Kristal's race was the last one the day before, and as she mentioned, it was really muddy. Mine was the first race the next day, and it was really cold overnight, so yep...frozen ruts. Let me start by backing up 4 years, though. That year Nationals were in Kansas City and the course was all frozen ruts. I crashed 3 times in the first lap and then froze up. I rode horribly--tense and nervous--for the rest of the race until I got pulled with two laps to go. That experience has eaten at me for 4 years now. As soon as I saw the conditions in the morning, I knew it was my chance to rewrite that. Preriding the course there were ruts everywhere. Kristal's group had ridden the best lines the day before, so those had the worst ruts. I spent 3 laps in recon, making sure I knew where the cleanest sections were and felt good on the climbs. I got to the start and took my place in the 4th row. At the whistle, I was able to get a good start and headed off the pavement in good position. Unfortunately, at that point, I saw contact happening to my left and another rider came off his line, stopping and blocking me against the fencing. I wasn't able to get going again until almost the entire field had gotten past. I knew I had to dig deep to get back in. At the next turn, I saw guys crashing all over the course, so I dismounted to run past them. I rode super aggressive and made it past about 20-25 guys before the first pass of the pits.
The rest of the race I worked hard to get past riders whenever possible. People were crashing everywhere and I'd be amazed if there was anyone that didn't hit the deck at least once. I crashed 3 separate times, including turning my ankle pretty badly dismounting in the sand pit on lap 2. In the end, I was the last rider not either dropping out or getting pulled from the race, finishing in 31st. I literally limped away from the finish line (and for the past week), with huge bruises all over my left side from crashing on the frozen ground. I had hoped for a top 20, but given the conditions and crashes, I was satisfied with the result.
That's the end of the season for me, and my best ever. I really want to thank all of our fellow racers in Colorado, our friends, sponsors, and especially Kristal for all the support and encouragement. Every little bit helps me dig that much deeper in mid race. I'm proud of how our little team did this season and look forward to great things in the future!
Thanks for reading.