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Lea Davison

Sampling a local South African delicacy: Bunny chow put curry in a loaf of bread

The waiting game

Lea Davison
June 06, 2012, 17:50 BST,
June 06, 2012, 18:53 BST

After Spring World Cup campaign, Davison awaits news on Olympic qualification

The chase for an Olympic berth is on, well, it's actually complete. This Olympic qualification journey started with the first World Cup in South Africa, then moved to the second World Cup in Belgium, and then back over to Europe for the last two World Cup qualification opportunities in Czech Republic and France.

It's been a very exciting spring racing campaign. I've ridden with monkeys in South Africa, eaten Belgium waffles in Houffalize, toured the Czech countryside, and ridden through a hailstorm in France. That's just scratching the surface of the last four World Cups. It's been fun.

Here's a very quick round up of how the racing has turned out. The United States has two spots to fill for the Olympic Games and, as predicted, it's been a close competition for those coveted spots. At the beginning of this year, the US created an Olympic long team of nine women. From those nine, two US women will go to the Games.

In South Africa at the World Cup, I felt amazing and had a great race. I raced myself from the back of the pack (due to a chaotic start) up to 14th place. I was the first American. It was definitely a solid start to the season and I was completely thrilled with the result. It affirmed that I was prepared for the early racing and ready to go. For the second World Cup in Belgium, I was flat. I had a great start, but I just didn't have the extra zip needed to close gaps and move up. Instead, I had a solid race and placed 19th as the second American. This result wasn't what I hoped for, but I was still happy nonetheless. I left Belgium ranked 18th and the first American in the World Cup rankings.

The month of May brought the third World Cup in Nova Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic. I was so excited for this race and feeling fantastic after a great training block at home. I came into this last trip with great fitness. The Czech Republic course is one of the most fun tracks on the circuit. It winds through the open pine forest, over roots and rocks, and up punchy technical climbs. Last year, this was my break out World Cup where I finished a career best seventh place. I was pumped. But, everything doesn't always go as planned. About one hundred feet into the pavement start, a racer weaved in front of me and I was forced to the left to avoid crashing with her. I was pinched in the tight pack of 70 girls and I locked handlebars with the girl next to me and went down hard on the asphalt. I was on the bottom of the pile. I jumped up and had a lot of road rash on my right side and a charlie horse in my left leg. I stopped in the tech zone to change a rear flat tire and then started my race at the absolute back.

I was so far back that they were letting spectators cross the start loop by the time I got there. I couldn't even see anyone in the race. I forged on and resolved to just do my best under the circumstances and pass as many girls as possible. I clawed my way up to 37th place, which I was really proud of giving that I was still bleeding and dazed. I was the fourth American on the day, and I was still the second ranked American in the standings after that race. I'm definitely bummed about the bit of bad luck, but at least I was still moving and healthy. I only had bruises and a lot of road rash to show for it. I was grateful I could race the following weekend in La Bresse, France. Without the valleys, the peaks wouldn't seem as high.

The La Bresse World Cup was an absolute pressure cooker. I was probably under the most pressure I have been in my entire athletic career. In an ideal world, I would have gotten a great result at the Czech Republic World Cup, and it would have taken the qualifying pressure off of La Bresse. Alas, being taken out at the start was not exactly part of the qualification plan. The goal was to have a smooth, solid race in La Bresse and that was a fairly tall order considering the course. The course had a lot of climbing which suits me, and the descents were steep, slippery and rocky. It was one of the most technical courses to date, and, luckily, the exact conditions I grew up riding in. We climbed up the side of a valley and the descent was a succession of steep chutes and knee-high drops one after another. It was demanding. To put it in perspective, in both races, the race leader crashed on the last lap descent about two kilometers from the finish line. I have never seen the men's leader, Julien Absalon, crash. It was technical.

I had a great start sitting well in the top 15. I was so glad to make it past the pavement and onto the dirt unscathed. I sat in the top 15 for the majority of the race floating back a bit as the laps ticked away. It was a bit conservative but that's exactly what I needed to do. Finish and finish well. I had one crash in which I went headfirst into a crowd of spectators. The French picked up my bike and me from the awkward position and got me going again. I ended up in 16th, and I finished with a relieved smile on my face.

Now, it's a waiting game to find out if I made the Olympic team. They name the team on June 15th. I'm trying not to think about it too much. I did the best I could under the circumstances, and hopefully it will be enough.

As for now, I am absolutely decompressing in Vermont with some time at home. Jojo threw me an amazing surprise birthday party in La Bresse, France, complete with all of my friends on the circuit and a decadent French chocolate birthday cake. It was amazing. Then, I came home and my sister, Sabe, threw me another surprise birthday party with my Vermont friends. There was croquet, a delicious taco dinner, and a homemade German chocolate cake (my sister has baking skills). The kickoff to my 29th year has been one of the best yet.

Let the decompression, training, and Vermont adventures continue. Next, it's onto the hometown World Cups (Mount Saint Anne, Quebec and Windham, New York) and then onto US Nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho. It's going to be a great month.

Think fast.

Lea Davison happy to indulge in a maple bacon cupcake post-ski trip

Project Off Season - Hot to cold to warm

Lea Davison
March 02, 2012, 0:46 GMT,
March 02, 2012, 0:54 GMT

Foraging dinners, camping, exploring spice up winter months

The 2012 mountain bike season opener is this weekend in Austin, Texas, so I figure it's the perfect time to share what happened in my off season. This winter was filled with a lot of fun. I went from the tropical climate in Kauai to winter in Vermont and then to perfect riding weather in Santa Cruz.

I spent a good portion of my time on Kauai on the Petterson family farm, and a highlight of the stay was the annual foraging dinner. This year marked the second annual foraging dinner where 40 people took on the local food challenge. Each guest had to make a dish and could only use ingredients from the islands, even better if the ingredients were found in the backyard.

Since we were the hosts, we had to abide to the strict rules laid down. When we actually started getting into recipes, we realized how much we relied on shipped ingredients. But, being on an island of bounty, we got creative to make some amazing dishes. Jojo and I were tasked to coconuts and this became the basis for the majority of the family's recipes. Through friends with coconut trees and "new age foraging" at the green waste dump, we got a whopping total of 90 coconuts in the back of the truck. We took about three-quarters of those coconuts through tedious processing. Jojo hacked the top off with a blade and poured out the coconut water. Then, she would cut the coconut in half and hand it over for the meat to be scraped out of the shell. Everyone had her own technique but it all boiled down to sticking a butter knife in the meat and popping it out. With three of us working, it would take about two hours to get a one-gallon Ziploc of coconut meat. I had blisters.

The coconut meat would go into a blender, mix with hot water, and then blended to a slurry. I would take that mixture and put it into a nut milk bag and squeeze with all my might. The result is pure, fresh Kauai coconut milk. It's delicious and better than what comes in a can at the grocery store. After the milking process, this coconut meat, devoid of most of the coconut flavor, was dehydrated. After it was dry, I blended it again to make coconut flour. Repeat the entire process several times over the course of two weeks.

The result of our coconut work went into the majority of the dishes in some form or another. I made two key lime pies using the coconut flour and flakes for the crust and the coconut milk for the filling. The Petterson family also made coconut-encrusted tilapia with tilapia straight from the ponds on the farm. There was Thai coconut soup with prawns caught from the ponds. Coconut Taro leaf also joined the menu as well as cassava chips and guacamole. This was all made from ingredients harvested straight from the property. Jojo created five gallons of delicious coconut water, passion fruit juice, and rum cocktail (the rum was made right down the road). We also recycled wine bottles and made glasses. All in all, it was quite the lesson in self-sufficiency and completely rewarding to taste all of the hard work.

After the foraging dinner on Kauai, Jojo and I had a friend, Sarah, one of the greatest Little Bellas mentors, come to visit us. The week was jam-packed and we checked off most of the activities in the "Adventures" section of the Kauai guidebook. The guidebook does not kid around when they place things under that section.

On the first day, we undertook one of the biggest adventures of my life. We embarked on the secret tunnel hike where we followed a faint (big emphasis on faint) hiking trail for a couple of miles to the secret tunnels. This hiking trail doubled as a pig path and there was about six inches of mud the entire way. It was a slow couple of miles to say the least. These secret tunnels were built in the 1920s to ferry water from Kauai's wetter north shore through the mountains to the West Coast to feed the sugarcane industry. They are impressive. The first one is about a mile long and we had headlamps and a dime size light at the end of the tunnel to guide us. The water was about ankle deep and mostly clear. The second tunnel was just a black abyss and we had to wade through silt about shin deep. The third tunnel was extra secret and very hard to find. After a half an hour jungle bushwhack, we finally discovered the most tenuous tunnel of the three. This one was also a mile long and was filled thigh high with water and silt. We had to practically run through this tunnel because we were racing daylight. The adventure was well worth is as we were rewarded with an amazing waterfall at the end of the journey.

One night, we went to the end of the road and camped out at Polihale State Park. It was the first time I've ever slept on a beach and the first time I've been camping in years. The day was one of the more perfect days I've ever seen on the island and the waves were great for surfing. We also decided that we hadn't had enough of the tunnels so we found some more to tube through. This is definitely my preferred method of travel through these things. It brought us to an incredible swimming hole complete with a rope swing. It was something straight out of Swiss Family Robinson.

For the holidays and the month of January, I traded in my surfboard for skis and went home to Vermont. I was thrilled to spend January skiing, get into a training rhythm, and see my friends and family. This winter training block included a handful of citizen Thursday night biathlon races. I get so excited for these Thursday night competitions that one would think it was the world championships. It's energizing to compete in something completely outside my comfort zone and under the lights. I'm really not good at shooting a gun and even more challenged when my heart rate is pegged. I capped off the winter foray with a 10km skate skiing race at the Trapp Family Lodge.

I've been in Santa Cruz for the month of February getting my legs used to spinning in circles. I spend long days in the saddle weaving together a string of endless 30-minute climbs through the big redwood forests. The mountain biking is equally spectacular. The soil is perfectly loamy and the trails are plentiful. Throw in the glassy waves, the bountiful farmers market, and the wooden roller coaster down the street, and Santa Cruz instantly becomes the best training spot ever.

With an off season like I've had, I feel enormously lucky to be doing what I do. Now, it's off to the races.

Battling it out with my good friend, Heather Irmiger.


Lea Davison
November 01, 2011, 2:38 GMT,
November 01, 2011, 21:56 GMT

The right way to have an off-season

It’s a fitting ending to a storybook season. I just spent the last week in southern California park hopping from Disneyland, California Adventure Park, and Sea World on Joanna Petterson’s family vacation adventure and officially starting the off season.

All tolled, it was fun, but my Disneyland trip didn’t exactly follow the ideal story line that the 2011 bike season did. We spent an epic twelve hour day at the park braving the lines to take advantage of all Mickey had to offer. We waited in line for an hour for the Haunted House ride and it broke. So we were stuck in the strobe light hall for a good amount of time and I managed to make it out without a seizure. It was completely worth it because we scored four ‘fast pass’ tickets where we got to cut the line on any ride anytime. So, we took the party to the Tower of Terror which was as awesome as I remember when my sister and I went on it thirteen times in a row when we were kids.

We went to cap off the day with another Tower of Terror which also broke right before we boarded. Note, this event made ALL of the rides during the second day at the park extra scary and exciting. I honestly thought that at every pause the ride was breaking. For the next two days, part of the family, including me, got what I like to call Disneylanded. We got food poisoning from some Disney food that shall go unnamed because I can’t really stomach even writing it.

Nevertheless, I was just thankful food poisoning happened in the off season and not during the race season. The final part of the race season followed a much different path than my Disney adventure. As the season progressed, I literally improved my results every single World Cup. It was a wild and exciting ride. At my first world cup in Dalby Forest, I started in seventy-sixth position on the last row. By the time Windham World Cup rolled around halfway through the season, I had worked my way up into a top 30 start position and a top fifteen result.

At the next world up in the Czech Republic, I had my break through race. I had a great start and used the same tactic I had all year; pass as many people as possible. This time it landed me in a career best seventh place and close to the podium. It’s such an amazing feeling to do something that I always believed I could do and have been working towards for years. I was so excited to have two more opportunities left in the season with such good fitness.

Next up was World Cup finals at Val di Sole, Italy. I love Italy and it seemed fitting to go back to the Dolomites where I kicked off my cycling training last October on a family vacation. The week was all about fine tuning with amazing Italian food, and it turns out panna cotta might just be my good luck charm. Fueled by cooked cream, I kept my World Cup result streak alive by improving on the Czech Republic result by getting sixth. I was so painfully close to the podium, seconds away, and nonetheless still elated by my ride.

I spent one amazing rest week before World Championships in Morzine, France at FlowMTB. The week was filled with incredible food (think fresh bread and warm croissants delivered to the doorstep every morning) and even more amazing riding. I rode in the shadow of Mount Blanc. Bolstered by one of the best cycling experiences of my life, I headed to the world championships in Champery, Switzerland. The course was a perfect, East Coast technical track and I was excited to give it a go.

Overall, this race didn’t go as well as my previous two world cups, but it was still a solid performance. I had a less than ideal start but, if I have learned anything this year, it’s not the end of the world….champs. I picked off as many riders as possible and scored 10th place. I was relieved because top 10 is so much better to say than top 11 at world champs. I’m still riding the wave of excitement from my best season yet, and it’s leaving me with energy and motivation for 2012. Now, I’m on Kauai for about two months. I’m looking forward to dispatching some of my Hawaiian adventures.


Check out the Big Dipper flavors. They definitely rival those two Vermonter guys, but my allegiance still has to lie with Ben and Jerry.

Getting better and better

Lea Davison
August 31, 2011, 12:23 BST,
August 31, 2011, 13:48 BST

Thumb injury doesn't stop Davison from two best-yet performances

I have completed the biggest five-week racing block of the season which took me to the US Pro XCT in Wisconsin, the Mont Saint Anne World Cup, the Windham World Cup, the US National Championships, and the US Pro XCT finals in Missoula, Montana. Whew!

That's a lot to even write nevertheless race all out at each of the races. I was completely excited going into this racing block because there's nothing like racing World Cups in your backyard and getting the opportunity to see new racing venues. My entire immediate and extended family came to support me at the Windham and Mount Saint Anne World Cups (90-year-old grandma included), and everything seemed to be clicking. But, mountain biking sometimes seems to be a mixture of highs and lows, a roller coaster of emotions, and this racing block had its fair share of both to keep things exciting.

I raced one of the finest weekly night series in the country, the Catamount Wednesday night race, to tune up for the upcoming competitions. I started mountain bike racing at this race, and I've religiously been doing the Wednesday night races for 11 years. It's about a one-hour effort where I duke it out with the local boys.

Two weeks before the Wisconsin ProXCT, I won the Wednesday night test. This proved that everything was on track for the upcoming races and it also proved that Specialized's new women's 29er, Fate, is fast. There's nothing like taking the big W after 10 years of trying to make you fall in love with a new bike.

The following week, I showed up once again at Catamount's Wednesday night race to keep the legs moving before the Wisconsin US Pro XCT. It was raining and completely slippery, and I felt like bambi on ice. On the last lap out of nowhere, my front wheel washed out on an off camber mud hill, and I went down. I got up and my thumb hurt and, in a classic case of biker racer denial, I brushed it off as a bruise or a sprain. The doctor had a different opinion. I tore my UCL in my left thumb, and I would need to be in a brace until September. He had to repeat that "brace until September" part a couple of times.

Thanks to the amazing staff at Fletcher Allen hospital and a delayed flight, I was able to arrive to Wisconsin with a brace specially molded to my hand. I raced and the brace hurt my thumb, but I took comfort in the fact that I was not alone. Heather Irmiger and Chloe Forsman both were riding with thumb braces because of the same injury to the exact same thumb. For the Americans, this is the year of the thumb.

I gutted out a third place overall and rushed home to the doctor to get a different brace. They molded a low profile, flexible brace with less material straight to my handlebars. It worked. I was so relieved to not be riding in pain for the next three months. The thumb is a little speed bump especially when I spent the last year on the couch convalescing. I resolved to just strap the little guy to the bars and make it a non-issue.

For the next four races, I gradually dialed in riding with the thumb brace and things steadily improved. At the Mount Saint Anne World Cup, I had a major case of slippery hands from riding with the brace without gloves and a cold so I just tried to do my best under the circumstances. I figured out a hand drying technique on the spot which proved to be a bit awkward because it looked like I was waving to spectators. Regardless of the less than ideal circumstances, I was able to score a solid top 20.

I wore gloves for the next race, the Windham world cup, and I kicked my cold so I was ready to go. With my family behind me, I was able to score a top 15 at Windham. I was excited that I was steadily improving my World Cup results.

Nationals at Sun Valley and the US Pro XCT Finals in Missoula proved to be the highlights of the racing block. I felt phenomenal (or as phenomenal as possible winching up a 17 percent fire road) to score a career best second place at the National Championship cross country. I was most excited that I was 20 seconds off the Big G (Georgia Gould) in first. Georgia is a powerhouse who has stood on several World Cup podiums so it was a big boost to be close. I carried that momentum into the Super D and went cross eyed on the big climb at the beginning and kept it upright on the dusty descent. This was enough to put a super D stars and bars jersey on my back.

Because I felt so great at nationals, I was motivated to take the same feeling into the US Pro XCT finals. I kept Katerina Nash, the other blueberry (Luna) powerhouse, in sight on the first lap and bridged up to her on the second lap steady climb. I latched onto her wheel, capitalized on a mistake she made, and just went for the lead from there. I took my first national-level cross country win in Missoula and I am absolutely thrilled. This has been my goal for a long time and it feels so good to have all of the hard work pay off.

[Davison then raced the final two World Cups in Europe - in Czech and in Italy. At both races, she logged a career-best top 10 finish. In the latter round, she was sixth - just one place off the podium].

Gorgeous surroundings in the Black Forest for the Offenburg, Germany, World Cup

No dull moments in Europe and California

Lea Davison
June 14, 2011, 20:47 BST,
June 14, 2011, 22:10 BST

Attacking from the back at World Cups and other tales

There's a lot of exciting racing going on lately. I just returned from a successful trip to Europe to race my first World Cups of the season. Since I didn't race last year, I had to pay my dues and claw my way through the field to gain more UCI and World Cup points. I have absolutely no problem with this. I am thrilled to be racing World Cup events again, and I just view these races as part of the long "comeback" process.

I had to do a major attack from the back. It isn't the easiest task starting on the last row (number 79 to be exact) with the mass start and the track narrowing down into a single lane two minutes after the start. But, with some patience and my excitement to be back on the World Cup circuit, I was ready to take on the challenge.

Of course, my race was filled with some crazy snafus. I narrowly missed two crashes at the start, had to literally wait in line for the singletrack while two girls untangled their bikes in the air (I'm not quite sure how they got to this point), and got knocked off my bike before a large 15-foot drop.

There's never a dull moment out there, especially when you are racing from the back. I gave my best efforts passing as many girls as I could wherever possible and I'm pleased with the results. In Dalby Forest, England, I moved up from number 79 to finish 30th. In Offenburg, Germany, I moved up from start position number 72 to capture 28th. These numbers should have me starting more at the front (within striking distance) for the North American World Cups right in my backyard.

After the World Cup in England, I had the opportunity to ride the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course. They did a good job creating a course with what they had. The course designers added technical elements to this open meadow by trucking in large boulders and there's more than enough drops to keep everyone on their toes. It also is an aerobically challenging course with lots of punchy climbs with very little recovery. I want to RACE that course next year.

After an exciting Olympic pre-ride, it was off to the Heathrow airport to fly to Germany. Maybe I pushed the "scenic route" option because the GPS unit brought me straight through downtown London to get to the airport. I was driving on the other side of the road, shifting with my left hand, and narrowly missing double long buses. It was terrifying and truly an adventure. It pretty much went a lot like this: "Oh my goodness, I almost just got hit by a bus, wow, look, there's the Buckingham Palace". It was the most adrenaline-filled, sightseeing trip I have ever done.

Two days after my return from Europe, I flew off to Santa Ynez, California, for the third race in the US Cup Triple Crown series. Barring the muddiest short track I've ever done at the Sea Otter Classic five years ago (remember the one where Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa supermanned into a mud puddle wearing her white World Champion's kit?),

California racing is usually sunny and enjoyable. This cross country race turned into truly the most epic race I have ever done. It started drizzling halfway through the race and turned the singletrack into a clay mud bath. The hay and rock filled mud would muck up the bike so much that the wheels wouldn't turn.

If I hadn't been gunning for the Triple Crown title, I would have stopped to build an adobe house or make a clay pot to take home for my mom. I really put my new Specialized women's 29er to the test, and the mud clearance is good. I was riding for much longer than my mud compatriots before the inevitable bike dunk in a livestock-drinking trough.

Now, I'm enjoying some much needed rest and recovery at home in Vermont before building up into the meat of the season, US Nationals and the North American World Cups. I'm hitting up the swimming holes and eating a lot of soft serve ice cream. Vermont summer is in full force and I'm soaking up as much of it as possible.

Lea Davison (Specialized) and her sister, Sabe, talk with the Little Bellas

Fun with the Little Bellas in California

Lea Davison
May 06, 2011, 15:58 BST,
May 06, 2011, 17:13 BST

Catching up on Sea Otter camps and racing

The Sea Otter Classic always proves to be one of the most exciting and busiest race weekends of the year. It is North America's biggest cycling festival packed with mountain bike races, road races, fun rides, clinics, and 50,000-plus spectators. It's a blast to see and talk with all of my sponsors and friends in the bike world. For me, this year's Sea Otter Classic was particularly exciting and busy.

The weekend kicked off with the Bicycle Leadership Conference. I was truly honored to speak about the Little Bellas, a nonprofit "mentoring on mountain bikes" program that my sister, Sabra, and I co-founded five years ago. I had the opportunity to speak to 200 of the industry's leaders about the importance of getting kids riding bikes, and, in particular, how to get more girls on bikes.

The motive of our youth panel, led by Giant Bicycle's Elysa Walk, was to wake up the industry and inspire them to be proactive in encouraging more kids to ride bikes, and in turn, invest in the future of their companies. Leading up to the event, Sabra and I boiled down our Little Bellas experience, and the many lessons learned, into potent messages to the industry. We hope the industry walked away with some different perspectives about the future of kids riding bikes. This conference is a dynamic and inspiring exchange about all things bicycles and business, and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

After speaking so much about the Little Bellas at the conference, it was great to take that momentum into the next day and get to work on our three day Little Bellas Sea Otter Camp. With the help and support from Specialized and the amazingly successful fundraising effort from First Gear, the camp was a huge success this year.

Because of the all of the generous donations, the hard work from tireless fundraisers, and local Monterey school presentations that spread the word about our program, 15 girls were able to participate in our camp on scholarships. We had a total of thirty 30 Bellas over the course of the weekend honing in their skills, having lunch with the pros, grabbing as much schwag as they could in our venue scavenger hunt, and, hopefully, catching the mountain bike bug for life.

My sister, Sabe, who is also the Little Bellas co-founder and co-director, directed the camp and we brought three other tried and true mentors from our bustling Vermont program to help run the camp. With Sabe at the helm of Little Bellas, I could focus on racing.

First up was the short track. In the week or so leading up to Sea Otter, I had to take some time off the bike because of a tweak in my calf. I was a little apprehensive because I felt completely shut down from the week off, but like every time I toe the start line; I was just going to go as hard as I could. I was especially pumped to give the slew of screaming Little Bellas a good show. Georgia and I had a great lead on a group of chasers for about a third of the race. Then, I took a little spill on a 180-degree corner, of course, right in front of the Little Bellas, and this crash took me from riding alone in front of the chase group to riding alone behind the chase group.

My sister is as enthusiastic as I am, so I was surprised she didn't jump over the barriers, pick my bike up for me, and ride away when I crashed. I held onto my spot for sixth and my fall hopefully taught the Little Bellas the important lesson that EVERYONE crashes, even the pros. It is important to get up and get back on the bike.

Next up was the cross country and the majority of the race was on the windy race track or fireroad which made for a particularly tactical mountain bike race. I had polished my tactics in the Redlands Road Race a couple of weeks before so I was ready for any road trickery.

The lead group of six women splintered on the end of the first lap, and I became one of the solo stragglers behind the lead trio. Heather Irmiger caught up to me and we both declared that Trek and Specialized were going to be friends for the day, and we worked together. Then, Kelli Emmett and Pua Sawicki joined the party and the four of us battled for the remainder of the race.

As we approached the finish line, I made sure that I was first in the group climbing through the sandpit onto the track because I didn't want to be stuck behind a mistake. But this move also put me in the precarious position of leading coming into the sprint. So, once we hit the pavement, I sat up ready to react to any attacks. Sure enough, Pua jumped, and I glued myself to her wheel. We came around the bend with 200 meters to go and I jumped and sprinted like a mad woman to capture fourth place.

All in all, I was excited to walk away from Sea Otter with solid races under my belt, and I hopped on a plane home to Vermont with a huge smile on my face. Next up are my first World Cup races back in Dalby Forest, England, and Offenburg, Germany.

Send the fast vibes as I test myself against the best in the world.

Lea Davison

American cross country mountain biker Lea Davison returned to the race scene in 2011 after most of a year off competition due to a hip injury, surgery and subsequent recovery. The 27-year-old American made her comeback with Team Specialized.

The Vermont resident will again race domestically and internationally in 2012 including events such as the US Cup Triple Crown, US Pro XCT races and the World Cup.  As a member of the US Olympic Long Team, she'll be vying for a spot on the final squad headed to London.

Davison will document her competition and travel in a blog on Cyclingnews this season. Stay tuned to follow all her adventures.