No good April Fools jokes, other than my twisted chain in the first 7 minutes of today’s 1st Stage of the Cherry Blossom Classic road race in The Dalles, OR. First road race of the season, and turns out the joke was on me about the whole “racing” part. Had to pull over and remove the broken links and un-bend the rear derailleur. It all took long enough so that I spent the rest of the day doing good solo training effort and enjoying the sun. TT and crit on Saturday, big circuit race on Sunday. Still getting the mechanicals out of the system it seems…

As for LAST weeekend…on the way to Pro XCT #2 in Fontana, CA last weekend, I was actually feeling bummed that the forecast was looking rainy and cold (cold for SoCal, so 50s). Turns out, it actually made for the best condition I’ve ever experienced at the race. I’ve only been to Fontana twice before, but each was dusty and hot – a big leap from the cold & wet in Seattle. This year the tacky dirt was awesome, making for good traction and fast riding overall…except for the infamously steep Fontana climb, at the beginning of each lap. For 2011 they nearly doubled the length up the double-track, which the promoters claimed to hit grades of +30%. Either way, it was sufficiently steep for 5 times around.

I was eager to test my early season form without any mechanical setbacks (in the Bonelli Season opener I flatted in the both the XC and STXC). In 2010 at this same race I struggled to maintain a top 15 position and faded to 21st. This year I sat sturdily in 12th/13th, eventually finishing 13th. Here’s a pic from the race on Cyclingnews . After taking some time to recover after the XC, I trudged up the steep hill one more time for the start of the Super D. The Fontana Super D course actually warranted a lowering of the seat on the XC bike, at least by my observation. All of us XC guys got smoked by superstar 4-Crosser Brian Lopes. The course definitely favored a more enduro-oriented bike (and a full pre-ride or two!). My XC rig and no pre-ride made for a good challenge, and I could only muster a 14th.

With the test of early March races past, and still maintaining the balance with a full-time job at Ridgeline, I’m feeling good about where my form is heading for the season to come. Consistency is honest and a good platform for improvement, so with Bonelli and Fontana as my starting point, it’s already a big step up from last year. One of the biggest motivators has been all of the congratulation and support from all my friends, family, co-workers and fellow riders. From my own perspective there are always improvements to be made, self-criticisms, goals to focus on, hard work to do…all motivating in itself. But it is even more special to have so many people take the time to notice. Thank you for the motivation. Looking forward to the big show at Sea Otter in a couple weeks.

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