Race Report by Brooke McFerren, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
This is my first year racing with The Path Bike Shop team, after moving here from Florida last year with my husband (and fellow Path Bike Shop team racer) Peter Osborn. We are happy to have found a “bike shop home” at The Path and are proud to represent them racing cross country this year.
We were looking forward to race the Non-Dot OC Classic Race 2 at Aliso Woods since we raced a few Non-Dot events last year and knew that they throw fun, challenging and well-organized events. The Aliso Woods event proved to be no exception! This year had a fantastic venue at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park in a beautiful shady area, and the course had some changes from last year.
This is also my first season racing Elite Women and I have been enjoying the challenge of “moving up”. The competition is awe-inspiring and all the women racing out there at every level have been so welcoming and friendly. In fact, as our small group lined up at the start line and took off, it felt almost like a pleasant Saturday “Girls Ride” rather than a typical XC heart-attack leg burner start! I knew however that soon enough, the true racing would be coming! Sure enough, after almost 5 miles of slightly inclining fire road at the bottom of the canyon we were heading up Cholla in a freight train of Super Sport Men and us “girls”.
The course this year entailed the Elite class heading up Cholla once, down Rock-It, then up Mathis and down Rock-it twice before the 5 mile sprint back to the finish line. I knew pacing myself for the two climbs up Mathis would be key, as well as staying smooth and not making tired mistakes on the technical rocky downhill of Rock-it since I would be descending it three times! Once we got to the fire road above and were headed to Rock-it, the pack broke apart and I found myself alone on the course. Luckily I had received some great advice earlier for the Rock-it descent, found a line I was comfortable with and bounced myself down the rocks without incident. My goals for this race weren’t to win necessarily but to complete smooth consistent laps and conquer the Rock-it trail. It was tough going mentally at some points as I stayed fairly alone on course, and the climbs up Mathis were indeed tough, but there were amazing volunteers all along the course c heering me on which helped my tired legs and lungs keep going.
I’m happy to say I completed my goals, with 3 laps down Rock-it within 3 seconds of each other. I couldn’t have been more consistent if I’d tried! I also PR’d Rock-it, my climb up Mathis and several other sections of trails. It was a proud accomplishment to finish a tough race at the Elite level and I hope to continue to progress and meet my goals in the upcoming season. I want to thank the Non-Dot crew and their amazing volunteers, both Peter and I look forward to their events in the fall. I also want to thank The Path Bike Shop for their support, especially in welcoming a couple of new-to-the-state racers to the fold!