Oh was this a fun course! With a steep, never ending, and hard uphill finishing with a swooping fun downhill. And boy was I ready to race with the U19 girls.
My category stood behind the elite and U23 woman, holding some of the fastest woman around. I looked beside me and could tell that this was going to be one of the fastest races I had ever experienced.(especially when I saw the girl in her world champion kit). We launched off the line as the gun echoed in our ears and headed towards the climb. I saw one girl leaving us behind (world champion) and I grabbed onto the second riders wheel. Together we held a steady pace into the woods. And the race was on. Quickly we began reaching some of the U23 riders, and one slipped into the gap between me and second place as we went into the descent. She grabbed on her brakes and slowly skidded down the trail. Dang it. I watched my competition race away smoothly, up and down through the gully. I waited for my only chance and jumped on it as we reached a short uphill road. I took the pass and headed into the Zorro drop. Finally... some speed. But wait, I caught up to another rider who hopped off her bike and began to run. I followed, but got back on the saddle to make the pass. I finished up the descent and headed into the second lap. The second place rider was out of my site as I headed up the climb and began to pace myself for the next two laps. As I reached the top of the climb two girls flew passed me. I followed right behind them and we headed into the straightaway before the descent. I went for the pass, knowing I would want to be ahead, and went to the left into the leaves. No way was she going to loose her spot though... and she stuck out the elbows and came into the leaves with me, hitting handlebars, and blocking my pass. We went into the down hill and the third place rider began to get away. The rider in front of me was slowly making her way down the hill. I tried to pass on the switchbacks, but knew that the road would be the only place. The rider began to stumble and she headed to the side of the trail, catching herself at a tree. I squeezed past her and took the chance to get ahead.
I began heading up the climb for the third time, catching the third place girl right away. I got on her wheel and we began a steady pace up the mountain. I went for the pass, but again I received the elbows and was cut off into the bushes. I got back into rhythm behind her and waited for another place to pass. I tried again, but she sped up and once again I was not going to take the pass easily. But for the third time I was ready. I began to sprint while I was behind her, then I gained speed and raced passed her. Few... I made it. I sped up the pace, hoping to gain a gap and then hold it in the descent. Passing as many riders as I could, I went into the downhill with no one in front of me. And boy was it fun! Then, once again I began the climb and my fourth lap. This time I put my head down and went as hard as I could, but still saving energy for the brutal uphill. It felt like forever before I reached the descent, but I was holding on to my third place spot. With another smooth and speedy downhill, I headed towards the finish.
With a big smile I finished in third place and am happy with my result.
It was incredible to race against these fast girls! Every race is a great learning experience and I am having the greatest time! Now I head to watch my first world cup in Nove Mesto!