After leaving Harrisonburg, I drove across the country as quickly as possible. I arrived in Missoula, MT a few days before the first race of my cross country trip. I picked up my travel partner, Dylan Johnson, from the airport and met another local pro, David Flaten, at the course. We all set out together to pre-ride the race course. We all wanted to be 100% comfortable with everything the course could throw at us. I heard a lot about an "A-line" drop that was supposed to be scary, but I hit it after a lap without any issues...although it did make for a fun spot to watch other riders.

The next day I sat around for hours waiting for the 7pm race start. It was extremely difficult to sit around for 12hrs before such a big race. The only thing that kept me from walking around was the amount of money I spent on gas to get out to Missoula, MT. My dad's truck was awesome, but 13mpg is rough... Anyway, after 12hrs I was ready to get to the course and warm up/prepare to show all the West Coast guys how to ride a bike.

I was called up at the back of the field, but I knew the course was open and very hilly so I could move up through the field easily. I was caught behind a crash almost immediately after the start, which was not ideal, but I started moving up once I passed it. By the top of the first lap I was sitting comfortably in the top 20 riders and feeling good. I saw David right ahead of me as I approached the "A-Line" drop. He decided to take the "B-Line" around the drop and I flew over the "A-Line" to get ahead of him. A little further down the trail I glanced back towards him and immediately crossed up my front wheel and drove my shoulder into the ground hard. I jumped up, fixed my handlebars and kept descending...until I hit a series of smaller drops further down the decent. The pain in my shoulder did not go away like it does in a normal crash. The pain just kept getting worse and I was holding a bunch of riders up so I pulled over to let them by. A medic immediately came over and demanded I quit and get an x-ray after examining my shoulder. I almost kept riding, but I knew I would have to ride slowly down the downhills and I would get pulled in a lap or two anyway.

Still pumped up on caffeine and all kinds of adrenaline, I headed over to the local hospital to get an x-ray. I was hoping that I had just separated my shoulder and I could man-up and try again in Colorado Springs, CO the next weekend. Unfortunately, the doctor came in and said I had broken my collar bone and recommended I take 6-8 weeks off. He did say I could carefully ride my road bike which was better than not riding at all. Since I could not ride or race my mountain bike I decided to travel to Colorado Springs to help support David and Dylan. After the race in CO I would travel back to Harrisonburg, VA to start training...on the road bike... and working towards next summer.

Here's a pic of the "A-line" drop. Definitely something that you want to look at before launching, but it is not half as bad as it looks.

Here's a pic of the "A-line" drop. Definitely something that you want to look at before launching, but it is not half as bad as it looks.

Somehow I didn't get any photos of the x-rays of my collar bone. All I have is a pic of the outside of the hospital.

Somehow I didn't get any photos of the x-rays of my collar bone. All I have is a pic of the outside of the hospital.

I took the scenic route to Colorado Springs through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. I managed to grab a camp spot right before exiting Grand Teton National park and didn't have to pay a cent. I woke up in the morning and cooked breakfast while looking out over the Grand Teton mountain range, which was a cool experience. I also stopped in Vail for a day before heading through the mountains to Colorado Springs.

My view of the Grand Teton mountain range.

My view of the Grand Teton mountain range.

Here is one of the smaller geysers in Yellowstone National Park.

Here is one of the smaller geysers in Yellowstone National Park.

I had a bit of time to explore Colorado Springs before the race. I was able to painfully ride my bike around and explore the Garden of the Gods which is a series of rock formations in a small park at the base of Pikes Peak. I also got to explore downtown Colorado Springs and help a few homeless guys fix their very sketchy bikes. Between the 4 bikes I think maybe 2-3 brakes worked. I couldn't do too much with a multi tool, but I at least made the bikes ride-able. I had to find some way to make my short/painful road rides interesting right?

Here is a view of Pikes Peak from the top of a rock formation in the Garden of the Gods.

Here is a view of Pikes Peak from the top of a rock formation in the Garden of the Gods.

Here are a couple balancing rock formations in the Garden of the Gods.

Here are a couple balancing rock formations in the Garden of the Gods.

The next day I set up camp in the feed zone of the PRO XCT to feed David and Dylan water bottles. I wish I would have been able to race, but it was a nice change to be able to watch all the pain from the sidelines. After the race I dropped Dylan off at the airport and started the Journey Home. Not quite the way I expected my trip to go, but now I can focus on next year. I am happy I got to go out West and try to race even if it didn't go as planned.

Here is what the feed zone at a PRO XCT is like. Riders come by  very quickly and need perfect water bottle hand offs every lap.

Here is what the feed zone at a PRO XCT is like. Riders come by  very quickly and need perfect water bottle hand offs every lap.

Here is a ridge formation in the Garden of the Gods.

Here is a ridge formation in the Garden of the Gods.

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