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.