Our Pro GrassMoots racer Kelly Boniface is on (to put in mildly) a hot streak as of late. She is typically more into the 50+ mile races, so when lining up with the super fast twitch women’s pro field at Mountain Bike Nationals she didn’t know what to expect. For those of us that know her, we had a pretty good idea that she’d give it her all….which she did. The result? 16th in a field of the best women in America. Kelly has been riding aboard a MX RSL this year…which she describes as “rocket ship”… She writes about her expectations and her experience…..
XC Nationals from the Viewpoint of Kelly…….
Driving up to Sun Valley Idaho from Steamboat Springs I was running the numbers in my head: am I really going to spend 20 hours driving this weekend for a sub 2 hour race? And, a 3.6 mile loop that I would ride in circles 5 times? I must be crazy! But, I’d never been to Idaho and it was the National Championships after all.
The town of Ketchum did not disappoint. It is beautiful with a cool vibe similar to Steamboat. I really enjoyed the people I met (huge thanks to the Johnston family that hosted me) the restaurants and shops I visited, and the fantastic trails I rode the day after the race.
Oh yeah…the race! The best way to describe that course is HARD. Although, during the pre-ride I heard it described by fellow pro riders in a few different ways that aren’t fit to print here. We started up a loose, gravely fire road that got progressively steeper as we climbed. Steep to the point that by the summit on the final lap I was turning the pedals over so slowly that flies were landing on me and I was sure one of them would tip me over.
Then we plunged all the way back down on tight, rutted, dusty switchbacks to pop out just above the base area so that the spectators could see us drop down a rock face that if you even touched your brakes on would send you tumbling through the sharp pointy rocks. I breathed a sigh of relief each time I made it down safely.
The next section was a man-made trials course that weaved through the base area: a fun table top fly-over and then two rock gardens that were all about power and momentum. I was extremely happy to have the 29er wheels through those sections! We weaved through the feed zone (thanks Sam Chovan) and then back up again…..repeat 5 times!
I made certain not to blow up on the first trip up and felt great climbing throughout the race. I even climbed my way up to 12th place at one point. The descent was pretty fun, but there was a lot of potential for disaster so I tried to stay smooth and keep it upright. I would pass as many as I could climbing and try to hold my spot on the descent (sometimes it worked, other times it did not!) I finished up 16th which is my best showing at XC Nationals. But, what I was happiest with is that I was less than 3 minutes out of the top 10. It was thrilling to be able to hang in there with those fast girls that are out there racing all over the country and world.
Now it’s time for some Endurance races!
Next up for Kelly…..The Honey Stinger 50 in her home town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado….”home field advantage”