After a busy and very enjoyable week spent in multiple beautiful destinations with the team, it was time to settle in for another race weekend. This time Bonelli Park would be holding an HC event, bringing along international competition and rainy weather. Throughout the weekend rain turned the course from its usual hot and dusty self into an exciting muddy mess. The punchy steep climbs, along with short fun descents, would make for a very challenging and thrilling race for every rider.
Once again, I was stoked to get out and race my bike. The conditions had made every part of the trail slippery, which I felt made it more fun than ever before. I was feeling confident racing with the Orbea Oiz and was looking forward to the battle ahead. About 20 of us stood on the line for the UCI U19 women's race. So far, I have never had the pleasure of racing alongside such a large field of fast riders in the US until this season. So here's a huge thanks to NICA and all of their leagues across the country for helping to get more kids on bikes (especially girls!) and enjoying this amazing sport.
At 4:30pm, right behind the Jr. men, the race was on. We sprinted off the line, right into the pain cave, the thrill of racing, and lap one of four.
The group stayed fairly large throughout the first half of the lap, but then quickly split apart. The steep climbs and technical descents were demanding and quickly showed the strengths and weaknesses of each rider. Soon, three of us were battling in the lead as we began lap number two. After following behind Kelsey and Sienna for most of the first lap, I was able to squeeze into the single track first and settle into my own pace. Throughout the rest of the race I found myself building a gap from the other riders and really focused on pushing and competing with myself mentally and physically. I was so happy to ride across the line with my hands in the air, after a fast race on a challenging course.
The Luna Pro team had also grabbed three spots on the pro women's race, but the weekend of racing was not quite over yet. I was standing on the line Sunday afternoon for the pro women's short-track race. Beside me were some of the fastest women in the world, athletes that I have looked up to ever since I started racing. These women are FAST and excitement was building within me.
I launched of the line and surprised myself with a good start, placing me within the front group. I battled there for the first couple laps, but I slowly slipped farther back. Finally I lost the front pack, power no longer visible in my legs. This was probably the longest and most painful 20minute race I had ever experienced. Soon another rider raced passed, then another, and another, and another. I was fighting only myself, wishing I was farther up ahead, but happy I was still in the race and giving it my all. I was the last rider to cross the line who had not gotten pulled. I'd left it all out there on that little course, but my first elite short-track was done and dusted. I was happy to see Luna had taken another win, finishing off a great weekend with the cherry on top.
The race season has officially begun! Next up the Sea Otter Classic!