Last year, I crushed Downieville with a 5th place finish in the All Mountain Category. My training and hopes were high this year as I prepared to better my previous years placing, and hopefully stand atop the awkward 4 man podium that I literally missed by a tire length last year.

This year, I was left disappointed and frustrated with my performance, making me question my fitness and overall racing prowess. I felt weak and underpowered during the XC race, and during the Downhill I flatted and had to re-air two times. Fellow racers have told me that you have good races and bad ones, but up to this point I had felt like most of my races were the good ones; as I felt strong, rode my heart out, and finished with a top or at least decent result. I had not yet experienced a “bad” race, where I felt underpowered and flat, but now I know exactly what they were talking about. This year in the Downieville XC, I started strong and about 30 minutes in I barely could turn the pedals over. Yes yes, I understand that the start climb lasts a good 45 minutes for the top racers, but it was not the climb that was slowing me down, I have done it faster while pre-riding. Was it my too fast of start, trying to hold the lead pack’s wheel? Was it my lack of heat training now that I am living in the San Francisco and currently in winter mode? Was it my stress from the night before, where I was messing with a punctured tire and leaky rim tape for a couple hours? Or was it the morning before the race, where I ate a meager breakfast after finding that my tire was flat again when I woke up? Yep, I had to re-tape my rim in the morning, leaving me with no time to eat a substantial breakfast the way I usually do before a race. Whatever my excuse is for underperforming at the Downieville XC this year, I know it was not my fitness, as 2 weekends later I was happy with my Annadel XC result.

Of Course Forrest Arakawa still got a great photo of me about 3/4 the way up the climb. Though I’m not sure where I was steering.

Photo Credit: Forrest Arakawa

Photo Credit: Forrest Arakawa