It all started early on a Thursday morning. Emily, myself and Russell flew out of Coco Springs and started our journey to Madison. The trip started off with me being called back to the TSA check point and getting scolded for smuggling a CO2 in my checked bag. More infractions like that and I could be looking at possible jail time!
We picked up a new sponsor. Artisana Foods, who makes a ton of cool nut/coconut/cocoa butters. They have very convienient to go packs, which are really great for a little mid flight pick me up….
We made it to Madison where Kerry Shields picked us up. We had a lot of travelers/luggage and not a lot of room (Sepp, Emily, Russell, Kerry, and I). Luckily, I told Kerry to bring some ratchet straps and we made like the Beverley Hillbillies down the highway.
We got to the venue and put our bikes together to get out on course. After being in Colorado for so long the humidity, which use to feel normal or at least not so foreign, felt suffocating and unwelcoming…
The whole venue was different than the past couple years so we were all interested to see how the course was. At first ride I wasn’t a fan. There were too many tight single track sections that switchbacked constantly, which left me searching for flow and a rhythm. There were a lot of roots and some slick muddy patches, which I liked. I could feel the east coast getting closer.
It was great to see Industry Nine hubs there… Love catching up with the guys from Asheville, NC. They even hooked us up with some SHWAG!
After doing some course laps we loaded back up, Clampett, style and headed an hour north to Wautoma, which is where the venue was the past couple years. We were staying in a host house. Marnie Pearsall is one of the nicest persons I have met. Her house is on the market but she still let us crash there and though it was far away from the venue it was nice not being in a hotel setting, especially since we had five riders and a mechanic.
Thursday was a day of travel and settling in.
Friday we had the luxury of sleeping in as long as we wanted because we didn’t race STXC until 9pm that evening. This was not ideal, though there wasn’t much we could do about it. I was also kind of looking forward to racing in the lights and some cooler temps.
We went on a morning spin then relaxed all day.
The girls raced at 8:30pm so we were all there for their race. The STXC course was pretty flat with a few little rises, which meant the race was going to stay together and require some brain power as well as physical power.
Shayna made the front group off the start and stayed there throughout the whole race until the last couple laps when the group started to splinter. She finished at the back of the front group but still a strong ride. Emily, unfortunately, missed the front group early on and was forced to chase around the rest of the race in no mans land. Both finished top 10.
Sepp and I started on the front row, thanks to USA Cycling collegiate points, and settled into the front group. We stayed there for the entire 20min plus 3 laps. Sepp pulled a bold 3 to go attack and distanced himself from the front group of 10. He went hard and the chases started. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the gas to stay out there and faded as those who played a more conservative race started to turn it on in the last two laps. I was sitting top the entire race but fell back a few spots into 8th after Russell sprinted me at the line by half a wheel length. Sepp finished up 9th and we all stood on an awkward 10 man podium together.
STXC was all top tens for Project Dirt!
After a late night on Friday night we were eager to get the Saturday XC done and move onto the next weekend of racing. The teams focus was on nationals and it showed.
We left early for the women’s race, which was at 1:30pm. The men didn’t race until 4:30. Emily and Shayna both had good starts. Emily was even bold enough to take the whole shot. However, her glory ended there. She found herself not having the best day and faded back throughout the first lap into 13th. Shayna finished the first lap just outside of the top ten but continued to stay strong and move up over the course of the next 4 laps finishing up in 10th.
Sepp and I were in a debacle over to run muds or faster tires due to the rain that was threatening to drop down on us. There was a big storm system moving east and the radar showed us right in the middle of it. However, it was choosing to hold off until midway through our race…
We both had good starts and Sepp, who was feeling extra frisky, moved up into third by the end of the first lap. Riding comfortably with Todd Wells and Stephen Ettinger in the front group. Howard Grotts Chased and a group of 6 chased him, which I was in. The group of six stayed together for the first three laps without too much attacking. Sepp was holding strong in the top three as well.Then the rain came!
Fortunately, I chose muds. I new the Kenda karmas was the right tire because it isn’t the slowest mud tire and if it rained I definitely wanted something with a little more bite. Sepp went with Small Block Eights, which proved to be not so great when things got muddy.
I started moving up and taking as much advantage of the rain as possible. I moved up into a group of two fighting for third. However, the mud started clogging my cassette (due to me putting a new chain on and not cleaning the new chain grease off… Dumb move on my part) and my gears started skipping. I faded some but stayed consistent. My chain stayed strong and the last lap started to tack up once the rain took a break. I rolled through in 5th just 10 sec or so off of 4th and less than 30sec from 3rd.
Sepp came in at number 7 and once again we both went top 10.
A little disappointed but still happy to grab a bunch of UCI points and have some fun in the mud.
After another awkward 15 man podium we loaded up the trailer and headed back to Wautoma for the night to clean up and prepare for our flight to PA!
Kerry Shields was taking one for the team and driving all our stuff from WI to PA so we had an easy day of travel through the airport. My momma picked us up and we settled in at my parents house just 40min from the venue. It is good to be home and hangout with my family. We are all excited for the upcoming weekend and can’t wait to see the course!