As the biggest race of the season comes to a close, I sit down on the couch and let out a big sigh, what next? Here’s a look at my trip to mountain bike nationals.
It’s Carnage Out There!
This being the second year nat’ls was held at Bear Creek, I knew what to expect coming in and I knew that played to my advantage. Coming off a 2nd place finish at WORS Cup I also knew I was riding strong.
East coast riding is littered with bowling ball sized jagged rock gardens for days. Rocks big enough that you can’t just motor over them, you have to use your whole body to pump and finesse the bike. While fitness comes into play, it’s more bike control and riding strong enough equipment.
I was lucky to have plenty of practice this winter in Arizona ripping trails, descending South Mountain and Bell Pass gave me a lot of confidence on my bike. The Trek Top Fuel was once again amazing! With the new Fox CTD shock I’m running this year I had the advantage of a rear remote which was fantastic. You don’t want to take your hands off the bar even for a second at Bear Creek!
While another 5th place finish and spot on the podium was great, I certainly had the potential to do more. After hitting my pedal and leading the prologue lap I dropped my chain coming into the first climb. That was the first of many dropped chains in my race.
Turns out my clutch had broken on my rear derailleur. Brian at Shimano got me fixed up after the race, but unfortunately it was after the fact. On the plus side, while dozens of riders littered the trail fixing flat tires, my Racing Ralph’s w/ Snake Skin were flawless.
Super happy with the way I was riding and ripping through the rocky descents. After falling to last place at the start of the first climb I moved up to 3rd by the time we got halfway down the descent. I was ripping, handling my bike great, but I knew the two leaders (guy’s I’ve raced against earlier this season) would be tough to catch.
I pinned it down the descent and across the start finish straight and began lap 2 of 3. At the start of the descent on lap 2 I came around a corner real hot and lost my front wheel. That sent me sliding pretty good and it took me minute to get moving again after the impact. I’m glad my only crash of the day was on a fast corner and not down one of the jagged rock gardens. Regardless, I was passed by Brad and another rider and it took me a good 5-10 mins to get any sort of rhythm back.
I rolled through the start/finish ready to go out on my last lap feeling defeated. I muscled my way up the climb and then rode down the descent at a conservative pace.
I’m certainly no quitter, but that race had me questioning whether or not I’d finish, call it bad luck or what-have-you, sometimes it’s just not your day. I had the legs and handling skills to win, but I was out of the race before it even got going.
While my result wasn’t quite what I was looking for, it was still a fun weekend. Joe and Brian both did super well in the pro race, Evie podium’d in all 3 of her races and Brad took 3rd in the XC race. Good times with good friends (and family!)
Thanks to Lynn Senkerik for all the cheers and awesome photos!