Race Report - NorCal #2 : Stella Sisneros

Norcal race #2 at Laguna Seca turned out to be everything they claimed it to be, killer climbs, rutted downhills, probably the hardest race of the season. Going into this second race, I was feeling hyped to compete against these fast girls and to be considered one of them, but I also knew one mistake and they would eat me alive. Pre-ride let it be known that race day would be tough on my legs and lungs. Race day I rolled up on the line after hearing my call up, my nerves were through the roof but I was ready to tackle this pro style course. Looking up from the start line, I was face to face with wicked fast pro racer Emily Batty who took the time out of her busy schedule to show her support for the NICA community. Before I could even swallow down my whole Cliff gel it was already time to race. I had the third call up due to my last race finish so the front line was where I went.  We all took off charging up the start hill. Everyone sprinted into position pretty quick. I settled third wheel behind Mina Ricci and Kate Kelly. With as fast of a start as it was, my heart was pumping through my chest and my legs were on fire keeping up with the pack. There was a train of girls who wanted to all fight for that first spot into the single track at the beginning but Kate Kelly never gave it up. Staying close to one another for the whole first lap allowed some girls to conserve energy. Rounding out the the first lap of four, I was getting a little anxious sitting third wheel that whole lap. I tried to accelerate on the cement hill, I got out of the saddle and thrashed to the front. With the thunderous sounds of the Mazda Raceway next to us, I could not help but glance over and see the speed. With my head turned, I saw Mina rip ahead of me before we got started on the single track grind again.  She picked up the pace a bit up all the steep hills Laguna Seca had to offer dropping some girls in the established train.

Fortunately shifting into my SRAM Eagle was enough for me to spin up those hills and save a lot of energy keeping up. On the rapid narrow decent, I felt so fast on my Spark, gliding over every braking bump with ease. Not to mention my light Shwalbe Rocket Ron tires griped the dirt so effortlessly in every corner. The steep, hot conditions left me wasted after every hill but I kept going hard and telling myself to stay up front. The infamous Hurl Hill was around the corner for the second time and everyone was fighting for a good position. A few girls raced in front of me and were able to get distance on me. Once I crested hurl hill, with the sun beating down on my body, I saw the three girls had a bit of a gap from me and the rest of the group. They got about an minute on me in a matter of no time. That minute gap held for the start of the third lap and on. Seeing the lead group just ahead of me was a fight. I kept on pushing and telling myself to finish hard. My legs pushing down the pedals as hard as they could on the climbs and my hands cramping up as I griped my handle bars so tight on the downhills. Starting my fourth and final lap luckily, Mackenzie Lewis was behind me so we could work together. The last lap was grueling as the temperature only increased and Hurl Hill only got steeper. We both were motivating each other to finish this race strong and get it over with. We came into the finish, wheel to wheel and super tired. She ended up finishing a place before me. Overall I'm very happy how this race went knowing its just the beginning of the season and I have many more races to come. I am determined to do better than 5th place next race. 

Lap times: 25:45, 21:22, 23:23. 23:27 

Thank you to everyone who supports me and gives me the opportunity to do what I love. Also thank you to the NorCal teams that worked so hard on this course, it was amazing! Congratulations to my hard working team for coming out on top of the podium once again for D2! Also awesome job to all who raced!