My first race of the season with the Luna Pro team was right around the corner. I was looking forward to an exciting new year of racing and adventures, but the the nerves are always strong at race number one. Right after arriving Friday afternoon, I immediately began settling into the Fontana course on the Orbea Oiz. The rocks and steep climbs are only a few of the great aspects of this course, but the heat and dust would be the most noticeable during the 80º race at 4:30pm.
I was already amazed by the incredible support that Luna was giving me as I began to settle in. The atmosphere provided by the athletes, mechanics, and all the supporters behind the scenes, was outstanding and truly grew how much I look up to this phenomenal group of people. I knew that everything besides my mental and physical state would be taken care of in the best possible way, so I would be able to put all of my focus into the race ahead.
After a long day of relaxation, the excitement was building and I was looking forward to racing against a large and strong group of junior riders. We were on the line right behind the UCI Jr. boys and the countdown began. The sun was in full force above us, but all eyes were on the trail ahead.
As we rode off the line, I settled into the lead group as we pushed up the first climb. On entering the first single-track section, the pace was strong and the group began to dwindle. Soon, Rachel was in the lead with me and Kelsey following close behind. The sun was hot and the trail was loose and dusty, providing for an exciting challenge. I slipped into the lead for the main downhill section and found that as we began the second lap only Kelsey and I were battling in the lead.
After a couple attacks by both of us, I took the lead and was able to build a gap throughout the second lap. The
Orbea Oiz turned the loose turns and rocks into a playground, and I couldn't help but enjoy the pain cave. And to top it off, the cheering throughout the race was insane. It always feels amazing to hear your supporters cheering your name, giving you the extra energy you need to push just a little harder. I was extremely happy to take the win, giving a great first start to the season. I really can't thank Dario Fredrick, my family, Oakley, the Luna Pro Team, and everyone that has supported me along the way enough. I am looking forward to enjoying some bonding time with the team and Bonelli #2 is up next!