First race of the season is always a bit of a question mark. Everyone has been doing their own thing all winter, coming at it full force from different angles. Snow, sun, ice or rain. Skis, bikes, trainers or runners. Maybe all of the above. Most mountain bike racers seem to take time off in the fall, cross train during the early winter and then log loads of base miles somewhere hot in the new year. I tried that last year (except for the hot part). Didn’t work for me. I like the strong (but unfortunately glowworm white) cyclocross legs that I get from racing CX World Champs in late January. Some people are trainers, others are racers I guess. At least I know where I sit. That always helps with the confidence when people start talking about the 6 hour rides they have been doing since January. I just have to tune it out and keep it to myself that 6 weeks ago I bonked an hour and a half into my first MTB ride. Shhhhh.
Fontana is a great venue as it is so completely different from any other MTB race on the circuit. A network of trails outside Los Angeles that is slowly being suffocated by suburbia. There is more glass and graffiti on the course than all of our Nanaimo underpasses combined. Two years ago at this race I got shot at. A couple of kids up on the water tower had paintball guns and were taking (green and red) pot shots at us as we suffered up the climbs. Bastards! But the course is fun and twisty and there is a great Burrito place across the street. What more could you want? Well, I didn’t know what else I could ask for until the local bikers put on a sweet smoke show for us Sat afternoon. You don’t see that in Park City. soooo LA.
After missing a couple of NMBS XC races last year I lost my front row call up. But it didn’t seem to hurt me as my (white) cross legs beetled me into 4th for the singletrack. But by the time we popped out onto the first climb Georgia Gould (Luna) and Katerina Nash (Luna) had broken away. Catharine Pendrel (Luna) – are you seeing a trend here??? Luna, Luna, Luna damn the blue and yellow! – so Catharine the Canadian climbing phenom rocketed past me in an attempt to go with her teammates. I tried to stay close. I am no porker but I think I have about 30lbs on her so I had to be realistic. I was running speedy Maxxis Oriflamme tread so I kept the damage to a minimum. It was the damn braking bumps on the decent that were killing me. Catharine would open up about 30seconds on me and I would reel it back on the flat section at the end of the lap. A couple of girls caught us mid race but we managed to keep them at bay. Catharine and I yo-yoed the rest of the race until I absolutely gutted myself to catch and pass her on the last popper climb before the finish to break up the Luna sweep. 3rd place! My best NMBS finish ever. Good news as I have enough 4th place finishes to my name.
I still had my front row call up for the short track. I worked hard to earn this spot last year and I did NOT want to lose it. I had a great start and got the holeshot. My legs felt like monster trucks! I opened a gap up the bermed out 4X course and looked back to see no blue. No Luna chix anywhere to be seen and they normally dominate the event. I had to roll with it. I opened up the gap for about a lap until Georgia Gould (Luna) caught me. She tried to drop me right then and there, but I stuck like dog poo. We rode together for a lap until I was suspicious things were getting a bit easy. Maybe I was feeling rockstar today orrrrrr maybe Georgia was waiting for teammate Katerina Nash (Luna). I took the rest but I should have attacked! Stupid, stupid, stupid. Katerina bridged up and attacked right away. I had to jump on her wheel. I was in the perfect spot-second wheel, but I got some brilliant idea that Katerina must be tired so I attacked up the 4X course. Couldn’t drop the duo. So they returned the favour (after I pulled them around for a bit) and attacked me back. Georgia got away. So I chased for a bit (with blue on my wheel) until Katerina was nice and rested, and then she attacked me. I tried to stay with her but couldn’t hold it for long and she got away. We all dangled the same distance apart for the rest of the race. 1-2-3. Its hard to fight the Luna power, they are seasoned short track masters and often I am more stubborn than smart. But I felt good and it was my best short track finish ever so I was still pretty happy.
Two PBs for the weekend. Not bad for someone who couldn’t ride more than an hour and a half 6 weeks ago!
Now I am off to Arizona to work on my tan.
Thanks to the BASSMAN for being such a great mechanic! and teaching us dirty Japanese words.