Howdy everyone! Just wanted to touch base, it’s midseason… how time flies when you’re having fun! I just wanted to let you all know how my downhill racing season is going so far.
Sea Otter Classic / Pro GRT 1 I raced downhill and dual slalom. This was my second pro race ever and first dual slalom race. My bike was a tad small for the DH Course I needed a bigger chainring on the Transition scout and on dual slalom I needed less fork. For being on a bit of a mechanical disadvantage I was able to secure 15th in DH out of 25 and 10th out of 15 in dual slalom. It was an awesome experience to race with some of my riding heros and be around such a festival environment. Excited to go back and beat my times next year!
NW Cup #1 was at Port Angeles, Washington. This was a wet muddy practice and qualifying run however it cleared out for race day and was a blast to ride! They had us go down the new trail and boy was it steep and techy at the top. I ended up 5th in my third Pro race event ever.
NW Cup #2 / Pro Grt #2 was also at Dry Hill in Port Angeles, WA. Same conditions as the race before and turned into and awesome race day venture! I improved my time on course from the previous year by 13 seconds and landed in 9th out of 19 women from all around the country. Brakes open and looking ahead!
NW Cup #3 was at Ski Bowl in Mt. Hood, Oregon the track was absolutely perfect, the weather was amazing! The woods were a bit sketchy and slick where exposed roots laid out but I put the rubber down and attained 3rd place.
NW Cup #4 took me to Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg, Idaho. It poured on Friday, stayed overcast on Saturday and was sunny Sunday making the pro track perfect before race time. I hit the biggest drop that I’ve done so far, that I’ve been wanting to hit since last year and got 3rd place in the race.
NW Cup #5 went back to Ski Bowl at Mt. Hood, Oregon. The weather was not as welcoming as it was in previous races. It poured Friday, Saturday and Sunday seeping into the ground. While Cannonball and the upper bowl tackiness was still there, the woods got really muddy and slick. I was off my game and felt like this was the worst I had ridden all season. I got 2nd place but still was a tad disappointed in my time. I look forward to facing similar conditions to push my mind strategy and my limits on the bike.
My next couple races will take me to Yacolt, WA this Saturday to try my hand out in Enduro racing. After that I will compete in the last two NW Cup races at Stevens Pass in Washington. Wish me and my fellow competitors luck! Hope you all are having a great season!!
So tired tonight… and in pain. My knee is throbbing, my feet are cold and my leg is itching from wearing a compression stocking that makes my thigh look like a stuffed sausage. I just finished my first attempt at a gym workout since ACL surgery last Monday; but instead of hearing the buzz of a cheering audience or Chariots of Fire in the back of my head, I’m merely trying to keep my stomach attached to the inside of my ribs and stop the room from spinning. Lack of calories and a naturally low blood pressure can have wild consequences under the right kind of environmental stress, and unfortunately for me, my body was letting me know that perhaps my ambitious need to improve my physical state of mobility might have been more successful had I taken the time to digest some solid food. Nonetheless, I worked through an initial set of exercises, and though not as quickly as I imagined, my healing is moving forward. In this, there is much to be thankful for…
Three years ago I opted for an ACL revision to fix a cadaver graft and meniscus injury – not more than six months later, I had torn the graft yet again, and decided to opt out of surgery and see how long I could go without an ACL. Consequently, it wasn’t too long before the injuries began compounding, and fast forward to 2015; I finally scheduled an overdue solution and opted for a new graft, this time, harvesting from my patellar ligament to ensure a stronger, longer outcome. The problem is, going under the knife is no easy decision, and as I’ve “been there done that” on too many prior occasions, I knew I would be looking at a drawn out recovery process. However, measuring the benefits against the risks, and the patience it would take to heal, I believe I made the right choice.
For the last three years, I’ve been prone to knee dislocations, soft tissue tears, and joint inflammation. There simply wasn’t any room for error. Downhill “racing” and jumps became detrimental. If I missed a transition due to lack of timing or poor judgment in speed, my knee would dislocate upon the landing. More than once, this has caused me significant pain and long bouts out of the saddle. Sadly, my confidence waning and my knee simply giving out with a mere squatting motion, I quit riding my beloved playground, Black Rock, altogether, last February. Since then, I’ve had to slow down on climbing – my typical style is to mash the pedals, and my knee let me know this simply wasn’t acceptable. When I switched to higher RPMs, my back gave out. And though I had fun “racing” Crawfish Classic this summer, my speed wasn’t anywhere near where it was even a year ago. The muffin top had become a permanent fixture, and riding became even more painful as my cardio fitness took a dive. In September, I finally jumped in and scheduled my orthopedic consultation – I would spend the holidays learning how to walk again.
So as the surgery date became more apparent, I began to feel the anxiety grow… how long would this really take to heal? I became a fervent researcher in ACL recovery and cycling athletes. To be honest, there really isn’t a whole lot out there for competitive mountain biking, much less downhill or freeride enthusiasts. Asking my doctor, he seemed to have some idea about when I would be able to get on a road bike, but “off road cycling” would have to play it by ear a bit longer. Then there’s all my amazing friends who also happen to be professional athletes – some of whom recently broke their femurs (yep, there’s more than one of you) and a few more having had ACL reconstructive surgeries in the last couple years – they’re all doing great; but I am a small business owner, a mom, a “wife” (of sorts) and while mountain biking is definitely at the top of my list of priorities, it isn’t the only priority in my life, and someone has to pay the bills. This doesn’t leave me with hours on end to focus on physical training and riding bicycles every day. So how long would it really take for me to heal to my desired level of athletic performance? After a long trifle of personal interviews, medical consultations and scouring the internet for relevant information, I have come to the conclusion that my next “racing career” (period of time when I will prioritize my competitive performance as a mountain biker) will begin now, with the goal to seriously hit the race circuit by May 2017. Eighteen months of rehab, training, building my strength, endurance, mental capacity and habits (the most important key here…) that will help me reach success in my desire to excel at the sport of mountain biking.
That being said, six months before I can ride dirt again seems far off, for now. But I know all too well; time ticks onward, and it waits for no one. So, while my garden needed tending, my house needed cleaning and the paperwork on my desk continued to accumulate, I spent the last month, before undergoing the knife, on dirt, with friends and family.
No Apologies! kicked off the party with an impromptu birthday ride in late October at Sandy Ridge. Wasting no time, I re-posted the event to the Northwest Trail Alliance Women’s Group. After all, who could resist celebrating at least three birthdays, including Sarah, Kerstin and myself. It turned out to be an amazing day in both weather and company. Some of my favorite adventure ride partners showed up to share the glory, and we worked every bit of the trail system we had time to put two wheels to; rock gardens, drops, big corners and off-camber rooted switchbacks – Sandy has it all. Following the more experienced riders, we tested our skills, raised our confidence and built a whole new coalition of camaraderie. At the end of the day, we left the scene on very satisfying terms; after all, what could be better than a shredfest of beautiful, strong, confident women… and cupcakes.
Breaking away from the travels up north, I also took some time to hit a few areas closer to home. I took a day to ride Carpenter’s Bypass (lovingly referred to as Whypass, by Eugene-local IMBA chapter, Disciples of Dirt) with my sweetie Matt. Whypass is a chaotic network of trails loosely following a “figure eight” structure around a main road. The trick to finding your way around is to remember which side of the road you’re on. However, the goods are worth a few minutes of confusion; twisting descents through a myriad of forest habitats, wide open viewpoints and multiple opportunities to “choose your line” make Whypass the perfect venue for anyone, at any skills level. What I love is that there really isn’t any extended time in the saddle spent climbing or going downhill – Whypass offers a balanced option for the classic cross country mountain biking experience, and makes for the perfect outdoor “gym” for those who are trying to build up their fitness. Blue skies, tabletop sessioning, and pedaling at a steady, even, pace gave me hope my cardio wasn’t as bad off as I thought.
But then I hit the North Shore Trail (or perhaps I should I say it “spanked” me) just outside Lowell off Highway 58 heading east from Eugene. A rolling river trail, North Shore boasts plenty of challenges to test both endurance and strength. You must be comfortable with constant elevation change – just when you think you can’t pedal up any longer, you’ll be pointing straight down again, right through the middle of a rock garden or a pile of roots with a sharp left turn and a creek crossing ending in a gear-thrusting grind up to the next surprise. A mere 12-mile out and back can become a technical nightmare quickly, especially when (like me) your back tire loses traction across a slimy, unkempt bridge and you’re thrown out of the saddle as your bike dives into the creek you thought you were avoiding by riding the bridge in the first place! Oh yeah, it made for a sore hip and a wet, squishy, shoe, but I persevered. While it continued to rain most of the day, I barely noticed, as I found myself chasing my friend Aimee on her single speed – and for her, single speed means just that; one speed; which is FAST. Needless to say, I didn’t get cold, and there was no dilly-dallying the ride “back to the barn”. We enjoyed an invigorating workout, followed by rainbows, tacos, hot tub and steam. I love riding with women. We know how to see it through – beginning to end, and we don’t have to feel guilty about spoiling ourselves!
A good mountain bike tribute in the fall wouldn’t be complete without combining a mushroom hunt into the mix. So I borrowed an extra bike and convinced my friend Angela to join Matt and I for a ride/foray on Larison Creek trail. Located just outside Oakridge off Diamond Drive and east on NF 21, Larison Creek trail is accessed off the west cove of Hills Creek, also known as Larison Cove. Poor Angela. My bike, though a size small, was still a bit too large for her tiny 5’ frame. Coming to a full stop left her unbalanced as she tried to dismount to size up a line, and unfortunately, she took a short topple off the edge of the trail. It was slow motion – three (yes three) endos into the brush. I raced back up trail to make certain she was alright, offering a hand, but she is stubborn, and declined my help, insisting she just needed to catch her breath. After walking down the descent, she was back on it, determined not to go home empty-handed. We culled through our “spots” without much luck, finding enough hedgehogs and chanterelles for dinner, but not much more. So we rode a bit further before turning back. That’s when Angela took off like a banshee… had all the coaching on the way out gotten through already? Suddenly, Angela was naturally shifting her body through the descents, facing roots, rocks, and small drops with ease. This was exactly what I had imagined for her – and I was so happy to finally share my favorite pastime with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Definitely a highlight before going into surgery!
The “piece de resistance” came the last weekend, just before I dove into the black hole of pain, scar tissue, and torture (uh, I mean, physical therapy). It just so happened that I was to drive Matt’s daughter to the Portland Airport for an early morning Saturday departure, so I decided to take one last opportunity to ride the north side of the state in unexplored territory. I put the word on Facebook at the last minute on Thursday, drove up Friday, and spent the night in Vancouver, at my friend Bridget’s place (also my No Apologies! teammate). Following a brisk delivery to Southwest Airlines, Bridget, myself and about a dozen of my PDX-based riding partners met at the base of Thrillium – a well-known downhill trail outside of Camas, off Hwy. 500 in the Columbia Gorge, on the Washington side.
To be honest, I was completely overwhelmed by the response of so many friends who came out to ride with me. On top of it all, two of the ladies in attendance were also celebrating their birthdays. While they could have chosen to spend the day at any number of other engagements, these folks came out to share the sunshine and the shred, with me! And what a fantastic day! We gathered our gear and bikes up between four vehicles and carpooled to the top of Thrillium for a couple of runs. The trail started out with an abrupt, vertical drop-in. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I decided to let it all go –fear, anxiety, worry about falling… all gone. I jumped in full throttle, chasing Oregon Enduro Cup series champ, Elaine Bothe to the next regroup spot. What a rush… rocky chutes and fast, steep corners, skinny passages between trees, root drops and a swift left turn before we piled out onto the road crossing. The next couple segments took us down a frozen wonderland of freestyle jumps, berms, step-ups and tabletops with hangtime for what seemed like miles. In fact, I think I probably caught my biggest air ever on the second run down. Chainless, I let off the break and launched a big tabletop, dumb-stricken during hangtime, thinking to myself “oh my god, I am flying… I’m way off the ground… my head is in the clouds…” and then, suddenly back on two wheels again, I finished out the segment with a greater sense of euphoria than I’d ever imagined possible while riding a bike. After our second run, it was getting near noon, so we retrieved vehicles from the top, shared cupcakes and exchanged goodwill before everyone went separate ways. Bridget, Inga, Jason and I decided to pedal up to the top of Cold Creek, making one last decent on the wild side of the hill before we called it a day.
While Thrillium shuttles are fun as hell, Cold Creek offered us a sense of adventure from a different perspective. First, there was the climb. A steep gravel pedal to the top of a power line road left my legs feeling like rubberbands that had been stretched too far. Legs shaking, I downed a REV’D bar and a couple of gels to try and get some motivation back in my muscles. The decent started out smoothly enough, but gave way to rock gardens and an open beargrass meadow delightfully dusted in snow. Skinny, exposed trails led to a sketchy shale ridgeline, requiring just enough speed to clear the last corner into a protected trail bed, but it was tricky. Too much brake or speed would have seen the novice attempt battered in bruises. But we all rode it with grace. Next up, I took a good spill shooting around a corner down a narrow channel of rocks, but I quickly recovered and tried to catch Jason, launching whatever booters I could find along the way. My confidence was soaring and by far, this was one of my best days out the entire season. We cleaned a couple of bigger drops along the way, and once again chainless toward the bottom of the last segment, I let out the throttle, pumping and jumping my way to the end of the line. Truly an amazing day, I left Inga and Jason with a couple extra cupcakes and drove Bridget home. Now it was time to head back to Eugene and face the music…
But not so fast! My band of “Merry Bikesters” would not settle for me spending my last day of mobility taking care of yardwork. Oh no, the blitz to bike my ass off before surgery was on, so Matt and I prepared for an early morning departure with our friend Carrie, hoping to squeeze one more shred session into our Sunday repertoire at Alsea Falls, a mountain-bike specific flow trail system located northwest of Eugene following Hwy. 99 barely past Monroe to a cutoff road toward Alpine and out toward the Alsea coast. The Alsea Falls Flow Trail has fast become my favorite go-to place to ride, in part because it’s only 40 minutes away from my front door, but also because it’s just plain fun. I can’t think of a time I’ve been there to ride bikes and haven’t seen everyone in my pack drive off with ear-to-ear grins. After a warm-up climb for about three miles – four, if you want to ride the top segments (and the extra mile is worth it, even if it’s a grunt) you’re in for the proverbial action-packed rollercoaster of mountain bike parks! From swift vertical descents littered with technical challenges, to smooth high-speed corners and sideways berms, tabletops, doubles and pump track sessioning to fast switchbacks, pedally root sections and grumpy little rock garden climbs, Alsea has something for everyone.
Upon arrival, we were pleasantly surprised to see our friends, Julia and Eriel, in the parking area, and just before we took off for the climb, Aimee showed up as well. Matt was our token man for the day, but he held out like a champ, patiently photographing our silly group portraits and attempts to session the big tabletop at the end of the central trail section, known as “Lower Highballer”. We had so much fun chasing each other, and in the end, I became chainless again, and somehow losing all inhibition, I transformed into the speed of light by pumping everything possible. My adrenaline kicked in as I felt my body loosening up and I became the hero I always wanted to be, jumping each and every double, landing perfect transitions and sliding into home base at the hoots and hollers of my companions. Another great ride in the books just before surgery, and little did I know or understand how much these experiences would mean to me after I would essentially lose mobility as I knew it, for at least six months.
Fast forward to now. It’s Monday, and a week after the surgery and those last few adventures that left me hopeful, inspired and determined to heal, no matter how bad the pain would get. And it’s gotten bad. The Tuesday after the nerve block wore off was the worst, as I lay crying out between the tears trickling down my face, my leg being manipulated into an excruciating state of flexion. These are the moments I hide from almost everyone, as I attempt to put on a happy face and focus forward on my goals, but real, nonetheless, and part of the recovery process… and hell, let’s face it – pain is part of living, and it’s part of succeeding. Letting go isn’t easy, and freedom isn’t free, but working hard means we get to play hard and the possibilities at the end of this rainbow seem limitless to me at this point. Already, I can feel a major difference in my knee stability; I just have to embrace patience and look at going the distance for a proper recovery, and for that, I will look back on these last few excursions for inspiration and courage.
You’ve heard, “life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Well, pain is part of that – trust me, it takes my breath away daily. But so is joy. That said, my mountain bike community has imparted an enormous sum of incredibly joyful, breathtaking moments on my behalf. I am eternally grateful for sharing these past few months with friends and family, both on and off trail, and know that I am drawing motivation and strength from each of these experiences, every day. I’m coming back –stronger, bolder, faster, and yes, a bit older. In the meantime, keep on pedaling… I’ll see you all on the flip side soon!
You never realize how much something means to you until you put it all on the line. What I mean by all on the line is: “to give whatever it is you are doing, every atom of energy that you have to give”.
For me this past weekend I realized that my dreams, goals and vision are truly becoming my reality.
Growing up my dream was to become a Professional Motocross racer. Every weekend we would load up the dirt bikes and I would watch my Dad compete in races. He was stunning to me, watching him soar in the air, rip apart the dirt from the surface of the earth and roll on the throttle like hell on wheels. My Dad is relentless, resilient and never backed down from his dreams. At 52 years old he is on one of the fastest series known to man. Parallel to a graceful poetic dance he finds the fountain of youth on the Moto America Road Racing circuit.
What is incredible is that my Dad retired from Motocross and Arena cross to make sure my sister and I were raised right. He raised me alone, my half-sister had a mom and our Dad, so most of the time it was just Dad and I. After decades of being out of the racing scene he taught my sister and I how to ride motorcycles. The first time I rode my own dirt bike I knew that I was hooked, already at only 6 years old. I rode around in a big open field on my Honda z50, the good old kind with a red metal gas tank, big wheels and leather seat. My Dad had to chase after me to get me to stop.
From then on it was an addiction I would not be able to relinquish. The racing gene was inside of me, it has shaped me, helped me grow and it challenges my capacity for growth everyday.
My dad discovered road racing at a track day at Infenion raceway in Sonoma, California on his newly gifted Yamaha R6. We could see it in his eyes, how the racing gene boiled inside of him, as he grinned from ear to ear. This one single day eventually led my dad into racing in the AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists) and he had his Professional-racing debut when he was almost 50 years old.
My dad displayed unyielding results in AMA SuperSport West and made the move up classes to Daytona SportBike. He currently is still moving up the ranks and pushes his limits not only as racer but as a father, my inspiration, my motivation, the apple of my eye and the person I think of when I’m on the starting line. In my mind he tells me that I CAN do this, I CAN win and I CAN achieve anything I put my mind too.
This weekend was my debut as a Cat 1 racer, winning my first race of the 2015 season. It also happened to be Father’s Day. Before the race I thought to myself. “Wouldn’t it be cool if I won for not only me but for my dad?”
The Pro/Cat 1 race-course was burly and unforgiving. My first time on the course Friday I wasn’t sure if I could make it down the full length of the rock garden. I managed to buckle up and gain my confidence & speed throughout the weekend. On race day June 21, 2015, I released ever atom of energy that my body, mind and spirit could expend. All I could think about was my Dad and how proud of him I was and how proud he would be of me for chasing my aspirations. My time was 5:13:68, winning by .18 of a second, the last few petal strokes and grunts of pain were worth it.
All of my tears, pain, heartache, joy, passion, optimism and strength came down to this moment. I cannot wait to race for what matters in the Professional realm next season. Having the racing gene wasn’t a choice but something that I was born with. If I had a choice I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Cheers to my Dad, Roi Holster for instilling in me the work ethic, passion and drive that it takes to be a successfully racer. I cannot thank my sponsors enough for believing in me and helping make my dreams a reality.
It’s Sunday. A day where most American’s go to church or sleep in and read the morning newspaper, go to their local breakfast spot and grab some eggs, bacon and toast with a steaming cup of coffee. For us it’s a bit different, our Sunday has become a ritual of waking up early, loading our gear and bikes, slamming down whatever breakfast we have at the house and cruising on the highway as the sun is rising to our favorite downhill spot in Yacolt, Washington.
Having access to the Cold Creek Trail System is one of the many advantages of living in the great Pacific Northwest. There are a variety of trails for different types of riding. Cold creek is one of the trails, for a more enduro style rider. Cold creek features bermed switchbacks that link corner to corner, a rock garden, a few bridge crossing over the river and is speckled with roots, rocks and fun all the way down the trail. There is another trail in the Cold Creek system called Thrillium, this is one of my all time favorite trails. It’s a dynamic downhill specific trail. It is shuttle-able, fast, technical, steep, rocky, plenty of roots, and has lots jumps. It is the perfect training spot to gain confidence with tech and speed. It is full of laughs, smiles, stories of close calls and most of all it makes trips that you will never forget with your friends.
Rob is an ex-pro downhill racer that has come out of a serious neck injury; this past trip to Thrillium was his second time on his new bike and he was sending it like he was never off a bike at all. Both Rye and I look up to him because of his positive attitude, his ability to always make you laugh and jeez this guy can shred.
Rye grew up shredding the mountains of Santa Cruz, which shows in his natural ability and flowing style. I admire those traits! He sees the lines through a different lens and is always teaching me new techniques to rip through the really technical sections of the mountain, which makes him great training partner.
Hi 5 Bikes teammate Gordo is so naturally gifted when it comes to riding bikes it amazes me. At the rate he is going I feel he will be at the World Cups in his later teenage years. This kid is flat out pinned all the time
This was the first run of Thrillium we have done this season that was dry. Normally until about the beginning of June it is still pretty moist and wet out at there. However, this May it has been so fast and tacky, it is some of the best conditions I have ever experienced on this trail. After riding in the rain back to back all winter, it is almost a learning curve to get back to riding tacky and fast rolling trails.
No flats, minor crashes and all of us in great laughing spirits, we packed up our bikes and heading back home as the sun was going down. I wouldn’t trade the experience with my friends and our bikes for anything.
By: Kerstin Holster May 15 – 17, 2015 BEEP BEEP BEEP!! My strikingly loud alarm clock went off at 4am from across the room. It was one of those moments where you jump out of bed so fast you don’t remember how you get to the other side of the room. Rye and I sleepily got up, chowed down some breakfast, slurped our coffee, hoisted the bikes on top of my Subaru wrx and sped away before the sun came up. Leaving Corvallis, Oregon behind for a 6-hour trek to Port Angeles, Washington all in hopes to be in that number one podium position two days from now. We pulled into the parking lot of Dry Hill about 10am right as practice was starting for the Category 1 classes. We ate a quick bite of bananas & granola and up we went into the u-haul to the top of track. Butterflies and nerves in my stomach, all from excitement of how this new track was going to be! As I put my 100% goggles over my eyes I took a deep breath, grabbed my grips and started my decent. The track was slick on Friday, lots of rocks and the berms didn’t seem to want to hold, and you really had to trust your tires. There was a few times that I almost lost control but I held it together with only a few really close calls. After 6 runs down the hill, I was loving the track. Steep, technical and it was a test to me as a rider. Saturday was when I really realized how awesome the course was. I ended up taking 7 runs down the hill and really started attacking corners and dialing in my lines. It was very warm on the hill about 65 degrees’ I am so glad I had my Royal enduro jersey on since it was so light and breathable. By the end of practice I felt confident about all of my lines aside from one jump towards the middle of the track. We watched seeding and pro qualifiers after practice and wow it was incredible. I couldn’t believe how fast the men and women were going down this track. I tried picking up a few lines in spots I had problems from the pros and watched with awe & inspiration in my eyes. I cannot wait to encourage someone like they motivate me. Sunday morning came around Andy, Justin, Wood, Rye and I sat around the table and ate some bacon, eggs and toast. We stretched and hustled around to get the rental house cleaned and packed before we left for the track. Let me tell you right now, Justin and Andy are some of the best cooks! I learned a lot from them this weekend of how important nutrition, stretching and sharpened focus could really help determine your results. We got to Dry Hill in time to put in some practice laps; the course was absolutely in perfect condition. The morning dew had helped retain some moisture in the dirt, it was tacky and rolling very fast. I felt really good about my lines and after I came down the hill, I was ready to race. Waiting up at the starting line for the timer to go off, I breathed in deeply and exhaled, repeated this process three times and off I went. One phrase kept repeating through my head “smooth is fast… smooth is fast.. Smooth is fast.” I barely heard the crowd yelling, I had tunnel vision, my heart was pounding as I pushed my riding abilities. It didn’t feel like long and I was on the final stretch I threw my shifter into second to last gear and sprinted hard giving the bike every last bit of energy I had left. I ended up in 4th place, we had a blast this race round; it couldn’t have been more fun. Great people surrounded me, we had great food and the riding was incredible, I can’t wait for the next race! My goals for training until the next race in Mt. Hood June 19-21, 2015 are to practice doing sharp corners that lead to jumps, carrying my speed and continuing to work on body positioning and form. I want to thank #Hi-5bikes, for all the support they have given me this season. Thank you to my sponsors #raceface, #ride100%, #royalracing, #thegravitycartel, #fox, and #7protection. And another big thank you to our awesome photographer Ruandy Albiseruz check him out on his website: http://www.ralbisurez.com/ or his instagram: @pnwroo , twitter: @ralbisurez , facebook: Ruandy Albiseruz
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.