Fewer than 2 months after the cyclocross season came to a close, the mountain bike season has kicked off. Last Saturday was the first race of the ProXCT and US Cup series, the Mellow Johnny’s Classic down in Austin, TX. Although I believe March 1st is too early to start racing bikes for the year, I do appreciate how this race always jump-starts my excitement for the upcoming season. It’s a reminder that the intervals I’ve been logging, the dreadful trainer sessions before the sun has come up, and the long weekend rides in sub-freezing temperatures have all been worth it.
The field was stacked with the top mountain bikers in North America. Over 70 riders lined up at the start and I had the unfortunate random call-up position of 56th. The race was 5 laps on a roughly 4 mile course, each taking just under 20 minutes to complete. As expected there were multiple bottlenecks/crashes in the first few minutes of racing and when the dust settled I would guess I was somewhere near 60th place. I did my best to stay relaxed and began the process of moving back up through the field. It was 85F during the race which made large accelerations (e.g. passing) almost impossible to recover from. Every pass had to be carefully calculated so as not to burn too many matches. Fitness played a huge part in my ability to move up and I have to give a shout-out to my coach for giving me the best fitness I could ask for in March. After 5 laps and what seemed like an endless amount of passing, I crossed the line in a respectable 26th place. The race gave me some extra motivation to aim for a UCI point, and therefore a better call up/start position, at the next race.
The highlight of the weekend for me was bringing the team together. Being the only Colorado athlete on the team I rarely get to see my teammates. One of the top reasons that I love mountain biking is that it allows me to have good fun with great friends. It was so fun seeing everyone this weekend and I’m really looking forward to the next few races and the rest of the 2014 season!