Noah Hayes - 2018 Fontana City ProXCT HC - UCI Junior Series

The Friday morning before the race I woke up and got a mediocre hotel breakfast and went over to the course to pre-ride.  I did one lap at a moderate pace to see how my legs were feeling then did a nice slow lap after that in the heat.  The course was pretty long at about five miles with a solid amount of climbing. 

It started off with some loose fire roads that lead into a short climb with two main lines.  After this there was a short descent followed by a long, exposed paved climb that lead up to single track that rolled for a short period before pointing up again.  The single track climb was super rocky and loose so maintaining traction was bit tough.  After that climb we finally got to the first descent of the race.  This was composed of a few tight sections and some steep rock rolls.  After this we hit another steep single track climb that popped out on another pavement section before jumping into some flowy single track.  This was followed by a steep kick up to the final proper descent of the course.  There was a flat fire road.  Then there was one final loose rocky climb then we dropped to the start finish area.

The morning of the race I dragged myself out of bed at 4:40am, got in my moms car, and drove to Starbucks for a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.  After devouring my food I drove back to the hotel to prep my bike and bottles for the race.  I left for the course at 6:10am and put my bike on the trainer immediately after getting there.  I had around twenty minutes to chill before getting all kitted up for warmup.  I was sweating a lot on the trainer (felt like more than during the race) so I drank two bottles of water with some electrolyte mix during that one hour period.

After warmup I quickly got my bike of the trainer and got to staging where I was called up in the third row.  Given my low number of UCI points prior to this race I was a bit surprised I was that far up, but I wasn’t complaining.  They gave us a one minute, thirty seconds, and fifteen second warnings and then we were off for our three laps.

I had an alright start and didn’t lose any spots.  The group was charging on the fire roads leading to the first climb and it was fairly chaotic, staying that way up the pavement climb. Once we reached the single track I made more passes wherever I could until I got caught behind a slower rider.  I was stuck behind him for the remainder of the climb and watched the main group ride away.  I eventually was able to get around him when the trail opened up a little bit and started pushing the pace to get on to the next group ahead of me.  I caught on to it and sat on the back of it until sprinting to take the front for the descent.  I was passed by my teammate Ethan Moyer on the final fire road climb of the lap and he lead us through the start finish.

At the feed zone the order in the group was still the same and unfortunately my teammate ended up taking my feed unintentionally, meaning I had no water during the entire second lap.  This meant I couldn’t make any attacks on the climbs in order to prevent a bonk on the final lap.  I just held on to the group I was with and hoped nobody put in any big efforts and luckily I was able to follow everything fairly easily.

Coming around for the next lap I was able to get a bottle at the feed and pounded a gel but I started to feel the effects of not drinking for 25 minutes.  I could tell I was starting to fade when the group I was with dropped me on the first climb of the lap and my NorCal League competition Max McFadden and Nathan Davis caught up to me.  This gave me the motivation I needed to start pushing again.  I gradually pulled back towards the group that dropped me and sprinted my way up the final fire road climb within five feet of them.  Unfortunately, a lapped rider was occupying the space in those five feet and I was not able to get around her before the single track.  I watched the group I almost caught ride off while I struggled to get around the rider.  I looked back and still had a gap on Max and Nathan and continued to power up the last climb and down to the finish.  After the race I was randomly selected for doping control and had to spend two hours taking two samples, due to the first one being diluted somehow, instead of spinning out.  I ended up coming in 19th overall and was the 9th American. 

The next day was the Short Track.  I woke up at around 8:00am and went down for some hotel breakfast at 9:00.  After this I did a quick spin to loosen up my legs and headed over to the course.  Right when I got there I got in my kit and went to ride the course.  It was the same start as the XC and almost all fire road with one climb. 

I did two laps without incident and was feeling pretty good as I warmed up.  I went out for a third lap and about half way through my dropper suddenly went down without me pressing the lever.  When I stood out up it stayed down and the lever wasn’t doing anything.  I immediately rode over to the pit and told the mechanic, Julien, about what happened.  He replaced my post with a rigid one for the race and told me that the dropper post was toast.  I then hurried over the the short track and staged without any warmup.  They only called up the first row and the rest was a free for all with no organization.  I think there were around 12 people in my row and we were all overlapping bars.

They counted down and we were off.  I was able to get a pretty good start and was sitting in the lead group going into lap two.  Going into the third corner on the course someone right in front of me crashed and the field split.  I spent the rest of the race chasing as hard as I could but was never able to reconnect with that group.  I ended up coming in 12th place and was the 7th American.

There was some bad luck that definitely affected my race but given what happened I’m stoked on how I did.  I definitely learned that no matter what happens in a race you have to keep going.  When I missed my feed I thought my race would be completely over but by staying positive and riding smart I was able to salvage my race. I also learned to bring a spare for everything that could break on my bike because being caught out like I was really sucked.  Can’t wait to use what I learned this weekend at Bonelli next weekend!

Noah Hayes, Skyline High School