We spend another day in the car, driving nine plus hours from Nove Mesto, Czech Republic to Albstadt, Germany. We arrive late but in time to walk in the cooling twilight to dinner. Haley and I make the discovery that we have black-out shades in our room!
Quick trip to the local castle!
Our bed and breakfast is classic Europe: quirky wind chimes, elegant curtains, flower bouquets spilling over countertops, and Elke, the owner of the bed and breakfast. Elke bakes us homemade bread. I head out on a beautiful spin solo. The forests here radiate green. Paths extend across every rolling hill. The hills burst with fields of yellow wildflowers and you can look out and see the whole city of red shingled roofs and whitewashed buildings. Yoga. Long walk after dinner checking out the city featuring lots of giggling.
I get on course for the first time! After finally dialing in tire pressure, I feel dialed on the grueling course.
A short spin and a long coffee shop expedition. More yoga. More laughter.
Last time on course- fluid. Legs are finally open. Castle adventure with the boys! We get to wear giant slippers inside so as not to damage the floor and soak in the 360-degree view from the top.
A good spin to the castle. Haley and I go watch the boys. Definitely a brutal day but inspiring to watch them ride with so much heart. The heat is commendable and a taste of what tomorrow will be like.
6am wakeup call to church bells. The sun is already beating down. My legs are open and I’m excited to give this hour and a half everything. I quickly glance around on the line, I am sitting at the very back of the pack. That’s fine. Plenty of time. The gun explodes and with it, pandemonium. I get sucked backwards and then have a chance to fight. I move up but pretty soon, we are standing still on the steep climb. Dizziness collides with me and hangs on. Off and running. I run the entire first climb, until finally, I am back on. I hit the first descent and am again, barely moving, waiting for lap traffic to settle.
Start lap is done and now five more laps stand in front of me. Traffic is still brutal and I give each climb my all to move forward. The descending pace is still painfully slow but I have to be patient. I fight my way up to the climbs and keep working my way forward. I stay hydrated and fueled in the brutal heat and do my best to close in on those in front of me. When I come into the grass section on lap three, the whistle blows, I am getting pulled. Although it’s a cruel to be pulled, I did my best and kept fighting. I built off my experience last weekend and can only hope to keep growing as an athlete. I moved up from my initial position at the start and I know I am capable of so much more as I learn to manage my health condition more efficiently and can focus on some of the things holding me back. I am confident I will be back stronger much stronger.
I am flooded with gratitude for the army standing behind me. To my family and friends who never stop believing. To my coach for working with me in the roughest times. For USAC for providing me with wonderful opportunity to race my bike at the most elite stage in the world. For the chance to learn and grow not only as an athlete, but also as a person. Thank you to everyone for making a difference.
May 21st, 2017
Cross Country: U23 Women
Sunset ping-pong tournaments.
Town exploring during our spins.
A bright Monday morning found Team USAC loading up the van and headed to the Czech Republic. After driving all day, it was a relief to finally arrive back to Nove Mesto Na Morave.
The week flew past- full of beautiful spins through the lush, rolling Czech hills, leisurely dinners outside, ping-pong tournaments, and most importanatly, lots of giggles with good company. Getting back on one of my favorite courses was a treat. I feel dialed on the rock gardens, drops, root sections and climbs. My happiness level soars, and I felt readier than ever to line up on one of the elite start lines in the world.
I get in a good spin and head to the course to watch the U23 men race. Haley and I have an absolute blast cheering the USAC boys on and watching them ride their hearts out. It is the perfect way to prep for tomorrow’s race.
Sunday morning dawns. After a good spin, my legs are firing. I am so dang happy to be racing and to have this opportunity. I am called up to the line. The announcer yells in Czech and I can’t stop smiling. Through the loudspeaker, the heart beat begins to thunder through the stadium. Adrenaline pulses through my system, the gun fires and chaos explodes. Right off the line, I swerve to avoid a crash. Bodies shove into me and I shove right back. Handlebars overlap. More close crashes I avoid. Chaos. Dizziness engulfs me and I push through. I am stuck behind a huge group of riders. Pass a few. Stuck behind more. I move forward and then fall back. I am off my bike running, then I am back on. I feel smooth and fluid on the descents but am held up by the traffic ahead of me. I follow this pattern for the entirety of the race. My legs are sluggish, my head is sluggish but I keep pushing. I am deep in the hurt locker. Everything is a little blurry but I keep fighting. I blink and I am on the fourth out of fifth lap. Finally, I can process what is happening. I move up a couple spots. The US boys chase me up the first climb heading on the fifth lap, and I keep digging. I cross the line 100% spent, having checked off my goals of giving it my all and staying focused. I have not finished where I want to, but I have controlled everything within my power and that’s all I can do. Keep learning and eyes to the future.
May 14th, 2017
Cross Country: U23 Women
The most beautiful spin.
After Sea Otter and finishing my initial block of Spring racing, I had some quality time back at Stanford to catch up on my studies, recover and then fully immerse myself in training. Before I knew it, I was all packed up again, this time with a slightly farther destination in mind: Europe. More specifically, I was headed to Obertraun in Austria, Nove Mesto in Czech Republic, and Albstadt in Germany. We would race the first weekend at an HC race and then head to the second two for the World Cups.
After a relatively smooth travel day, I was united with Team USA, consisting of six U23 men and two U23 women, including myself. Another four hours in the car and we arrived in the stunning, snowcapped Austrian Alps, with our hotel sitting right on an immense lake. I felt like I was dreaming, and after riding the course the next day, I was convinced.
The course was perfect, full of brutally steep climbs and challenging descents with all terrain, flowy berms, root labyrinths, rock gardens and drops. I was stoked.
In a blink of an eye, race morning rolled around. After a good warmup, I was ready. The gun blew and the race begun. After the first hill, a clouding blackness settled over my vision. I backed off accordingly but did my best to keep pushing. After a while, my head cleared and I focused on pushing myself on the climbs and descending smoothly. The course’s features were relentless and I barely had time to think. Crystal focus at all times was not a choice but a requirement. Before I knew it, I had crossed the line in 3rd, having left everything out on the course but also excited to improve. Now we head to Nove Mesto!
Even from a couple thousand miles away, my gratitude for my support system is overwhelming. Although racing appears to be an individual sport at times, I would be nothing without the people behind me. To all the people supporting me, you make the difference, thank you.
April 21st and 22nd, 2017
Short Track & Cross Country: Pro
Result: 14th and 17th
The week in between Bonelli and Sea Otter presented itself with some much needed recovery/chill time from a busy first couple weeks of Spring quarter. Arriving to the Sea Otter course on Thursday, I found the classic Sea Otter meld of all cycling disciplines accompanied with an explosion of tents containing diversity of cultures, gear and communities.
My weekend began with the Short Track race on Friday. Although I was sitting in the last line at the start, I was stoked to race. As soon as the gun blew, chaos erupted due to the nature of the course. The course circled the whole track and had some thick, muddy sections as well as a sand pit. Off the line, I avoided a couple of crashes and then become caught in a deep mud pit which took a while to pedal through. I was able to bridge back up to the main group and sit there for a couple laps. However, about halfway through the race, coming through the sand pit, I slowed to avoid the women struggling in front of me, lost too much momentum and lost the main group. I sat solo for a bit but then hung with the next chasing group to conserve energy. Coming into the last section of the course, our pack shattered as Evelyn and I picked up the pace. I entered the pavement sprinting Evelyn and got her, finishing 14th.
The next day, Saturday, was Cross Country. Since I would be racing elite, my course was new to me: carved by a lawn mower, full of off-camber, grassy twists and turns, a long tempo track section, a long climb, a couple rock gardens, and last but definitely not to be forgotten, an uphill sand pit! There was no doubt about it: this race would hurt a lot!
My legs took a while to warm up after the previous day’s race but I was feeling good. The gun sounded. I didn't start super hard but was riding with the enormous front group (20 plus riders). When the singletrack came around and the riders were forced to funnel, I lost contact with the top pack but was able to regain contact with them on the second lap. From there, I worked to pick riders off one by one. The wind made drafting on the tempo section crucial so I worked with Maghalie Rochette for the last half of the race to try and gain contact with the girls in sight. I finished 17th, left everything out there and had a blast.
I’m excited to keep working hard and take the lessons I have learned from these early races and apply them to the later races of this season in order to keep improving. Huge thanks to my parents, Josh, and Dario for helping me in every aspect of my racing to help me keep refining all my skills.
April 8th and 9th, 2017
Short Track & Cross Country: Pro
Result: 16th and 21st
Thursday rolled around and I was back in Los Angeles after a stuffed week of new classes, travel, training and events. I did my absolute best to recover after Fontana and during the week but life got the better of me.
Saturday found me on the line with Olympians and World Champions. I lined up at the back of the pack so I knew I would have to dig deep to have solid position at the start. The gun blew and I fought hard to get closer to the front. I was moving up when my autonomic nervous system disorder collided with me. My coordination slowed and I was forced to settle into survival mode.
Finally, at the end of the fourth lap (out of six), I began to feel a bit better. I was able to pick it up on the climbs, pass a couple women and ride smoothly to the finish. I crossed the line in 21st. Although it was a bit of a disappointing day pedaling in circles, I was successful in accomplishing all the goals I had outlined for the race. I know persistence and patience is crucial in my first year as an elite and I can only hope to learn as much throughout the season as I have the past two weekends.
The next day was Short Track and I was out for redemption. Again, I started at the very back of the group. I knew a good start would be crucial for this race as well. We started and my progress to the front was slow due to the nature of the course. Coming into the first climb, a massive crash unfolded directly in front of me. I did my best to avoid it but was pushed off my bike. I ran up the first climb and saw that the front group was long gone.
The next couple laps, I buried myself to make contact with the front group again. Finally, with three laps to go, I caught back on. Relief flooded me and I relaxed for an instant. In that moment, a rider swerved in front of me and clipped my front wheel with her back wheel. I was forced to jump of my bike again and run up the hill. I lost contact again with the group again. I did my best to catch back up but there wasn’t enough time. I crossed the line in 16th. I finished knowing the race was my best effort but a little bummed with my luck.
I am grateful for the small wins of the season so far and to have the learning opportunities this season has presented. It truly takes a village to support me and my appreciation for everyone involved cannot be put to words.
Since Nationals, I have been very busy with all good things! I wanted to include a few photos of a couple of my adventures in the past months. I have been loving my time on the bike more than ever but also doing lots of new things as well.
I started school at Stanford this past fall and have met some wonderful people.
Enjoying my favorite mountain.
Stoked to be part of Whole Athlete for another year.
April 1st and 2nd, 2017
Short Track & Cross Country: Pro
Result: 6th and 15th
After a long base season full of challenging rides and long hours of strength work, I knew I was as ready as possible coming into Fontana.
Friday morning found me back at the venue - mounds of jagged rocks incongruous with the surrounding congested freeway. I was thrilled to be reunited with the wonderful humans of the cycling community and felt strong and smooth preriding the course.
The weekend of racing would be my first-time racing Pro at a Pro XCT and I was excited to take on the new series of challenges that come with an upgrade in categories. Minimizing fatigue as well as staying focused and smooth would be crucial aspects in a race longer than I was used too.
5am Saturday morning, I woke up to a blaring alarm and a black night. Although still dark, the morning was already warm. My warmup went flawlessly and soon, we were on the line. They called 15 seconds and then immediately sounded the start gun. After some confusion, we were rolling. Although I had a solid start off the line, I let myself fall back a bit coming into the first climb to conserve energy. On the long pavement climb of the course, the group split, the girls directly behind me falling away. I made it onto the single-track climb, and was riding smoothly. I didn’t want to follow the rider in front of me too closely so I could stay clipped in. I was also cautious about digging too deeply right off the line and not having anything saved for later. As a result, I let riders in front of me pull away
In hindsight, I should have stayed with them. I didn’t pass, or get passed once throughout the race. The course is largely tactical, especially on windy days. Being alone on the windy sections meant time sucked from me and also meant it was nearly impossible to close gaps on other riders solo. I crossed the line in 15th, knowing I had ridden a solid race but also knowing a different start would have changed my race.
The next day was Short Track. After a morning spin and a leisurely warm up in the dusty afternoon heat, it was go time. The start gun sounded and I took the hole shot. I eased up and grabbed Kate Courtney’s wheel. The race shattered and it was six of us for the rest of the race. I sat at the back of the pack to conserve energy and watch. In hindsight, this had the reverse effect. Riding at the back resulted in expending more energy than my counterparts over every section. On the last climb of the last lap, I finally dropped off a little. However, up ahead, closing in on the finish, I could see Evelyn Dong and Shayna Powless had also been dropped. I put my head down and began to sprint. Coming into the finish, I had more momentum than them but not quite enough time. I crossed the line in sixth.
My first weekend of Pro racing is in the books and all in all, it went well. My legs felt strong, I stayed smooth, and most importantly, I learned tons. I know I can keep improving and I’m excited to see what this season holds. I feel blessed to be part of Whole Athlete p/b DNA Cycling again and have my mom, Josh, Dario and John running such a flawless program. On to Bonelli this weekend!
July 15, 2016
Cross Country, UCI 17-18
July 16th, 2016
Short Track, Cat 1 17+
A week after Worlds, it was back in the car for a 6-hour drive to Mammoth, California. Returning to the course, I quickly remembered the brutality of the course: high temperatures, steep, relentless climbs, one bone rattling descent and lastly, 9,000 feet of altitude which is always a challenge, being from sea level
I had one hard training ride before the race and I knew my condition was as ideal as possible in light of the recent traveling. My 2016 season had been my most trying yet and I was eager to put everything I had into my shot at the Stars and Stripes. I had one goal: to leave my entire heart out on course
When race day dawned, I was readier than ever to give an effort that represented my season’s work. After a pleasant morning spin and some relaxing, I headed to the venue and found myself immersed in 100-degree heat. I got in a good warmup and found myself on the line. The gun sounded and I found myself in sixth wheel up the climb. Ahead I could see the turn to the single track. I knew it was essential to get there in top three positioning and I was worried I would get edged out by the pack closely following my wheel. I spotted an inside line to the corner and on a wild hope, took it. I passed all five girls and found myself in the lead. I felt smooth and effortless as we worked our way up the climb. As the trail opened up a bit, Haley made a quick pass and I grabbed her wheel. We gapped the field and worked our way farther up the climb. On the second to last climb of the lap, my system decompensated and my blood flow was reduced. I began to fall back, disoriented. My eyelids began to shudder violently and I focused on keeping the pedals turning. In that moment, I seemed to be surrounded by a large group of girls. I assumed I was passing girls that were in the U23 category as we had started a little ways behind them. However, as I would find out later, these girls were in my race. Although I thought I was sitting in third, I was actually sitting seventh.
The last two climbs stretched to an eternity as I anticipated the downhill that would give me a small chance to recover. Finally, I made it to the descent. I was able to make up a little bit of time there. However, as soon as we started climbing again, I was passed by another two girls. I chased them up the climb, my stomach now cramped and my vision blurry. My mantra was merely to keep turning the pedals at the same cadence as them. As we hit the descent, I passed one of the girls and focused on reeling in the other. My body screamed at me, but my mind screamed a little louder with sheer willpower. "Just a little harder for a little longer," I told myself. Spectators were yelling at me now that I was closing the gap between me and the other girls. As I came through the feed zone, my mechanic shouted, "There's more race left and more girls to catch!" I put my head down and suffered
On the steepest climb, I saw a pack of girls. I hadn't believed I would catch them until this moment; determination surged over me. With every last fiber I had left, I launched an attack. I dropped the girl I was with and bridged up to the next couple. I didn't look back. My head pounded and each pedal stroke brought knives. I carried the attack through the single track climb. I could hear a girl on my wheel. In the short descent, I braced myself for the final tempo section before the descent into the finish. I knew I had to get there first for my best shot at a medal. As soon as I hit the flat spot, I surged. I gave it everything I had, but I couldn't hold it. I fell into the descent a little ways after the girl. There was one short pavement stretch before the finish line and that would be my last shot. Hitting the pavement, I hesitated a moment too long, not wanting to sprint to early again. Then, I let loose everything I had. It wasn't quite enough. A medal was out of reach by less than a tenth of a second.
Although it's always a bummer to miss out on a medal, especially by so little, I couldn’t be disappointed because I had completed my goal to leave everything I had on course. In that hour of racing, I had never felt worse in my entire life. I suffered as much as I possibly could and crossed the line knowing I had given the race my absolute 100%. Not only did I leave everything I had on course, I also learned a bit more about myself and how to really dig deep through my symptoms.
Switching off pulling with Haley.
After a 4pm cross country race the previous day, my body was a bit shell shocked to be warming up for another race just 19 hours after. I got in a leisurely warmup and made it to the line for our 9am start. On the line, I looked around and spotted not just junior racers but also older racers since our category was 17+. The course was short: a pavement flat section, a rough fire road climb, another flat section, two gnarly wood chip corners and an awkward dirt corner. The gun popped and I found myself sliding into the hole shot. I allowed myself to fall back into third wheel and conserve energy. On the second lap, a woman made a solo break and opened up 20 seconds on the pack. The next lap, Haley and I made a split as well. We alternated pulling each other and slowly worked our way back up to the initial breakaway. I sat in a bit and a fourth woman caught us. I was still feeling good and could tell the rest of the pack was hurting a bit as the pace dropped off. I hopped in front and pulled a few laps to maintain our gap on the rest of the field. With a couple laps to go, Haley and the other lady dropped from our group. I attempted to work with the woman from the initial breakaway to open up the gap but she was fatigued and I wasn’t willing to do the work solo. Haley bridged back up. Entering the last two laps of the race, we were a pack of three. Coming into the wood chips, the woman yelled at me to get out of the way from behind so she would have an easy pass. I heard the sound of metal and body colliding as she crashed into the fence before the turn behind me. Haley pulled into the lead and picked up the pace. I followed her wheel smoothly. She worked up the climb and onto the pavement and I was right behind. I knew it would come down to a sprint on the last pavement section. We hit the pavement, and once again, I gave it everything I had. I pulled besides her and then passed to take the win.
After we crossed the line, Haley turned and smiled at me. I was still winded from the sprint but happiness flooded me. I was ecstatic to take my first national title but also to have had such a fun race in phenomenal company.
The 2016 season is now officially over for me. As I head home, I am filled with overwhelming gratitude for my coach, Dario, family and teammates who lent me their shoulders to lean on in those moments when I stumbled. I can't believe I was lucky enough to be part of a program like Whole Athlete/Specialized for the third year in a row. This team is truly one of a kind. Each year spent with Whole Athlete, I feel as if I have continuously learned and transformed entirely as a rider. I am beyond honored to have worn the jersey for another year and cannot thank Dario enough.
Exploring a local castle.
Views from the local carnival ferris wheel.
The day after racing in Missoula, Montana, I found myself back in the airport: this time bound for Nove Mesto, Czech Republic for World Championships, the biggest race of the season. All that strength training, stretching, core, sauna time, sacrifice and training on the bike had been for this. I knew that I was as physically prepared as I had ever been and was excited to see what I would be able to do.
My mom, Christopher and I arrived a couple days before the rest of the USA National Team in order to get settled in. We spent mornings training and afternoons recovering while still incorporating carnivals, boating and some sight-seeing. The course was full of gnarly rock gardens, unrelenting, punchy climbs and some swoopy, fast descents. I loved it and felt dialed over the technical features.
Race day rolled around with lots of excitement and nominal nerves on my part. I was determined to prove to myself that it was possible to have a phenomenal race despite a disappointing season in regard to my health problem. I was convinced that I could hold my dizziness at bay through some of the adaptations I had recently learned and, mainly, sheer grit. I had put all the blood, sweat and tears I could into this season and I wanted to feel proud of a race again.
After spinning the legs in the morning, I felt ready to go. My warmup went flawlessly and I stayed cool despite the humidity thanks to my ice vest. I was called to the line in tenth, just barely missing the first row. On the line, I was relaxed and ecstatic to race. The gun released us and I literally moved backwards for a couple of seconds as I was swallowed by the crowd in an attempt to get going. Immediately, a familiar cloud of dizziness began to engulf me. I did my best to push it aside and finally, I began moving through the racers again but my progress was slow. Although my start was far from ideal, I knew I had plenty of time to move up. I fought hard and my legs felt decent however it had become impossible to ignore the dizziness that was present. I again pushed it aside and fought for position. The first single-track climb found us all running. I slipped and lost my balance along with a few positions but quickly was back moving.
The rest of the race, I moved up pretty consistently and focused on emptying my tank on the climbs and flowing on the descents. I felt decent but I also knew that clouding dizziness was shackling me from real easing the high power I had trained and knew I was capable of producing. Before I knew it, we were entering our last lap. I passed a couple more girls and then on the final climb, had closed in on three girls in front of me. I put my head down and attempted to give it my all but faltered when I slipped out of my pedal. I was forced to run and the three girls disappeared while a Canadian passed me. I mounted and followed her into the finish but couldn’t quite catch her. I finished top American in 25th, not by any means the result I was looking for or knew I could produce but knowing I had ridden a clean race.
Although my race had not been what I was hoping for, I am honored to have the opportunity to race my bike on one of the most famous and fun courses and to represent my country in such a prestigious event. Flying home, I am filled with gratitude not only for the incredible support from the small village behind me, but also from having a chance to learn and grow with the best athletes in the world. Although I could describe myself as being the nail instead of the hammer this season, my condition has only reinforced my immense love and passion for this sport alongside with my desire to be immersed in it for as long as possible. After all, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” – T.S. Eliot
Next stop, National Championships!
After racing in Canada, Jason and I headed back to the hotel, ate a quick dinner, packed bikes and got ready to fly out early the next morning. After a fourteen-hour travel day due to some flight delays, we finally arrived in Bend, Oregon. We built up our bikes, got in a quick spin, and helped load the team van for the ten plus hour drive the next day to Missoula. Needless to say, when we finally pulled into beautiful Missoula, I let out an audible sigh. I spent the week in Missoula soaking in the beautiful sunshine, wildflowers and occasional thunderstorm.
The rest of the team flew in Thursday and I was thrilled to be reunited with my teammates. The course was in beautiful condition with tacky hero dirt and I was happy to have the opportunity to ride such a fun course again.
I felt strong and confident on the bike come race morning. After killing a few hours before our 2 pm race start, the day had first warmed up and then started to drizzle lightly. By the time we had lined up, the course had gotten another perfect smattering of rain to keep the conditions loamy. When the whistle blew, I took the hole shot. Instantly, I could feel something was wrong and my dizziness hit. I dropped back to second wheel, Canadian, Sidney McGill. As the fire road turned to single-track, my vision clouded and I slipped to third wheel, fourth wheel and then fifth. My only focus on the removal I now felt and the sluggish speed in which I was processing. My pedal stroke slowed and I could barely turn the pedals. The laps drew out the same way: on the long downhill, my head would clear slightly and I would close the gap to fourth place, however as soon as we hit the climbs, the feeling would knock me back down and my pace would once again be painfully slow.
On the last lap, the muggy heat turned first to rain and then to hail as I reached the top of the climb. Within minutes, the trail was river-like with thick mud. I rode smoothly enough to reel in fourth place on the descent. Since there was no passing on the descent, as soon as I got the chance, I began to sprint. I opened up a twenty second gap and finished in fourth. Although it was certainly not the race I was hoping for, it was what I was capable of producing while still being dizzy. I am excited to be getting a better grasp on learning how to race with my condition.
Huge thanks to my coach Dario Fredrick and my parents for backing me every step of this amazing journey! Next stop, World Championships in Nove Mesto!
June 12, 2016,
I was happy to arrive home from Europe smoothly and have a little over two weeks to settle. My time home was filled with doctor appointments that cleared up a lot of questions about my autonomic nervous system disorder. I felt like for the first time, we had a way to monitor it with data and some solutions not only within medication timing but also minuscule adaptations that I was confident would add up. Before I knew it, I was packing my bags again, this time for a bit longer of a trip. I had recently been named to the 2016 World Championships team as one of three women and five juniors. This meant that from Canada, I would head first to Missoula, Montana and then fly from there to Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic for Worlds.
I landed in Toronto on a balmy Thursday night and met up with my teammates Anders and Jason. After building up bikes, a light spin and grocery shopping, Saturday found us on the course. The course was far from disappointing with endless features, rock gardens, gap jumps, park-style ramps and even some fast and flowy singletrack. One thing was for certain, it would be impossible not to have fun on a course like this. I dialed in the A-lines and was riding as smoothly and cleanly as possible after only two laps on the course.
Race morning was leisurely and after a nice spin to the venue and then a quick warmup, I was ready to race!
We would not only be racing at the same time as the Elite women but also as the Elite men and Junior men with only a few minute splits between the groups, destining lap traffic to cause some trouble. However, nothing could daunt me on a day like today when the sun was shining and the soil beautifully tacky. The whistle blew and we were off! I missed my pedal and fought to clip in. By the time I had, the group already had a small gap. I pushed myself to sixth wheel on the long climb and held it into the single-track. Suddenly, the girl in front of me slipped on a root and sprawled entirely sideways. I struggled and failed to find a route around her and by the time she was back up, the front group was gone. I was riding smoothly but fought to find a rhythm that would have enabled me a couple more seconds of speed. I focused on pouring icy water down my back and arms while also pedaling constantly to keep my nervous system from decompensating.
Rachel found my wheel and for the end of the first and start of the second lap, we rode together. Coming into the third lap though, I felt as if I finally found my pace, dug deep and was able to open a bit of a gap. I crossed the line in sixth. I knew I had ridden a smart race without any symptoms- the biggest small victory itself. Although I certainly cannot complain about my race, having a decent day makes me hungry for a good day and I can't wait for the upcoming races to have a chance at that.
As I sit on the plane now, on my way to meet my family and team in Bend and then make the drive to Missoula, I am so thankful to all the people that have continued to believe in my dreams as much as I do even through some pretty rocky spots. It was absolutely wonderful to share this trip with Anders, Jason and Sue. Onwards and upwards!