As I packed up my bike last week to ship it via Bike Flights to Grand Junction, Colorado in preparation for the Grand Junction Off-Road, I was excited to be returning to this venue for my second consecutive year. In addition to the excitement, I had also been plagued by a head cold that had me lying pretty low, and I was feeling a bit hesitant about the race hoping my body would hold up and come around in time.
Before leaving home and family for an extended race weekend, I always have a list of items to accomplish; consisting of grocery shopping and preparing food for my hard working man and daughter, ensuring he and Layla have nutritious options at their finger tips. Before this trip, Layla helped me make the most delicious Double chocolate Brownies and a simple Pizza Rice Casserole. The other important task is lining up child care for Layla. I was fortunate to have my mom and a trusty babysitter available while Nelson was working.
By the time I left town, I was encouraged to be feeling much better. Having the company of Courtenay McFadden on my flight into Grand Junction laid the president that we were basically inseparable all weekend. I was impacted this weekend by the group of ladies who raced. It has become a tight knit group of women who encourage each other, laugh together, share pain and struggle, as well as victory. I am grateful for each of these women and for the unique bond that has been created between us.
Team race preparation for Kenny, Tizzy, and I, meant pre-riding the more technical sections of the course, making sure bikes were dialed and talking some race strategy (Thanks to Kenny), and rest. As I warmed up for the fat tire crit on Friday evening, my body felt good for the first time since being sick. This flat, power course meant staying patient and not doing all the work. The lap preceding the last lap was a preem lap, of which Katie Compton put in a tough effort to win. I lead out the last lap, trying to keep the separation without blowing up to early. I knew Katie was on my wheel, she passed with a quarter lap left, and I jumped on her wheel. Rounding the last corner she went wide, I stayed on the inside which gave me a wide open lane to sprint for the line, but Katie made the win by a fraction of an inch. Fun race which left me encouraged and ready for the long backcountry race on Sunday.
Sunday’s race started with a more casual roll out of town, which quickly heated up as we neared the single track. The air was dry and cool with a nice breeze. Our group of nearly 30 women funneled into the rocky dessert trail. I lead, and as the race continued a gap formed, which left me racing at the lead but alone for nearly the duration of the race. The toughest part, mentally and physically, was the long Windmill Road climb, a seven mile climb that was rough and steep in sections. As Kenny and I talked about, this race was more about keeping it smooth and steady; doing my best to avoid crashes or flat tires on the sharp rocks, and making that road climb count. The trails in Grand Junction are engaging and challenging. The rocky technical terrain is super fun, but also is such a full body mountain bike race. I came home with sore muscles that only get sore in Grand Junction.
Equipment selection for this race is vitally important, and my Pivot Mach 429, Stan’s Valor Carbon Wheels, and Maxxis Ikon EXO tires completed the perfect combination for a smooth race. I feel blessed to be riding equipment that compliments and improves my bike handling and makes us a fast team.
I’m so proud of Tizzie who raced her heart out and loved every second as much as I did. I’m also very proud of Kenny for taking the top step in the 30mile on Saturday.
It’s always good to be home to get a little breather. Next up…Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals in Columbia County, Georgia.
We missed Chloe last weekend in Grand Junction. She successfully accomplished her job in Albstadt, Germany where she rode to 22nd place in World Cup #2. Chloe is currently gearing up for WC #3 in La Bresse, France this weekend. Watch LIVE on Red Bull TV. Chloe is quickly earning her starting spot in Rio.