On the short plane ride home from Sea Otter and I have some free time to reflect on a week away revolving around bikes. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a Panda’s POV, so here’s a recap on how things have been rolling in the past few weeks.
I just finished three weekends in a row of racing XC and it’s been a blast. SDG, Niner, Easton, and Kogel have been so supportive of me from an equipment standpoint and without them I wouldn’t have had a couple of badass bikes to chose from for these races.
When I crashed in 2014, I came off a couple of the best training blocks I’ve ever done. I was feeling great and I knew that would’ve been a great race for me. Getting over that hiccup has been a long process that even included a root canal at the beginning of last cyclocross season when my tooth finally died. I avoided Sea Otter in 2015, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work for a couple of my sponsors here in 2016.
I raced the Kenda Cup West UCI XC race at Fontana on April 2nd and then the US Cup UCI HC race at Bonelli Park on April 9th. Those races were so different in regards to course layout and weather conditions, but equally challenging nonetheless. Needless to say, without training any of those high intensity systems since the end of December, the efforts that those courses demanded were HARD. It felt good to race again. I was descending the best I ever have at Fontana on the RKT 9 RDO and the AIR 9 RDO aided my destroyed legs around the punchy Bonelli course.
Finally a mini rest week was in the cards for Sea Otter. The Short Track XC race on Friday morning was a fun jolt to the system as we raced the cyclocross course on our hard tails. I was held up behind a couple bobbles, but worked my way to a 12th place finish and good motivation for the following day. The XCO course was shortened down to a circuit around the hillside overlooking the Laguna Seca raceway instead of a nice long route into Fort Ord and the amazing single track beyond the gates like in years past. No complaints from me as this eliminated the gravel descent where I bounced OTB and suited my cyclocross strengths going up and down a grassy hillside. I had a decent start up the road climb but would’ve liked to have been a couple wheels closer to the front at the end of lap one. I got stuck behind a steep climb dismount on lap two and while chasing Lea Davison’s wheel down the descent to work our way back up, my chain bounced off. This put me at the back of chase group and I was only able to move up a couple spots after that, finishing 17th. With an international field that strong and the Luna Team driving the pace at the front, I’m thrilled with that finish at this time of the year and some UCI points to help out at Nationals in July.
Watch my first ever Dirtwire TV interview here:
Three women drove home the meaning of perseverance for me during that race. Major kudos to Larissa Connors for never backing off chasing the Luna team and finishing fourth! I was also amazed with Notubes rider Rose Grant working her way up to 5th place after she was stuck back with me after the first lap. And finally Erin Huck’s mechanical didn’t keep her from backing off as she chased down as many riders as she could after running a good portion during the middle of the race. These women are relentless and it’s inspiring!
Special thank-you to Muscle Monster for believing in me and our team’s goals. They are a growing brand within the Monster Energy Corporation and I would be so grateful if you tried out their product as a form of recovery. I’ve mixed it into my recovery routines as of late and it’s a product I’m happy to endorse. I enjoyed handing out cans at Sea Otter and seeing people so excited about a product from Monster with 25g of protein you don’t even have to shake! Let me know how you like it.
During cyclocross season I stretch myself thin with all the headaches of travel across the United States, but I’m so fortunate that the Kenda Cup West Series and a majority of the US Cup races take place within driving distance of home. I’m lucky to have Scott Tedro and his team pushing MTB racing back into the spotlight with a home base in SoCal because I have the opportunity to race the fastest women in the world without worrying about travel or taking too much time off of work. Made me realize that being on the east coast or living in Belgium really does eliminate a lot of the uncontrollable travel stresses that can crop up. I love complementing my cyclocross training with these XC races and putting time on the mountain bikes will pay off down the road.
I have been juggling this racing with long miles in preparation for upcoming gravel events as well as building up a solid foundation for cyclocross season come fall. David and I recently put together a piece for Dirty Kanza and Carmichael Training Systems with some tips on how best to prepare for DK in these final weeks. Check it out here.
I spent time at the CTS office in Santa Ynez during their Epic Endurance Camp putting in some miles and it was great to spend time with CTS athletes who are preparing for big endeavors like the Tour of California camp, DK200, and Leadville. If you’re in to these types of bucket-list events, CTS specializes in preparing you for success. http://trainright.com/bucket-list/
I will be heading south to San Diego for the famous Belgian Waffle Ride this Sunday and then I’ll throw in a couple more events leading up to my return to Emporia, KS. I can’t wait to head back to Kansas and I’m looking forward to a long day in the Flint Hills.
Thanks for following along!