A much more on time blog coming at you here! 2021 MTB Nationals... it's been a longgg two years since we were last in Winter Park! I loaded up my van on Tuesday the 6th and rolled the full 13 hour drive in one go, arriving late(or early in the morning that is). Wednesday's ride was a few hours of endurance with some intervals, Thursday was a recovery ride with a lap on course, and Friday I did leg openers with another course lap to get the legs firing.
Saturday at 11:15 it was time to put all the work to the test. The field hit it hard off the line and riders swarmed around me. As the climb kicked up people settled into their places and I moved up towards the front and pushed it to enter the single track in 5th wheel. I followed Paul and Bjorn for the first lap and moved into third place as we hit the main climb on lap two. I pushed the pace to the top and Bjorn and I separated from Paul. Bjorn jumped around me before the descent and I put about 15 seconds into me the rest of the lap.
From there the gaps held steady for the rest of the race. Bjorn and I climbed at about the same pace but he kept putting time into me on the descents and I was unable to close the gap. In the end I rolled in for fourth place. It was a damn good and hard race. Life has been tough for me lately for a multitude of reasons and to still be able to line up and put together a solid race at 9000ft of elevation is something I am quite proud of.
Speaking of life being hard, things became even harder on Saturday night. I talked to my mom on the phone and found out my grandfather was not doing well. I was fortunate to be able to talk with him one last time on the phone and see his face. I knew the end was near for my Grandpa Bill, and I asked my family not to tell me what happened until after the short track event on Sunday. But, I knew in my heart that he had passed away that night and I went to the start line knowing he was gone from this world. But, I talked to my family and they reminded me to put my heart and soul into this race for him, to fight with everything I had and to do it for Grandpa. How could I do anything less when his last words to me were "Go get 'em buddy."
With all that in mind I went to the start-line and held myself together with the determination to do it for my grandpa. I had a rough start and entered the single track somewhere in 15th to 20th place. I quickly found my legs and moved into the top ten on the second lap, and into the top five by the third lap. Bear teammates Bjorn, Robbie and I separated ourselves from the rest of the field and pursued our other teammates Riley and Dax. Eventually we brought Dax back and Riley stayed away. As it came down to the last few laps we had enough space ahead and behind of us to start employing some tactics and conserving energy between attacks and such. Going into the final lap we thought Dax was gone from our group but we were surprised by him by an attack from behind. We all surged hard and Robbie made it to the front with me on his wheel.
We put in a solid gap and it came down to a drag race into the finish. Robbie popped out of the single track and kept on the gas. I closed the small gap and found myself still accelerating, in the draft and with him maxing out his rolling speed. I sat up for a brief moment and then launched my sprint successfully taking the second place spot.
It hurt like hell and I was proud to have put everything I had into that silver medal. The support and kindness from my friends, family and teammates, team staff and more made it that much sweeter.
In the end it was about as much as I could ask for out of Nationals. Two great results, good memories and lots of fun. There was no shortage of hardships but as I grow older I'm learning that is an unfortunately large part of adult life, so you just have to roll with it, show up, and still execute.
Thank you to Julia, Colby, Kyle, Julien, Alec, and Jackson for running an absolutely top notch program with Bear National Team. These people make our incredible team possible. I am so proud of all my teammates for their incredible results. I'd mention them all, but there were far too many national championships and podiums to mention! Thank you to all of our amazing Bear National Team Sponsors, Englewood Grass Farm, Kuat Racks, Industry Nine and Wiscanna CBD. Thank you again everyone for your kind words, love and support! On to the next.
Be sure to checkout my vlog below for more day to day life details, race footage, tidbits and more from this trip:
Photos by Alec Levy- O'Brien, Jackson Morann, Ann Beckett and Monica Fabian.