The official race season started the first weekend of March with the opening round of the Pro XCT being held at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic just outside of Austin, Texas. For this Colorado girl, March 3rd feels really early to start racing. It is a shock to the system to go from 40 degree road rides to 70 degrees and technical, fast mountain biking. Last year, I definitely wasn’t ready and had a somewhat disappointing race at ol’ Mellow’s finishing 17th. This year, I was determined to at least come into the race more mentally prepared. And, I’m happy to report that I’d say I was successful. I knew it was going to be fast and rough, and it was. But, I think I kept it together pretty well-focusing on riding as smoothly as possible and cutting myself some slack. Sure, my technical skills weren’t awe inspiring and my legs had the acceleration of a diesel lawn mower, but my mental game was on and I steadily motored my way to a near podium finish leaving a trail of churned up dirt and rocks in my wake. Seriously though, I was pretty happy with my 6th place finish-definitely an improvement from last year and a solid start to the race season.
After a short stint at home, I boarded the plane for the second race of the season at the Bonelli Pro XCT. Like, Mellow’s I also did this race last year. Last year most of the top pro’s were missing from the field as they were racing overseas vying for one of the two slots on the US Olympic team. This year was a different story. The front line consisted of all Olympic Long list members, and 3 Olympic finishers. Oh, yeah and I was there too. I’m finally starting to accumulate enough UCI ranking points to earn a front row call up every now and then. It’s like being on the A-list for an excslusive club or restaurarnt…I would think…based on what I’ve seen on TV…you have a better chance at getting a good line into the single-track and you don’t have to fight your way through the eager mob of folks wrestling for an “in”. Anywho…my goal for this race was to have a fast and strong start. After being sick for a week after Mellow’s, I wasn’t sure how I would feel throughout the race so just focusing on a solid start lap seemed like a reasonable goal. Alas, the pressure must’ve been too great ’cause I botched it. Yep, front row call up, gun goes off, I miss my pedal a few times before clipping in, chasing back on to the front group, and then promptly blowing up. Ugh! Why is this SO HARD?! My thoughts started to go to that place where you secretly wish your bike would have some sort of irreparable, race-ending mechanical failure. But, in hindsight I’m happy to report no such catastrophe occurred. Instead, a very calm voice inside my head told me to just focus on racing my own race and try to have fun while doing it. And, what do ya’ know? The voice knew what it was talking about. Every lap I felt a bit better-focusing on being as relaxed and smooth as possible. After a not so great start, I still managed a 6th place finish. The goal was not accomplished per se, but it was a solid race and I am happy with how it went. And, what do you know? I had fun racing my bike…which is really the ultimate goal, isn’t it? 🙂