Sticking it out.
After Saturday's cross-country race at Bonelli Park, I had six hours of reflecting on my race and laughing with Amy Poehler's "Yes, Please" audio book as I drove back home to TJ and Maja in Prescott, Arizona. I was happy with my race performance, but beyond that, I was most pleased with my resolve, or simple stubbornness, to stick it out when it comes to this racing thing. Last year I came pretty close to closing this chapter of my life, repeatedly, for all sorts of reasons outside of my control. I told TJ I was quitting so many times that he learned some pretty good tricks to keep my head in the game. The most effective one was simply agreeing with me. But sticking it out led to new opportunity with Stan's NoTubes and my best cross-country performance ever this past Saturday. It's not that big of a deal. I've been inching towards the leaders for years. Making progress for me is most often a cruel exercise in patience (which I can lack) and not some exciting, revelatory moment where I tapped into something I didn't know I had and launched an attack that changed the course of my career. Nothing like that. There's actually a lot of anti-glory and tedium in this sport (but don't tell the fans and media!).
Bonelli XC Performance
There is nothing more assuring than lining up at a start line and knowing that you've done your homework, and done it well. I felt that and it was awesome. I had a second row call-up and rolled up behind Lea Davison and Katerina Nash. Lea got the holeshot and led out the start loop, I sat second wheel and helped push the pace a bit on lap 1 (of 7). It was my first race on the Stan's NoTubes Valor 29 wheels with Maxxis Ikon tires. I hadn't raced a sub-600 gram tire in...quite awhile...and the Valor wheels are lighter and a better ride than anything I've been on before. My bike felt responsive, lively on accelerations and an all-around kick-ass little race machine. I love my bike, in fact.
I raced with the lead group of six until my skin went dry and I started to get goosebumps on lap 3. This wasn't good and evidence that I wasn't ready to race in 90+ degree heat. Despite grabbing 2 icy cold bottles of Clif Electrolyte Drink per lap, ice socks to stuff in my jersey (women's pantyhose filled with ice) and water to dump on my head, it wasn't enough and I had to back off the pace. Sometimes experience sucks. Even if I could push myself to hang with the leaders for just one more lap, the cost would be far too great in the final laps of racing. Plus, I have a difficult time recovering from cramps so I was patient and stuck it out (I'm sticking with the theme of this post too).
What's really incredible is the full race coverage provided by the Sho-Air Cycling Group. I don't need to give you a lap by lap account, because you can actually watch the whole race here.
To sum it up, I was a dangler for most of the race. I rode my own pace and was out on my own for most of the day. I watched Larissa get popped from the group and ride her way back to them, time and time again. It was a very impressive ride and I'm eager to see her emerge as a podium regular this year. On the final lap of the race, I had to dig really deep to keep Katerina at bay as she was never far behind me. I finished just over two minutes off of Emily Batty's finishing time, and in 5th place. That's the closest I've been at the finish of one of these races (we look at the percentage back) and I'm happy with that. Sticking it out can work.
I want to thank Kenny Wehn of Stan's NoTubes for all the support over the weekend. He had a solid, podium-ride himself on Saturday.
I skipped my first short track race over the weekend. Don't worry, it won't happen again. With the addition of the Continental Championships to my schedule at the end of the month, we opted to get a little extra rest, at home, on Sunday. That means I'll have four days at home and time for a mini training block before returning to California for the US Cup #2 in Fontana, CA--one of my all time favorite courses.
Thanks for checking in! It feels good to get this season underway.