So I just finished up at Port Angeles. Obviously I went there to win, I won there last year and wanted to defend my win. With that said, I knew it would be tough racing against some of the best girls in the world….Rachel Atherton, Tracy Moseley, Jill Kintner, Buhly, Strand, Jo, Anka, Jackie…to name a few! Tracy Moseley put down a killer time as did Rachel Atherton and Jill Kintner…they all stepped it up big time. So many guys got chicked! :) Love it. It is so rad to race such fast girls, it just pushes you to another level which is exactly what I want.
I felt like I was riding consistently which was really good for me. It’s a big season this year and I really want to work some of the bugs out early on, consistency is one of them. A result here and a result there is not what is going to take me to the next level. I think that probably 80% of my runs on the course were timed runs, consistent timed runs, so I was well aware of what I was capable of on the course. I felt like I was riding good all weekend but not great, I just didn’t have the confidence to take it to another level. I always crash in practice…I didn’t crash once in practice this weekend. Sounds weird but that’s when I know I am confident and testing my limits and that’s what I like. I love going into a section fast and on edge but 100% confident that you are going to make it though…and that confidence is what makes you.
When it came down to the final, I tried to hang it out when I hadn’t really been hanging it out all weekend…definitely a mistake there but better to learn here than a World Cup, right? When you get loose, you cannot hesitate….at all…you have to be confident, no ifs, ands or buts. I messed up a pivotal section up top (because I hesitated) slipping on some roots and just barely avoiding disaster but I lost my balance trying to recover and came unclipped and pretty much came to a stop in a section where exit speed is essential. That was definitely a blow for me as it was near the top and my focus drifted. When I got to the step down, I crashed into a tree…never had a problem there before either. Somehow I managed to stay attached to my bike…my feet were still clipped in but I was hanging on to the tree. The impact knocked my brake out of reach and I couldn’t get it back so I rode the rest of the course with my rear brake…definitely sketch but kinda fun in a weird way, I just felt like I was playing with fire about to get burned the whole time. ha.
I knew that I could make it on to the podium with a cruiser but just getting on the podium wasn’t good enough for me at this race. I am going to be racing against the best girls in the world all season and it is going to take a hell of a lot more than a cruiser to be up there with them so there was no better time than now to figure it out. I missed the podium by less than a second and it would have been kind of sweet to make it given my ridiculous run but whatever, not too bothered by it. Bring on the World Cups!!!
I am in Washington right now to defend my 2009 win at the first Pro GRT of the season. Looks like the race is going to be pretty stacked which I am super stoked about…there is a world class men’s and women’s field. The volcano wreaked havoc on travel plans so tons of World Cup people are stuck in the US which is a good thing as far as i’m concerned cause we get to race. Bring it on!
My first day of practice went great. The track is so funnnn- I can’t wait to rip it up tomorrow.
Things have been so busy but I love it. On Tuesday I had a great photo/vid shoot for Race Face alongside Sabrina Jonnier. I think we got some great stuff which I can’t wait to see…I will post up some material sometime in the near future. Right after I finish this race I am driving to Seattle where I will fly out to head down to Utah to shoot with Specialized for a week…! Sterling Lorence is shooting = AMAZING.
I am a little behind on press stuff but here are a couple of things for now…
Another year of Sea Otter is down in the books. It was a long but fun weekend. I always love Sea Otter because it is the first time that I get to see most people since the end of last season and there are thousands of spectators and athletes from every cycling discipline- It’s kind of like the first day of school and I LOVE it..
I battled a cold all week which made for a rough week but I pushed through it and didn’t let it get the best of me. I can’t even remember the last time I was sick…I guess everyone has to get sick once in awhile so I am done for awhile now :). I felt ok when I was off my bike just hanging out since I had some meds in me but when my body temperature went up while riding I just felt plain shitty and my nose was running like crazy. I think that if the track had been steep and gnarly, the adrenaline would have helped me forget about how shitty I felt but Sea Otter is the exact opposite- flat and boring so the adrenaline was not on my side. haha. Oh well. Cold or no cold I have never done well at Sea Otter so to be honest not sure if it made a difference in my results.
Saturday was slalom. I had fun on the course but just never got my flow on the course…you have got to get flow in slalom or its game over. I got eliminated in the first round. There were a lot of fast girls racing but Jill Kintner was looking dominate all day so it was no suprise to see her take home the W. Mic Hannah took it for the boys.
Sunday was downhill. I had been practicing on my dh bike but on race day I switched to my slalom bike…and loved it so much more- I was immediately stoked on my decision. I could actually feel the course on my slalom bike and thats what I like…when it’s rough I stay focused. Even though I was loving the little bike, I still couldn’t pull out a result. There are like 8 corners on the whole course, a few jumps and little chute and the rest is all flat and uphill. Its basically a sprint for 2+ minutes. My lungs felt fine but 30 seconds in my legs already felt like jell-o, I simply didn’t have the energy. Some of the girls are ridiculous at pedalling…while I am heaps better at it than last season, it is by no means a strength…it is one thing that is a constant battle for me. I never like to be off the back but at the same time I am not too bothered….its just best for me if I just take what I can from the race and put my focus forward and not let it mess with my confidence.
Its Monday now and I still have a cold but I am on the tail end of it now and feeling heaps better. I had an amazing day on my bike(s) today. Started off the morning shuttling Jugs with Keene, Brenden and an engineer from Specialized. Then we ran home ditched the DH bikes, changed clothes, had a quick protein shake and met with Morland and Adrian and went to meet like 10 other guys from Specialzied for some XC. I was hurting but loving every minute of it, I was just pooped. After riding for a couple of hours we went for burritios and showers and then I ended up shuttling Keene and Danza till dark because Danza missed out on all the action and I was way too tired to ride. And then we got Thai take out…red curry and mangos and sticky rice! Uhhh delicious.
Just got back from Guatemala last night…what an amazing trip!
The trip was wild in so many ways…I felt like adapting to all of the changes was half the battle. The transport. The smog. The heat. The food. The terrain. The shuttles. The noise. The long days. The chaos. The lack of organization. The whole scene in general. I learned so much this past week. It was really good to do race like this…to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I think that is really what racing at a high level is all about. You have just got to take what comes and go with it and be smart and stay focused. This race really helped me to work some of the kinks out which I will undoubtably encounter over the this coming season on the World Cup circuit.
I got in a day earlier than the rest of the team so I had a day to myself which was pretty rad. Very few people spoke english so that was a challenge (my spanish came a long way this week!) but everyone was so nice to me and I made so many new friends immediately…they all took me in as one of their own!
The USA Team was awesome. We had a pretty good crew…lots of personalities which made for a lot of fun. It is good having a group like that…where no one is very close to begin with but by the end of the week everyone comes together. It was so awesome to have Lars Tribus with us as the sole Master representing the US…he has been racing mountain bikes since the mid-90′s so the stories he has are absolutely legendary. The golden days of biking seemed so epic! I just loved the stories. We also had Scott Sharples with us…he is the new gravity coach for USA Cycling…he was such a rad person to have around…he just gets shit done, sugar coats nothing and has so much experience with racing it is impossible not to learn from him!
The track was honestly one of the most difficult tracks I have ever raced on, it was super fun to ride but just plain tricky. The top had a little step down and then about a minute of pedaling uphill and on a slight downhill with jumps. It was so hard having that big of a pedal and then going into tech stuff, you had to recover really quickly. From there you dropped off into a bigger step down and into steep loose corners which I looooved. Then it was onto the rocks. Usually rocks are a strength of mine but I really struggled with these rocks, the track was super narrow, it was like threading a needle and it wasn’t very steep so it was really hard to keep flow and momentum. The rocks were also really square so if you messed up you were pretty much gonna flip over the bars. At the end of the track there was a pretty big jump too but after the jumps at national champs last year it was pretty much a no brainer. Hucking it like its hot is always fun. :)
I had a really bad qualifying run…I qualified 2nd but I was pretty confident that I could take the win going into the final because my run in general was forgettable and I saved all my energy. While the track was so fun to pin, I had to find a new approach to my final after hearing everyones qualifying horror stories. I knew that for the most part…it would be exactly the same situation in the final and people were going to try too hard on a track that you just have to relax on. I didn’t take any risks or get loose, just tried to take it easy and ride smooth. I knew that there was a really good chance that I couldn’t ride the whole track fast AND consistently…given my record in practice…I mean it could happen but I was not willing to risk it and I didn’t feel like I had to risk it (not because there was a lack of talent!)…I was pretty sure everyone else was going to try too hard and cross that fine line which was exceptionally easy to cross on this track. The track was just so tricky and it was soooo easy to mess up and make very costly mistakes. My approach to the race worked and I ended up on top…and that is how I became Pan American Champion! I have never thought out a race like that before…I mean usually I just go but I really strategized at this race and it paid off. Pretty cool. This is the biggest race I have ever won and it feels pretty rad!
The boys did pretty well too…Lars crashed but still ended up 2nd in Masters and Joey ended up 3rd for Elite. I didn’t get a chance to see a single boy come down which was a bit of a bummer…there was such a big crowd and I was just pumped to cheer everyone on. After I was done, I was escorted to anti-doping and didn’t get out till the boys finished (during this time my Leatt and Smith goggles got stolen too…..lame!!!!) Oh, well. I was seriously so pumped for Joey though…he made a huge jump up to the Yeti World Cup Team this year and he has obviously been training hard so its pretty rad to see all the hard work pay off. He is definitly a ripper and will be one to watch this year! He has so much natural talent on the bike!
All in all the trip was just awesome. So many good times. There was a fruit stand on the mountain and we ate massive mangos on sticks everyday…I think I had like 4 one day but Joey won everyday with an average of 7!! We got police escorts everywhere we went…except for the first day…it was actually a scary experience, I was alone on a flatbed with my friend from El Salvador and he was actually freaking out. I asked a cop if I could hold his Uzzi…and he actually let me. WTF. There was a protest in 4X and all a bunch of people made a people wall on the track in protest…that was a first. I have too many sketchy shuttle stories to even list…100% of my sketchy shuttle stories come from this trip. The whole trip was an adventure and I just loved it!!
The Learn To Ride day was a huge success.We had an awesome group of women of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds come out to shred. Amy and Rachael from Specialized Women helped all the ladies get set up on Era’s, Safire’s and Myka’s…everyone loved them! We have had quite a bit of moisture down here lately but luckily the rain held off for the afternoon and the conditions were perfect. I had so much fun!!!
The next ride day is looking like it will be in May…I will keep you all posted!
There was a break in the rain so it made for great riding conditions.