This past Sunday was my first race of the 2017 season. Dry Hill in “always sunny” Port Angeles provided a gnarly slip and slide of a track, due to the endless rain here in the Pacific Northwest.
Friday was the first day of practice in the rain. The Washington dirt seemed to hold up pretty well for the weather and the slip and slide was not yet in full force. I rode the first practice very conservative to inspect different sections of the course. This was my chance to get my riding feet underneath me… seeing as it was my first day on my downhill bike for the season. If there was ever a track to test new components on, this track and weather was the ultimate test. SR Suntour hooked me up with a new RUX DH fork this season so this was my first chance to dial in the settings. I set the air, rebound and compression by feel and tried it out on the track. I was astonished, barely having to change the settings at all the RUX handled the gnarly trail like a dream.
Saturday I met up with some old friends Liz and Jesce who welcomed me into their group of riding buddies riding for CyclePath. These guys made my weekend! Suddenly, I had a pack of fellow shredders to scope lines, encourage each other and practice with. By the end of the day we were all riding, laughing and having a great time. Lifting the stress of racing nerves with the laughs and stoke of good friends is a great feeling. I felt loose and more confident in muddy conditions as I ever had, trying some new lines and skills I probably would not have if I had been practicing alone.
The rain continued through Saturday and I made the choice to change to my Maxxis mud tires, with a Wetscream up front and Shorty in the rear. Having never ridden with mud tires before, I wondered if this was going to be a beneficial last minute change. The early morning practice run before finals in the afternoon would be the test.
Sunday was race day. Starting with one practice run at 7:30 am. The track had been slaughtered by the pros seeding Saturday afternoon in the pouring rain, making the conditions slicker than ever. My practice run confirmed my mud tire switch was the right one. Having more grip, more confidence and was ready to race.
I was able to put down a clean run (clean = not falling, not clean by definition.) A slight mishap occurred in the new section of the track, where my front wheel ventured just outside the 6 inch rut of mud and brought me to a complete stop. Unclipping, I kick pushed myself out to get going again. It surely cost me some time, though I was still very satisfied with my race since the rest of my run felt fluid and smooth. I learned so much about riding in wet, muddy conditions. This was a great way to start the race season off, building up my confidence and experience in different riding conditions.
I ended up placing right in the middle of Cat 1, being 6th out of 12 ladies overall. I am happy with my result for the beginning of the season, and looking to improve my racing as the season progresses!
I want to thank my sponsors and everyone who makes my racing dream possible!! I COULD NOT do it without your help!!
Shoutout to Patsplit for the rad photos! Click on his name and check out his photos… maybe there are some of you!