Meeting Goals in Moab

I’m someone who believes strongly in the value of setting goals for yourself, both on the bike and in everyday life. 2016 marks my first full year of racing at the professional level, and accordingly, I’ve laid out many goals for my progress on the bike and my performance on the race circuit.

Sun out, tongue out. Photo by Sean Ryan

While,  “Get faster,” and “Don’t be DFL” are some legitimate goals I have, perhaps the one I’m most keen to work towards is to stop making excuses for my performance or my results. Coming in to the year’s first enduro race for me, the Moab Enduro Cup, I kept that goal in the front of my mind. I was feeling fit. I was feeling good on my new bike: the Pivot 429SL. I knew I had a great bike for the courses and terrain. I had a chance to pre-ride three of the four stages. In a nutshell, I had no excuses and was ready to work hard.
 
The morning of the race, Noah pulled up the list of riders who would be competing. Nearly 20 pro women – fast pro women – were signed up for the race, and I felt like I had little chance of contending for one of the podium spots. Instantly, that desire to make excuses for a race that I hadn’t even raced yet reared its ugly head, but I chose to suppress it and headed out for the first transition with the crowd of ladies.

It was a beautiful morning to be riding at Moab’s Klondike Bluffs, and I was stoked to line up for the first stage. I focused on keeping my eyes trained ahead and pounding up the brief climbs that punctuated the stage, managing to take fifth place for the first bit of racing.

Two of the next three stages I felt similarly great: focused, strong, and happy, I cruised through the transitions and worked hard on each stage despite a ripping headwind. The third stage didn’t go according to plan, however. A horizontal line of tape was laid to demarcate the course, but I unwittingly turned right where I should have gone left. Once I realized my mistake, I was a ways off course and my attempts to turn around quickly deteriorated into jumping off my bike and running back up the hill I had so quickly descended.  A later peek at Strava proved I’d lost about twenty seconds due to my mistake, which was far more than the 15-second difference between 6th and 10th place, my final result. With only 25 seconds between my finish and a podium spot, I felt my gaffe keenly, but sternly reminded myself not to make excuses for my performance, and instead focused on the overwhelmingly positive outcomes of the race.

I’m genuinely proud of my performance at the Enduro Cup. Racing pro with a group of incredibly fast women pushed me to try my best. I didn’t let my little mishap affect my mental state on the remaining stages. I finished strong. And while I ended up with a 10th place pro finish, the close times among my fellow competitors only reinforces my determination to push harder next time. It was a great learning experience, and while I hope to stay on course next time, I’m eager to try even harder, learn more, and to keep taking ownership of my performance in my next race, the Grand Junction Off Road.

-Sparky