Kenda Cup West Sagebrush Safari 2010

After a few hard weeks of training, last week I was happy to take the week off. I did one ride midweek, and otherwise spent my time resting and chilling out. It was a much needed break both physically and mentally.

Unfortunately, the forecast for Saturday was grim. Pretty much rain and wind and cold temps all day. Justin and I got up around 7 to steady rain. We got together breakfast (devil grains!)

and then while I packed up some things and worked on our tax return, he was out in the garage grinding away at the mess that is 6.5 years of parts and tools. It was around 10:30 or so when I realized there was some blue sky outside. I rushed to get dressed and make bottles, and urged him to do the same.

Once we got started the roads had somewhat dried. 13 minutes in to the ride we started to get dumped on. That continued, then it dried out a little, then we got drizzled on for about an hour or so. Got to a decent climb, and it was feeling warmer. That didn't last too long, though. After the one descent we hit it was really coming down. Crazy cross headwind and just pouring rain for about 20 minutes. Most of the rest of the 3+ hours we spent riding into a headwind.

It was awesome to have my legs and body finally come around and work together. Everything felt like it was re-aligned and ready to go! Overall the ride was pretty stellar. Didn't get cold until the end, and energy levels were solid despite probably not eating or drinking as much as I would have on a non-rainy day.

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing final prep for the first race of the year, and some house cleaning (finally!).

Sunday we got up bright and early and headed south to Lake Morena for the race: US Kenda Cup Sagebrush Safari.

We didn't know it when we pulled in, but got a prime pit spot!

I hadn't had time to ride my new 2010 bike from Rock N' Road Cyclery at all! Did a parking lot test Friday night and that was it. Was stoked to have the new XX bling, but had no idea how the shifting or gears were gonna work out!

Brand new white shoes and mudfest?

Justin and I got suited up and headed out to do some warming up a little after 10 am.

Since we both raced at 11, no race photos!

I sort of expected a bit higher turn out for Pro Women, but in the end it was Pua Sawicki, Rebecca Tomaszewski (Niner Ergon SS!), Anna Fortner and Dot Won from Team So Cal (CX). At the start, I knew Pua would lead us out on the long flats to the first climb. A small gap opened up right away between Rebecca on her SS and Pua, and I worked hard to close and pull myself back to Pua. Was ok sitting in, but there were a few rollers and I realized I had a really long race, so let off the gas a bit, and the gap continued to grow. I didn't see any women behind me at all, so just kept my pace strong, but steady. Pua disappeared up into the men's class once the climb started, and I set out to catch up to my SS buddy Mark Scheetz! Finally got him at the top of the climb.

I was STOKED to hit dirt on my new bike. I was having so much fun pumping the singletrack. I talked to James post-race, and it's so easy to forget you are racing on this stuff! Just had a blast riding my bike. Unfortunately not too much later I was faced with a massive hike a bike section! It just keeps going! Made it up that, then was sort of trading places here and there with other racers on the rollers up top. Temps were colder for sure.

I got down past the muck pot at the bottom, and just as I hit the fire road to climb back up to four corners Brian Crooks yells, "Grab my wheel!" Well ok then! He did a monster pull for me all the way to the pavement where I finally felt awesome and put in some efforts. Got back to four corners and was stoked to hit dirt again. Legs were definitely starting to feel it by now. I hadn't done much in the way of hard efforts yet period, much less 1.5 hours plus of racing! Tried to keep my pace solid and kept moving. Once back to the hike a bike the other classes were out as well, so I offered encouragement and cheers where I could.

Back to four corners one last time, and I was ready to enjoy the final descent. There was some mud here and there, but it was pretty groomed compared to last year (freshly graded and DUSTY) so I just had a blast railing the descent and pumping the rollers at the bottom.

Was stoked when a Cynergy racer came around me just at the pavement and I sat on his train back to the creek crossings where I slowed up (still got inundated!) and then to the finish line.

Overall, it was an amazing day to race! My bike was flawless, race went about as expected. I was glad that I was able to put in a strong weekend!

Despite not feeling "right" with the trigger positioning on Friday night, and not having any idea how going from a 3x9 to a 2x10 would work out, everything came together worry-free once the race started. Felt like all the "gears" fell into place and I had no issues with a brand new bike or brand new shoes. Out of the box the gear just fit and worked as well as I knew it would!

Thanks to Rock N' Road Cyclery and Ergon for the support this year. Also, big thanks to Tim from Troupe and Crankbrothers for hooking me up with a set of SHOE SHIELDS. If you wear carbon-soled shoes and don't use these - seriously consider getting a set. Talk to your LBS and have them start stocking them. We needed two sets last minute Saturday and out of 4 shops locally only one shop had one set; the other shops didn't even know what they were.

Big thanks to Team Big Bear, Sho-Air, and all the people involved in putting on the race. Course was great and well-marked, results were pretty quick. Can't wait for the rest of the series!

I rinsed my shoes off with a SUN SHOWER (not a high pressure hose or towel) and here's what they look like:

I love Specialized!! Great design not making any of the fabric white. Stellar.