I was nervous to head up to Montana for the Missoula ProXCT last weekend. Despite a good ride at Trans-Sylvania and the confidence that came along with that, I knew that the super top-end required for this level of XC racing was another beast all together. Oh well, the only way to get back into it, was to get back into it!

Master Wrench, Chris was in Park City for a Stan’s dealer event the week before and we cruised out like high rollers in the sprinter van on Thursday afternoon. We collected Kaila at the SLC airport and hit the road heading north. We arrived at our host housing at exactly 1am on Friday morning and quickly got to bed.

On Friday we went up to the venue to scope out the course, meet up with Amanda and make sure the bikes were ready to roll! The highlight of the day may have been witnessing a very near accident and some road rage in the parking lot of the local Whole Foods-ish health food store. Highest of high comedy. I kid, of course the highlight was racing the short track that night. It was super fun, tight racing. I was happily surprised to have a little top-end and dangled off the chase group where Amanda sat comfortably for much of the race, finally getting gapped off and losing a few more positions in the last couple of laps. Still, I thought it went better than the 16th place result suggested. Amanda pinned it for 11th and Kaila was just a bit behind me.

The XC race started with the HR in your ears like I remembered. I assessed how I was feeling and doing after each lap. After lap three, I was in a group of riders in 12-15th. I felt good and was pleasantly surprised with how things were going. But evidently my body had had enough. I didn’t implode or crack catastrophically but my pace slowed just enough that the ladies breathing down my neck had no trouble coming by. I lost four positions on lap four and another two on lap five, finishing in 21st. It stung but I’m trying to focus on the positive, which was that I was happy with how it went…for three laps. Given the year I’ve had, I guess there is a silver lining there. And hopefully the top-end will come around. Wisconsin and Nationals are right around the corner so the timing could be just right! Amanda rocked it for a solid 10th place and Kaila was just behind me.

Sunday we headed to another venue for the Super D. The course was amazing. Legit ‘D’ – pro women race runs right around 15 minutes. 15 MINUTES. I did a practice run and was stoked! Next up was our seeding run. There didn’t seem to be a huge purpose to the seeding run. Fastest seeding runs actually raced last for the race run but the course would hold up well, anyway. The point was, there was no reason to take big risks on the seeding run. So I kept a lid on it and used it as another practice run, albeit with a little more gas on the few pedally sections. About two minutes from the bottom, I came into a loose, chundery section. I’m still not sure exactly what happened; one moment I was in control and the next I must have kicked something up into my front wheel because I completely lost the front end of the bike. I clipped a tree with my bars, spinning them around and planting them in my side. I flung myself into the tree, bruising a rib, then hitting the ground and nailing my tailbone. That was a solid wreck and definitely shook me up. I coasted down the hill and pulled myself from the race. After a trip to the medics, some ice and a long drive back to Park City, I’ve been laying low for the last week – hey, this feels familiar. Dammit. Amanda ripped her race run to fiftth place.

Can’t say I’m totally thrilled with my return to ProXCT racing. But that is my own physical limitations. Thanks to our amazing sponsors, my equipment and nutrition was spot on. Big thank you to Stan’s NoTubesCannondaleKendaVerge, MaguraUvexeleteGriggs OrthopedicsfizikGUCrankbrothersNorthwave3TProgoldESI Grips and King Cage. We are so lucky!

Pictures coming soon!