Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fontana City National ProXCT (3/21/15)

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.

Our training grounds

Team Podium
Heading home
The team has had a lot of success so far, and I know we are all super stoked to see how the rest of the season turns out. I can't wait to see everyone again in a few weeks for Bonelli #2!

2015 Fontana Whole Athlete junior race highlights from MTBMike on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2015 Bonelli Park Pro XCT (3/14/15)

This year I started my race season off at the Bonelli Park ProXCT race in southern California. This race was my first race in junior Cat 1 15-16, and I felt ready to race!

After my 3-day drive from Florida to California, my legs felt very fatigued, but after a good rest day and some stretching, I began to feel better.

On Friday, my team and I left for the race venue to get some practice laps in and to check the place out. The course was full of punchy climbs, with quick little descents, and very few places to recover. After doing 3 laps of the course, I felt that I had every line dialed in, and was ready to start my race.

Come race day, I was super eager to test out my fitness, especially after all the months of base training I've done. After completing a good 30 minute warm up and making sure my bike was dialed, I lined up on the front row ready to race.

Once the announcer said, "Go!" I was off. Unfortunately, after only about 8 pedal strokes, both my feet came unclipped from my pedals, throwing me onto the top tube of my bike. After a quick recovery though, I was soon back on my bike and leading again.  However, by the time I reached the first steep climb, I could feel something wasn't right with me. I quickly fell back to 8th position, from not being able to be aggressive enough on the climb. Then halfway through the first lap I began to have lower back pain, and it took everything I had to just stay on the bike. By the time I made it to the feed zone at the end of the first lap, the pain had finally subsided and I was able to push forward to chase the riders in front of me.

During the second lap, I caught up to 2 guys in my class and quickly passed them, making my way back up to 6th position. Not too long after that, one rider I was chasing crashed and I made a quick pass. After that, I did everything I could to catch up to anyone I saw in front of me. On the second lap my back started hurting again, forcing me to slow down for a few minutes until the pain finally passed for the last time.

My last lap felt like my most consistent and strongest lap. I didn't have any pains and my legs felt great. Unfortunately, my effort wasn't enough to move me up any more positions, so I ended up finishing 5th.

Overall though, the Bonelli Park race was a successful one for my team. In addition to my podium finish, Carson earned a second place finish against the current Junior World Champion, and Haley and Kelsey finished first and second in the Junior Women's class. 

In other news, Jerry Dufour, who traveled out to California with us from Alabama, also finished 4th in the Junior Men's 17-18 class, earning himself a spot on the podium as well.

Check out some of the highlights from the race below.

2015 Bonelli Whole Athlete junior race highlights from MTBMike on Vimeo.