Fontana was second on my list of races to do this year, and having it be the weekend after Bonelli made it even better. The course at Fontana is really fun and exciting with some rocky climbs and technical descents. And, after last week's race at Bonelli, I felt sure that I could have a great performance at Fontana with some extra race tactics and self control.
On the start line I felt great. I had no nerves, worries, or even the uncontrollable desire to pee right before the race. My bike was dialed and all I had to do was to do my best. I even managed to break out into song while waiting for my class to start.
I got on the front row once again, and when the whistle was blown, I got off the gravelly start without much trouble. Coming around the first corner after the feed zone, I realized that I was leading, and had no desire to pull everyone through the long flat stretch that leads to the first climb. Knowing this, I slowed up and waited for the first attacks to take place so I could get on someone's wheel. Once the attack happened, I sped up and settled into third. When we reached the first hill, I made the mistake of taking the lead and used up unnecessary energy that I very much could have used on the long road climb. As soon as we reached it, the second attacks were made, and I quickly found myself struggling for breath and struggling to maintain my position. By the time we made it to the single track again my legs were burning, but I knew that I needed to keep up the pace in order not to get dropped.
Throughout my first lap, I spent my time falling back a little on long climbs, before catching back up and making passes on the downhills and open sections. About three-fourths of the way through my lap, I was battling it out with third and fourth, when my front tire slid out on a fast, smooth turn, slamming my chest against the ground and throwing my Garmin to who-knows-where. I quickly got up and got on my bike, but realized that two other racers had passed me and were speeding away. I made a monster attack and quickly closed the distance between us and got ready to make some passes on the open fire road ahead. From then until halfway through the second lap, I continued to battle it out with third and fourth, until they finally made their way around me and attacked away.The remainder of the race was spent chasing them down, but with no luck catching them. I was the 5th person in my class to finish the race.
I feel like I had much better fitness at Fontana than I did at Bonelli, and feel like I gave everything I had to get my result. I'm really happy with how I raced and I know that I've learned much in the past two weekends. I hope to use that knowledge to help improve myself at the next races I attend in the weeks to come.
Spending two weeks with my teammates was also a great experience. Everybody is super cool and we have a lot of fun together.
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2015 Fontana Whole Athlete junior race highlights from MTBMike on Vimeo.