After the Canada Cup, I spent a few days in Bellingham, Washington doing a mini-skills clinic with my USA Cycling Teamie Kate Courtney under the tutelage of skillz hero Shaums March. I’d like to do a full post of these few days, but suffice to say it was an awesome and very valuable experience. However, as I traveled from Bellingham to San Dimas, California for the first ProXCT of the year, I realized just how taxing the skills practice had been-I was wiped! I felt like I had been doing cross-fit or something for two days. But, I was re-energized when I got to the course on Friday morning for my pre-ride. It was great to see friends that I hadn’t seen since the last race of the season, and it was kind of nice to be back on a course that by now I am pretty familiar with. I got a few laps in and found the course to be similar to years past, but with some of the key climbs/descents slightly modified and therefore a slightly overall shorter lap. The course did not seem to offer an advantage to any specific strength and so I guessed that it would be more of a tactical race. So, this would be a ‘growth opportunity’ for me! True enough, after an aggressive start loop there was a group of 6 of us riding together for the first 2 laps. I decided to get on the front and put in a bit of an effort to suss out the group a bit…this seemed to whittle our group down to 4 consisting of myself, Katerina, Larissa, and Chloe.
The four of us took turns on the front for a bit when Chloe put in a bit of an attack on the backside of lap 4. Larissa and I were able to hang with her, and then there were just the 3 of us. At that point I think we all settled in a bit watching each other, but no one wanting to make a move. At the start of the last lap I knew two things: one, that I wanted to avoid this race coming to sprint (Chloe is one of the best sprinters out there!); and two, that I’d like to lead going into the first descent. So, focused on the singletrack, I put in a little effort to get there first and then realized that I had a bit of a gap. Nice! The gap grew a bit on the next climb and by focusing on being smooth on the descents and pushing the climbs, I was able to maintain the gap through to the finish-my first UCI win!!! Couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off the season. I was racing on my Scott Spark 900 with Shimano Di2 single chainring setup which performed flawlessly. I love how snappy and reliable the shifting is-especially on a course like Bonelli with abrupt terrain changes. I came away from the weekend confident that my training seems to be on track and appreciative that I have an additional advantage of the best equipment out there!