April 26 at Port Angeles, WA for the UCI Pro GRT NW Cup #1, I entered the competitive realm of Category 1 Women’s racers.
Friday was a breeze, it was a light fun atmosphere and the trails were spectacular! The Pro/Cat 1 course was tacky, fast, smooth and with the weather it called for an awesome day! I got a lot of practice in and felt really good about the course, it was a bit out of my comfort zone but that is why I changed classes to push my personal limits.
Saturday rolled around and after a long cold night of camping we managed to rally into the U-Haul and head up Dry Hill for practice.
The moment I got into the thick of the trail I realized how tough race day would be. Little baby head sized rocks started creeping out of their dirt casings; holes were starting to develop in off camber turns and the waterfall. Oh the waterfall had started claiming victims with its gnarliness and I was one of them. That afternoon was full of spectators walking the course; I must have a very quiet bike and quick reactions because I missed a lot of the walkers by a hair.
I was on my descent down the waterfall section when a couple of younger course walkers dislodged a huge tree limb that within a second was in smack dab inline with my front tire. There was no jumping, swerving, there was only bracing for impact and praying that I would make it through.
Nope! I hit it dead on and went flying over my handlebars, the bike caught up with me and we rolled together down the hill. I landed in front of Bryn Atkinson; he very kindly helped me up and helped me gather my nerves, which turned a bad situation to a positive learning experiance! After that run I decided to do another to clear the trail another time before race day. Sunday, race day!
We get to the track early to get a parking spot; we warm up, stretch and crawl back into the dark U-Haul to get a practice run in. It was dewy and the trail was torn up! I put a fast run in, following the lines I had picked on Saturday. 10:20am rolled around and it was my time on the line. I was nervous, excited and felt a tension that I had not felt in any other racing class. I positioned myself at the starting line, waited for the beep beep beep boop, and off I went. I went as fast as I could while managing to stay in control but out of my comfort zone. There are so many turns, rocks and technical spots on this course that it is hard to remember every detail.
I squared off my corners, pumped everything that I could, and had to remind myself to breathe as I pushed my limits. I blasted through the top section and attacked the next dark forest section. As I rounded the corner for the waterfall section you can hear the crowd roaring! I could not condemn the heckling crowd more; they were massive and could not be completely ignored. GO GO GO!!! YEAHH!!! WOOHOO!! GET OFF YOUR BRAKES!! HUCK ITT!!! Passing this ginormous crowd was one of the highlights of my day.
I gave it my all sprinting to the very last moment. Unfortunately I did not make the hot seat, although my ego was bruised I came out with a very positive feeling about my move to Category 1. I made it down unscathed on one of the gnarliest courses I have ever done. I placed 13th out of 19 incredibly fast women from all over the region. Competitors from British Columbia, Washington, and California. Some of which placed mid pack Pro-women times, looking back I feel very positive about the start of the season. I now know what times and results I need to be producing to get to the next level. This is a brand new start for me and I cannot wait to attend the rest of the NW Cup racing series this season. I cannot thank Hi-5 Bikes enough for believing and supporting me this season. Thank you to ride100%, royal racing, 7 Protection, The Gravity Cartel, my awesome partner Rye and the amazing friends who have helped me to be where I am today.