Coming into the 2016 race season, I knew I’d be taking a step into the big pond. This season serves as the bridge from junior racing to professional racing and calls for a re-evaluation of my goals and expectations for the year. Although, I’ve confidently set some expectations that mostly consist of and mean making this the most experiential year as possible. The racing will be longer, faster, harder, and deeper than ever before, but I couldn’t be more excited for this step. Being a first year U23 racer, (19-22 year olds) I’ll be separated in results but the actual racing occurs in one massive pro field. So sometimes I might end up creating a race within the race for myself. I’m so grateful to be able to represent Whole Athlete/ Specialized again for this season and very thankful for their support in one of the most crucial seasons in all of racing.
The Whole Athlete crew kicked the year off in early March with an awesome team camp. We rode the beautiful roads and luscious trails of Marin County, California all while bonding to our new set of teammates. The week was filled with photoshoots, sponsor information, our first healthy dose of team meals, and a NorCal’s winter worth of beautiful rain.
It was great to get some quality time all together and to gain some stoke for the 2016 season. Later in the week, we drove to SoCal to participate in the season opener at Bonelli Park. I’m not sure whether it was vibes of nervousness or excitement that was higher for us. The course, which is infamous for being typical SoCal (dry and dusty), actually received a gift from God in the form of a short monsoon…which created a tacky, perfect trail.
RACE REPORT : "Finally, race season is here. Long winter months on the bike gave way to spring racing once again and I couldn't have been more excited. A great week with the team in Marin had everyone excited for the beginning of a new season!
This year's season, however, is taking on a new face. Being my first year in U23 as a pro racer, my priorities and direction definitely change a bit. So I was eager to get a taste of what it was like.
Bonelli quickly rolled around and it was race day once again. This time I spent most of the day trying to be conservative as the race wasn't until 2:45 pm. Although, before I knew it, it was go time. Starting at the back of the pack, I intended to slowly use draft on the start loop to gain some spots before the single track without taxing myself too much. The first lap was basically smooth sailing, although the pace was quite strong even 30 riders back. Pacing myself early on was difficult to do with the flow of the race. Other than paying for my early race expenditure on the 2nd and 3rd lap, patience paid off and I gained some legs back.
The race strolled on and I found myself moving forward, which was to my surprise and also was the best thing possible. Ticking the last few laps off, I emptied the tank and crossed the line. I knew my form wouldn't be prime for this time of year, so finishing top 20 was definitely more than satisfactory. I also found success in being a patient and persistent racer. I can only look forward to more experience and progress as the season goes on!
HUGE thanks to Dario, Cammie, Josh, and all that participated to help make a great start to the 2016 season. Couldn't be more thankful for the support!"
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with how the season opened up at Bonelli for my first Pro race. There’s a lot to be learned but I’m grateful to be able to do so. Here’s to the season and to my family of Whole Athlete/ Specialized for a successful and amazing season!
Carson Beckett, 26 | Coach, Pro, and Co-Founder of Dirt Camp Racing | Carson Beckett Coaching