minutes left in the race and my energy draining fast I hung on as best I could, finishing on the lead lap somewhere around 63rd of 88 or so racers. Not the result I wanted but super satisfied with my early race performance.
Saturday was the XC race, an 8 lap circuit of a 3 mile course that wound around theDual Slalom hill, through sand, loose dirt, a rock garden, and the pavement. After starting in a lousy position (nearly last row) I struggled to fight my way through the pack. When the group hit the rock garden the first lap, a bobble by a rider ahead caused myself and everyone else to get off of our bikes and run the section. After jumping back on the bike my legs were really feeling it and I was working hard to move up one place at a time. Lap by lap I picked off individual riders and stayed smooth through the rock gardens and practiced my cyclocross dismounts in the uphill sand pit. I held out hope for finishing on the lead lap, but with 10 minute laps and the current World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist in the mix, I was pulled at the end of my fifth lap as so not to interfere with the lead. I ended up 76 of 110, a decent result for my first Sea Otter Pro XC.
Overall the event lived up to my expectations with super challenging racing that had me struggling mentally and physically, but teaching me how to improve. I also had the honor of racing with and meeting the current World Champions and Olympic Gold Medalists Jenny Rissveds and Nino Schurter, both class acts. These are two of the fastest people on the planet right now and it was awesome to get to meet them and even race with Nino. All in all Sea Otter 2017 was a bunch of fun and I’m already dreaming of next year’s event! Now it’s off to the Whiskey this weekend!
Without a doubt after going to my first Sea Otter I can tell you for sure now one of my favorite races. The atmosphere is amazing, it's like a giant bike city. I got a ride down to the race on Thursday with one of my teammates Tyler Sargent. The next day, Friday, I got to watch my teammates Cody Schwartz, David Duncan, and Lauren Desrosiers race the Pro short track against some of the best racers in the world. After the short track races, the Scott Development team headed over to the Scott Sports tents and hung out with Nino Schurter and Jenny Rissveds. After that we headed back to camp and soon Saturday was upon us. Saturday was a day of watching the Pro cross country race and my coaches changing the gearing and getting the bikes one hundred percent perfect ready for the next day's race.
Race days are always exciting, but the Sea Otter Classic is a supercharged version. My Grandparents flew out to see me race for the first time so that added to my excitement. Early in the morning I realized I didn't have my race breakfast pre-planned so I had to scramble to find one (that won't happen again). This caused me to be a few minutes late to my warmup, and I got to the line only a few minutes before my race went off. I got a decent spot on the line, but the race went out way faster than I was expecting. I found myself in the back quarter of the pack. Weaving my way through, I finally got into the front group. When we hit the single track, we were gone from the rest of the pack. A group of six racers stuck together until a part of the course featuring a steep sandy downhill. There, we lost two more of the racers, leaving a group of four. This group consisted of myself, one of my teammates Alexander, and two other riders. We rode together for quite a few miles until we hit a long gravel fire road climb. Alex and I went to the front and pushed the pace. Everybody was hurting, but the group stayed intact. We descended into couch canyon and at the bottom I decided to make my move to the front and see what I had left in the tank. I started to drop the group opening up a decent gap. On the final hill I pushed myself as hard as I could. Coming onto the racetrack I had about a 20 second lead on the next racer. Even so I sprinted to the line to avoid being caught. Winning Sea Otter was a huge thrill, my teammate Alexander came in fourth. It was such an awesome experience, being able to race with some very fast kids and come out on top. Like I said, Sea Otter is now one of my favorite races and I am totally looking forward to next year! A big thanks to my sponsors, coaches and parents for helping my dreams come true.
The Nevada City Dirt Classic is a race that I always see on the calendar and get excited about each year but unfortunately it never seems to line up with my race calendar and I never seem to be able to race it. That's why I was even more stoked when I looked at the calendar this year and saw the stars had aligned; I would fit it in between Bonelli and Sea Otter, a weekend tune up to keep things sharp and have some fun in the mountains.
I drove up to the event the morning of the race, the hour and a half drive feeling like it was in my backyard after the back to back jaunts to LA the two weekends prior. As I climbed along HWY 20, I grew more and more excited as the forests grew thick with pine trees and I could practically smell the loam in the air. It was going to be a good day.
After getting checked in and grabbing my number plate, I decided to rip a quick lap to get familiar with the mountain course, one which I hadn't ridden since my middle school racing days years prior. The loop started out with a gradual descent along fire roads, diving off into the woods occasionally for a single track reprieve. The course then turned to a short kicker of a climb, dumping you onto some fresh cut winding single track, culminating in the truly epic Hoot Trail, a 5 minute long flow-style trail recently built by local riders that had perfectly spaced berms and jumps, the right mix of natural features, and super grip afforded by the hero-dirt conditions after the rain a few days prior. This was one of the best trails I have ridden in recent memory. After all of that awesome descending it was time to come back up, and ride up the main climb back to the start, about 650 feet of climbing spread along many short switchbacks and kickers.
The race started out pretty fast, with most of the group sticking together into the descent that started the race off. After following the wheel ahead of me for the first few miles, I decided to take a pull out front and push the pace a little bit. I attacked early into a short and twisty downhill section, and with some smooth riding was able to open up a gap of about 5-10 seconds. Into the first kicker of a climb I hit the gas and opened my gap to around 15-20 seconds going into the Hoot Trail descent. Another rider from behind started to make up some ground on me, so I focused on being really smooth and using my brakes as little as possible. During the race I thought I had extended my lead through this smooth riding, but after learned the rider behind me had actually crashed in one of corners, which is why I didn't see him at the bottom. Regardless that was one of my fastest and smoothest descents in a long time and it motivated me to push on and extend my lead. I went into the final climb of the lap with a full head of steam, motoring on up as fast as I could, and crossed through the start arch about a minute and 15 seconds ahead of 2nd place. The next lap was tougher, as I was all alone, and I really focused on riding smoothly and minimizing mistakes. I was really feeling the first lap's explosive efforts on the main climb, but I sat down and powered through, knowing the others would be hurting too. The last lap rolled around and I hadn't seen any other racers since the start, so I was worried, knowing they were either very far away or very close. I told myself it was the latter and pushed on, determined to hold my lead. I crossed the line in 1st place, around 2:15 ahead of second place, proud of my effort out there.
This race was full of firsts for me, my first Pro XC win, first time finally racing this event, and my first time racing XC on a flow trail! All in all it was a super satisfying day of racing bikes up in the mountains and I couldn't be more excited to head into Sea Otter this week!
Muddy conditions, a rain delayed race, and a bunch of racers ready to ride regardless? Sounds like a recipe for a sweet weekend.
By about midweek before the Saturday race, it was apparent that the weather would not cooperate. In the forecast was rain, and the inevitably sloppy trails that would follow. It rained for two days before as well as the day of the race. Showing up to the cold and wet venue in the morning was decidedly demoralizing. Despite the dampness, we went about setting up the pit and getting ready to ride. I watched both the girl's races and the weather anxiously.
During the second wave of races (freshman and sophomore boys), the weather became truly horrific. Hail and torrential rain poured down, and my race got pushed back by an hour. When my start came the weather had subsided, but the course was a muddy mess. Still, I was feeling pretty good and doing my best to suppress the nerves. Because it was my home course, I felt confident going into the race.
Right off the gun, I pinned it -- trying to get a gap on the field. I was able to get away with one other racer, Teddy Hayden. He and I were going hard off the front when I crashed on a rutted descent on the first lap. Fortunately I was able to catch up after not too much time. Teddy and I came through after lap one, and I was still feeling good, so I decided to try to make a break. I stayed a few seconds ahead of him for most of the lap, and then gained a large margin on the long climb near the end of the lap.
Going into the final lap, I had about a 45 second gap, and I settled in for a solo effort to finish the race. In the end I was able to come away with the win by a minute exactly. I'm definitely happy to come away with a win for the first time this season and hopefully I can maintain my success at Sea Otter and the final NorCal races!
As a cyclist, spring and the month of April always seem to indicate that race season is kicked into full gear. And I for one, have been one busy bee these past few weeks. Last weekend marked my first pro race down at Fontana for the first US Cup of the year as well as a key race for the Cycling Development- SCOTT squad. A successful weekend of fun and racing jazzed me up for another great week of training to come in addition to an exciting week of senior activities at school, called “Senior Survival Week.” Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures to share but it was definitely a fun week coming into our Saturday race at Granite Bay.
Friday rolled around and we were greeted by gray skies and 100% chance of rain on race day. I was definitely happy to hear that due to knowing my home course so well and the course throwing more challenge to racers in a bit of slippery mud. My excitement for race day grew more and more knowing that this race would be epic! (This photo was taken at Granite Bay over 2 years ago)
Racing at home is always an advantage because who doesn’t like to sleep in their own bed and come home to shower after a race? These were definitely things I planned out as I walked downstairs at 6am to eat breakfast and take a little extra time rolling out to the venue in the morning. I made my way over to the team tent to dial in my bike with the perfect air pressure on my schwalbe rocket rons and made up some GU bottles before beginning my warmup.
On the line I was to surprised to feel close to no pre race nerves as I was called up to the line second behind points leader Mina Ricci. Calm and collected thoughts were the only thing on my mind as the countdown began and we were off. I sprinted off the line feeling confident to take my pull in the lead from the beginning.
In the winding woods section I had Cycling Development teammate Emily Harris close on my wheel, and we had already made a little gap on the girls. I hit the top of the section to then see that Emily was out of sight. I was feeling good and decided to pick up the pace as and experiment with different lines during this lap. Lots of puddles, mud sections, and washouts from recent rain. Sweet! Since the race was only three laps instead of the typical 4 laps the race seemed to fly by! I was having so much fun conquering the tacky downhills and grinding my way up the muddy ups.
However, my most favorite part of this race and this race win were the cheers and love I received from my family and friends. My heart was full to have them all there at one of my last high school races ever.
ready for another week of training at home with the luxury of spring break before heading off to Sea Otter next Thursday!