To Cali, Texas and BackMarch 12, 2012
Departing on February 26th, exhausted from the week of midterms I had just had, I navigated the all too familiar YOW terminals at 3am. Two bikes packed carefully away with foam into a hockey goalie bag, all fees avoided and alas we were airborne. Leaving the snowy north, which only got snowier over the next two weeks, for the 20 degrees and sunshine of the California west coast.
I was going to be staying with the Ontario Provincial team in Oxnard, CA for the next week. A time to get outside and log some longer hours that simply cannot be replicated in the basement. There was an amazing group down there, everybody was fun to be around which made for a good 6 days of mountain tops, surfing and beach volley ball. I didn’t trying surfing, because the water is damn cold and I’m a wimp, but I did enjoy watching everybody get smashed by the big waves.
After the team went back to Canada, I was left to ride around on my own for the next 4 days, while still staying in the same house with new Trek friends. I still had a good time out on the bike, even though riding on your own for 4 hours isn’t thrilling, getting lost in my imagination in hills around Oxnard. I still prefer riding on my own most of the time, although sitting a coffee shop isn’t the same alone.
For the start of March, it was time to pack my bags for Austin, Texas for the Mellow Johnny’s US Cup. Funny how the only time I didn’t feel like I forgot something, I forgot more than ever before. But still, there was absolutely no room in my bag so good riddance. This was another full day of plane hopping. Lots of delays in San Francisco due to rain, but eventually made to the hotel. I would say it was definitely hotter in Austin than Oxnard, but that’s probably due to the “humid heat” that was there. Texas wasn’t a dessert like I thought.
The race course was very fun to ride, really fast with lots of rocky step-downs and ups and only one or two noticeable climbs. That’s was my first time on a mountain bike this year so I was a little rusty. Got the bike broken in and felt out what it was like to run below 30 psi again.
When it came to race day I felt ready. Not world cup ready, nowhere near that, but confident I knew what I was capable of and what I wanted to achieve. Got lined up second row but somebody missed there pedal in front of me which caused some hold ups. Not the greatest start loop because of that but still in the mix, just outside the top 20 and gaining. There was hardly any room to move up through the field so you had to bid your time and rest until any moment appeared. Late in the first lap I was in a group ripping through this dried river bed. Dinged my rear wheel on a rock and instantly heard the sound you never want hear when riding in a hot air balloon! I was just less than 2 km from the tech zone at that point, but that was a very long 2 km run. Got a fast wheel change and kept going as fast I could. Slowly catching back to guys and having fun riding at my own pace. My lap times came out pretty decent for being on my own the whole time. My spare rear wheel ended up having a slow leak so I had to stop again and fill it up. But oh well, next time will be world cup ready and these things will be avoided. I still felt better than I have ever had this early in the year so things look good moving forward.
Almost all the snow is gone in Ottawa now. The roads are a little wet but it’s manageable. My next race will be in Pueblo Mexico for the Pan-American Continental Championships which take place, shortly after I turn 20, on April 8th.