What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas....
Forget that, I'm sharing all about Vegas!
If you've been following me for a couple years now, you might know that Vegas, for the past couple of years has been my kryptonite. My first year racing Vegas (my first really big UCI race) I had a last row call up in a field of 50-ish riders and finished in lucky number 13, my first ever UCI point! My second year of Vegas, I finished 11th, so close to the top ten, but just not quite there! The rest of the year I went on to finish in the top ten in every other domestic UCI race I entered. Last year, I was having a good race and was feeling really awesome, until at the bottom of the far fly over my bars slipped down, and I had to pit, losing the group I was in, and falling outside the top ten. Bummer. This year it was a World Cup, and my sights of a top ten finish, well the goal was there, but I just wasn't sure it was possible.
I had an okay call up, technically I was in row 3, not too bad, but when you're in a race with Euros, it's more like row 2.5 We're very orderly here in the US, at World Cup events it's a "shove your wheel where there is space" kind of gig. We started, and it seems everyone went quite fast in front of me, and I, I was passed by a swarm of people. A bad start off the line left me fighting for spots in the start loop. Everywhere I wanted to go, so did someone else, and I ended up falling even further back. By the end of the start loop I found myself near the back, wondering what just happened. Turns out...that wasn't so bad, because by the first big turn everyone was coming to a dead stop, and I was able to find some good gaps where people weren't, and passed 10-15 people. From there, same thing in the next couple of turns, by mid course I think I found myself mid pack, and apparently on the tail end of the chase group (even though I felt like I was constantly chasing)....it's funny how when you're racing you perceive something so different than what viewers see.
Two laps in I realized how bad it was hurting and how if I kept up this pace I was going to blow up like balloon, so instead I dangled off the back and watched as girls fell off the back of the group nearly every half lap. Each time someone fell off, I would catch them, work with them, and then attack when I felt like I could, and then catch the next person. If you followed the race, you know I gradually worked my way up to 13th place. The last lap was one of the hardest laps I've done, my right leg was fighting cramps and I knew the gals behind me where closing in quickly. I kept yelling at my left leg, WORK HARDER, so my right quad wouldn't cramp. I stayed as focused as I could and put every effort I had in to the very last few turns to cross the line in 13th. The last lap I kept telling myself how badly I wanted 13th place, how I didn't want to be caught (obviously I was hoping to catch up to 12th place), but 13th was somewhat symbolic to me. My first big UCI race I finished 13th in Vegas, and the first Wold Cup in US soil I finished 13th. It's like my lucky number now.
My favorite part of Vegas was staying in an awesome host house off the strip. It's such a different vibe in Vegas when you can stay somewhere away from the Strip. I also planned the trip with Mical Dyck, so it was really fun to have a traveling buddy for the duration of the trip (of course Chris came too but only for parts of it), and she was a lovely travel partner, and of course Chris did his job of building bikes and acting as head Chef for Mical and I, it was quite wonderful, thank you!
The day after the race Mical and I rode around the neighborhoods by our host house and then we went and toured Interbike, which is always more exhausting than you think it will be, do you think they spray sleepy gas into the hotels there so you will buy coffee or water? Even though the Trade Show can be exhausting it's always a great place to catch up with sponsors and see other industry friends. I love getting the chance to chat with my sponsors in person, thank them, and hang out at their booths for awhile. My favorite part was heading over to the KASK booth and seeing my Infinity helmet they made for me last year on display on their "Wall of Fame" for all their Pro Athletes helmets. Pretty awesome if you ask me. They've also dedicated that pink as "my pink", also pretty awesome.
Friday Mical and I packed the car and took the incredibly scenic (thats a joke) drive to Reno to race CrossReno, put on by Teal Stetson Lee. I wanted to go to this race originally since the Montreal WC was canceled, I figured why not, WD40 bike was supporting it, there was a decent prize purse, Nationals are going to be in Reno in 2018, and I thought, heck why not. As the trip started to get closer and the season finally kicked me in the face, I was regretting my decision, the weekend after Vegas is always really exhausting, and being at home sounded really awesome, but I had made the plans and I was sticking with it. I'm glad I did, I was able to experience Reno, race one of the hardest CX races I've ever done, and hanging out with the super fun WD40 gang (and my friends at the races, which is always awesome).