During the week leading up to my race at Soldier Hollow, I was able to take some time off and do school virtually in Utah while riding trails and acclimating. The first part of the week went by pretty quickly as I enjoyed riding some of the best trails in the country at Corner Canyon and cracking down on school work.
On Friday my dad and I drove to Soldier Hollow to check out the course and dial my bike in. The course was essentially one long climb followed by a gradual descent. I enjoyed the flowing descent back down to the start area, it also gave my legs a well-needed rest after the climb. Friday night was spent packing my bags for the drive home and a lot of sitting around which helped the body for Saturday.
I arrived at the race venue around ten, giving me two hours before my race started. Although this was the hardest and most competitive race I have ever done in my life, I treated the preparation similar to how I would with any other. After I arrived I put it on my plate and took some time to meditate before I began warming up. During my warmup, I felt more fatigued than usual but I dismissed it as it’s never too helpful to focus on the negative so close before a race. I rode to the start line and was called up in the last row since I had no previous USAC points. Although it was slower to start in the back I knew the only thing I could do is make up positions. On the first climb, I was able to catch up to the back of the middle group and sit on their wheels during the descent. On the first descent, I lost a couple of positions due to the aggressive riding of the others. I rolled across the finish line heading into my second lap already very tired from the previous lap. I dug super deep trying to keep my position on the last climb and I’m happy to say it worked. I played it conservatively on the last descent and came across the line in 44 out of 67, racing some of the fastest kids in the country.
The verdict: I’m satisfied with what I was able to do last Saturday in Utah. I felt I gave it my all considering my circumstances with the high altitude that hindered my aerobic power and back row call-up. I had a great deal of fun racing and preparing during the week before which is the most important part in my opinion. I hope to make more of the national tour cross-country races in the future and see how much I can improve with some hard work and experience.