After a great weekend at the Missoula XC, I was happy to continue the journey in Huntsville, UT. It was incredible to spend time, riding and relaxing, in such a beautiful area with my team.
I felt refreshed and ready to race once again. It was great to be back in Colorado and I was very interested to see what the course would be like this year. I had set my expectations fairly low, based on last years course, but I was still really excited to get out and ride. The course turned out to be extremely fun and unique, with technical rocks and steep climbs, and it would make for a challenging race.
Go time was early the next day and I was on the line for my 9:30 race. It was a beautiful morning and heating up quickly. Off the start Ksenia took the lead as we began the start lap, with the rest of the category right behind us, but by the time we reached the descent first and I had formed a small gap. Going into lap1 I knew that I could be faster on the long climb and descent up ahead and wanted to use this to my advantage. I took the pass when we reached the climb and the gap grew quickly. I began the technical decent and focused on staying smooth, but hoped to continue to grow the gap here as well. I crashed, knocking the wind out of me for a second, but I quickly hopped back on my bike. Right away I noticed that my handlebars were quite crooked. I stopped for a few seconds to see if I could fix them, but had no success, and Ksenia was now close behind.
As we rode through the feed zone, she took the lead once again and we headed into the second section of the course. When we reached the long climb, in the second lap, I went for the pass, and was successfully able to grow my lead. I settled in and the gap grew throughout the lap. During the third lap I was fueled by the fact that the jr boys were close behind and I could no longer see riders from my category. I sprinted to the finish, happy to take the win and too see my teammates have such strong races.
The road trip had begun and I was looking forward to the great weekend ahead. I was thrilled to be back in Missoula, Montana to race on one of my favorite courses. The weather and incredible scenery definitely did not go unnoticed, with the river right out our backdoor. The course was exactly the same as the year before, but the conditions were very different. The insanely dusty trail and hot sun would make for a unique race. As more riders rode the course the dust got thicker and the speed bumps got larger, making the course more demanding and technical for every rider. I was looking forward to checking out the Missoula drop. This fairly large drop had been on my mind for quite some time now and I was hoping to tackle the challenge. After quite some time, I finally built up the courage to ride the drop, realizing how fun and simple it was. Although I chose not to ride it in my race, I was happy to have ridden the challenging feature.
Saturday morning slowly ticked away as I waited for my 2:30pm start, with many of my teammates. I was happy to begin my warmup on such a beautiful day, but it was heating up quickly. When I got to the start the UCI junior boys took off the line at a fast pace ahead of us and I was called up first to the line.
The whistle blew and the race began! I had a great start and was able to get an early lead to begin the first climb. The gap between me and my competition grew throughout the first lap and I headed into the second feeling strong. The trail was getting looser after every lap, making the already challenging course more technical.
After the long and very loose descent, my legs were stiff, but they had plenty of time to warm up again on the long climb. I could no longer see any riders behind me, so I had to focus on maintaining a steady pace on the climbs and staying upright and smooth on the descent. Going into my third, I could hear the animated announcer as I made my way up the brutal climb for the last time. I was happy to take the win on such a demanding course and am looking forward to the next races right around the corner.
Next up Colorado Springs!
I made a last minute trip to the beautiful land of Canada, where the scenery and maple syrup were a few of the unique touches to this special place. I was excited to travel around with a great group of USAcycling juniors and discover new trails on my bike.
The course was absolutely amazing. Not only was it insanely fun with technical rocks, roots, jumps, tight turns, and steep climbs, but it also provided an extreme challenge for every rider. After every practice lap I was all smiles and more than ready to race.
Race day came in what felt like seconds and the excitement began to build for the 2pm race with the UCI women juniors. The day started off with clouds in the sky, but as I began my warmup ride to the venue the rain began to fall with nothing holding it back.
On the line there were about 15 of us. The rain had calmed a little, but the excitement was only getting stronger. We launched off the line and I took my place with the front group of riders, who where holding a fast pace. The start climbs were steep and a quick slap in the face for my legs, but it was a fight to the single track. I was in about fourth place as we began the first descent. The trails were slick, but still extremely fun. I was able to catch up to the rider right ahead of me and make the pass, putting me into third place. I was feeling strong and was enthusiastic to see what the race had in store for me.
In the second lap I was slowly getting closer and closer to the rider ahead of me. Heading into the third lap I was right on the wheel of second place. She pushed the pace on the steep climbs right after the start, but I held on. On the descent she gained a little gap, but only to be caught by me again on the next climb. Throughout the lap she slowly slipped away from my sight. The rain began to build into a torrential down-pour and I could barely keep my eyes open in the mud and water. The course became slicker, making every feature and steep climb so much harder, steeling energy faster and waiting to pull you down in seconds. I was slipping and running all over the place and I no longer had the smooth flow that I had only seconds before.
I was getting close to the finish, only about 3km left, but my legs where slowing down. As I passed through the feed zone a rider in my category suddenly sped past me. I fought to keep up, but she zig-zagged her way through riders in other categories ahead of me. I kept my eye on her as we got closer and closer to the finish line ahead. 2km...... 1km..... As I rounded the corner onto the final short climb, I watched third place ride over the top.
I crossed the line in fourth place after a brutal and hard race in weather different than I have ever seen before. I am happy to finish up an incredible weekend and look forward to the many races I have ahead.