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.