It's a new year and time to rehash my 2014 cross-country race season. The thing is, with social media and blogging, my 2014 is pretty well documented in the web-osphere. So I'm Googling myself, pulling some big moments, and compiling my season into bullet points.
- Cyclingnews publishes the Backcountry.com Bike Team press release and announces that the "The Woodruffs...comprise squad" Yep, TJ and I had officially become teammates which would mean a year of difficulties sorting socks come laundry time.
- I kick-off the year at one of my favorite events, the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, by teaming up with three Arizona NICA racers: Demi Alexander, Phoebe Teskey and Angelina Davis. The four of us race as #TeamWoodruff and I set my all fastest time on course (sub-hour!) on board my Niner Jet 9 RDO.
- Then this happens a week before the first US Cup in Austin, TX and takes me out of the first three big races of the season.
- Once recovered, I kicked off the pro circuit at the Sea Otter Classic with a couple of podium finishes, confirming that the winters hard work paid off despite the extra time off. In the cross-country, Evelyn and I had pretty stellar performances by hanging with Katerina Nash and Marianne Vos.
- In April, I announced a partnership with the Arizona Nature Conservancy. The regional chapter of this global non-profit has worked tirelessly for Arizona's future and has ongoing projects to restore the Colorado River Basin and protect the Verde River Watershed.
- Sweeping the Whiskey Off-Road was the most exciting weekend of my career. Training hard on the Skull Valley climb paid off, big time, and I learned first-hand what it feels like to have an entire community rooting for you.
- In May, we kicked off my World Cup campaign with the support of the US National Team. I spent 14 days in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic and Albstadt, Germany and raced (or attempted to race) a couple of World Cups. In retrospect, I was very hard on myself and considered the trip a complete failure. In Nove Meso, I lost my nerve after crashing out of the top-20 and unraveled all the way to fifty-something place. In Albstadt, I crashed early in the race and partially tore my ulnar collateral ligament in my right thumb, an injury which I didn't realize was so severe until September.
- Once home from the World Cups, I went on a blogging hiatus and generally struggled with motivation and injury. I couldn't mountain bike due to my thumb injury and blah blah blah. What I now know is that that Injuries suck, but it's your mental game that makes all the difference in the world.
- While I had some less-than-stellar cross-country performances in June (due to my mid-season blah blah blah), I stayed in the game for short track and finished 3rd behind Katerina and Georgia at the final US Cup in Colorado Springs.
- In June, I got to mountain bike with my sister for the first time since we were in high school. While she rode my Niner Air 9 RDO, I pumped up the tires and lubed the chain on my first race bike.
- This is when TJ and I began our great road trip of 2014. While TJ and Maja undertook the vast majority of the driving, we tackled a five-week block of consecutive races on the east coast. Here are a few photos from the trip. The highlight was undoubtedly standing on a World Cup podium. The low point was spending the week prior to the US Mountain Bike Nationals sick, in bed.
- The Mountain Bike World Championship team announcement was very important to me this year as World's was a big goal from the start. By accepting a spot on the team, it became my 6th World Championship, but my first since 2009 and as an Elite racer. I believe this makes me the first US woman on the mountain bike to race in the Junior, U23 and Elite World Championships.
- Some called me crazy for opting to race the Grand Junction Off-Road six days before the World Championships in Hafjell, NOR. But it was a careful decision we made and it worked! With Backcountry.com as a major sponsor of the #GJOR, we used it to cap off a final training block. Plus, the 4K in winnings covered my trip to the World Championships and I had a Denver-Frankfurt flight that allowed me to sleep a solid eight hours on the plane. Plus, I didn't have any extra time to sit around in Norway and twiddle my thumbs, getting more and more nervous for the big race.
- Grand junction was also the last event where I got to spend some time with Amy. Mid-race in 2013, she chased me down on the longest climb and we rode together for some time. She was on-fire, we were having fun and we all showed up the podium that year in straw hats...no coordinating that one! The climb felt lonely this year without Amy but we keep pedaling forward.
Here's my post-World's Facebook quickie race report:
From 60th call-up I steadily moved up on lap 1 but colided with another rider when our lines converged about mid-way through the lpa. We went down and she yelled at me, jumped up and tried punching me in the face. Seriously! Due to the crash, my brake lever came loose (and I though it completely broke off) and I rode/ran the final descent with a single front brake to the tech zone. Once I got going again, I was pretty far back and just started picking rider off. I felt great and rode the technical sections very well. On lap 5, with some amazing encouragement from some #TeamUSA staff and parents, I picked off 4 riders on the last steep pitch to move into the top-25. I was still feeling strong and could see riders just ahead of me with one lap to go...then I burped my rear tire nearly off the rim on some berms. It occurred to me that I must have had a slow leak for that to happen. I had a short descent to the tech zone where I got a new wheel. I rolled across the line in 31st with one lap to go and that's where I finished. At the finish line, I met about 10 Norwegian relatives of mine who came out to watch the race. That made my day! Thanks everyone and my sponsors for all that support.
The World Champs summed up my season pretty well. You can be on-fire, and then things happen, often beyond your control. How you handle those setbacks is what matters the most in racing.
Thank you to my 2014 sponsors: