Yes, I watched the Royal Wedding. Yes, I used to have pictures of Prince William on my wall as a teeny bopper. Yes, it is mesmerizing. Yes, I LOVE this shit. I love seeing all of the pretty things, outfits, tiny little details taken into consideration…the whole thing was just so beautiful! I think that William and Kate make such a nice couple. She is just so classy and beautiful…you did well Wills!
Post-Sea Otter is always a good time ’round Santa Cruz. Lots of people in and out which means lots of new people to ride with. This weekend the Dirt Series is in town so Miss Kintner and her big van are staying with us and the rest of the Dirt Series crew is staying nearby. I am not coaching for the Dirt Series but the girls had to pre-ride their trails for coaching which meant we went out to Demo for a bit of a rip. Good times.
KP has been talking about this sausage market forever, the Corralitos Market and Sausage Co. Sausage. Sausage. Sausage. So of course we had to eat sausages after our ride!! Some of those loved the sausages more than others…
I went out the other night and shot some photos with Mr. Pat Branch. It was kind of a trial run but it was pretty cool…2 flood lights, 4 flashes in the pitch black woods. A little creepy actually but it was pretty cool too, definetly trippy riding in the dark…
Sea Otter. I love Sea Otter. It is pretty much a family reunion…gotta cruise around and get my chat on and see everyone. Sea Otter was a blast this year, much different (for me) than years past but that’s how I like it, change is good.
Not exactly the best downhill track but thanks to Truvativ and Momentum Trail Concepts it got a bit of a facelift this year. Looking at the track it looked almost the same but it rode a lot better. The jumps were well built and there were rollers scattered about which helped you pump and pick up speed. I had a blast riding the track. Let’s just hope I get this crashing crap outta the system now, nice and early in the season cause it’s not cool. I crashed in slalom qualifying and downhill finals. I still qualified for Slalom but in the 7th seed position. In Slalom, they took 8 girls…so 1 races 8, 2 races 7, 3 races 6…etc. Usually this would be pretty bad but there is a World Cup in South Africa this week so most of the WC girls skipped Sea Otter to avoid having a travel hangover for the first World Cup. Regardless, I raced Jo, who qualified 2nd…our first run was super close, I think that I had her up top but she outsprinted me at the bottom and beat me out by .07. The second round was super close again, unfortuntnly I made a bit of a mistake and lost all of my speed in a corner which put me out of contention. Anyway, Jo went on to get 2nd so that’s sweet for her…best Slalom result ever for her. Yaaa Jo. I was freaking beat for downhill finals, but I think Sea Otter does that to everyone. Anyway, I ended up crashing on this loose off camber bit and that was that. Scraped my thigh up a bit but I don’t even think I got a bruise so we are good in my book. :)
The SRAM Ladies Lounge was one of my highlights of Sea Otter this year. SRAM and Rebecca Rusch teamed up to make it happen and it was rad to say the least. It was open for 2-4 Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Bascially lots of ladies rolled through, we answered lots of questions. There were pro ladies from all disciplines which was cool for me too because I made some new friends, I have always been on the gravity side so there are very few chances to get to know the cross-country and endurance girls. I think all of the girls at Sea Otter were totally pumped on the Lounge!! SRAM got catering so there was lots of food and beverages to be had. SRAM also donated lots of schwag so some ladies walked away with some pretty good prizing. I think that the panel discussions were pretty cool in my opinion…I use the term ‘panel’ loosly. Basically, a bunch of us stood up front and we answered loads of questions regarding riding, racing, bike set up, training, nutrition, confidence, goal setting…etc. I defiently learned a lot from the other girls too. Pretty cool format if you ask me!
I spent pretty much all of my free time over at the Camp of Champions airbag. SO FUN. Coaching Camp of Champions is one of my favorite things…It is seriously like the most fun ever, and I am a coach, not a camper. :) Well anyway, COC brought the air bag out to Sea Otter so that lots of kids could rip it up, and they did. It was great to have the COC crew back together- I learned so much from the other coaches last year as they are all ‘freeride’ boys not racers. I was so busy the first 2 days I couldnt get over there to jump, it was killing me. I learned to flip on the airbag last summer but I haven’t flipped since last July, right before I broke my arm (in a corner not on the bag or jumping…) so I was actually pretty nervous to do it again. I mean you are only jumping into an airbag, but still. I guess you dont forget though as I nailed it the first time and every other time pretty much perfect. Hucking makes me happy. Can’t wait for some more airbag time here in the near future.
Specialized. This was my first year in the Specialized pits and it was pretty cool. It is such an honor to partner with a company like Specialized and know they have my back. I had a lot of fun with the Specialized crew…the company is big so I am always meeting new people. Morgan Hill (the Specialized HQ) is only about 40 minutes from Sea Otter so the whole gang was around. Thanks guys!!!!
Lea Davison, a XC racer for Specialized does this program called Little Bellas that I got to be a part of. Basically she takes girls ages 8-12 and does mentoring through mountain biking via girls camps. SO COOL. On Friday I did lunch with the girls and played some games and on Saturday they came over to the Ladies Lounge for some Q&A. By the way, these were the most outgoing group of little girls I have ever met…they did not hold back, at all. Love it.
Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to whoever came up with the Speed and Style. This event is soooo cool. I am so doing it next year. Check out the vid…
Colombia. Not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous coming here…Colombia has gotten a bad wrap over the years for drug problems, kidnapping and violence. But I will tell you right now, Colombia is not the place that the rest of the world makes it out to be. It is beautiful, safe and the people are so friendly. I never once felt unsafe or unwelcome, quite the opposite actually. I am so happy I got a chance to make my own opinion about Colombia after hearing so much negativity over the years.
Anyway, I came here with some work to do. As the reigning Pan American champion I was not about to let my title slip away from me easily. With that said, I had to dig deep this weekend- I knew as soon as I saw the track that it was going to be tough for me. Not every track suits your strengths, part of racing is dealing with your weaknesses…we race what is handed to us, some tracks suit individual strengths, some don’t. A true competitor is able to overcome what is put in front of them on the given day…
The track was around 3.5 minutes…the top bit had some jumps, a few loose corners and some chutes that were so hard packed they were shiny…then the track totally flattened out, to the point of almost being uphill with a ton of small jumps along the way…that flat section was about 70-80 seconds…at 8500 ft….with a little gravity these jumps would be a piece of cake but because it was so freaking flat in order to make a jump you had to sprint your guts out and even then they were hard to clear- if you didn’t make the transition perfectly, which was hard given the circumstances, it sucked up even more energy in the bad landing as your suspension compressed and you lost momentum…I had so much trouble with these little jumps that it really messed with my confidence. This section is where the race was won or lost. I have hit wayyyyy bigger jumps with ease but the fact that I was having so much trouble with these tiny jumps really messed with my head…even though I knew the bigger jumps on the course would be way easier (which they were- much, much easier)…it is scary to go into big jumps when you are casing the shit out of tiny 10 ft jumps and gasping for air. Anyway from that flat section the course dropped down into some fun and flowy stuff, super straightforward, not technical by any means but fun nonetheless. Even though that part was fun…the general lack of flow on the course was a buzz kill, I can find flow in just about any track, not this one.
I really let my lack of confidence get to me on this track. I tried to power through it because I wanted to take the title for a second year in a row so bad, unfortunately that lack of confidence came back to bite me in the butt. You can’t fake confidence, at least I can’t. In downhill, the slightest bit of unconfident means hesitation and hesitation means devastation. I rode the course, I hit all of the jumps but I was not 100% confident in doing so.
My first timed run was ok…or not, it was the first time I was actually feeling confident on the course. After hitting the first few jumps and corners I managed to settle into a rhythm and relax. All was going good until I got to the flat bit…I had overshot some of the bigger jumps up top a bit so I decided to back off a bit…I pedaled for the first jump on the flat section, positive my speed was spot on…it wasn’t. I was so sure I was going to make it I did not see the crash coming at all. I pretty much 50/50ed the landing sending me straight onto my face.
I was freaking scared in the finals. I have never been scared like that before a race which explains why I didn’t make it down without a crash. I was dealing with confidence issues all week and just when I thought I had it under control I found myself on my face during my timed run. I definetly started my race off in a bad headspace, I just wasn’t me. Everything felt so forced and everything but natural. I tried to fake it…doesn’t work. About 40 seconds into the course there was a road gap into an immediate steepish corner, I think I overshot it a bit and hesitated/panicked and highsided right of the berm down this bank. It was definetly one of the more gnarly crashes I have had in awhile as my body bent in some funky positions as I tumbled down the hillside- I managed to come out alright…I was really happy I had my Leatt on as my neck got jacked up pretty good. I hit my mouth super hard on something, not too sure on what but one of the first things that went through my mind was MY TEEEETH…I tasted blood!!!! Lucky they just slammed and a tiny bit of tongue was the collateral. That was the first time I have ever had any kind of mouth incident- I think I might get a mouthguard…I would be totally devo’ed if I ever messed up my teeth. Hahahaha. Anyway, right now I kinda feel like I got run over by a car…my body is so sore and I can hardly lift my arms up. To be honest, I am just so happy I did not get seriously hurt, you just can’t race downhill like that, period. I knew it, I knew it before I started but I just couldn’t figure out how to snap out of it and I was not like I was about to back down. That is not good, so dangerous. I get it now though, it came and slapped me in the face so I am gonna take charge and change it.
Anyway, seeing another person put on the Pan Ams jersey and get the title definetly stung…not gonna lie about that one, I wanted that to be me, made me want to cry but I held it in. I am happy that it went to another American, my USA Teammate Jackie Harmony. It is a big win for her so I am really happy for her…she was riding the course well all week and I am pretty sure that had I not crashed I would not have been able to match her time, it wasn’t my week.
So that’s that. Pan Ams 2011. Not the result I went there for but I am coming out of it a better rider with some time to work on my weaknesses which I so blatantly overlooked. Lucky for me I have almost a month and a half back in Santa Cruz before the season really starts for me. I have some specific things that I want to work on during that time- I am pissed off and ready to freaking win some races and I know exactly what I need to do to make that happen. Better watch out cause I am coming for you girls… :)