SoCal: Firestone and Fontana NMBS

Early May brought back-to-back weekends in SoCal! Could have been awesome and convenient, except they fell right around the end of the school year with final papers and classes on the week between.

Firestone was frickin hot! I don’t deal well with heat and was super bummed when we showed up on Saturday and it was sweaty, hot, and humid. You couldn’t get comfortable at all. Mo and Themba marched off to do the DH races and Tsering got ready for the STXC. The STXC was dusty and exposed. This course almost made me happy there’s no STXC for non-pro women… almost. Tsering and our friend from Stanford, Todd, battled it out in the Semi Pro category. Todd ended up having a better day than Tsering, later getting 5th in the Super D.

The DH didn’t go so well for Mo, who double-flatted on her first run. Themba was stoked to come in 7th in his first DH race on a hardtail.

The next day would be the XC race for us all. Mo and I started mid-day and the heat was unbearable. The temperatures were near 100 degrees and half way through the first long, exposed hill, I started to feel like death itself. I was falling off the back of the pack and felt like I was riding backwards as all the women who I’m usually ahead of slowly passed me. I had nothing and my head was pounding from the heat. The day before I did a pre-ride in the afternoon and didn’t bring enough water with me. Race day I had a lot of water, but I was already dehydrated. Coming into the feed zone, I was seriously considering dropping out. Themba was kind enough to cheer for me and encourage me to just finish. I stopped, refilled all of my bottles, dumped cups of water on my head, and set out to finish the race at turtle-pace. At the front of the race, things were a lot better for Maureen, who came in a solid 2nd place despite the heat and her black kit.
Tsering battled it out with an even later and hotter start. His race was a complete disaster with 1/3 of the field taking a wrong turn and extending the race by 3 miles. Firestone was sadly understaffed with race volunteers and no-one was course marshalling this critical corner. The race leaders were understandably miffed when they finished the race in 10th instead of 1st or 2nd place. Tsering managed to avoid that disaster but fell and scraped up his finger pretty bad. Not wearing gloves is good for the heat, but bad for the skin. He finished a solid 35th and we all piled into the car, cranked up the AC, and headed back to the breezy Bay Area. Tragically, my camera fell out of the car at a gas station and now seems to be broken. So if you notice a lack of pics, that’s why.

Fontana was much more bearable weather and almost kind of nice. Our buddy Rob Herber let us stay at his place in Murietta and were both excited at the chance to race a course we were familiar with from collegiate racing and last year’s NMBS. Tsering’s race was early- Friday afternoon. I helped him get ready and watched the Semis fly off the start line. I was stoked to see Tsering just outside the top-20 and looking strong as he came through the feed zone after his first lap. Tsering stayed in the mid-twenties the whole race, finishing 26th, his best NMBS result of the season.

My XC was on Saturday and I was pumped! I might be the only one, but I love the Fontana course! It has a great balance of climbs and descents, technical and fitness sections, and some stuff that’s just crazy like descending the concrete ditch. You just have to embrace the gritty urban madness of the scene! I started out strong and was amazed that at the top of the first long climb, I was right on Rene’s wheel and comfortably in 3rd. It felt great to be in sight of the race leaders! The wild card Roaring Mouse endurance racer girl eventually passed me on a climb, but I stayed pretty close to Rene. She was never fully out of my sight. I finished the race in 4th and was thrilled to have a race finally come together for me. The best part was that I never got caught by any of the older expert women, I was towards the front of my category’s race, and towards the front of the expert women overall. It was a much-needed confidence boost for me.

That same day was the Super D which started out with a rather super climb. The whole race was an all-out battle and I was once again towards the front. Everything was clicking and even as I was panting and out of breath, I was smiling. At one point I almost passed Beverly, the gnarly fast girl from the CCCX race report, but she edged me out by a mere 10 seconds in the end. I came in 3rd, my best finish of the season, and was stoked!

Tsering battled it out in another brutal STXC the next day. The course was super fun for spectating (up the whoops on the 4X course) but must have been rather painful for the participants. Regardless, I got my kicks cheering for Tsering and Robert and spraying them with water on the climb.
Apologies for the lack of action shots from Fontana, I miss my camera 🙁