Every year, I am lucky enough to start my season close to home with the US Cup series season openers in Southern California. Arriving in San Dimas feels a little like deja vu after racing here since my junior days. It is a great first opportunity to test the legs and see where I stand after a long winter of preparation!
This year, things got a little more interesting when a crash and resulting back injury left me side lined just a few weeks before the event. With the help of my amazing team of physical therapists, coaches and Red Bull’s guru bodyworker Adam - I was back on track and so happy to be lining up for the first race of the season. This race was extra special as it marked the first time I would race in the rainbow jersey and as a member of the Scott SRAM MTB Racing team. My incredible mechanic Brad had my race bike dialed and I was excited to see what the Spark could do when finally put to the test.
Despite some pre race nerves, I quickly fell back into the racing rhythm after the gun went off. By opting for my full suspension and dropper post, I was able to attack the descents and managed to get a small gap on the first lap. Things came back together in the middle and I found myself battling with Erin Huck for the lead. In the end, I was able to get away and take my first victory in the rainbow jersey in front of my family and friends!
A huge thank you to the crew that makes these early race opportunities possible and to ShoAir for bringing some serious points to the USA. Overall, it was a great weekend and was as much of a bike race as it was a reunion with all of my favorite racers and members of the American cycling community. It did, however, leave me very hungry….
The Taco Spot: Taco Grill
As Brad and I headed out of town, it was imperative that we refueled properly. These consecutive weeks of racing don’t fuel themselves. Enter: Taco Grill. Unassuming name, fire tacos.
Taco Grill is one of those places that chooses to focus on a few things - and does them to absolute perfection. The appearance of the restaurant is very simple, with only a few seats and a very small walk up counter. Don’t be fooled. I ordered three tacos while Brad opted for the five taco sampling to get a taste of all the flavors. After talking with the the host (whom we LOVED), it was clear they take great pride in their food and choose to focus a lot of their time on having really high quality ingredients - specifically their meat options. Sorry to vegetarians but the meats were incredible and included a variety of slow roasted, carefully seasoned and/or fire grilled deliciousness.
Highlights also included fresh locally made tortillas delivered daily, two options of salsas (get the hot one, you’ll sweat it but you won’t regret it) and home made tortilla chips. As for the tacos themselves - they were fresh tasting, classic and perfectly executed. Hands down, one of the best taco stops to date and shouldn’t be missed. We pretty much spent the rest of the day wishing we could go back and relive that experience for the first time. While that may be impossible, we will definitely be coming back next year!
Fun factor: 5/5