After a long and arduous journey, which I won’t bore you with the details, we arrived in Phoenix, AZ last night for our first ever collegiate BMX Nationals! This trip is really exciting for two reasons: it’s the first BMX collegiate nationals Mars Hill Cycling has traveled to, and it’s somewhere new! I’ve loved getting to race at mountain bike and cyclocross nationals in the last two years, but they were in the same location each time.
Most race trips involve traveling, getting to the race location, sleeping, eating, racing and going home. This time though we had a little extra time and spent Friday morning exploring Phoenix. Coach Hugh lived here for a while while he was a pro racer, so he was able to tell us all about the area!
We discovered an amazing coffee shop in Tempe called Cartel Coffee Lab. The espresso was phenomenal and was served with sparkling water to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee! The espresso was so good that I followed it up with an iced latte to go that also exceeded my expectations.
Cartel even had a bike wheel art installation hanging from their ceiling, making us feel at home as soon as we walked in!
Next we headed to Papago Park, where we walked up to the “Hole-in-the-Rock.” Everything is so different here–it’s dry and randy/rocky, it’s super warm, and it’s sunny! It’s such a nice break from the cold winter weather in NC!
After our jaunt in the desert, it was time for lunch! We went to a vegan cafe called Green Restaurant: New American Vegetarian.” I love it when I can get fresh healthy food, meat included or not, but eating “mock-chicken” was a new experience for some of the tour group.
On our way to Black Mountain BMX, the venue for nationals, we stooped in Scottsdale at the Bicycle Haus, a classy bike shop owned by some of Hugh’s racing friends. While we didn’t stay very long, downtown Scottsdale seems pretty chill!
Finally we arrived at the BMX track! We quickly built up our bikes and hit the course for our practice runs. The course it great! It’s longer than the other courses I’ve raced on, but it super smooth and fast. I almost wrecked hardcore on my first run out of the gate since the first roller sent me flying into the air! However, I stayed upright and kept riding. I must have impressed everyone with how bad I looked, since several people gave me pointers afterwards! I’m grateful for the advice and the rest of my practice runs were smooth. Not fast, but smooth.
Now we’re back at the hotel, fed and resting. Tomorrow will see us do our thing! Nothing to prove, just racing to learn, have fun and represent Mars Hill College!