Now, I don’t think I’ve shared enough about this absolutely incredible group of junior athletes that I got to enjoy this amazing journey with. So, from left to right (In the image below): Carson Beckett, Ksenia Lepikhina, me, Cassie Ross, Kelsey Urban, and Chris Blevins. These are some of the fastest junior athletes in the US, and not only did they leave it all out their on the courses in Europe, but their smiles and positivity made the trip better than I could ever imagine.
After some wonderful times in the beautiful Alps of Austria, we traveled back to Germany to spend the week getting ready for Heubach, Bike the Rock.
Right away we found ourselves wandering through the beautiful forest in the hills near the course.
This course was a lot less technical than the race in Austria. Here, there was a long and brutal climb to the top and then a flowy and very fun descent, filled with switchbacks, roots, and steep sections, all the way back to the start. Throughout the week I slowly built up confidence once again for the race ahead, hoping to place better, but most of all to feel strong and have fun throughout the race.
I had already learned a lot from the previous race, knowing that the competition was very strong and I would have to fight to have the race I was hoping for. Multiple days of rain had soaked the course and I was looking forward to playing in all the mud. I was able to keep the stress low and the excitement high going into the race, but there was still so much unknown ahead.
I focused on getting a good warmup in before my start, in order to be ready to chase the rockets off the line and into the climb. I made my way toward the start box and got ready for the race only minutes ahead. All around me were some of the fastest junior women in the world and my excitement was growing quickly for the race ahead. I was the first call up and took my place on the start line, knowing this would help me with the large field of 68 girls. Race faces formed on all the athletes around me and we bent our elbows. BANG! The gun fired and we launched off the line. My handle bars ran into the girl’s on my left and I slid forward and swerved into girls on my right, before I could clip into my pedal.
I pushed my way as close to the front group as possible before was reached the sharp corner into the climb. I was able to pass multiple girls up the first climb and settled in to pace myself. At this point I had no clue what place I was in, but I could tell my legs felt stronger than the previous race.
Throughout the long first climb I went back and forth with many riders, but got into good position for the downhill. Right away I learned that this part of the course would be my strength, since I was catching girls right away. I got stuck behind a group of about three girls and when we reached a short climb before the last part of the descent I went for the pass. I was able to squeeze in front of one girl before the steep section, but there were still two girls ahead that would slow me down. I slid right behind them doing my best not to hit them…. at first. We went around the second to last switchback and the girl in the front had slid to the side of the trail. The other rider right in front of me had messed up and was moving to get off her bike. I couldn’t slow down and was hoping she might move out of the way. I ran into her, pushing her forward down the slippery trail, and at this point was stuck behind my seat with one foot on the ground. I hopped off my bike and began to run. Hey! Hey! I turned and there was another rider coming down behind us who was still riding, wanting us to move for her. I went to move out of the way….. nah…. I decided that I would have to be aggressive if I wanted to do well. I turned and ran/slid behind the rider in front of me. She went to get back on her bike, but was struggling, I quickly hopped on mine and rode right past her. I flew down the rest of the descent and headed into the second lap.
Two riders passed me on the climb, but I focused on pacing myself so I could be strong for the final lap. Once again, I felt strong on the descent and only got stuck behind one rider, who I quickly passed.
I began my third lap and was feeling strong and ready to pick up the pace. I made a pass and could see a rider from Germany right ahead of me. I could tell she was losing a lot of energy so worked hard to catch up. I wasn’t quite able to catch her, but I reached the downhill with no one ahead of me, which was pretty dang fun:). I finished feeling like I put it all out their and happy with 11th place.
I learned more than I ever have before, about racing, just in these two races in Europe and I think it will help me to grow as an athlete. I hope to become stronger and am excited for the races to come.
It was great spending time with this awesome group of athletes, but we part ways as we head home to different states.
I truly can't thank everyone enough for all of the support that I have received. It has been an incredible journey so far, but it couldn’t be possible without those that have helped and supported me throughout the way. Especially my amazing parents, Dario Fredrick, Whole Athlete, and USAcycling :)
Next up is Missoula ProXCT!