Since the final months of winter, the best mountain bike racers in the world have been quietly gathering in Southern California. Flying in from either their homeland or preferred country for off-season training, planes from every hemisphere have been touching down at LAX since late February and unloading the fastest riders, most advanced bikes, and best mechanics in modern day mountain biking. The reason for this conglomeration of cycling elite? The start of the 2015 season.
With most of Europe, Canada, and the eastern United States still dealing with the lingering affects of winter; sunny Southern California makes for the perfect place to kick off the world's highest level of cross country mountain bike racing. This is exactly what happened just a few weeks ago in a suburb of L.A. as the Pro XC Tour got underway.
Having home field advantage, I packed up the car and made the trip down from Reno, NV just a handful of days before the first round of 2 back-to-back weekends of racing just outside of L.A.
Leaving the crisp, thin mountain air behind, the drive from Reno to L.A. is actually one of my favorite commutes in the long season of racing.
As my first race as an Elite Rider (rather than an Under 23 years of age professional), I found myself with a start position on the last row of the 125+ riders field in each of the races.
In my first race I made it up to 46th position, with my best finish coming on the final day of racing with a 25th.
With a 3-week break before racing resumes again in L.A. I've made the choice to head back to my home in the Sierra's to train on familiar trails with familiar faces before making the trip back down.
While the World Cups and National Championships are still a few months out, these early season races make for some of the most exciting racing of the year as all of the nerves and anxiety built up from the long winter off are released. If you are in L.A. on April 11th, swing by Bonelli Park to grab a fig bar from the Nature's Bakery tent and to check out the action.
And if you're in the Bay Area, head over to Laguna Seca Raceway for the famous Sea Otter Classic April 16-19.