I have just returned home from the USAC 24 hour National Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I am happy to report that I achieved, with your help, a season long goal of becoming a National Champion. I won the Solo Single Speed category, a result I have dreamed of for many years. It is a fitting end to a long endurance season, and a testament to hard work and the support you have given me. Thank you!
The race started Le Mans style at noon on Saturday. Since it was a mass start I had no clue what position I was in during the first lap, but when I came through the transition area I heard the announcer say that I was leading the SS race. From that point on I tried to my laps as consistent as possible.
The course was by far the most challenging that I've ever ridden for a 24 hour race. Not only was it technical, but it was also 7,000 ft above sea level. That's pretty high up for someone who trains and races at 700 ft above sea level. The 13 mile loop consisted of twisty singletrack with a lot of rock gardens and rock drops. I really liked the course. The technical parts kept things interesting and the views at the top of the climbs were amazing. It was a true National Championship course. Despite being in the middle of the city of Colorado Springs, Palmer Park felt like a ride in the Rocky Mountains. Watching the sun set over Pike's Peak while racing my bike was quite an experience.
For the first half of the race I focused on pushing myself as hard as I could, just up to my limit. At midnight, the halfway point, I was in 3rd place overall against all of the geared women, and building a 2-lap lead on the second place single speed woman. By sunrise only one geared woman was in front of me. After working hard all night, I was able to finish early on Sunday morning and claim the stars and stripes jersey as the Single Speed Champion! A dream come true!
My race was almost flawless. Pushing my gear and body to the limit there are always little issues to deal with, troubles that creep up over such a long event. But this race was so smooth. My Salsa Selma single speed performed amazingly well on a course that almost all other riders tackled with full suspension rigs and 20 different gear ratios. Prior to the race Kenda provided me with Slant Six 29ers. This was my first time racing on Kenda Slant Six's and I was really impressed with how the tires gripped in the loose and rocky trail. My ZTR Race Wheels from Stan's, which had seen a full season of brutal riding, held up perfectly.
I enjoyed the use of new Avila Hydrapaks, the perfect accessory for the dry 80 degree conditions last weekend and was lucky enough to have my lighting sponsor, Nite Rider, there at the race with their charging station. As usual, my lights performed very, very well.
There are so many other sponsors that I have to thank for helping me with this National Championship title. Twin Six provided me with custom kits and Rotor Cranks helped me put more power into my pedals. Optic Nerve even came through for me on race day, delivering brand new sunglasses in the morning to race in. I also need to thank Ergon for protecting my hands with the best grips and gloves in the world, Cane Creek for outfitting my bikes with the best headsets in the world, Dumonde for keeping my chain lubed, PowerBar for keeping me hydrated and Topeak for the awesome accessories.
Huge thanks as well to Andy Applegate and Carmichael Training Systems. I moved to CTS early this year and I am simply amazed by the results. Andy has somehow found more endurance and speed in my legs and body than I ever thought I could have. After years of racing some of the longest and toughest events in North America, I have newfound strength on the bike!
I have to give special thanks to my local sponsors. Ada Bike Shop lent me the technical assistance of their head mechanic, Ted Bentley. Ted has wrenched for pro teams in the past, and his expertise shows. He built and prepped my bikes the week prior to the race and kept them running during it as well. My chiropractor and strength coach, Jason Ross at Train Out Pain, worked with me all year on improving my strength, especially my upper body. It paid off during nearly an entire day of nonstop riding (and sometimes running) with my single speed bikes. I also have to thank all of my family and friends, who believed in me and lent me what they could so that I could achieve my dreams.
Winning a National title was the perfect ending to a really great season and I couldn't have done it without all of you. And even though my season is officially over, I will still be spending large amounts of time on my bike. Next weekend my friend Juli (Fusion/IT) and I will be competing against over 700 teams in a 4-hour adventure race. I have no clue what to expect but we are going for the win I also have my eye on Salsa's new snow bike and a few winter races that should keep me in shape during the off season!