My initial three weeks in Phoenix culminated with a fun little stage race at McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills, AZ. Our team was doing tons of photos and stuff around the race so we didn’t really bring our "A" game, but we were there to stir it up.
The first stage was an 8mile time trial around the desert. Very bumpy, lots of twisty, turny singletrack.. a fun course. I chose the K2 Razorback SL because the rear suspension really helped on the super bumpy sections. Unfortunately, I encountered a rider with a problem on the trail, in a blind corner, and the only line around her was through a rough little rock garden, and I flatted. I hadn’t put any Maxxis tires on at the time and the flat cost me a lot of time for a 36 minute race (for me, the winning time by Chrissy Redden (SUbaru-Gary Fisher) was 33 ish).
My teammate, Dara Marks-Marino, did well and took a podium spot for the team in fifth, and my other teammate Lisa Matlock was around me in the standings.
The next day was the short track, about a 1000m loop with a cool singletrack section. I didn’t want to finish as a group because I desperately needed time to start clawing my way back up the standings. I got the hole shot off the start line and went mental for three laps just to see what would happen. By the end of the second lap, Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and I had gapped the field and we were trying to distance ourselves further. We worked really hard, I had a couple of scary moments where I bashed into stuff, and we came to the finish together. I rode the Maxxis Larsen TT on the front and a High Roller on the rear, and all the bad lines I chose didn’t really matter. Chrissy finished first and I took second with her, and Kiara Bisaro (Gears Racing) was third. Dara moved into fourth overall with a sixth place in the Short track and Lisa finished with a group in 22nd.
The final day was the Cross Country, three laps, and was guaranteed to be a very short race. I needed two minutes to move into the top 3, and I needed more than that for second, so my goal was just to make sure I moved to the top 5. It was HOT, like 94 degrees, and the course was really smooth with lots of wind so there was tons of drafting. I decided to try my short track tactic and see if it would work for the XC…. and told my teammates that was what I was doing. I went super hard off the front, and halfway through the lap, Chrissy and I were away, but Kiara was dangling close by. I pulled hard, trying to get us away from the field and Chrissy and I worked well to keep moving fast. The end of the lap came so fast with us going about 23 minutes for the first one…..and the end of the race came even quicker. There was no chance for me to get away from Chrissy, so I just attacked as hard as I could about a km out from the finish, and managed to gap her to come in alone, with her very close behind, and Kiara coming in third.
The win in the XC was enough to move me up to fourth overall which was good for my first race of the season…Chrissy Redden(Subaru-GaryFisher) was first overall, Kiara Bisaro(Gears) was second, Kelli Emmett(Specialized) was third, I was fourth and Trish Sinclair (Gears) was fifth. My teammate Lisa had a great race, coming 10th in the XC and Dara had a rough day but still rode at the front and took 9th overall.
So I would like to thank my team for helping with my first win of the year… my coach, Houshang Amiri at Pacificsport National Cycling Center, Team Ford and our extra help from Ian Abbot, David Myers and Paul Alman. I would like to thank Ford Motor Company, K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Cliff English (Competitive Edge Training Systems), Arq Salon, Pacificsport and Deuter.