The season kicked off last weekend with round #1 of the US Cup in Dripping Springs, Texas. I can’t tell you how good it was be back on the racing circuit! Getting the crew together showed that it is going to be a very enjoyable year with a lot of fast racing on tap.
The course was rough and super fun. I did a bunch of laps in the days leading up to the race and spent a lot of time getting my Cannondale Scalpel fine-tuned for the course (thanks for putting up with me Paul!). The bike felt awesome out there and I was having a blast.
It was a weekend full of figuring things out for me since I had no idea how my fitness or technical skills would stack up. I didn’t know if I should shoot for top 5 or top 50, so I decided no expectations was the best way to run it. Even so, it was the most nervous I have been in a long time. I felt like I was 18 and lining up at my first World Championships or something. It was sort of fun to get back to the jittery junior feel, but I’m also excited to have the first one out of the way so I can hopefully dial the nerves down a little bit at the next one.
Once the race got under way it all came back to me (kind of like riding a bike). I didn’t have the best start, as I was a bit cautious (the one tapping my brakes to avoid crashing rather than relying on others to tap theirs). I moved back a bit but I stayed calm, and as soon as I could, I got started working my way up the field. I felt way better than I expected. By the 3rd lap I caught the chase group with teammates Alex and Ryan. I sat on the group for a while and Alex put in some big pulls trying to reel in the front group. Starting the 4th lap I moved to the front and was getting ready to lay down my cards, when I hit a “mystery rock” and flatted. I was super bummed. Everything was going so well and then all of a sudden…. wait no time for self-pity, gotta throw a tube in and keep going! I went about putting my spare tube in, only to realize that my sweet Enve carbon wheels are ever so slightly too deep to use a normal length valve stem. It was a rookie mistake. I made the trudge to the tech zone to see if anyone could help me out but nobody had the right tube or wheel, so I hitched a ride back to the trailer.
It was definitely not how I would like to start the first race of the season, but the BIG bright side is that I felt good! UCI points or no UCI points, as long as I feel good I know I can make my way back through the rankings. It’s going to be a work in progress for a while—it was a big eye-opener seeing how much harder it is not having a good call-up—but I’ll get there. And did I mention how good it was just being back on the circuit? So great to catch up with everyone and get back in the groove!
Huge thanks to Team Sho-Air for the world-class support and a big congratulations to all of my teammates for tearing it up! Also, thanks to the fans in Texas, you guys never disappoint! Onto the next one—Bonelli in 1.5 weeks!
Excited, nervous and hopeful are a few of the feelings I’m experiencing. There is a new person to meet and welcome into this great big world! She will see the glowing orb in the sky we know as the sun. We will be her parents, and Conrad will become a big brother. Everything is new again. I think that newness is a rebirth of sorts for parents; the first time you explain or experience something new together – like showing a grasshopper taking to the air in summer: POP! There is nothing like it to make you feel alive and grateful for all the magic and moments we can take for granted.
This new season is a rebirth of American mountain bike racing too! Our fearless leader Scott Tedro has put a great deal of faith in us in the effort to build the super team of Sho-Air/Cannondale. Ryan, Sam, Pua, Max, Tinker, Alex and I make for a fantasy team with varied talents and wild personalities!
Over the weekend, we kicked off the season with the first race in the new series – the US Cup! The series is awesome, with live Internet coverage, huge prize payouts and UCI points.
Most importantly though, the vibe at the venue was electric! All the top teams were there and the competition was I got a real sense of excitement that I have not seen in almost ten years at an XC race in the States! There were new faces, and new teams like BackCountry.com and Pro’s Closet-Stan’s No Tubes Elite Team. Best of all; lots of kids were buzzing around in bright colors and dancing on the pedals. What a great new momentum the new season has!
The hard work of this difficult training season has paid off. I had a solid race at the opening round in Texas and, but for a few bobbles, was on front or in the lead group trading, blocking, attacking and railing the turns! In the end, I took fourth, while Max nipped Kabush and Wells to the line. Sam was back in action, and Ryan and Alex are riding strong!
Thanks to Scott and all the people who stepped up to support cross country mountain bike racing and who believed it could happen.
Sho-Air has ushered in a beautiful rebirth of American mountain bike racing; now let’s get behind it and make it huge! Share the love on FB, Twitter and your blog; come out and support the races; become a Sho-Air Club, host a kids’ clinic; do some trail work or even host a US Cup next year!
The talk of the town this past week in California has been the rain. No doubt, its presence is something that has been needed and wished for and has turned the saying “be careful what you wish for” to be very true. But either way, her presence this past week had turned me into what I will call – sun chaser.
The chase began on Thursday late morning, when I looked out the window, then looked down at my training schedule and cringed. The ride prescribed was only 120 minutes long, but when their is wet stuff falling from the sky whose air is already freezing cold, that quickly turns into eternity. So, packing up the car and driving 30 minutes to hunt down the heat, blue sky filled with the rays of the yellow sun is a no brainer.
The destination of this drive was Palm Springs and the pedaling route was up the 74 that could eventually lead to the little town of Idyllwild. The fear of cold and rain was non existent, but we did do a little trade of wind for rain. Trust me, I am not complaining and will take it, but I do have to say that I have never experienced wind like I did that day. I have had to take my mountain bike for a little walk to get off something that was unrideable or too techy for me, but I never had to walk my bike down a hill in fear of not being able to get down…until that Thursday. Yes, the wind was that determined and fierce.
Thankfully Friday’s training was a yoga session in a heated room whose four walls protected us from the monster that continued brewing angrily outside. But those walls could do nothing for me on Saturday when my job was intervals and the only option that would lead to completion was to bust out and face my nemesis…the stationary trainer.
So, while my teammates were out battling their competition down in Texas, they were not only kicking some bootie and motivating thousands across the globe, but they were my motivation and inspiration. I have never been so driven to pedal so hard as I went nowhere fast. But the fact that I was able to witness the pain and determination written across each of my teammates faces as they pedaled beyond fast, there was nothing I wanted to do more than to crush my intervals and feel a part of their pain.
With that being said, I want to thank and congratulate each of my teammates on their stellar performances – Jeremiah, Ryan, Alex and Sam – you guys are truly amazing. Also, Sam…welcome back! It is so good to see you back doing what you love. And of course, congratulations and thank you to both Johnny and Paul who both stand and work behind the scenes dedicating their time and heart to make all of this stuff possible for each of us. Lastly and most importantly, the thank you to the one person who deserves way more than those two simple words could ever express…Scott Tedro.
2014 is the beginning of big changes for our little world of mountain biking and I am only one little voice, but I would like to once again say, “thank you to Scott Tedro.” I have said it over and over, but I truly do feel blessed to be a part of the Sho-Air family who is
led by someone like Scott, whose love for our sport and whose respect for every pro athlete that steps to that line is beyond evident.
Not only has Scott continued to be the driving force behind creating that starting line and purpose for each of these athletes to gather behind it this past Saturday, he has taken it a step further to initiate a way to share and spread the amazingness of our sport. It is impossible for everyone to make it to the races, so he has initiated a way to bring the races to everyone, whether that person has always been a fan or has a small tug of interest in what two wheels plus dirt equates too. With one simple click on one simple link, the race this weekend was witnessed and viewed by thousands through computer screens, iPod’s and phones. It may have just turned one spark into a flame or maybe even into fire this weekend, but nothing amazing happens fast.
If you missed this, don’t worry, you have another chance. You will have to tune in to witness the USAC US Cup Round #2 that will be going down at Bonelli Park in two weeks…that is unless you will be cheering us on in person, which is always way better. I know I will be there.
As we all know, the weekend does not end on Saturday and this weekend was no exception.
It made no sense to end the chase, so we packed up the car with the bikes and began driving to seek out the sun that was awaiting us just outside of Palm Springs. We decided to stay low and pedal past the Salton Sea, through Box Canyon and towards Joshua Tree National Park. The ride itself was beyond beautiful and there is something that is so beautiful and amazing about being able to watch as the storm stirred to the west of us, knowing that it would never reach me.
This week is calling for the presence of my yellow friend who is apparently planning on embracing us once again with her warmth and I am looking forward to welcoming her back with open arms.
I now have 2 more weeks to slowly continue getting back to where I left off last year and hopefully stand at the starting line at Bonelli to join my teammates in representing ShoAir and Cannondale. The reality is that physically, I may not be completely ready, but I guess there is no way better to get there than to throw myself to the sharks, see where I am at and race my way back to fitness. The true reality is that I will have the ability TO be out there doing what I love and feeling the pain and discomfort that we as athletes desire and need.
Until next time, keep pedaling and being inspired! See you at Bonelli!
I have been in California for the last month and I can’t tell you how good it has been to get back into a routine—especially one that involves a bunch of time on the bike! My rehab has been going very well lately. It’s still absolutely a full-time job to keep things working the way I want, but the hard work has been paying off with successful
days on the bike.
In addition to southern California having amazing weather and great riding, it is also home to the Sho-Air headquarters. It has been great being close to the pulse and getting an inside view of what goes on down here. I have also greatly enjoyed spending time with John: team manager and photo/graphic design guru, Paul: team mechanic extraordinaire, and of course Scott: President of Sho-Air International and the guy who is putting the US back on the mountain bike map. Scott is also mean on the bike. The norm seems to be for him to be putting the hammer down while in the middle of business calls on his “hands-free” device. It’s impressive…and also a little stressful when your boss is putting you in the hurt, while talking on the phone.
Anyhow, my days have somehow been jam-packed lately, and as I mentioned before, I’m loving every second of it. Between a couple hours of rehab exercises per day, big rides, and muscle work from the one-and-only Dr. Charles (Dr. Charles could be the topic of a whole post himself, I’ll go into more detail next time when I have a picture to go with it). From the outside looking in I have been pretty boring, but after a year without being able to do a whole lot of anything active, it has been very fulfilling to finally “get to work”.
I even did a race last weekend! I learned that I still have a long ways to go in order to be 100% dialed and to be as fit as I want to be, but it was great to get back on a start line. Underneath my race grimace, I had a huge smile.
Next weekend is the first big show with the opening round of the US Cup in Texas. I am very excited to go and catch up with all of the fellow racers who I have definitely missed during my hiatus. I am still not entirely sure if I will race or not—I’m trying to be smart and err on the cautious side with my back; and I am incredibly lucky to have the support of an amazing team who is on the same page. At this point I am very confident that I will, eventually, be back to racing stronger than ever; but I still want to make sure I take the most direct route to get there. Regardless, it is going to be great to get the whole team together and with or without me, the racing will be intense!
Alright, well I need to finish this out with a quick thanks to Scott, his wife Kimber, and the whole Sho-Air crew for making me feel at home while I’m away from home here in CA.
Happy riding to all!