Friday, August 9, 2013

Mountain Bike Season 2013

Why hello there, strangers!

I haven’t been around the blog all that much this year. It’s been an awesome fun-filled year of adventures and I just haven’t had the time to write about it like I used to when I was in college.

Well I’m currently sitting on an airplane to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I’ve got a couple hours to put some thoughts down on paper. I figured it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the closure of my first mountain bike season ever, the upcoming USAT Age Group Nationals race on Saturday, and my plans for my first full Cyclocross season this year.

A few highlights of the 2013 MTB Season:
Joining up with the SDG Factory Team
Learning the ropes during the late winter Fontana series
Racing a full lineup of the US Cup West XC Series
Riding in Big Bear a few times
Winning the overall Cat1 19-29 US Cup West Series
Winning the CA State Champ Bear Jersey for the XC Championships
Making the trek to PA for MTB Nationals
Overcoming fear of rocky death in PA for a Stars and Bars Jersey

A couple days after I returned from MTB Nats, a previous colleague of mine was let go from Felt Bicycles due to the tough downswing in our industry. The funny part about the timing was that our Marketing Department has been talking about doing an “Inside Felt” campaign to try and get to know the people behind the bikes at our company a little better… and literally 2-3 hours after conducting an interview and taking pictures, he was told to pack up all his stuff and thanked for his hard work while he was at the company. Pretty sucky. But anyways, the piece was never resurrected, so I figured I’d put some of the interview here because there were a few memorable moments of my trip in Pennsylvania that I’d like to share.

1. What is the correct name of the event you won, its date and location?
USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships
July 18-21 - Bear Creek Resort, PA

2. What is the correct title you earned for winning the event?

2013 USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Champion for Women Cat 1 Senior 19-24

3. What USA Cycling categorie(s) are you? What category do you compete in at USA Triathlon events?

MTB Cat 1
Cyclocross Cat 2
Road Cat 4
USAT Age Group 20-24

4. You are a strong road rider who participates in the fastest California group road rides, races at the highest level in triathlon, off-road triathlon, mountain bike racing and road racing: How have been able to develop such versatility across all these racing disciplines?

I would have to contribute a lot of that versatility to the exposure that I’ve had to all sorts of bike disciplines while working at Felt Bicycles. Prior to working at Felt I was solely focused on competing in triathlons and I would occasionally ride an old mountain bike during summer trips to Mammoth. My exposure to all sorts of two-wheeled fun slowly grew and I’d have to thank all of my coworkers and friends who helped inspire me to try out some new forms of bike racing that I wasn’t previously accustomed to. Going even further back though, I’d have to contribute most of my success in such a wide range of bike racing to my start as a swimmer. Luckily I had years of aerobic training under my belt being a competitive swimmer from the age of 6 through college. This ultimately led me to do my first triathlon and subsequently make me fall madly in love with riding my bike!

5. How did you develop as a racing cyclist? 

To add more to the previous answer… It all started with swimming and then racing triathlons. I raced triathlons during my off-season from swimming in college and slowly started to focus on furthering my racing success in that discipline. I also raced on my school’s cycling team in college and developed a love for going fast on road bikes. Once I realized that riding bikes was one of my favorite things to do in life, I started looking for jobs in the industry and getting a job at Felt is what ultimately opened up many more opportunities for me to get involved in all sorts of racing from cyclocross to mountain biking. Specifically for dirt racing though, the local SDG/Felt team and my CTS coach have been a big part of my successes in 2013. It’s been quite a journey, but it all comes down to loving two-wheeled, self-driven machines and a desire to be the best at anything I put my mind to.

6. What was the most difficult part of the event you won? (one moment in the event that may stand out in your mind.)

The most difficult part of the event was a technical section in the back half of the course called the “Rocky Drops.” This section was an obviously technical section that collected quite a crowd of people who made the trek through the woods just to watch the riders attempt to make a clean ride through. On lap one I choked and had to run most the section, so I promised myself I’d take a risk on lap two and attempt to ride the whole section. I came up to the rocky drop, heard the cowbells, listened to the cheers, saw the beers and crowd of people, took a deep breath, let the adrenaline go, and totally nailed the section. Couldn’t have been more stoked that I rode that!

7. Going into the event, did you have any specific worries about the course, the competition, the conditions?

I was a complete worry-wart going into the event. It all started at the airport when my bike box arrived at baggage claim, but someone had taken my suitcase on accident without me noticing. Luckily my suitcase was returned to the airport the next morning, but I ended up not being able to build my bike up until the afternoon before race morning. Because of that, I was forced to pre-ride the course during a thunderstorm which made for a terrifying and slippery experience. I psyched myself out worrying that the technical sections were going to be way too difficult for me. Fortunately I raced in the middle of the day on Saturday and the sun had been out long enough to dry the rocks a little bit and I was able to focus more on doing my best effort instead of stressing over the course conditions. East coast mountain biking in rocky PA is a challenge all on its own!

8. What specific equipment did you use: Bike, pedals, shoes, wheels, tire choice, gearing, components? 

Felt Bicycles Nine FRD – Size S
Crankbrothers Eggbeater Pedals
Pearl iZUMi Women's Elite MTB II Cycling Shoes
Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Race Gold 29er Wheelset
Maxxis 29X2.20 IKON Tires
SRAM 11-speed XX1 Drivetrain
SDG Components: Circuit MTB Saddle
Raceface Components: Turbine Stem, Next Flat Bar, Next SL Seatpost
Kali Protectives: Maraka Helmet
Weight: ~19.2 lbs

9. At what point in the race (if any) did you realize you were going to win? What went through your head?

I actually came across the line one second behind the first place girl after lap one and was slightly concerned that my less than stellar descending skills were going to cost me the win. I don’t think I realized I was going to win until the last half mile coming out of the trees where I could see that I was safely ahead of my competitor. Luckily I was able to push the final climb and take some risks on the second lap that allowed me to pull a four minute lead to win!
“Ouch! Cramp!!!” is what went through my head as I crossed the line and proceeded to drink water and stretch out a few cramps. Humidity is a killer.

10. How did you celebrate the victory?

We went to a well-known east coast supermarket called Wegmans where I got an enormous piece of carrot cake and a large bottle of Brooklyn Brewery beer to take back to the course in time to watch the Pro XC race and cheer on the Kenda-Felt guys. There may have been a cupcake, ice cream, and a donut thrown in at some point too.

 11. What's next for you? 

2013 USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships on August 10th in Milwaukee, WI. After that I’ll start a big focus on my first full Cyclocross season!

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