Matt Behrens at Bonelli Park

April 9, 2017 – Written by Matt Behrens

The Pro XCT at Bonelli Park quickly became one of my favorite events after I first raced it last year. The steep and flowy course tends to suit my riding style and fitness in the early season and I have previously had success at the venue before. I left Park City late Thursday afternoon looking for similar success.

The difference this year is that I am no longer a junior, and having aged out of the junior category I opted to race with the elite men. This is something I have been working towards since I knew it was possible to be a professional bike racer, and now having “PRO” on my racing license is both intimidating and exciting. This weekend definitely leaned towards the intimidating side as I lined up at the very back of 88 men for my first ever elite start. This was an interesting shift for me because last year I was just becoming comfortable and confident going into every race. This felt like starting over again. Don’t get me wrong, it was exciting, but it felt a lot like my very first international race as a junior. I didn’t know quite what to expect.

At the start of the whistle, the race to the single track began. I knew that I had an opportunity to make up for my start position in this short period of time, so I tried to make the most of it. It seemed that every brake check, dab or stall that happened further ahead in the race would ripple down to the back twofold. By the time I had finished my first lap I was already over 2.5 minutes behind the leader, and I had yet to see an opportunity to make a pass or ride my own pace. It took nearly 3 laps to separate myself from groups of riders who attacked the course from a different angle than I did. I found my strengths to be endurance and technical descending, but I quickly found that this clashed with how nearly every other rider around me was riding. I would back off on the climb and ride a consistent pace up and over the top of the many punch climbs, then push full gas on the descents and make up a couple of seconds. Many of the riders around me tended to do the opposite, sprinting hard up the climb and riding slow down the technical bits. Because we were working against each other rather than together, our lap times continued to suffer until I was able to get ahead. As the laps ticked down towards the end, I quickly found my rhythm and did what I could to ride efficiently for my last lap or two.

The 80% rule was in effect (where trailing riders are taken off course) so I was pulled from the race after 5 out of 7 laps. Which was better than I had expected for my first ever elite race, and especially so at an HC event of high caliber. As I finished the race, my attitude had already changed from intimidated to excited. I had proven to myself that I both deserve to be in the pro ranks and that I am capable of making significant improvement in the coming months. Now as we make the long drive back to Northern Utah, I am left to take what I’ve learned and direct it towards my training and goals for races in the next weeks and months.

Nolan placing 2nd and Mila taking the win aboard her Pivot Mach 4

 

A total of nineteen members of the Competitive Cyclist MTB Team and seven Summit Bike Club athletes traveled to San Dimas, CA for the Bonelli Pro XCT cross country and short track events.

Results Saturday

UCI Junior 17-18 Men

Nic Jenkins    7th    Colorado Springs, CO
Bradyn Lange 13th    Austin, TX
Connor Patten 18th    Park City, UT
Colton Sacket 22nd    Troy, TX
James Roloff 34th    Boise, ID
Cole Weidenbach 35th    Spicewood, TX
Cameron Larson 38th    Pleasant Grove, UT
Connor Chatham 45th    Austin, TX
Tristan Planelles 48th    Salt Lake City, UT

UCI Junior 17-18 Women

Ezra Smith    6th    Breckenridge, CO
Sienna Leger Redel 7th Park City, UT
Anika Heilweil 10th Salt Lake City, UT

Elite Women

Sofia Gomez-Villafañe    14th    Park City, UT
Ellen Campbell 28th Durango, CO
Rachel Anders 31st Sandy, UT
Kelsey Lundberg DNF Durango, CO

Elite Men

Carson Lange    19th    Austin, TX
Zach Calton 46th Ogden, UT
Matt Behrens 53rd Park City, UT
Grant Simonds 68th Park City, UT
Matthew Turner 74th Park City, UT
Jacob Sacket 67th Troy, TX

Results Sunday

Cat 1 15-16 Men

Nolan Jenkins    2nd    Colorado Springs, CO
Skylar Patten 9th Park City, UT
Janzen Lewright DNF Austin, TX

Cat 1 15-16 Women

Mila Leger Redel    1st    Park City, UT

Junior Men Short Track

Colton Sacket    8th    Troy, TX
Bradyn Lange 11th Austin, TX

Elite Women Short Track

Rachel Anders    21st    Sandy, UT
Sienna Leger Redel 24th Park City, UT
Sofia Gomez-Villafañe DNF Park City, UT

Elite Men Short Track

Carson Lange    13th    Austin, TX
Jacob Sacket 29th Troy, TX