I was excited for my first MTB race ever. We pulled up to the event, and it was like all my tiredness from waking up at 5 am went away. There were tents everywhere with music playing, hundreds of people on bikes, and the cold wind blowing on me. I had put my bike in another car, so I set off to find it in the massive parking lot. Eventually I spotted my bike on top of a roof rack and got it down and registered it.
I warmed up with some teammates and did laps of the parking lot and a rocky straightaway. When 9:00 approached, we all headed down to the start line. I started from the back unfortunately, and waited for our group’s turn.
When the countdown came, I had some butterflies, but they all disappeared as soon as I put my foot down on my pedal. I sprinted forward, navigating my way through the field. I found a nice open pocket and drafted on Jacob. On the first turn, I lost him but kept in the lead pack for the straightaway. Entering the singletrack, there was a major slowdown. Me, being pretty new on clips, had to unclip and put my foot down. A few riders passed me as I slowed down a bit too much, but I was soon back with the pace. I raced head to head with Kaz and Lucas. I was on their tail the whole way up until the downhill, where Lucas dropped me.
Eventually, I started hitting some slow adults. It was a pain to pass since it was all very narrow. I think I lost a lot of time on the leaders because of this, and this was the first setback of my race. Lap 1 felt like forever, especially since I was riding it blindly. I was a bit nervous going through the giant granite rocks since I hadn’t had any previous insight on what line to take. After not really passing anyone except for slow adults and a few others of my category, I reached the beach. Making the sharp left turn out of the forest was sketchy, and I came into it way too fast. I slowed down and slid out off the track. I bounced up immediately and got back on my bike.
The beach was horrible, riding on sand and loose rock. A pounding headache and the sun beating down didn’t help either. I was completely gassed going onto the road, but that was the recovery area for the course. I took a few sips of water, and did the lap all over again. This time, I knew what I was doing slightly more. I battled with a few Berkeley kids and this one kid who was just there to race. Sadly, the beach was not any easier, nor any more forgiving. I was cautious about the turns, but it still got me. My tires slipped and I fell into a pile of rocks. I saw multiple riders pass me including Odin, so I quickly shook it off and started racing again. I was able to pass the people that passed me before, but the sandy doubletrack caused some more trouble for me. My tires kept sliding around, and at one point, it was basically all the way around. But thankfully, the race was almost over.
I powered through the last section, but I had already been passed by two people. I saw the final turn off and sprinted to the finish line. Crossing it was an amazing feeling. I had no idea how well I had done, so I just hoped I did well enough to satisfy myself. 17th, not bad for a first race where I had no clue what the course is like, and crashing twice. I’m glad I went and now I have the race experience so I can prepare better for Redding.
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