It's been a while since I experienced the epic adventure in Andorra. Although the race didn't quite go as planned, not a day goes by that I don't think about everything I learned at World Champs. I am looking forward to the year ahead, with winter and long training hours right around the corner, but looking back can help us to look ahead and it was time I got this one down on paper.
The journey began in La Molina, Spain. On arrival, we received a warm welcome from a group of the USA team, whom we would be spending four days with, before making our way to Andorra. Surrounding us in our little town were jaw dropping views, turning training rides into great adventures.
After plenty of good food, views, cappuccinos, and rides, it was time to take the next step and travel on to Vallnord, Andorra. The drive was quick and the car was filled with laughter and energy. The excitement peaked upon entering the small country of Andorra, when I realized that this was actually happening.
I threw on my USA kit and searched for the venue on top of the mountains. My nerves made an appearance as I hopped on my bike, but slowly slipped away when I settled in on the trails. It felt good to get back into the routine of getting race ready. The course was a tough one, containing climbs steeper than I have ever ridden before and single track that had multiple lines throughout all of the rocks and roots.
I had never experienced anything like the energy that began to fill the little town. More and more people began to crowd the venue as Thursday came closer. The amazing USA team surrounding me helped to grow my excitement for the race right around the corner. We soaked up the beautiful country around us, finding little adventures wherever we could, which was not hard to do.
I woke on a dark and rainy day, with a great adventure before me. We had all been thinking and working, all year long, for this one day, one hour, one race to do our absolute best. It was still hard for me to believe that this was reality. The U19 racers would have to wait until afternoon to begin our race preparations. Although we had lapped the course over and over, dialing in every aspect of the trail, the rain and impact of all of the riders would change it dramatically. There were so many thoughts, unknowns, and excitement racing through my mind.
The scene surrounding me at the race venue was hard to believe. Hundreds of people wandered around me, racers, families, and people just there to watch. We made our way to the start area and I was called up second to the line. As all fifty of us stood on the start line, the excitement filled the air. Boom boom...... boom boom..... the heart-rate sound pounded through the speakers and into the air. I saw my family and friends standing beside the line, probably feeling the same crazy nerves that I was, but I smiled, looking forward to the race ahead. Boom boom..... boom boom.... the gun shot filled our ears and we launched off the line, faster and harder than I ever had before.
The climb ahead was steep and brutal, but I was able to hold on with the front of the group. As we reached the top of the first hill and into the descent, I realized that the effort may have been a little too hard, but this was only the beginning of the painful battle ahead.
From that point on, my legs were not responding to my eager requests to go faster. Every lap becoming much harder and frustrating than the previous, but I kept pushing, pedal by pedal, hoping that I would soon feel like myself and be able to kick it into gear. I made it through the steep climbs, slippery rocks, and roots in all four laps, but it was not even close to the race I was hoping for. I finished 22nd and filled with disappointment.
From that moment, I realized that there is little meaning in a win or a great race if you never experience one that is far from perfect. Every athlete puts everything they have into their sport, not because it is easy, but because it is far from it.
I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to represent the USA for my first time at world championships. This race was an incredible learning experience and there is so much to bring with me on the journey ahead. I quickly turned the disappointment into motivation and am looking forward to next season.
It was incredible to be surrounded by the amazing energy in Andorra, Thanks so much to everyone that has helped to make this season so great. This journey could not be made possible alone and I am so fortunate to have so many people supporting me. My parents, friends, supporters, and USAcycling have made being an athlete possible and more fun than I could ever imagine. Thank you all!
Huge shout out to Whole Athlete, all of our sponsors, and Dario Fredrick for helping me to grow and learn more as an athlete and person, for the past 3yrs, than I ever thought possible. This team has made every day, race, and adventure, throughout the season, an unforgettable memory. I can't thank them enough.
The season is not far away! Enjoy the winter and I'll see you all soon!