National Championships trip to the East Coast was here already. 9 months of long training rides in the harsh wet and chilly winter we had up until the weeks prior… baking in the sun grinding throughthe toughest intervals I’ve ever had (thanks Jon;) ) I knew the efforts I had put into my season were well worth it. It wasn’t the easiest paths to reach the end of my season on a high note, but 2017 has been my biggest growing year on and off the bike and I can’t wait to take away from that into times to come.
Throughout the week I was using the words “unpredictable” to describe the feeling of being in West Virginia for one of the biggest events to many athletes competing. My teammates and I arrived to Snowshoe late Thursday night in our cozy team house for the next 5 days and quickly settled in. Trying to sleep the first night was surprisingly easy. Waking up the next morning at 10am I was greeted by foggy skies and the weather calling for a 100% chance of rain. Part 1 of unpredictable. All of us couldn’t wait any longer and couldn’t wait to get on this course that we had only seen photos and videos from so far. Once the skies cleared Alexander, Stella, Tyler, Josh, and I hopped on course for our preview. After riding my first lap I will admit that I was a little bit intimidated. Man, do photos and videos really give an false illusion of real life. Sure… I heard the course was technical but I was surprised to find myself not being able to ride some parts of the course. ESPECIALLY the famous downhill rock garden thrown there which came to be spectator central. Here comes unpredictable part 2. I find myself following a girl down this section. Halfway down without enough speed my front wheel got caught on a rock throwing me over the bars. I got up quickly but was shaken up. I went out and rode another 2 laps by myself getting more acquainted with the slippery rocks and roots. I came back to the section and watched more people ride the downhill rock garden… I just couldn’t get myself to ride it again knowing I was taking an unpredictable risk of hurting myself 2 days before my race. I decided to call it a day and hoped to get more time on the course Saturday morning.
Saturday morning. One last day of preparations before toeing the start line tomorrow morning. However, Saturday would be the day to be on the other side of the tape and cheer on teammates and friends racing. I woke up early this morning from tossing and turning all night with nerves and jet lag from being on East Coast time.Rain showers with lightning would delay the first race of the day at an 8am start an hour back to 9am. Little did we know that this was how the whole day of scheduled racing would play out… Unpredictable! All of this wet weather seemed to change the terrain into a whole new course overnight. Nonetheless, it was inspiring to watch each athlete give it their best efforts in the slop and to see so many big smiles as they came by.
Before I knew it I was up at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast and patiently wait around until it was time to kit up, warm up, and then race. Everything seemed to go by so fast. I couldn’t exactly put myself into the moment until we were off of the line and I had a good start. I put myself into around 6th or 7th wheel heading into the singletrack downhill before climbing up the first punch heading into the technical root section. I was feeling good and then all of a sudden a rider spun out on the climb causing me to unclip and run up it. I didn’t lose many positions here but I lost time and the wheels of the riders I wanted to be with. That was all fine. I made up time each climb and then soon lost it once we sit the technical sections. I was a little bit frustrated with myself for making small mistakes and knowing this was my weakness but all I could do was stay focused and move forward. I stayed steady in 7th until the flat rock garden that I decided to run. When I mounted on my bike I seemed to kick over the seat causing it to move sideways and drop. Thankfully, the feed zone was only 500 feet ahead of me. Chris Sargent quickly fixed it for me but by the time I was going again 8th, 9th, and 10th had gone by me. I caught up to 10th and passed her coming into my final lap and I could see 8th and 9th just about 15 seconds ahead. Finally in my last lap I felt smooth and cleared all of the sections I was running before and came into the finish about 30 seconds behind 7th and only 10 from 8th. It was a bummer to not have the absolute perfect race we all wish for but that’s mountain bike racing for you. It was a good race. I was strong, focused, and most of all enjoyed myself and that’s what I could hope for.
I want to thank the Cycling Development- SCOTT team as well as Mark Ferry, Jon Hyatt, and Chris Sargent for the efforts and time they put into this team and into me this season. That’s it y’all. See you out there soon!!!