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!