Spring Racing is ON!
I love the kickoff to race season. After a long winter of preparation, tough training and laying all the groundwork of things, it’s cool to getting to the real fun – time to fly!
The smell of fresh flowers and new rubber seems to excite the senses. Seeing old friends, making new ones – and of course riding new trails – makes it a blast, no matter the results.
My goal of jumping into the fray of shorter Pro XCT races is two-fold. One goal is to build speed for the big targets of the year – summer stage races like TSE, BC a few NUE races and maybe Marathon Worlds. Second is to make sure we have the Pro XCT #1 plate for the opening rounds. With my teammate Max out while his knee heals, I really wanted to put a good effort in so that we have a strong start to the season. I’m excited for when Pua and Max are back with us in a few weeks.
Highlights of the last couple weeks included getting in some great results, staying in cool places and bonding with the team.
Winning at Bonelli Park! I had legs of steel and attacked the race hard, earning my first PRO XCT win of the year and the points lead! It was amazing to deliver the win and the #1 plate to Scott Tedro (our team owner and longtime friend). The team support crew including Jordi, Paul, Johnie and Ty all did a great job and allowed me to focus on going fast!
The feeling of showing up to the next race at Fontana with the #1 plate was a great one! I had little to prove, but did have to throw it down. I knew I’d bring some heat on this race and ride my heart out, but I was just not sure if my legs were recovered from Tuscarora Offroad Weekend’s mud-fest where the running was a shock but sliding down mud shoots and squirmy turns was a hoot. In pre-riding Fontana I was on-point and feeling the Flash had never been so dialed! The day before the race, I did a hot-lap that could cook a goose. My teammate Alex Grant was hot on my heels though and I knew he would ride well (in fact he was 6th on race day!).
In the race, Todd Wells was a tenacious competitor, but I was feeling amazing and attacked on lap 3 to forge ahead. I nailed the course’s technical rocky single-track lines with purpose. It was an intense course, but every second started adding up. I extended the gap to 45 seconds with just 10 minutes of mostly downhill flat riding left and POP! I gasped as my victory lap turned into the race to repair my chain. I had my quick link in my mouth and chain tool out…15 seconds, I reached from my chain tool and went to work pushing out the dead link… 30 seconds… Wells rolled by “bummer man,” he said surely feeling some sympathy. The chain pin dropped in the dirt……….. ‘Damn!’ picking it up and getting it back in place seemed to take forever.… My hands shook and sweat burned my eyes. I kept my calm, and pushed the pin out with my chain tool and got the quick link in place. With care, I jumped back up to speed just in time to be joined by Scott racer Cameron Jette who was riding strong. I punched it with everything I had just in case I could salvage the day. Indeed a Silver medal was a surprise and being 90-seconds back from Wells retained my #1 points lead by a 75 point margin!
Great riding by my other teammates on Cannondale in the race was a highlight, Ben Sontag of Interbank Cannondale scored in 4th in the XC moving to 3rd in the standings, and Keegan was 4th in the short track! Cannondale’s ‘cross specialist Ryan Trebon was 3rd in short track, I was second after a nail biter sprint. It showed that Cannondale means business in North America’s biggest races, and with Sea Otter Classic and Whiskey 50 up next we are ready for some great racing action.
Time to put on a show, SHO-AIR style!