WOW, what a great experience at this year’s nationals! I raced on July 15th so we left Colorado on Tuesday, the 12th. It was actually not too bad of a drive, maybe about 11 or 12 hours. We stayed in a hotel that night an hour away from Sun Valley so that we only had to drive not too much the next day. We left at about 10 am the next day and we were off to set up camp and then pre ride the course. We were lucky and found free camping not too far from town. When we left the campsite, we went to go ride the course. I was excited to see if I liked the course and if it would be fun. We got there and found good parking with shade for buddy. We went over to River Run and picked up my packet for the race. I saw a whole bunch of people riding the course getting even more excited. We went back to the car and got our bikes ready. After about 15 minutes or so, we went to the start/finish and rode the course from there. We started out on the short track course up/down this steep little bridge and then through this intense, manmade rock garden. My mom told me that no matter what, always keep pedaling through those sections or else you’ll fall. So after both the rock gardens, there was this steep hill. It went up which seemed like forever. It was a very dry, rocky, and sandy climb. I felt like dying because it was so hot also. It was just a straight up climb with no switch backs or shade. I actually had to walk twice because it was so steep. When I finally got to the top, I was exhausted and at my race that Friday, I would have to go up it three times. Ouch. I waited for my mom and then we continued the course. It went down from there. Steep, fast, technical singletrack. What a fun downhill. It had a bunch of switch backs, which you had to take carefully or else you’ll slip and fall. There was this option of a downhill though where you could go down this small, technical rock garden or continue to switch back down. It looked pretty scary, so I didn’t do the rock garden. When we got to the bottom, I was like, wow, that climb is awful, but the downhill is fun. Should be a good race. After that we explored the town to see what it was like. The next day, my mom did a shuttle ride (actually she still had to climb about 2,000 ft) and I rested. It was nice relaxing all day, but I was definitely nervous about my race the next day. That night, there was a fun mountain bike criterium going on downtown that we just had to see. What funny costumes and bikes people had. I was trying to keep my mind off the race, but that was very hard. I did go to sleep early and it was wonderful.
Well the day was here. Race day. I had to stay strong, be confident and say I can do this. It was definitely hard trying to keep my breakfast down. I was trying so hard not to throw it up. When I get nervous, I can’t eat, but I have to or else I’ll get super hungry while racing. We drove down there not too early. My race was at 9:03 and I was lucky to be racing so early in the morning before the sun really beamed on us. When we got there, I got ready and warmed up. My heart was racing like no other. After warming up on the course, it was time to line up. I wasn’t so nervous anymore, but I could still feel my heart pumping a lot. I was called to the front line and had a good spot. The guy counted down, 1 minute. 3o seconds. 15 seconds. GO! We were off. I had a pretty good spot, but then a bunch of girls started to pass me. I kept up with them for a bit up the steep climb, but then it got too hard for people so we had to walk. Man did walking hurt more than riding, jeez. I felt like my calves were going to fall off. I ran up the hill, got back on and went down the hill. I was going pretty fast, but then I was going too fast, slipped on a turn and fell on my side. I could feel my elbow and thigh bleeding. It hurt, but I knew I had to keep going. I finally got on my bike and went a little slower on the turns. Good thing I knew my limits. I was coming down the mountain and I could hear everyone again. Wow, there was a lot of people. I saw the steep rock garden and knew I was going to do it. So I slowly creeped up on it and zoomed down. There were so many people just standing there and clapping. It really made me feel good. I passed the finish line with a time of 27 minutes. I still had two laps to go. Lovely. I flew on the corners, went up the small bridge, and got to the manmade rock garden. Man, did you really have to pedal. There were a lot of people cheering me on and I felt like a pro. There was this one part though where I did loose my balance, but caught it at the last minute. People were yelling like no other. I felt really awesome! I went through the other rock garden and zoomed up the hill for a tiny bit. It was burning hot so I had to drink so much water. I even drank it and then spit it out on my arms and legs. Now that felt really refreshing. I climbed up the hill and I felt faster than the first lap. I did have to walk this one section, but then i got back on and rode up the rest of the way. I went downhill again and made sure I knew my limits so that I don’t fall again. I went down the switch backs and down the rock garden. I still loved all the people there cheering me on! I went through the finish and my time was 57 minutes. I am so excited that this was my last lap. I went up the bridge and down back to the other manmade rock garden. There wasn’t a lot of people because they were probably waiting at the finish, but the very few people there cheered me on and that helped me a lot. I went through the other rock garden and then went up the hill again. I was thinking I was going to die, but I just had to keep pushing it. I could feel the sun just killing my energy, but then, some friends cheered me on and that made me feel really good so I definitely pushed it. This lap was the best lap I did on the climb. I only pushed my bike only about 10 feet and then I got backed on and passed girls. That felt even more awesome. I was so excited to be on the downhill again. I went my hardest and fastest. After going down for quite a while, the last downhill before the finish was the rock garden. I remember thinking, okay it was only this and then I’m done. So I went down the steep, techy rock garden and there were so many people cheering me on! What great fun :D so then I had a huge smile on my face and crossed the finish line. I was so dead! I saw a couple of girls that I raced with and congratulated then. I saw my friend, Lindsay, and we were so proud of ourselves! I then had to go to the medic tent to get my wounds cleaned up (and boy that stung a lot) and then I got a nice, cold snow cone :) what a treat and it was free! For some of the day, Lindsay and I watched the U23 and cat 1 15-18 guys race and that sure was fun. Saw a couple crashes and cheered a bunch of guys on. What a fun day.
After that, we left Sun Valley the next day, and headed towards the border of Wyoming to see friends. We went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park and that was very fun. What a very fun trip. Even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted to at nationals, I am still proud of myself. How many girls can ride that course? That was the hardest climb I’ve done. It was awful, but I did it! Next year, will be an even better year. I am looking forward to it.
Start of the race!
Going down the rock garden
Getting my wounds cleaned out