Last year I went to Sun Valley, ID and went to my first XC National Championships. I pretty much did everything wrong and did awful. I was tired, beat up and went into the race empty. It was truly my worst race ever. This year, I wanted to go into National Championship and do everything right. I was determined. I got a coach, and knew I wanted to do well in 2013. I was motivated. I also stepped it up and did 3 out of 9 national level races! Here is a glimpse of how my experience on the Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour (PRO XCT) and 2013 XC National Championships went.
My first Pro XCT took place in San Dimas, CA. This was the first race of the season in mid March—early, especially when living in Gunnison. I think I rode my bike outside maybe five times before going into this race. Not only was I intimidated about riding singletrack, but also the fast girls I would be racing with…top girls in the nation, Olympians and World Cup stars. The course basically went up one mountain, nine different times at different angles. So, at certain areas, you could see other parts of the course. As I was racing, I could see the top girls sometimes. I would look up and be more interested in watching THEM race, then MY race! It was so cool seeing them in action. All and all, I had a fairly solid performance and finish 18th place.
The next race was in Missoula, MT. This race was in June. I felt more prepared going into this race. With more training and more races under my belt, I was fairly confident. The course, for the most part, went straight up, then straight down. I was in 10th place for the first 3 laps!! Laps 4-5 I bonked and was passed by four girls. This was mentally discouraging and I gave up. I ended up 14th.
Coming into my 3rd Pro xct race, my coach and I had many conversations, not about the physical aspect of racing but the mental part. ‘You are a professional cyclist now’, she kept saying. There’s way more reasons to slow down in a race than to go harder…especially when having a “bad” race. Don’t let the little things get in your head. So heading into the Mt. Morris, WI, not only was I ready physically but more importantly, mentally. I made a few “rookie” mistakes. One out of many, I was in my easiest gear on a slight down hill start. WHAT?! As I went to put power into my pedal, it spun like I was pushing air. Because of this I couldn’t clip my other foot, and I watched the field take off like I was going backwards. BUT, I stayed ‘professional,’ stayed focused, fixed my gearing and stayed positive! I had other mistakes but I didn’t let them get in my head. I had a mentally strong race and placed 12th.
The last race I have competed in so far, but certainly not the last…Cross Country National Championships! The race I have been, more or less, building up for. This took place in Bear Creek, PA. I was as ready as I could be, both mentally and physically. This course had short punchy climbs and very rocky descents. It was HOT and HUMID. Nothing like CO riding but I felt prepared. I had a great race – I felt good, I ate and drank to stay fueled. Had a few errors but nothing to bad. In the end I took 11th and was very happy with my performance!
My experience doing some of the bigger, national level races was amazing. I had ups and downs, good and bad moments. This is racing!! I think for now, for me, is it’s not so much the place I get in a race but, more importantly, what I get out of it. What I can learn, gain and can apply to the next. This was a huge learning curve for me and I’m just I’m hungry for more. MOTIVATED!
My season isn’t over yet, signed up for the honey stinger in Steamboat on Aug 15th and the Grand Junction Off-road on Sept 1st, as well as a few other races that will be thrown in there before the snow falls. I will keep you posted!
Thanks for reading,