Lining it up in SoCal has become the official sign that race season is here. Round one of the Pro XCT and the US Cup took place in Fontana, California this year. I left sunny Colorado just as a spring storm was about to hit that eventually brought 8 inches of snow! Good to see as it was a dry winter back home.
Myron drove my new Scott Spark RC and Scale RC out from Tucson. Therefore, Friday involved dialing in the bike setup and pre-riding the course. I'm quite fond of the Fontana course as it has a longer sustained climb compared to other courses we race.
Despite there being a $10,000 purse for the US Cup overall, a lot of guys skipped Fontana which was a bit surprising. Fontana didn't pan out to be my best day on the bike. I didn't feel like I was able to make myself suffer like you need to in an XC race and I had a small tangle up with a tumble weed that decided to get stuck in my drivetrain. I came away with a 4th place but still wanted more out of myself. Short Track the next day was about the same. I couldn't push that extra little bit to really bury myself and came across in 5th.
Photos courtesy of Johnny Muller
In between Fontana and Bonelli I hung out up in Big Bear with the Wells crew and Myron. I've been at altitude the last few weeks so it was nice to stay acclimated and ride around in a new area. It was a fun week even though Cooper, Todd's kid, was beating me up all week in our afternoon races!
We cruised down to Bonelli Friday morning. The course is always similar with a couple minor changes. This year they took out 170 feet of climbing per lap. It sure didn't feel like it, however. I do think it flowed better than years past though.
This weekend the field was quite a bit deeper relative to Fontana. I had a pretty bad start and was probably in about 40th after the start loop. I nailed it on the last pavement section before going into the single track as I knew there wasn't much room to move up out there. I moved up to around 20th or so but this also put me in the red before the first climb.
After two laps, I was in a world of hurt and unsure if I could maintain the pace I was riding. I was with a motivated group at the time luckily. It's always easier to bury yourself when you have a wheel to follow. As the race progressed, I felt better and better. Evan Guthrie and I spent just about the whole day together and by the final lap we were knocking on the door of a top 10. He got the best of me and I ended up 11th. Not amazing by any means, but not terrible at the same time. I was much more pleased with how I rode in Bonelli than Fontana. I have a bit of time to keep working before my first goal of the season; Sea Otter!
I'm currently sitting 3rd in the US Cup with 2 more races left to go. It will be hard to catch a flying Blevins, but with mountain bike racing, anything can happen!