Grand Junction Epic Rides: A New Chapter

This weekend at the Grand Junction Epic Rides event, I was a new person. This seems like a pattern for me. Over the last four years, I’ve transformed from person to person; following new dreams. Four years ago, I didn’t even consider myself a cyclist. I was a triathlete with an affinity for the bike. Clif supported me in this huge transition and I became a new person as my mind transformed to believe I was a cyclist and as my body morphed to meet the needs of the sport as well.

Through every step of this process I was searching for a moment. I think it was many moments, however, that have shaped me and made me who I am. Each Collegiate National Title added fuel to my fire and confirmation in what I was doing. I found myself moving through the field and standing closer and closer in the start call up. As I finished this final year of college, however, I couldn’t help but think there was something missing. I felt like there was part of my potential that I couldn’t tap into until I held a diploma in my hand.

This past weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado I could finally feel that potential bubbling at the surface. As I mounted my bike on Friday evening for the Fat Tire Crit, I instantly felt that a new page had turned…and this is a chapter I’m excited to start.

On Friday evening, the streets of Grand Junction flooded with spectators and I weaved through the fans to arrive at the start line of the 6 corner asphalt Fat Tire Crit race. We were scheduled for 20 minutes plus 3 laps of full gas racing. I felt a sense of calm on the start line that I had never felt before and as the siren sounded to start the race I knew it would be a good outcome.

Grand Junction Start
Photo: Bill Freeman

With so many corners in the event, I knew that a spot near the front of the pack was essential as the group yo-yo’d around every corner. I followed my incredible teammate Katerina around the corners and closed and followed attack after attack. With 5 laps to go I told myself that with 1 to go if no one made a move, the job was mine. 4…3…2…and I wondered if I would follow my silent promise to myself but as we rounded the corner with 1 to go I was sprinting off the front and never looking back. In the end my attack was too early and I finished in the sprint finish 8th, but I had set a new standard for myself.

After a day of rest and pre-riding small bits and pieces of the technical beast of a course, we lined up again on Sunday morning for the 43 mile body-jerking course. As we began the race, I again found myself calm but a little further back than desired. I found a comfortable rhythm and prayed for motivation in the form of someone to chase. Entering the 8 mile climb I found myself about 90 seconds behind 8th place. As I charged up the climb, my body begging to slow down, I was chasing Clif gels with more Clif gels and pushing on. As I neared the top of the climb I passed 8th place and rounded the corner to find 7th in my sights. With about 1 hour left of racing, anyone would have thought we were coming up on the finish at any moment as we sprinted no holds barred for the downhill single track. As I followed the wheels through the single track, I couldn’t help but smile at the progress I have made as a descender. A course that would have left me inching along in years prior, I was riding blind without apprehension. 7th, 8th, and 9th place all rode within each other’s sights for the final hour of the race as we brought out the best in each other and pushed each other to the finish line. Ultimately I crossed the line in 9th with a huge smile on my face, because for me…that wasn’t the finish, it was the start of a new chapter.

Grand Junction Attack
Photo: Dave McElwaine

Cover Image by Kenny Wehn

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