After Fontucky I headed northwest to Altadena. A cool suburb of Pasadena located right at the base of Brown Mountain. I stayed their last year, at Pat Phillips house, so I knew the area and was excited to train and explore more of the trails that I only got a taste for the previous year.
With two weekends off training was full on! Some good interval days, a group ride (which was pretty sketchy and I swear to never do again), and longer rides on great trail/roads. It was very hard to not ride 4 hours everyday. I was glad to have Jim Lehman looking over my shoulder, virtually, to wag a finger at me when I tried to pile on too much.
The sun was shinning everyday and the heat wave subsided to a cool, often perfect tempered 70-75. My only regret I that I couldn’t have stayed longer. The trail systems in and around the area are so large that I often felt guilty for repeating a trail.
Emily joined me about 10 days before the Bonelli race. It was great to see her again after being away for over three weeks. Plus, we got to ride some radical trail together. We weren’t together for my birthday at the end of March so she came, bag loaded down, with presents!
Emily and I said our good byes, on Thursday, to Pat until we meet again later this year in Mammoth for MTB Nationals. We left Altadena and traveled with the Raleigh-Clement mechanic James to San Dimas.
The Van and Trailer got a new wrap over the last two weeks… Check it out!!!
Friday was a day of course laps and openers. It is also worth mentioning that I got some new racing sunnies in the mail! Smith Optics Arena PivLocks Matte Black.
The weather was much cooler than the last time we were at Bonelli, which was a god send! The course was a bit different and for the better. There was actually 30ft more climbing per lap but the new layout allowed riders to carry more speed into the bottoms of climbs so they often didn’t feel as long or as steep. The introduction of more flow had everybody excited to race. The field was shaping up to be just as stacked as the last two races. As International as it gets here in America. Nino Schruter and Dan McConnell showed up so the pace was going to be pushed!
Photo Credit: Bill Freedman
Saturday the women kicked off at 11:30 for what turned out to be a very exciting race and the live coverage was great.
Fernando and I lined up at 1:45 and the gun went off at 2pm. I had a killer start and felt great. I was able to hold a position at 6 or 7 on the first lap without digging too deep, or so I thought. I settled into a chase group of 4 or five on lap 2 and 3 but then struggled to hang on.
Some of the early race efforts were reacking havoc on my legs so I had to back it off. In the midst of that I started to bonk… I thought that was the end of my race. However, I knew I just needed to last until 2 to go when I inhaled a gel and my new secret weapon, not anymore, half of a 5hourEnergy. With fuel tanks topped of with high test I was able to race the last two laps, stick with Todd Wells and Jeremy Martin and come out on top of that group at the finish for 13th.
Fernando also had a great start to the race but took a high speed corner a little too hot and laid it over, bending his derailleur and fertilizing the soil with some blood and sweat. Nevertheless, he rallied back from that fumble to a 16th place!
I was very happy with my result. Coming into the race I was very anxious to see what my training over the last two weeks would do for me.
Back at the hotel I met up with Emily then joined Russell and the Clifbar crew for dinner and dessert at “The Parlor and Creperie”. 18’’ crepes filled with Fro-Yo, enough said…
Which looks better, the smore’s crepe, apple pie crepe, or Emmy?! haha
However, there was one problem, looming in the back of my mind… I had to race STXC on Sunday. After getting home from the XC I quickly realized how gassed I was. I had dug very deep for that xc result and when I woke up on Sunday morning and went for a spin with Russell and Emily my fear of over exertion was affirmed! There was nothing that could be done though. Just had to suck it up and suffer for 20+min… Or there abouts.
STXC kicked off and I was surprised by the first two laps. I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I would. Though it didn’t take long for me to realize I was only fooling myself. I was not cornering well and opening up small gaps that my legs were too tired to close. I faded back to a chase group. Then faded back to a chase chase group. Then the fence after the finish was opened and I was diverted from the course… Pulled with 2 to go. That was the first time in a long time I had been pulled and I was not happy about it, though at the same time I was relieved to be done racing. When you don’t got it, you just don’t got it.
Russell and I spun home, licking our wounds, pouting, still in shock of what just happened. I got back tot he hotel and just laid on the bed unshowered for a while. Finally I felt motivated to peel my chamois off and wash the dust from todays race down the drain, along my sulky attitude. I was happy with my xc and that is what mattered.
Emily joined the team for dinner, which was great because I wasn’t sure when I would see her again, except for at the races over the next two weekends.
Monday arrived, first things first, James and I went to Klatch Coffee to get my growler refilled with Nitro Cold Brew of “Worlds Best Espresso” blend. Then to Ontario to meet the team, lunch at In and Out, then hit the road to San Luis Obispo for two days before completing our journey to Sea Otter.
At Sea Otter the entire Raleigh-Clement team will be together, which I am very excited for. Stay tuned for an update!