This article was originally published on Haley Smith's website.
The 2015 race season is officially underway. Which is pretty bizarre, considering it’s only March 16th. Us Canadians are used to a much later start to the calendar (seeing as how there is still 3 feet of snow at home), but there’s no room for complaining when an early start means 3 weeks spent in California!
After flying down a week early to get some altitude prep in at Big Bear (hitting up PanAmerican champs in Colombia later this month), Dan and I headed to San Dimas to race the first US Cup of the season at Bonelli Park. The course was pretty typical of California – let’s just say it was not “Canadian technical”. The course rewarded road-style fitness and lungs that were impervious to dust inhalation.
A scorching heatwave rolled in just in time for the race on Saturday – Garmin read 35 degrees celsius as the average for the race – and everyone knew it would be a huge factor. Nonetheless, the women lined up ready to go in circles (7 times, no less) for 2 hours.
After the start loop, I found myself cresting the first major climb in about 7th-9th place. I hung for the first lap, before realizing that the pace was unsustainable (read: insane) for the heat and my lack of acclimation to it. I settled into my own pace and rode a steady race to come for 12th Elite and 1st U23 across the line. Phew, that was a tough one!
Props to Mitch for the feeds and the unreal race commentary! I have to say it was exciting to watch the live (tape delayed) replay later on Saturday and see all the Canadians crushing it. Canada’s got lots of fast guys and gals to look up to!
Once we dealt with the business on Saturday, it was time for the “fun” race on Sunday: the 20min pain-fest known as the short track. With the length and intensity of the race on Saturday, I think it’s safe to say none of the ladies knew exactly what their legs would be able to deliver out there. Surprisingly, my legs did alright. ~300m into the race, I found myself rolling up the outside of the group on the climb and came out in front. I figured I might as well go for it once I was out there, so I pulled off the front and solo’d for 2 laps (before the other girls inevitably reeled me in haha). Definitely not the smartest decision, but it was nice to test the old legs and see what would happen. Gutsiness has got to be worth something, right?
When I was caught, I clung on to the tail of the lead group and stayed there until it disintegrated into a strung out line on the final lap. I rolled across in 8th – happy with staying up there after an early, hard effort! It was super fun, in a masochistic sort of way
Catharine sure puts the hurt on!
All taken in, it was a great weekend of racing to kick off the 2015 season. Can’t wait to get out there again!