SUBMITTED BY : LARISSA CONNORS
Geeze, I don't even know where to start. SO MUCH happened this weekend, and so many little moments stand out in my head that made it memorable/enjoyable/exciting! I guess a play-by-play bullet point style is the least wordy way to get it all out there! This is just what happened in XC this weekend at Fontana. I'll recap STXC and one other post about a very important shift that may have caused this race to go well for me later in the week :) For now, the 'deets on the best race of my life.
- I ate pretty much the exact same breakfast I always eat before races where we sleep in our own bed. One egg when I first wake up, and a bowl of oatmeal with a banana and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter 2-2.5 hours before my race start time.
- On the drive out I was CRAZY nervous! This led to a lot of nervous tweeting, I am a nervous tweeter.
- Also on the drive out we heard a song on the radio that I though was pretty catchy, and in which the singer says he wants to eat 'cake by the ocean'. This pretty much made my day, as eating cake by the ocean is pretty high on the list of fantasies (also scones, muffins... does it have gluten? I want to eat it, by the ocean!).
- Everything seemed exceptionally normal before the race. Same routine, same warm up, same 'I need new tires on my bike now and BTW I need to warm up in 18 minutes, so hurry!' haha, a little shit show on my part, a lot of professionalism from Derek the mechanic and team director Adam.
- Race start was clean and smooth. No crashes, made it to third position going into the pavement and by the top of the paved climb I was in second on Catherine Pendrel's wheel.
- Laps 1 & 2 were similar in that I would climb with Pendrel, and then get dropped like a sack of potatoes on the descent. At the bottom I would work my booty off to catch her on the long striaght section to the start/finish and we would do it all over again.
- I missed my feed on lap 2 because a dude blocked Brendan right as I was coming through, so I had NO fluid onboard for the entire lap. I was freaked but downed some gels to prevent cramping and hoped for the best.
- On lap 3 I led the climb and held Pendrel up on the descent... I think. Anyway, I don't remember getting dropped as hard, I think I remember leading from the top of the pavement through the technical, rocky singletrack second half of the climb, figuring that Pendrel was judging my sketchy lack of skill the whole time. I was feeling pretty good still, fearing what Pendrel was going to dish out on the climb in the final laps, but not too stressed yet. I figured she would drop me on the final descent anyway so I wasn't worried about winning.
- Oh, all this time Georgia Gould was rejoining us by the end of the descent. I didn't like being in a threesome with two Luna Chix... those ladies can shred.
- On lap 4 I led the paved part of the climb, and dug a little to put time on Gould. I thought Pendrel was with me for the entire climb, but it became evident on the descent that I was alone. Not what I expected to happen. Quite a few times the idea of winning passed through my mind and I pushed it out because the race isn't over till it's over.
- Also on the descent on lap 4 I was singing the cake song to myself... until I realized THAT GUY DOESN'T WANT CAKE! It's a euphemism! Then I felt kinda dumb and sad that the song wasn't really about cake...
- I knew going into lap 5 that if I worked the climb, and didn't crash on the descent, that winning was a possibility. This was the weirdest feeling, but I did what I needed to do, rode a clean lap (not too fast, not too slow) looking over my shoulder a few times to make sure I wasn't being too conservative, and at the bottom of the descent on the backside I knew it was my race.
There is NO feeling like crossing the finish line of a race with a former world champ, multiple Olympians... in 1st. No feeling. I worked hard for this, but it's not something I ever expected. The whole race was an absolute dream, and it already kinda feels like it didn't happen at all.
There are so many people who work crazy hard nonstop to make opportunities like this possible for me. Winning my first UCI race feels like the hard work of so many people paying off in a big way. I am incredibly lucky to be on such a supportive team, surrounded by knowledgeable people who tirelessly work behind the scenes to get bikes, parts, make training plans, orchestrate logistics, manage sponsors... I can't begin to express my gratitude.