A couple of weeks ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone again and raced the Bent Wheel Bash, a XC race in Abilene. I think this makes my 3rd ever XC race and so far they’ve all been fascinatingly different.

This course was actually pretty well suited for me; there were a lot of flat out, wide open (single track) where the biggest threat was in drifting off the trail into a lot of cactus. Interspersed throughout the course were a series of rock gardens like I’d never ridden before. I may have mentioned it… but rock gardens really trip me out. I came to the conclusion that even though my instinct was to slow down as much as possible on them, the best thing to do was pick a good line and just ride over it.

The ride had a bit of a CX effort feel to it. There really weren’t a lot of places to recover on, and I just tried to push it every chance I could, standing up in the corners and just tried to keep the pressure on.

I’ve been struggling with paying too much attention to my Garmin and letting the # effect my mindset. On the morning of the race, I set it up on a new screen to show only time, distance and speed. No distractions with HR and just went as hard as I could at any given moment.

I worked really hard on being smooth on the twisties and descents and just picking good lines and maintaining momentum through the rock gardens; and very much enjoying the moment and the good sensations.

My legs and cardio felt really good and my fitness kept my position in the race; I’d lose time in the rock gardens and then could power away from the better technical riders behind me. Every climb and every time the course opened I felt strong.

I finished in 6th place out of 11 riders I think – it’s not where I want to be finishing still; I’m not going to be completely satisfied until I reach the podium. But I can see it from here and today was a very good effort. Progress has been made. A year ago, I wouldn’t have made it through the rock gardens without a major problem – if I made it at all!

As coach keeps telling me – believe in the process and the work and it will pay off in the end!

6 months to go until CX season starts, I can’t wait for the challenge.