Jimmy Lucchesi reports: Racing the Fontana Winter Series is a unique experience that many SoCal riders experience, as it’s one of the only sources of racing in the harsh SoCal winters. Being so close to so many people, the Fontana series serves as a hub for much of the Socal mountain bike community; thus the tribe that routinely makes the pilgrimage to “Fontucky” is a dusty neon blend of oldschool jean and T-shirt racers, local weekend warriors, lightning fast up-and-comers, and the occasional world champion. Personally, I don’t know what category I fall into, but I love going to Fontana because there’s always good competition, a fun atmosphere, and riding bikes is fun.
I decided to make the jump up to the Pro class for the Super D this year with my new Process 111 by my side. I had been keeping up with training, but typical pre-race jitters combined with some excess pounds I got for Christmas and nervousness about the Pro class had me more uneasy than the first time I asked a girl to dance. My goals for the season were to stay competitive, use this series as a tool to improve my own riding, and as always have fun on my bike and make some new friends.
When I first saw the results sheet at the first race I breathed a huge sigh of relief, followed by a tremendous amount of frustration and the urge to race again. I was in 6th, comfortably in the middle of the pack, but only a handful of seconds from 3rd. The thought of being so close to the top kept me fired up all season. After a healthy mix of mechanicals, crashes, and podiums, I was in 2nd for the overall going into the championship weekend.
Going into the fifth and final round of the series, I was super excited, because even though 1st overall was out of reach, it was a close race between three of us for 2nd. I was also excited because this was the first race my mom had ever come to, and I really wanted to impress her and show her how much racing and riding meant to me. Temperatures were approaching 90, and the course had two steep climbs as well as a long flat haul to the finish so even though it was only six minutes long, everyone knew it was going to feel like an eternity in the pain cave. I had a strong start, slipped a gear on the first climb, but downshifted and motored up the rest, tried to keep it smooth on the descent, punched up and over the second climb, and settled in for the “Wall”. The “Wall” is the last minute of the race at Fontana; it’s a flat, all-out sprint to the finish through the dust of the last racer. When I crossed the line I was happy not only because I could fall off my bike into the fetal position, but because I didn’t crash, and my ears were ringing from pedaling so hard, so I knew I had given it my best effort.
When results went up I was even happier because I had finally won! I maintained 2nd place in the overall, and won my first Pro race in front of my mom. I told her and gave her a hug, we stayed for the podium, and then I left Fontana a very happy man.
This season at Fontana was a really fun experience for me. I learned what I need to do to take a few seconds off, that I could compete at the Pro level if I kept working hard, and made a bunch of new friends that I have plans to travel, race, and ride with throughout the year. I had a great time and am even more excited about all the awesome summer racing to start.