My First USAC Race / Fontana Pro XTC : Josh Tajiri

The race weekend started with a seven hour drive from the Sacramento area down to Fontana CA. I began my preride, along with the rest of the Cycling Development - SCOTT racers. After riding four laps, the team headed to the hotel for some dinner and sleep. 

     Saturday morning I awoke at 6:00 and drove to the race course to get in a few more laps, to make sure I was comfortable with the track. After my laps, I settled down watching the pro races. Everybody had amazing efforts and did very well. 

     Sunday was my race day. I was competing in my first USAC Men's 15-16 Cat. 2 race. My race started at the same time as Men’s 17-18, so I had my teammate Alexander Hill in the same wave of riders. The course started on a long uphill which lead to a road climb. Alex and I attacked on the hill and created a front group of five racers. We relaxed on the downhill, but at the bottom I attacked on the next hill. By this time, we were passing numerous racers from the waves ahead of us. I was able to get ahead of four racers, and the others in my race were stuck behind. I maintained my lead for another lap, pushing hard on the uphills and recovering on the downhill. 

     At the start of the third lap, one racer from the group behind bridged the gap and we rode together for about a mile. I pushed the pace at the base of the major climb, and dropped the other racer. On the downhill after the uphill, I was passing another racer and got taken out forcing me to tumble down the side of the hill. I ran back up and hopped back on the bike. My lead was diminished, but I still had a gap. I refused to let 2nd place catch me, so I rode as hard as I could on the flat part of the course leading to the finish. I was able to hold him off and took first place!  A great start for my first USAC race.  My next will be Sea Otter and I expect the competition will be even stronger there.  I can't wait.