Mountain Bike Nationals

The Nationals trip didn’t start out with good vibes. 

I took a shuttle from the Springs to DIA for my flight from DIA to LAX. That part went on without a hitch. Then after waiting for 2.5 hrs for the flight from LAX to Mammoth the flight was cancelled. It was the strangest thing because Russell, Emily’s Mom and Aunt, and I were the only ones to sprint to customer service to get a new itinerary figured out. Usually, it’s a mad dash to customer service so you avoid waiting in a huge line and also to get the best seats/ any open seats on another flight. I think because the flight was only a 65$ flight, everyone knew they were going to get there money back for the cancellation and they just figured they wouldn’t get to Mammoth this weekend for a little vacation. 

With only one flight in and out of Mammoth a day, a later flight wasn’t an option. So we rented a car, at 4pm, and set out from LA to Mammoth, a 6 hr total drive, in rush hour traffic. 

We made it that night no problems but what a pain. The worst part was that when we got to the scenic part of the drive it was pitch black so we couldn’t see any cool mtn ranges. I was excited to catch a glimpse of Mt Whitney but was unable to by the time we got close enough. 

Thursday morning came and I woke up and headed straight up to the venue to catch the end of Emily’s U23 women’s race. I didn’t see her the night before to give her a pep talk but I did reassure her she would be fine and told her I predicted her 3rd. I got to the venue as the girls were on their last lap and found out that Em was in third and that is where she stayed. She was very happy about the result and I was happy for her, to finish off her U23 career with a podium. 

Thursday morning Russell and I went for a spin then made plans to spin on course again that evening at 6pm, when the XC opened up for official practice. This was kind of unideal but there is no use crying over spilled milk.

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I was impressed with the course when I first got on it. I had expectations of a course similar to other ski slope races, steep uphill followed but not so fun DH. The uphill was pretty gradual and weaved back and forth across the mountain. So the climb was fast and the descent was so rad! It was getting blown out from early races but holding up and unbelievable fun to pin. There was even a wall ride feature!

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Mark Landsaat joined Russell and I for our course ride. He is one of the engineers at Raleigh and it was cool to have him hanging out with James and I for the weekend as well and seeing him race his own category race. 

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Friday was a day of waiting around. 4:15pm STXC. So Russell and I went out for a morning spin then I spent the day twiddling my thumbs until around 3 when I went to the venue to start my warm up. 

I was feeling good and looking forward to pushing the pace in the STXC. The gun went and I found myself in the front group for the first two laps but then those efforts caught up with me and there wasn’t much time to recover in a 30min stxc, especially at over 8,000 ft.

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I was pretty disappointed to not be there in the end but I was also happy to get that out of the way before the XC. I was glad to learn that up at 8Kft I did not posses the ability to go over my limit. I learned that going into the red would put me in the box and it would take a while to recover. So with that tid bit of knowledge gained I decided to go into the XC much more conservatively and find my legs/lungs over the course of the race. 

With the XC at 4:30pm it was another day of waiting around. Same routine. Russell and I went for a coffee shop spin then spent the day preparing for the rumble in the jungle. 

I was excited to race but also nervous because I didn’t want to get caught up into going to hard to early and blowing my whole race. So I made a huge conscious effort to chill out the first lap.

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(notice Russell could care less we are under a min before start time… HA!)

This meant that off the line I found myself in a good starting spot but then purposely let guys come by me, while I maintained a steady pace. It was hard to see a bunch of guys ahead of me but I had to hope they would fade and I turned out to be right for the most part. The main lead group stayed ahead of me and I rode 8th pretty much the whole race. I was hurting bad on the climb every lap. Actually, I was surprised at how much my legs were hurting. I didn’t think I would be able to go that deep at that altitude. Luckily, I had the screaming DH to motivate me to get to the top faster. I was having so much fun on the descent and smashing out the wall ride. It’s always a good feeling when, after the race, people tell you that you were pinned on a descent and riding really well.

So I finished up 8th and was happy with that. It was all I could hope for to ride my own race, stay in the top ten, and not blow up. Huge congrats to Howie and Keegan for the 1//2 in their first elite Nats. Also, Alex Grant in 3rd with a new born baby this year. 

That marked the end of my mtb season and now #crossiscoming! I can’t say enough thanks to Raleigh-Clement for the support this mountain bike season. Always understanding and supportive through the high’s and lows. Big thanks to James Sullivan for keeping my bikes in proper working order this weekend (the one man show, who’s all pro)/all season. Never had a mechanical! 

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After the race I did a quick cool down then Emily and I initiated our Mammoth adventure mission.

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We took the lift up to the DH start at 8;10 to catch the sunset. Then rode some trail back down at dusk.

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We spent the night sipping G&T’s with James only to take a break to go into town and get ice cream, where I was tackled by Diamo who also wanted ice cream. Evelyn even came in and tag teamed with the inflatable sting ray!

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Today Emily and I woke up at 6:30, grudgingly, to ride to #DevilsPostPile as our last who-ra before heading back to the springs.

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I love the wilderness…

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Here is a Pano of the Lake

It was a descent ride there and the post pile was worth the 7mile climb back out! A Pano at the top of the climb out of the Minerets

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Mammoth MTN, back when it was an active volcano, spewed basaltic lava into the #RedsMeadow Valley less than 100,000 years ago. Then the cooling lava flow cracked into multi-columned Rock, forming the geological wonder above.


Now I am in Kermy Shield’s new Sprinter RV with Emily, her mom, dad, and aunt. We are doing 70mph on Route 6 through Nevada. We just stopped at McDonald’s for a Big Mac and life is good. Back in the Springs Emily and I will have a little fun in the MTNS before she heads back to the east coast on Saturday. Then I will start gearing up for cross. I think I heard someone say Cross is COMING!


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