Friday was the first day of our Little Bellas Sea Otter camp. The little ladies lined up to watch the women's short track race. This was twenty minutes of short two minute laps around a flat track with a mixture of pavement and dirt. The nature of the course made it a really exciting and tactical race, and the Little Bellas cheered for me every lap. There was a group of about ten ladies riding together with some attacks going off in the twenty minutes, but nothing really stuck. I was towards the back of the group trying to recover and follow wheels. Then, in the last three laps, I made sure I was in a better position at least in the top three of the race so I was able to respond to attacks. I timed it right and followed an explosive last lap attack by swede Jenny Risveds. I followed her wheel and so did Australian Bec Henderson. I was able to hang on, and I got to stand on my first podium of the season in third. I am thrilled to get this result in front of the Little Bellas and at such a big event as the Sea Otter Classic.
After the short track, it was time for my favorite event of the season, the Little Bellas lemonade social with the pros. Every single year, I am completely humbled by how many pro ladies show up to answer questions from the girls and sign autographs. Every pro rider's time is in high demand at Sea Otter Classic with each minute taken with marketing initiatives, events, or racing. The fact that each lady carves out an hour for the Little Bellas is really moving. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such great women and role models on the mountain bike circuit. We answered questions about everything from our favorite food to who inspired us to start riding. We learned that avocado was a popular favorite food. One of our little bellas gasped in excitement when one of her favorite foods was also Chloe Woodruff's favorite. Kaylee Blevin's brother inspired her to ride. Kate Courtney started riding with her dad on the back of a tandem with a pancake reward at the end. The Little Bellas got to see what a world champion jersey looks like when Catharine Pendrel showed up.
Last year, Maghalie Rochette challenged me to a rap battle at the lemonade social, and we ended up battling at the World Championships. This year at the lemonade social, Maghalie came prepared with some amazing rhymes to officially challenge me again to another rap battle. I was extremely impressed, and the Little Bellas loved it so much that they kept asking for more. So, Kate and I rhymed a verse from our World Champs battle, and then Kate, my secret weapon, dropped some fresh verses right off the top of her head on the spot. It was amazing, and, with all of the fifteen pro women and their personalities, the Little Bellas were completely entertained for an hour. This is not an easy task with eight year olds. I didn't think it could keep getting any better, but it does.
Now, I'm catching my breath back in Santa Cruz, and beginning a great training block in earnest until the first world cups towards the end of may in Europe. Let the training begin!
Onwards and upwards!