The US Cup at Vail Lake was a new addition to the schedule, giving us a chance to ride on a new track and explore a new town. The race format also mimicked the World Cup weekend schedule - with a short track Friday evening and the XC race on Sunday morning.
In the fast and furious short track on Friday afternoon, I battled hard with Erin Huck and ended up second on the day. It was a very hard effort in the legs and a great opener for the big show on Sunday.
The cross country course at Vail Lake is reminiscent of my high school racing roots - with many open, sandy sections and no real sustained climbs or descents. The course was sure to make the racing tight and physically demanding as racers had no obvious opportunities to make separation or recover from a consistently hard effort.
On race day, I lined up ready to give it my all and was able to make a small separation at the beginning of the first lap. Throughout the next three, Erin Huck chased hard behind me and continued to bridge back up. By lap 4, we were together and Erin took the lead, charging the sandy descents and attacking hard on the last climb on course. I knew I needed to recover and launch a decisive attack on the last lap.
At the start of the last lap, I gave an all out effort heading into the single track and was able to get a few seconds on Erin. I pushed hard to the finish and was able to hold on for my second win in the rainbow jersey! I am so grateful for the chance to race hard in the States against such a strong field and begin to sharpen both my form and tactics ahead of the World Cup season. But man…. does racing make me hungry….
The Taco Spot: Espadîn
Espadin is a hip restaurant on a corner in downtown Temecula. After driving past it many times throughout the week, we were eager to celebrate some hard racing with some delicious taco eating. We were able to circumvent the wait time by opting to sit outside under the heat lamps and were quickly treated to some delicious chips and home made salsa.
I opted to order three tacos - chicken, fish and shrimp - which came as a combination plate with pinto beans and rice. I also got a side salad and guacamole for my health. The service left a bit to be desired on a busy night, but after forgetting the guacamole they comped it which was very nice of them.
Overall, the tacos were well crafted with good flavors. I will say that they lacked the pizzaz of some of the other meals we’ve enjoyed on this trip - the ingredients tasted high quality, but the tortillas and corn chips were not particularly notable. My favorite taco was the shredded chicken taco which I found to be the most flavorful and had a fun little green sauce as well as onions and cilantro. I also definitely enjoyed the rice and bean accompaniment which made this meal filling after a tough race day. Overall, this was a tasty meal and fun ambience sitting outside in the quaint downtown.
Brad’s Cocktail Corner:
The margarita was described as a high quality, minimalist approach - not too sweet, but extra delicious. Recommended ordering with the higher end reposado tequila!
Fun Factor: 4/5