After a good week of training, we finally headed to the next race venue in Andermatt to pre ride the course. I had a rough pre ride. On the first lap, I had a crash that landed me in a stream, soaking wet. I had a hard time getting this section of the course dialed, I was embarrassed and shook up from crashing in front of so many people, but eventually, I found another line that I could ride smooth and fast and went on with the lap. After this, I wasn’t riding well. I was still out of it from going down and from being covered in mud and water. I crashed again pretty hard on another part of the course and was feeling really discouraged and drained. I did one more lap and cleared everything, but it was not an ideal day with the race tomorrow. I did everything I could to shake it off, so I wouldn’t let this affect me in the race. Luckily, my family, friends,and coaches all helped me relax and reset.
I woke up the next morning with a new mind set, and I was determined to have a great race despite how my pre ride went. I watched the boys race earlier that morning in the pouring rain. I knew this would change the conditions of the course even more, and being from southern California, I don’t get much practice riding in wet weather. I’ll admit this made me nervous, but I quickly shook it off. “You’ve done this before, you’ll be fine,” I told myself. At 11:00, it was time to kit up and head out for a warm up. It was still raining, but it wasn’t too cold outside and my legs felt good. When I was finally on the start line, I felt calm and couldn’t hold back a smile because I was in Europe, doing what I love, among some of the best in the world. I thought of all my family and friends at home who were rooting for me and everyone who reminded me to race with a smile on my face like I always do. I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
Minutes went by like seconds, and before I knew it, we took off. I missed my pedal off the start but eventually got going and used the wide fire road start to move up. During all the chaos of the start, another rider rammed into my front wheel, braking two spokes. I didn’t notice. I kept moving forward. At this point, I was sitting in 5th. Then, up the steep climb, I moved into third. We headed up the main climb which consisted of a series of tight switchbacks on a steep grade. I was still tight on second’s wheel, feeling great. Then, I heard a loud noise and I was no longer moving forward. My chain fell off and was lodged in-between my cassette and the spokes. I struggled to get it back on as a long line of girls went passed me. Finally, I got the chain back on, and at this point, everyone was running up the climb, so I sprinted full speed sneaking by riders when I could and jumped back on when we finally turned for the down hill. I could have let this end my race, but I kept moving forward. I was aggressive and made passes doing my best to move back up through the field. Eventually, I came around to where I landed myself in a stream during the pre ride, but I was not nervous. I rode smooth, and I made another pass here. I headed through the feed zone and was told I was in 8th, “it’s okay,” I said, ”keep moving forward”. I went through the finish line and put the first lap behind me, 5 more laps to go, plenty of time.
The next laps went fast, and on the third lap, I was told a pack of girls, 4th-7th, was just ahead. I sprinted hard until I caught a wheel and was in the pack! I expended a lot of energy to get to the group, and I was hurting, but I would not let myself fall back again. I worked too hard to let go now. I used the steep climbs in the beginning of the lap to my advantage. I got in front here and began to grow a lead on the pack. Soon, I could see third. I sprinted to catch her wheel, and when I did, kept pushing forward. I attacked and pulled away.
The last two laps, I told myself to leave everything out there. Spectators told me second was close. I wanted it. Soon, we were on the last lap, and I rode the climbs feeling fast and felt smooth on the descents. Towards the end of the lap, you loop back around the other side of the single track, with obstacles on the road, to head to the finish line, and at the very end of the turn, second was on the other side. I did everything I could to catch her wheel, but I just didn’t have enough in me. I came across the line in 3rd, 20 seconds back. I was more than happy with this result after such an exciting race. I have been fortunate to not have to deal with any mechanicals before this race, but they are a part of racing and bound to happen eventually as I’m sure they will again during my racing career. At the end of the day, a series of unfortunate events resulted in one of my most successful races. More than anything, I learned that the fight is not over until you cross the finish line, so you can’t let off the gas just because things aren’t going perfectly.
I am so thankful I got the opportunity to race in Europe and represent the US. I learned so much and I’m more motivated than ever to keep training hard and moving up. I cant thank Marc Gullikson enough for all of his support through this trip and Julien Pettite for keeping everyones bike dialed the whole trip!