Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The debut - Pro XCT Fontana City National!

Let's just say I was stoked when after a little bit of prodding I was able to get my upgrade to the Pro/Elite ranks for the remainder of the 2009 race season. I am still a little sad about missing out on points/ranking that I would've gotten for a possible top-5 at Bonelli Park in the Kenda Cup West, but no regrets. I'm stoked that I was given the opportunity to race with the fast ladies for the rest of the year!

Last week was a rollercoaster for me with a lot of unknowns! Was I going to be lapped and pulled? Would I be able to complete all 4 laps at race pace? No more what-if's!

Friday afternoon came around quick enough, and Justin and I packed up the goods and headed north for some course recon. We had ridden the SRC course the weekend before, but found out last week the course would be changing drastically, with a "new" climb up the old elevator/ladder ascent! It was rumored to be steep and loose.

It was pretty warm when we were suited up and heading out to ride, but I figured it would be similar to race conditions come Sunday. We headed out for a cruiser lap and even though there hadn't been hundreds of feet pounding up the hill yet, it wasn't a climb I was able to clean! I hopped off and hiked up, and we finished off the lap talking race strategy.

We finished up a second lap, and while I felt like I could do more, I knew it was time to call it a day. I took in some calories and we headed south to get back home and cook up dinner.

Saturday was a really chill day - short ride with a few efforts and then hanging out and completing race day prep (getting the bikes dusted off and in perfect condition, putting all the bottles together, packing the cooler with food and water, packing up clothes, etc.). It was supposed to be really nice and easy, but unfortunately Justin took a digger in the last few minutes of our ride and wound up with some massive bruising and cuts. He wasn't sure he would able to race. As much as I would've liked to sleep in on Sunday morning, and not have to worry about support and feed zone time, I told him that he had worked too hard to not race; if he could walk - he would be on the start line!

Sunday morning came around quick and we wound up with a killer parking/pit spot that morning that would yield a ton of afternoon shade (and a front row seat to the motorcycle show!). Justin set up the pit area and got his bike on the trainer while I sat in the truck trying to stay warm and figure out what I was doing racing Pro!

He had to do an extended warm-up as they delayed his start a bit. But, it seemed to work out okay. He took off for the line and I gathered up my chair, his race bottles, a water and a bar for me, and took off to catch the start.

After his age group took off I went to find a spot to hang out in the feed zone. Sat down with my feet up on the mini-cooler for a bit until Tim from Troupe Racing came over. Cool to finally officially meet and chat with him! His team continues to grow and is getting great results.

I realized after the bottle hand-off on lap 2 that I had never done a bottle hand-off before! Good thing it went smoothly!

Thanks to Mark for the photo with my camera!

The other laps went off without a hitch, and I cheered on some of my Cat 1 buddies (Rachel, Lisa, Heidi, Steve, Ryan). I noticed some of the Cat 1 women in my AG looked fast! They were smoking out there!

Justin seemed to be easily in a top 10 position throughout. I had trouble keeping track since everyone got mixed together, and a few of the front runners weren't "marked" with their #'s. Either way, as Justin set out on his 4th and final lap I started back to our pit area to get on my race clothes and do my warmup. Time was running out!

Hopped on the trainer right around 11 am (11:30 start!) and was hoping I'd get in enough time. There was a pre-race call-up that would be going on. I found out that morning that I'd be called up last since I was the newest racer (no results). I had assumed as much, so wasn't worried about it. Just knew it meant I had to make some smart decisions and try to pass where I could!

Justin came back over a few minutes after his race, and a few minutes before mine. He did a few last minute bike checks as he said he got 5th in his AG!! Awesome!

I quickly rolled over to the start about a minute before the call-ups began. It was so cool lininng up behind the World and National champions!

My nerves seemed to be in check, but the HR was definitely slightly elevated!

Soon after it was GO time!

The start was a mad dash off the line. No one hesitated. There was some jostling for position and some slipping and sliding. I ran up a few of the hills I was hoping to be riding, but no worries. We all kept it moving!

I put my head down and cranked out the flats and before I knew it I was on Krista's wheel heading up the big climb. I wound up off line and had to run up the entire climb! So painful! I was not about to give up any positions, though.

I spent the next half a lap trying to decide if I should put in efforts and pass, or just sit in. I passed a few times. Two of the women caught back up to me on the rocky climb near the end of lap 1 and passed me back as I had to dab and run up the hill.

Lap 2 I wound up passing Chloe and Kathy and spent the remainder of the race putting in efforts to stay in front of them and not let the gap close down. Kathy was putting in some massive efforts on the climbs to close the gap, so wherever I could I was pushing it to keep it steady!

Lap 4 I begged my legs to hold out for another 20 minutes as I continued to put in efforts.

I spent a lot of the race on my own, sometimes in the wind, and sometimes just enjoying the singletrack and railing the course like it was a Sport SRC race! I was suffering pretty badly cranking along, but kept it moving. I decided lap 4 I wasn't going to hold anything back and cranked out the final turns and finish straight harder than I had any of the other laps. I wasn't sprinting for position, but pretended like I was!

I was so stoked to have finished and held on to a top 10 position! The women I had gone back and forth with were great competitors and kept me challenged. It was great!

Due to the effort I was hurting pretty bad. Breathing was painful. I took off shortly after I came through to hop back on the trainer and do a good cool down. The motorcycle show was about to start, so we needed to get back to the parking lot before it was a mad house!

I was having trouble thinking straight, but Justin hooked me up with my road shoes and some post-race nutrition. All I wanted was a wet towel and some water, so I focused on taking in some fluids and cleaning up my face before I did anything else.

Stoked, but in so much pain!

Not too long after Justin went to get our free In & Out, so I figured I'd spin until he got back. I was ready to enjoy the fruits of my labor!

(First lunch)

Eventually I got myself together enough to go watch some of the Pro Men's race. It was awesome to watch all those guys come by!

We hiked up the elevator/ladder climb (again! #5 for the day!) and I sat down for second lunch

A few minutes later I realized it was women's podium time, so I headed back down the hill to cheer on the top women. Amazing efforts!

Eventually we were running out of steam (and out of water), so it was time to head home. I enjoyed some quality time on the couch…

Overall, I am totally pleased with my day. I can't wait to keep testing myself and learning this year. I hope I am able to remain competitive at this level. I've got a busy 2 months ahead! Very excited about it all!


Justin said...

So proud of my girl!

You definitely have pushed me in racing/training/life.

I will be there to support you 100% for however long you want to race at this level. (or untill our bank account reaches $0.00) :)

jameson said...

AWESOME!!! good beer choice too!

see you guys on sunday. the course is so fun.

Luke said...

the start of a long and rewarding career! congrats!

Zippy said...

NICE!! It's fun watching you improve!

Ryan Weeger said...

Like Justin said too, you gotta be totally proud of yourself. Thats an awesome result for a first pro race, its really cool to hear your report too. And...you guys really love your dogfish head, all of your "beer photos" basically have the dogfish. See you at sagebrush, its definitely more than 700' elev., damn geoladders. The course is AWESOME!

Vu said...

You totally killed it in your first Pro race!!

Those Pro women better look out.

See you and Justin at Sage Brush

Sonya said...

You are my hero!

Sandblogger said...

congrats again!...no Weins kit?

Pedal Circles said...

Matt - I've only got the one club team "uni", so for any races that are back to back days or pre-ride/race when we're out of town I'll be wearing the Wiens gear :) It fits WAY better too!

Robert Herber said...

Congrats on an AWESOME race!!!! I was so stoked to see your name in the TOP 10! Keep it up and it will pay off!!!

Congratulations on your debut!