Once again we were back at The Bear Creek Resort in PA for xc national championships and the course was outstanding. The technical roots and rocks made skills a must have and the punching climbs forced every rider to push themselves to the limits. I was stoked to be racing the incredible Specialized Epic, which was perfect for this course and such a fun bike to hammer on. After dialing the suspension and the fastest lines, I was ready to get out there and race. I couldn't believe that this was the race that I had been waiting and training for all year. Usually I stay very calm leading up to a race, but here I was relaxed until I got to the start. I was shaking my legs and hopping around as the other categories took off in front of us, excitement and race stress filling me up. Taking deep breaths and really trying to calm down, I made my way to the line with the second call up. I went straight to race mode and was ready to launch off the line. The whistle sounded in our eager ears and we took off.
I reached the grass double track in the lead and held it into the single track. I was excited to have this position so I that would be able to ride the rocks and roots with speed and flow. Heading into the next climb, I found that my teammate, Kelsey Urban, was on my tail. I settled into I steady pace and noticed that we were creating a gap from the rest of the field.
On the descents I was feeling very smooth as my bike made its way through the rock gardens with perfection. We began to pass riders form the 17-18 category in front of us, which helped me to create new targets, since no riders in my cat were in front of me. The air around us was hot and the sun was beating down on us. I focused on using Osmo and ProBar to stay hydrated and fueled throughout the race.
Soon, we were heading into our second lap. We headed back into the thick forest and I could see more riders ahead of us. Throughout the lap we passed the whole 17-18 field and some of the U23. I was still feeling very strong and was loving every bit of the trail.
Then, we entered into our final lap and I raised the pace. On every climb I stood, putting it all out there, and slowly Kelsey was dropping behind. I was able to stay smooth and focused through the technical sections and the rest of the lap. I could not believe that I was about to achieve my goal as I made my way on the final descent. A smile was formed on my face as I raised my arms under the finish.
After the incredible cross country races for my friends and teammates, it was time to head into Super-d. I had a great run, feeling smooth and fast throughout the technical trail. This lead me to a time of 6:46 and the 15-18 win. My teammates took second and third and I couldn't be more excited.
I couldn't have asked for a better 2014 national championships. I am super excited to become both the 15-16 xc and the 15-18 super-d national champion and have so much fun throughout the weekend. It was incredible to watch so many racers fight through the technical course and put everything out there. It has been an amazing season and I couldn't have done it without my amazing family and friends. And a HUGE thanks to the Whole Athlete Cycling Team, Dario Fredrick, our hard working mechanics, and our outstanding sponsors: Specialized, Sram, Osmo, ProBar, Elemental herbs, DNA cycling, dznuts, Progold, Oakley, ESIgrips and Crankbrothers! It has been the greatest adventure!