Ava is one of our stellar Juniors (because she’s fast AND has a great head on her shoulders) from Durango, and she’s had an eventful summer! Here’s part 1 of a 2 part series exploring her racing endeavors.
My summer began early this year. I left school a week before the last day and began a very hard summer season. This being my first full season of racing I became very ambitious and used every bit of time available to me. So, beginning June 1st I participated in a week long USA Cycling Talent ID Camp for junior riders. I was the only girl who signed up, which was kind of a bummer, but keeping up with boys my age impressed the coaches a lot. Camp headquarters were at the CCU campus in Lakewood and we rode all over the area. I had never been to Red Rocks before and the view was well worth the fast climb.
During the camp they put us through power tests and then analyzed our numbers at the end of the week. My numbers were high enough and my riding skills were good enough that they invited me to race for USAC in August at the Colorado Junior Challenge. But that was months away.
After road camp I embarked on a mission to complete my track certification in three days, before I had to go back to Durango. Raced the Wheat Ridge Crit on pretty tired legs the day between the two and had a fun race with a decent result. Then, I worked one-on-one with the coaches at the Boulder Valley Velodrome to get my certification classes done. I had never ridden on the track before and was nervous about the fact that I didn’t have any brakes. It didn’t take long to get over it however, and soon I was flying around the track with these amazing riders they called in to teach me. By the end of the three days I had done all six courses and graduated from track school.
The next day I drove all the way back to Durango and had five days to prepare for amateur nationals in Truckee, California. I went on one group ride, just to fill everyone in on what I had been doing, and a couple easy road and mountain bike rides. With our Pathfinder packed full, and our trailer of camping supplies hitched, we drove the 13 hours to north Lake Tahoe. I had one day before the road race to spin and check out the course. I wasn’t feeling great, but I rode down the long descent and climbed up to where the finish line would be the next day. The finish was at the village of Northstar Resort and I found all the other Colorado juniors hanging out up there. After talking with them it was clear everyone was nervous about the climbing and especially the very last push up to the line. I didn’t feel any better.
Nevertheless, the next day I woke up early and my dad drove me out to the start line. Warm-up and race prep went fine and everyone seemed cheery and nice for the moment. We rode as a group across the flats and I led the pack towards the first steep climb. All was well until some of the climber girls attacked hard and I wasn’t prepared to go that hard. The main pack rode away and the other people who were dropped, including myself, worked together to try and not lose too much time. The leaders had a huge gap and we never caught them. I finished in a fine place and wasn’t too upset. I showered and changed and went back to watch the junior boys finish, the other Durangoan had a top 20 result and that made the day better.
Next was the time trial. The TT was completely flat 20k out in the desert, warm up went well again, and I was feeling good. My race started and I held the average speed I needed to make a top 10 time, but after the turn-around I consistently lost more and more speed and thus time. The event that is normally my natural specialty did not go well at all. I still had one more chance to redeem myself in the criterium, and I came very close to doing just that.
The crit was a 1 kilometer course in downtown Truckee, it was also very technical and dangerous. People had been crashing all day long on every part of the course. My whole field knew what was going to happen when the referee blew the whistle, and it happened very quickly. The two fastests girls took off and blew the whole field apart. I had kept a decent place and was working to catch the others in front of me. Girls were crashing left and right, due to sprinkling rain that began soon after we had started. The motos had been pulling riders behind my group very quickly and we were next. But before I could cross the finish line for the last time, I crashed in the most technical corner of the course. Very little damage was done but I had never gone down before and didn’t know what to do. My bike was fine and my injuries were not severe, just a lot of road rash. I made the mistake of getting off the course to find the medic tent before I officially crossed the finish line and therefore was counted as DNF. It was an upsetting blow since I would have placed top 15 had I not crashed on my last lap. So, we packed up our campsite and drove into Reno so I could take a shower and clean my wounds. The next day we drove back home. And then it was finally July….