After a few days at home, it was time to once again pack up the bike and get ready to fly to the 2nd race of the Pro XCT series. I flew early Friday morning to Ontario, California which is just east of the city of Angels. I picked up my rental car and was relieved when myself, bike, suitcase, and overflowing carry-on satchel all fit quite comfortably. Then it was straight to the race venue to assemble the bike, register for the race, and get a pre-ride in. The course was a series of short steep climbs and loose, steep descents with some tricky switchbacks thrown in. My strength lies in sustained climbs, so this would be another opportunity for me to develop different skills. Right? 🙂 The course was about 3 miles long and the pro women were slated for 5 laps + a start loop. I figured this would be about a 1:30-1:40 race. A perfect distance.
After last weekend’s bungled start, I was determined to have a better start.
I did manage to get into a top 5 position after the gun, but promptly went down in the first sharp corner and had to get up and fight for spots again. Doh! I managed to get into 5th or 6th on the first climb and just hung on. I made a few passes on the climbs and wound up in 3rd behind Zephanie, both of us chasing Allison, who had gotten away on the first lap. According to the fans, we were gaining on Allison with a gap of about 40 seconds. This is when the ~84 degree heat started to creep up on me. I started to get the tell-tale goose-bumps and muscle crankiness, and decided I better back off a bit or risk blowing up. With some ice water being passed up by my awesome feeder, Derek, on the last lap I was able to fight off the heat a little bit. Unfortunately, I lost Zeph’s wheel and didn’t have the power to catch back on. So, I focused on riding a smooth and steady last lap and crossed the line in 3rd. My first Pro XCT podium!
The next day was the short track. Have I mentioned that I love short track? The morning was much cooler than the day before, so I was thankful that heat wouldn’t be a problem for this race. My legs were definitely fatigued from the day before, so I tried to get a longer warm up in. I was pretty confident going into the race, probably too confident in hindsight. I had an ok start, but was pretty aggressive on the first climb to ensure I was going into the singletrack in a good spot. No going down in the corner this time! I wanted to test things out a little but, so pulled into the lead on the second lap. Unfortunately, my ambition was greater than my ability and I was not able to shake anyone from my wheel. I gave up the lead and settled into 3rd, then pulled into second behind Mariske Strauss-a strong U23 rider from South Africa. The two of us went back and forth for the rest of the race, me putting in an ill-timed attack and barely recovering enough to catch Mariske’s wheel as she came around for an attack of her own. In the end, it came down to a sprint where I just didn’t have the timing or the power to get the win. But, I’m happy with a 2nd place and really had fun.
The highlight of the day was getting to see and hang out with my cousin, Brendan, and his girlfriend Angelyn. I love my family! They were awesome cheerleaders and it was great to hang out after the race. I think having them there made me a bit more aggressive than I normally would have been, but they seemed to appreciate the excitement. 🙂
I’m back home now and making a list of things to do to get ready for the real-world tomorrow. I had a great trip and really enjoyed getting to see a new place. Aside from racing and family time the highlights would have to be the California Spring with things blossoming all over the place and Trader Joes (obviously).