Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bonelli ProXCT

 Photo: Tyler Frasca

This past weekend was my first mountain bike race of 2013 at the Bonelli ProXCT.  As always, no matter how hard I have been training, there's always a big question mark placed by the first race of the season.  Do I have fitness?  Will I be able to make the lead group?  Will my legs feel fresh or like lead?  I knew this race was even more of a gamble since I had only been riding my bike for ten days and I was fresh off the skis.  Tyler, my team manager, said that he would have ski poles in the tech zone to make me feel like home.  I really appreciated that.

Racing in the Short Track withe my new national champion jersey
Checking out the bike with one of the best mechanics out there, Joe Deverra

The weekend of racing gave me all positive answers to all of the questions looming overhead.  I am completely happy with my performance, and I was even more thrilled with my new bikes and equipment.  My new Epic and Fate are beautiful, and I have SRAM's new XX1 on both race bikes.  There is just one chainring up front and eleven cogs in the back.  It's quite different riding without a front derailuer.  I keep reaching down to shift out of my big ring and nothing is there.  I absolutely love the simplicity of it.  I'm a believer after racing with it this weekend.  I rode the fast track tires front and rear for the loose and rocky cross country and switched to a renegade on the rear for the short track.  I ran twenty psi in the front and twenty two in the rear.

In the cross country, the Luna squad was noticeably missing from the starting line, but the new Trek team was there in full force.  Fellow Olympians Emily Batty and Annie Last were present so I knew this would be a great test for the legs.  I didn't know that the two time Xterra World Champion, Leslie Paterson, was hiding in the back of the pack.  Emily, Annie, and I rode together for the first two laps, and I was relieved that my legs remembered how to move in circles.  On the third lap, a mysterious rider with strong looking legs bridged up to our group and notched up the pace considerably.  I started to put the pieces of this puzzle together when I saw the world champion rainbow stripes on her jersey.  Annie was popped of the group, and I was hanging on.  I yo-yoed with the lead group for a lap and then I rode alone to the finish line to third place.  It was a solid race.  The short track was a tactical battle with a large lead group.  There were some attacks and some new faces up front which is always great to see.  On the final short track lap, I attacked to be the first to the top of the course's only climb.  It turns out Emily and Chloe had the same idea and we all arrived at the top together.  Then, my front wheel washed out on some very loose corners, and I was out of the race.  I was bummed because I really wanted to sprint with those girls to the finish line and give my new national champion jersey a run for the money.  But I'll get many more opportunities to race this season.  Now, jojo and I are back in Santa Cruz and enjoyed ten days in one location.  We may even get to surf.

Team Specialized celebrated a pair of 3rd place finishes by having sushi off of a moving walkway

Sunday, March 10, 2013

From Skis to Jumps

It seems like every blog post I write I’m extremely excited about something, but the last two weeks have been more exciting than usual.  I capped off my Vermont winter training block by skipping the first ProXCT in Texas to do a 50km Nordic ski race called the Rangeley Loppet.  The snow conditions were fantastic for my last week on skis. My goal for this loppet was to start aggressively and keep contact with my VTXC teammate Robyn Anderson.  The race was two twenty-five kilometer laps of a fun rolling and twisty course.  I made it out of the mass start alive thank goodness (imagine a mass start mountain bike race with poles flying everywhere).  I could see Robyn up a couple of groups ahead and I started to chip away at the real estate.  Sabe put some special Swix sauce on my Atomic skis and they were absolutely flying.  I was passing master men twice my weight on the downhills.  Having fast skis makes racing so much more fun.  Sabe was all over the course and fed me as well as provided me with her Nordic ski racing knowledge and sister juju.  She is a great Nordic ski racer. Finally, towards the half way point, I bridged up to Robyn and tried to draft and recover whenever possible.  As we were nearing the finish, this became an incredible tactical battle.  I attacked with five km to go and Robyn stuck on.  Robyn attacked with two kilometers to go and I stayed on.  I realized I don’t know how to sprint on skis so I was going to have to come into the stadium first if I had any chance of getting the win.  I did this, but it turns out I still don’t know how to sprint so Robyn nabbed me for the win.  It was AWESOME.

I am so excited.  About to descend the cork screw
 Allen Lim with Skratch Labs teaches the crew how to make rice cakes, perfect ride fuel

Riding back from day one of skills camp
After the loppet, I flew out to Colorado for the USA Cycling board of directors meeting for two days and then the USA mountain biking skills clinic over the weekend.  Shaums March was our instructor and our group consisted of Georgia Gould (Olympic Bronze medalist) and I along with four other developing mountain bike talents.  These juniors and U-23 riders have the chops to make it big.  This camp was life changing.  This is absolutely no exaggeration. World Cups these days are peppered with drops and jumps.  I never learned these skills and, thus, was terrified of these sections.  There are alternative lines around these features, but a rider loses a lot of time taking them. Shaums is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, and the entire group now feels comfortable with these world cup challenges.  We took some sick air, rolled some gnarly drops, ate some great food from Skratch Labs, and had a blast doing it all.  This skills camp is literally the best thing I could do right now. Thanks to Shaums, the future looks bright for USA Women’s mountain biking.  My riding has been revolutionized.  A big thanks goes out to G-Form for providing the impact protection for this camp which was a necessity.  I’m ready to throw a seat dropper on my bike, get on some flat pedals, get on a pump track, and start burning in some of these new skills.  Mountain biking is fun.

I’m on a plane out to Santa Cruz for the next two months.  My first race is next weekend at the Bonelli ProXCT.  Send me the good juju please.


 The cork screw in action
 Practicing step up with flat pedals!

Shaums helps me feel the nose wheelie