Thursday, June 30, 2016

World Champs Nove Mesto Course Overview (WC diary days 3-4)

Day 3 of World Championships week, Wednesday June 29, was the first day I was able to get out on course. Rose, my room mate at the hotel, and I accidently slept in till 10am (take that jet lag!) so we got a much later start than anticipated. It worked out will though to choke down a quick breakfast of banana and toast, and then spin over for 2 mellow laps.

The course starts in a stadium, which is wicked cool because it means there are going to be a TON of spectators at the finish! Have I mentioned they sold out of tickets for spectators a while ago, at 50,000 tickets!

Course map, it's a crazy maze so spectators can see tons of action on foot in the woods! All the green sections are crazy cool, but between them is always rooty and rough so it's pretty much always good!

Not just one big climb followed by one big descent like usual!

Then the track immediately drops you into some ledges which are quite rough with suspension locked out (haha) and then into two jumps, the first of which is pumpable, but WAY faster if you can jump it, and the second is a table top. Immediately after that there is a man made rock garden of the ‘we dug a 100ft long pit and filled it with big rocks’ variety. Don’t worry, it’s not hard, just funny/fun.

The trails are awesome, but the sides of the trails are also amazing, like mossy green and fluffy and glowing when it's sunny!

You can't tell how steep this is, but there are all these steep kickers uprocks and roots. They are great dry, but wet is a whole other story!

After that there is a freeway wide climb, followed by some pavement, and then a (seemingly) never ending combination of rooty, techy, challenging climbs alternating with rooty, jumpy, challenging descents. It’s seriously the most fun course I’ve ever ridden because each climb is short enough you just think about the crazy fun descent on the other side and before you know it, you’re there!
Obvi. not a picture of me, but this section is crazy fun!!

The climbs aren’t just put the hammer down and charge kind of climbs. They are steep, and rooty, and you have to have at least a little finness to get up and over some of the rocks and roots while you’re already climbing on crazy steep sections. The descents alternate between man made rock challenges to rooty fun natural sections. Some of the challenging parts have names, like ‘Midas Choice’ where there are two lines, both through some sharp, tricky rock drops, and ‘Rock and Roll’ where there are three man made rock obstacles that look really intimidating. The natural sections are crazy fun too, and the more I ride the track, the more jumpy I feel on the roots, which makes it smoother and EVEN MORE fun! I wish I had a go-pro to shoot a whole lap because it’s seriously the most ridiculous/fun course I’ve ever ridden.

The best part is that I somehow had the confidence and guts to blindly ride all the A-lines on the first lap I did, and was able to clean all of them! Compared to my experience at the last two world cups, this was a huge confidence booster!
Post pre-ride stoke/road spin! I have very few pictures of the course because there is no way my camera can do it justice. 
Post pre-riding on Wednesday, there was a massage, amazing dinner (every meal here has been amazing) and then the opening ceremony, which included team presentations, a light show and a crazy dance performance! We left before the opening ceremony was over because it started at 10pm (!) and we could hear it from the hotel until 12am!!
Rachael and I at the opening ceremony, being as excited as you are SUPPOSED to be at WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!

My chilaxin' spot on Weds. afternoon.
Day 4, Thursday (the day before the day before) has been all about more pre-riding, resting and tonight we will go watch the team relay. The relay will involve 1 junior, 1 U23 rider, and a male and female elite rider all doing one lap each. I’m pretty excited to be a spectator, and to hit the fan shop, yeah, there is a fan shop here!! I had planned to walk to town and drink some coffee at a local shop/buy some post cards this afternoon, but an epic rain/thunder storm prevented me from being on my feet that much, which is probably a very good thing :) Instead I’m writing in the hotel resturaunt, snacking on a banana, almonds and some honey, and sucking down hotel coffee. Yeah, life is pretty darn good!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

World Championships Diary: Days 1-2 (travel days)

As you all already know from the non-stop social media barrage of Czech Republic posts, I AM IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC FOR XCO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Yeah, it really is that exciting, because this is such a crazy big, out of control, exciting, unbelievable dream that I am actually living right here in real life, like I pinch myslef and I don't even wake up! It's real!!!!!

Anyway, I'm so pumped. Here's a little details about World Champs Week, days 1-3.

Day 1: We woke up at 3:45am in Pheonix to drive to the airport for my 6am flight. Got checked in, through security, all is well by 7am. BUUUUUUTTTTT the plane was broken so they delayed the flight, they say till 10am, but also say it's kinda indefinately. I get stressed, change flights... try to calm down. Then I overhear the announcment that my origional flight is boarding so I booked it back over, plea to be put back on the flight and next thing you know I have 3 seats to myself for the Pheonix to JFK leg.

The rest of the travel was completely smooth/uneventful/pleasant, and my bike even arrived in Prague with my flight, so already I'm feeling like a winner!

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While on the ground here I'm super stoked to have support from USA Cycling (like unbelievably grateful and excited). They fetched me from the airport in Prague, filled me with coffee and then we were off to Nove Mesto. The drive was incredibly pretty on crazy narrow freeways where the trucks and the cars barely fit! We hit two traffic jams, and saw beautiful country side dotted with adorable villages and gorgeous churches.

Seriously, so close. Soooo so close!
When we arrived at the hotel (hotel romantika) the owner made us the most delicious crepes covered in a bizzarre amount of whipped cream and berries. I pretty much felt like I had died and gone to heaven!

And then I built my bike and spun my travel legs out on the most beautiful, bucolic countryside since Switzerland :)

And through villages with picturesque ponds!

And then I dove into the forest to find trolls and gnomes and singletrack! Sadly I found none, but there were a ton of mushrooms which was pretty cool!

And then I went to bed so freaking exhausted from 48 hours of travel and whatnot. It was glorious. 

First imression of the course and day 3 recap coming soon, now to dinner and the opening ceremonies!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Angel Fire XC and STXC Recaps (from my 2 hours layover that was supposed to be 6...)

In 1 hour and 20 minutes I'm boarding a plane to Prague from JFK and realizing a seriously HUGE dream I've had since I was in college. I will be racing for team USA at World Championships, and thankfully I am WAY too tired from the last three days to be nervous/wasting energy freaking out. 

I want to get out a quick recap of Angel Fire before we take off though, because this race weekend was seriously one of the best, in a new venue, on a course I've never raced before and at a freaking high altitude, and I can't imagine jumping into the hoopla of being in Euroland again without recording some of the Angel Fire Highlights. 

So here they are, the highlights:
One of the best parts of this race was staying in a little house in town with team mates and randos. My amazing Ridebiker teamies did the leg work to get us a rental house for Friday and Saturday nights, and it meant a ton of bonding time, an incredible group meal on Friday night, and watching 2 baby deer get born out the kitchen window Saturday am. There was no wifi at the house, so we did WAY more socializing than normal, and I am so so grateful for the time spent with the awesome kids on my team who were there :)
Highlight #2 was realizing on lap 2 of the race that I MAY just ever so slightly be figuring out this altitude thing. I had a revelation this week that coping with the pain of racing at altitude is a different pain than racing at sea level, and that just means I need to teach my brain to process this pain like it processes sea level pain. On lap 2 I was gasping for breath on the climb, BUT I was in 3rd place, sitting on Alexis's wheel, feeling capable of doing this thing, NOT LIKE GIVING UP!!! 

On lap 3 I moved into 2nd and even though it hurt, I was able to push myself on the climb, and my mental game stayed much stronger than the last two weeks in a row. 

By the finish I was still in 2nd by enough time that I let off the gas a little to stay safe on the last descent. I pretty much almost crashed on each lap on the descent because I was pushing myself so hard and because it was WAY more dry and blown out than on Friday's pre-ride. 
Out podium before they gave us mini-big checks. Olympian Chloe dominated the day in inspiring fashion. That chick is going to be a great representative of the US in Rio!!!
During laps 4 and 5 I was thinking pretty much only about the leftover nachos I had waiting at the rental house, so basically the thought of snacks got me up the hill the last time. As soon as the podium was over I booked it back to the house and devoured a massive plate of delicious Chile Verde, guac, cheese and soggy chips. It was heaven!
AND Sunday's short track was equally awesome, with a course that wound through the trees on a bit of single track and then bommed through the lodge down 2 flights of stairs, the first of which it was almost impossible not to jump. I had a hard time getting going during the 25 minute plus 2 lap race, but after 3 laps of being slightly gapped off the lead group of 3 I was able to kick it into gear and started actually racing. 

Somehow I attacked halfway through and ended up riding off the front for the remainder of the race, counting down the minutes each time through the start/finish, and pacing the suffering just so in order to stay in the lead. In the end I came out with my first ever short track win, which felt pretty damn good after the last three weeks of head game struggles :)
ANNNNNND then Menso and I jumped in the van and booked it for Pheonix, since my flight was supposed to be at 6am this morning. Despite the time crunch of the 9.5 hour drive, we couldn't resist stopping halfway in Gallop, NM for a short shake down ride. We were rewarded with 1.5 hours of glorious desert singletrack, sun streaming from the clouds and a tail wind the ENTIRE ride. It was heaven.
I'd say New Mexico pulled out all the stops to make my first visit there incredible. I can't wait to come back for more riding and racing!  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Angel Fire Pre-Ride

Soooo, I know I have a lot to write about, a lot. BUT I'm in Angel Fire, NM for this race today, and there is NO WIFI at out house/I have no data on my phone in this whole area so I'm gonna stick with this pre-ride recap for now because I don't have a ton of time beofre we RACE BIKES!!!! I'll try to get the other words in my mind out on my six hour layover at JFK on Monday :)
Glorious, smooth, NM goodness. 

So this weekend's race has brought me to Angel Fire, NM. My first time even in New Mexico, and the third elevation race of the season! This bad boy starts at 8,500ft and promptly climbs 700 ft to just over 9,000ft. The climb is all on a trail called Enlightenment, which is fitting because by the top I'm seeing things and feeling very... englightened haha. Pre-rideing was fun when I was doing easy lap, but on my race paced lap I was having so many struggles! It's dang hard to climb 700ft when you're already on top of the world! haha.

This portion of the climb is actually 
BUT the descent is as fun as the climb is hard, and by the bottom of each lap I had forgotten the agony of the climb! The descent takes you down one of the lift access trails, winding through the trees, over some jumps and pushing the front wheel into glorious bermed turns. It's technical enough to be interesting, but smooth enough to be ripping fast. Like Missoula and Nationals, this race is one big climb followed by one big descent, glorious ski resort mountain bike racing!

Needless to say, I got no pictures on the descent because I was having way too much fun! Instead, here is ANOTHER picture of beautiful New Mexico singletrack!

So it rained all day on Thursday, leading me to think the trails would be tacky. They were not. It's supposed to rain again today when we are racing, so it should be interesting :) We start at 4:15pm, so like Missoula it's another kill time all afternoon until race time kinda day. This time I am NOT watching world cup DH races though!

In other news, I ate my first sopapilla yesterday after pre-riding and it WAS AMAZING!!! Not hating New Mexican food right now.

Off to get ready to race, wish me luck! This is gonna hurt :)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On the Road... AGAIN!

Yep, I'm pretty much loving the nomad life. Not sure where the chronicles of #van life left off, but after Short Track in Missoula and our epic post STXC ride, I drove to an awesome free campsite somewhere in Idaho halfway back to SLC. I got there after dark, so I was pleasantly surprised in the morning by a train on one side and a river on the other side of the campsite! I love trains AND rivers, so it was a good day :)

After some yoga on a picnic bench, and a lazy breakfast I rolled out and headed to Salt Lake, with one little pit stop to spin the legs out and get diesel. Side note, I haven't accidently put gas in the van once this trip! (yet)

The view from yoga... swoon :)
Tuesday I got to ride the 'real Park City' thanks to amazing tour guide Chris from Switchback Sports in PC who convinced me that mid-mountain may be good, but there is better!!! And Wednesday was for intervals and yoga/core plus starting the drive to New Mexico.

The forest in Park City is AMAZING!!! I could stare into the trees all day.
On Wednesday evening I made it to Mesa Verde National Park ouside of Cortez, CO and slept off a BLM road. In the morning I was supposed to get right on the road, but couldn't resist the call of Phil's World, the most amazing mtb trail ever, which was like 2 miles away. SO I cheated and did a very chill 10 mile spin full of shouting with glee as the trail swooped and dipped through the desert. This network is NOT TO BE missed if you are even in southwest CO!

Post spin I drove to Durango, CO. I've never been to Durango before and I am already in love because the nice boy at the coffee shop gave me a free cookie just for having cycling tanlines :) Also, I know it's sad I didn't get to ride there, but I'm sure I'll be back. 

Now I'm sitting at a cafe in Tierra Amarilla, NM drinking iced coffee, taking care of some buisness, and listening to epic mountain thunder and light rain falling on the tin roof. My battery is going to die any second, and I need to hit the road again, next stop, TAOS!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Well that Was One For the Books!

First of all CONGRATULATIONS to Jessica Mazaitis!! I'll get in touch with you tomorrow about what size kit you wear and where to ship it!

Thanks to everyone who faithfully reads and comments on my blog :) I'm already brainstorming what I can give away next! I love the idea of giving away cool stuff to thank you all for all the cheering and just being awesome people!

And a few final words about the Missoula race weekend! I kinda can't get over how great the weekend was, and it's pretty much all due to having such awesome team mates and support from Ridebiker. From our pre-rides on Friday, to race morning chillin' at the best French pastry shop in Montana (is it bizarre that I ate pastries in Missoula but was so scared to in France... yes, yes it is!) it was an all around amazing time because having good team mates and being on such a well supported team makes every minute of race weekends amazing.

Highlights from the weekend include:

Being part of the 'ride with the pros' pre-ride where we met a bunch of cool people and shared the joy of being on mountain bikes riding amazing trails!

Eating Brazilian food from 5 On Black on Friday night at Cara's park with live music and rad teamies! We especially liked the cheese filled little bread rolls :)

Hanging out with and race prep with the #1 team manager Adam Pulford. This guy can handle a shit storm like none other (sorry about the swearing but I had no other words) and we are SOOOOOO lucky to have him at races like this. No matter where you are, or how stressed you get about the race, Adam makes pretty much everything better, AND he put Oreos in Emily's sandwich!

Watching the Leogang DH World Cup on my laptop while killing time before XC on Saturday, but realizing that was a terrible idea because my heart rate was pinned for the entire 1.5 hours cheering on the riders and hoping they wouldn't crash!

Hail pouring down from the skies literally RIGHT when I wanted to start warming up on Saturday before the XC race.

Somehow missing the memo on the STXC holeshot prime and thinking it was a 1st lap prime, thus missing the 2 cases of beer and $25... haha

Pushing myself to the limit at the end of STXC to stay away from Evelyn for 2nd place :)

AND the best post race ride with these kids EVER! We climbed almost 4,000ft and got an incredible descent as the reward. Plus many many laughs, some steep sections of agonizing post race climbing and wildflowers for days!

So many good memories from an amazing race weekend. It's time for bed, but I'm stoked to do it all again this coming weekend in Angel Fire, New Mexico!!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Missoula US Cup Recap

Yep, yesterday was a crazy fun, crazy long exciting whirlwind of a race day that began with a pastry and ended up with a new set of antlers for the front of the van! 

The Missoula XC is always held in the late afternoon, with the men's race ending at dusk and the singlespeed/mechanic's race beginning right at sunset. This is kinda unique, and it means all the athletes end up sitting around in the morning wondering how to pass the time without wasting a ton of energy. This year I choose to spin early in the morning to the bakery for my favorite French pastry and coffee, and then to watch last weekend's World Cup DH on The pastry part was a great idea because I got to chat with team mates and fellow racer Chris Baddick. The DH race watching not such a good idea: I spent the entire 1.5 hours with my heart rate pinned cheering for the riders through my laptop and stressed they may crash (even though I already knew the results, haha). 

Eventually 2pm rolled around, and we headed to the course, kitted up and just as I was about to warm up the skies opened up and massive hail rained from above! It was awesome, and unnerving, haha. 
Fortunately the hail and rain stopped 35 minutes before our start and I got in a decent warm up and we were at the line, ready for 5 laps of one of my favorite courses in the US. 
The start was good, our small field got off the line cleanly and there were a lot of fast ladies all around me. About halfway up on the first lap Erin Huck had whittled the group down to just her, me and Evelyn Dong. Then she attacked and whittled it down to just her with Dong and me chasing. 
Riding in second place, alone, suffering, loving the fight :)
For the next two laps it was Erin followed by an increasing gap, me and then a little back Evelyn. The pressure was on me to keep Evelyn away, but by the end of lap 3 she was right on my wheel and by the top of lap 4 she came around me and attacked. I guess I need to work on my mental game as much as I put time and energy into intervals because I rolled over and let Evelyn take second from me without a fight, not good bike racing form. The last lap was just an exercise in going as hard as I needed to keep 4th place away, but my legs and lungs didn't have much punch left, so it was a bit pathetic. 

I'm still pondering how the race went, trying to figure out what I need to do to get my head in the right space in the throws of battle, but I am stoked to have snagged another set of antlers and some valuable UCI points which will help my call up at Worlds (I hope!). Also the course was so so fun and the spectators here in Missoula are some of the best! I especially likes Mila and Sienna singing One Direction on the climb on lap 4, that turned my suffering centric mindset around a bit and I enjoyed the rest of the race A LOT more after that point, haha.  

GTG race short track, so more Missoula goodness to come :)

Friday, June 17, 2016

US Cup Missoula Pre-ride (presented by Ridebiker :)

Friday's are for course pre-rides. For most domestic races like this we arrive on Thursday, pre-ride Friday and race Saturday and Sunday. It's a great routine and Friday may be my favorite day of the race weekend shenanigans. I love getting familiar with courses I haven't seen since last year, seeing all the usual familiar racer buddy faces and meeting racers I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting.

My pre-ride here in Missoula today was short and sweet, beginning with a lap with two of the coolest teenagers I know, and ending with a sweet little 'ride with the pros' group lap. The course is the same awesome epic climb followed by steep fun descent on trails that wind up the ski slopes of Marshall Mountain and down through the trees between the slopes. The climbs twist their way up narrow, buffed out singletrack, creating a maze of course tape as they twist back and forth between steep, sharp switchbacks. The descent is screaming fast, down tacky steep trails with a few fun jumps and the usual scary A-line gap jump.

This year the Missoula race is extra exciting/special, because for one this race has stepped up its game and is now an HC category race where coveted UCI points are more abundant (those are the hard to earn points that help me move up my start position in World Cups and World Championships!) AND the title sponsor is Ridebiker Alliance, who is also MY title sponsor :)

Adam, ground support super hero!
So cross country mountain bike racing is growing in the US because Ridebiker is working hard to provide us with UCI races where these valuable points are available, as well as a level of competition which could help riders like me develop and improve my racing for the global stage. Yeah, I feel really lucky to have opportunities like this AND to have such a stout support crew on the ground here in Missoula taking care of us.

I have felt compelled to blog about Ridebiker for the past couple weeks because, as the season progresses, I feel like the emphasis of my blog and social media has swung heavily towards day to day occurrences and race recaps. I know that's the exciting stuff (maybe, you tell me!), but between those glory moments when my face is full sized on or I'm on the podium at some race, these guys are still here for me. They provide support for 16 of us 'professional' mountain bike racers at and in-between the races to help us chase the dream that is developing talent and hard work into something more. They pour money and resources INTO the races themselves to cultivate a competitive racing scene at which we can develop our skills, and for all of this I am extremely grateful.

So between the support from Ridebiker and our staff of amazing, hardworking people both in SoCal and here on the ground, and the support from every single person who has cheered for me, read my blog, commented on Facebook... I am pretty much always overwhelmed with gratitude to be surrounded by such awesome people. I honestly don't know what I did in my past lives to deserve you all :)

And I want to do more for my blog readers, kinda like a little thank you! That's why I'm going to pick a comment-er from THIS POST at random to give one of my Ridebiker kits to. I wish there was a way to pick a reader at random because I think commenting requires logging on to blogger or some business, but I don't know how to do that (yet), so for now you have to jump through a hoop or two to win :)

On Tuesday (life on the road :) I will announce the winner and I will get in touch with you about kit size and your address so I can mail it to you.

And to everyone who doesn't win but wants to rock the kit, YOU CAN BUY IT on the Ridebiker website! which also requires signing up (which is free). I'm told they can make the kit in men's sizes, but they may need to tweak the site, so maybe email me if you're a dude and I can work directly with Sugoi.

AND LASTLY, if you REALLY want to support me and my team mates and every aspiring mountain bike racer (and road and CX... actually) and the whole mountain bike racing scene in the US you CAN! If you are a member of a club or race team who wears custom kits, like all matching ones, switching your clothing manufacturer to Sugoi through Ridebiker Alliance goes a LONG way to keeping races like this on the calendar, and supporting our team. It's free to join Ridebiker Alliance, and Sugoi has crazy good pricing on team clothing, plus no minimum orders, and great customer support in creating your team's custom kit! I know it's kinda hokey to plug this on a giveaway post, but hey, I got your attention, right :) haha, but really, I do feel pretty convicted about how much Ridebiker has done for me and the XC race scene in the US so I wanted to take a minute to share the love :)

Thanks for reading my blog. Seriously, thank you. I could go on and on, but I'll stop here. You guys rock and I'll try to arrange other giveaways to express all my gratitude and love! :)

And now a picture from the 'ride with the pros'... check out that little climbing harness :) pretty cool stuff!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Some Updates/newsy Things

First of all, I made it to Missoula today! Last night I slept in the van in a free campsite by a lake WITH A REAL BATHROOM ( you know, the kind with a hole in the ground toilet). When I arrived at 7pm I resisted the urge to drive into the wee hours of the night, and took the time to go for a nice helmet-less spin (naughty, naughty Larry) and to stretch it out with a nice long lakeside yoga sesh.
Spinning on a deserted dirt road with snowy mountains in the background - heaven!
Then I woke up, made oats and hit the road. After a pit stop in Butte, MT for coffee and a sando (and two free slices of cinnamon raisin bread) I finished off the drive to Missoula. The views on the drive blew my mind the WHOLE TIME!


And now for the news. 

First of all I will be on the news in LA tomorrow!!! If you are in the area, there will be a 2 minute bit about me and racing and stuff at 4:45pm (NBCLA). If you don't live in LA I think you can watch it live streamed on Pretty exciting stuff, right?!?

Secondly I am so appreciative of your support and kind words that I want to give something back! SOOOO tomorrow I'm going to post about the Missoula US Cup (like a course preview) and I'm going to pick a commenter at random and given them one of my kits!!! If you win, I will collect sizing info (and yeah, there is a men's kit option) and you will be able to rock the flower power kit!!!! I'm so excited!!!

I feel like there is more news, BUT it's 10:15 here, so I need to get my booty to sleep. SOOO excited to give away a kit and to RACE BIKES with ALL THE FAST LADIES THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Back on the Road

After a nice painful set of Power Intervals I'm back on the road today, headed to Missoula, MT for some more bike racing! Tonight I'll drive to Island Park, Idaho and sleep in the van at a free camp site. I'm hoping to get there early enough to do some sunset yoga and get a bit of reading in :) Then tomorrow I'll get back on the road and head to Missoula where I'm being forced to stay in a hotel room (I kid, but the team is worried about my hygiene...). This race is the third stop of the US Cup series and I'm stoked to do some more super fast, super intense racing that is NOT at 8,000ft haha. 
Commence van life... NOW!
Goodbye for now my beautiful Utah. I'll be back soon!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I'm in LOVE with Utah... Sorry California!

When I left California back in May I fully intended to blog every day (or as much as I possibly could). The idea was to keep a log of the #vanlife as I drove from home to SLC to race to SLC to race...
I can't handle this place. I just can't even describe how these views make me feel :)
Well life has done a great job of getting in the way of that, but I have to say the last week has been so incredibly fantastic that I kinda don't mind the feeling that I never have time to get a bit of work done. From helping one of my all time favorite people get ready for her wedding to riding my bike on absolutely amazing trails with awesome people, it's been good to just live in the moment, soak in the views, thrills and people and to put off the blogging and social media-ing for a bit.

But since I have 20 minutes I want to do my best to recount two of the all time best rides of my life (no joke, I know I say every day is the best day, but these two rides really do rank as among the top 10 ever).

I don't really remember ever being happier to be on a bike in a beautiful place.
After the XC in Vail on Saturday I got my booty back in the van and drove most of the way to Park City, and then finished off the drive Sunday morning so I could go to dirt church with rad Park City folk Karl and Lori. When they asked what type of ride I was interested in I said I wanted to ride all the best trails in Park City, and I'm pretty sure we did just about that.

We started in Summit Park on some local knowledge trails which blew my mind right off the bat, and made our way to Mid-Mountain trail which spans the three main resorts in Park City. So basically everything is incredibly green in the mountains in Utah, and the real 'plants grow in this' dirt under my tires was already enough to make me swoon. Then add in some punchy climbing with beautifully bermed turns and a gentle gradient, intermixed with swoopy fast, tight, thrilling descents and I was head over heals.

What made it extra amazing was following Cyclocross pro Jamie Driscoll and junior racer Connor through the rollercoaster of rolling descents on Mid-Mountain and watching them pump, float and whip it out every chance they got. It was already everything I could ask for in a ride.

From Mid-Mountain trail we headed up Pine Cone towards Wasatch Crest. This portion of the ride hurt as the 4 mile trail takes you to 10,000 ft, and there were some downed trees to climb over, but we were rewarded at the top with the most incredible views of Park City and the Canyons east of Salt Lake City.

There was a bit of traversing the ridge to get to the next incredible trail, but I'm pretty sure I would follow these two anywhere. It's so cool how much I learn just from riding with different people in different places. There was a lot of 'pinch me, I must be dreaming' going on during the ride :)

More views from the crest. 

And then we descended Wasatch Crest to some connector in what was probably the fastest, most thrilling and nerve wracking 20 minutes of my life. It was the perfect combination of screaming fast that makes you simultaneously scared to death and crying with joy. All I had to do was hang on, pump through the turns and dips and lightly feather the brakes and the bike and trail took care of the rest. The traction was basically infinite so pushing into the dips and berms was rewarded with the compression and release of suspension the way it was designed to connect body with trail. I wish I had words to describe the feeling of exhilaration.
So grateful to have gotten the chance to ride with these guys. 
The rest of the ride was more of the same, to the point where I started to plan my permanent move to Park City, and to wrap up the day we hit a jump line called Arcylon (No Lycra backwards) where I went off a rad drop that was a bit scary thanks to coaching and encouragement from Karl.

The hardest thing for me right now is feeling inadequate in describing how incredible this ride was.

Heaven, this is what it looks like to me. 
And today, Tuesday I went on ANOTHER mind blowing good ride with two of the most fluid, talented juniors I have ever met, Sienna and Mila. The trails they took me on were also out of this world good, but I think the best part was following their wheels and watching the dipping, pumping, graceful flow of two absolute natural shredders. I've ridden with a lot of dudes in my day who could learn a thing or two from following these girls! Also at a loss for wards to describe how incredible this experience was.

We rode Flying Dog loop from their house and the hero dirt, the amazing climb complete with tons of stand to pedal obstacles, the flowing bermed swoopy descent, it all felt like I had died and gone to heaven. I'm pretty sure today is what heaven will feel like.

And of course we hit the jump line at the bottom of Flying Dog AND rode Arcylon as well... AND we took a selfie or two.

So that's a bit of what I've been up to. I'm sitting on Taryn's couch shaking my head in disbelief about how good Utah is right now. It's true that seeing places like this in June is maybe not the best picture of what it's like to live here, but I'm having the real strong urges to move here as soon as the bike racing is done.

I can live in a van, right? Down by the river!