Tropical Challenge C1 and Pan-American Championships
Hello all! Long time no update here... and my apologies for the two month late update on this race. Life has been hectic with racing, training, coaching, etc!
So... kicking off the 2021 season here after a long awaited return to professional racing. The last UCI race I did was back in September of 2019 so it was pretty special to return to this arena of racing. There were a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through to make it into Puerto Rico but overall it was not terribly difficult. The Bear National Team flew into San Juan and then drove over the mountains an hour to Salinas.
We stayed at the Olympic training center outside of Salinas and spent the first few days dialing in the course and of course checking out the beach!
Come Sunday it was time to hit the gas again in a fully stacked pro field of 75 riders. With no UCI points my random call up placed me in the last row around 70th call up. Needless to say there was nowhere to go but up!
Right from the gun I was able to avoid the carnage and start moving up. The course was tight and twisty but had great open climbs where I could pass. The legs were phenomenal and I was able to just rage up every climb.
I moved into the top 30 then 25, then 20... and almost to the top 15. However I probably over did it a little bit making a few aggressive passes and by the last lap I'd lost contact with two good wheels than went on to finish inside the top 15. I placed 17th which I was pleased with after starting last row start and in such a stacked international field. I was the 4th u23 rider and 1st u23 American finisher.
The rest of the next week was spent relaxing, riding and staying out of the sun. We explored the riding in the mountains and dialed in more lines on course. When Sunday rolled around I was fully focused on my goal of hitting the podium in the u23 Pan-American Championships.
I was in the second row but had a slower than ideal start after the rider in front of me slipped out of their pedal. I was sitting around 20th up the first climb and slowly began digging through riders as a I worriedly watched the front group pedal away. Thankfully the legs were good and I made up ground bit by bit into the top 15, then the top 10 and finally made it to the group fighting for the podium.
I worked my way into that group which splintered and then chased back on again on the third lap finally making contact with the group of four fighting for second place. A few minutes later I made a small mistake and slid out in a corner. It wasn't much of a time loss, but I wasn't able to reconnect to that group and spent the next three laps dangling in 5th place. One rider from Chile caught me up the final climb unfortunately and I finished in 6th place. Checkout the video below for a race recap!
All in all it was a truly fantastic trip! Flying off to a tropical island to race my mountain bike is pretty much a dream come true. Huge thank you to my team and all of our wonderful staff and sponsors for working so hard to make this trip happen, keep us safe and help us all race at our best. For a much more in depth look at this race watch the vlog below!!!