Going into this race, I had no overall goal other than racing smart, experienced, and focusing on how confident I am feeling against the world’s top racers. I had a 48th call up and there was nothing I could do to change it so just went with the flow.
The first lap was very hectic – I only gained around 10 positions in the first lap. It was very hard to pass. Lots of single track and lines on the fire road that were too slippery to take. In the second lap, I gained more positions and was sitting in the top 25. I figured with a “back of the pack” start, the strategy I would use was to make each lap faster and faster. On the third lap, I caught up to my teammates Max and Bjorn. We were a little group for a while, and then I wanted to pick up the pace for the 4th lap.
On the start of the 4th lap, I was in 21st position and then I moved up to 12th by the end of the lap! I put in a huge effort to get there. I was definitely hurting but knew I had to do something before getting into lap riders on the last lap. The last lap was nothing but pain. I got brake checked at the start of the climb and lost a few positions, but I got right back on it into 15th position. On the last decent, I saw two riders that I would be able to pass. I put an all-out effort to get to them. That far gap was now small after the last technical downhill, and I passed one more rider before the finish. I ended up with a 14th at the line.
Looking back at today’s race, I made ground from my start and was passing; not dropping back in the race. Pretty good result for my first UCI race and against such a heavy international field. Ending as the 5th American is pretty cool to think about as my first year in this category. Looking forward to racing Vail next weekend, on a kind of hometown course, I think it is only going to get better from my first race. I’m planning on making my way up to the front rows for that race. I’m glad to have my teammates Jonah and Brayden cheering and heckling hard during the race! Love my team and teammates! Thank you to my parents, and to Julia Violich and Stephen Ettinger making this all possible! Also, a thank you to Robert Hatch for getting my bike some aid before the race. Along all of the Bear Development Team sponsors and help are appreciated by all us racers!