Erin Huck was all smiles after the elite women's cross country race at the US Mountain Bike National Championships at Bear Creek Resort in Pennsylvania last weekend.
"It's by far my best showing at a national championships," she said after her fourth place, "but every race is good for one reason or another."
The Tokyo Joe's rider came into the weekend a little on the tired side. "This year has been the first year that I'm trying to do all the Pro XCTs. I've also done Sea Otter and the Whiskey 50. It was my first time at the Whiskey 50, and I was pleased to get second there. Although I lost the sprint to Chloe Woodruff, that is her home."
Huck also impressed at the Pan American championships, where she was fourth.
Stepping it up to racing the entire Pro XCT and pretty much the full domestic circuit in 2014 is a new level of commitment for Huck.
"I wanted to see what I could do. I wanted to put both feet in the water instead of just dipping a toe in like what I have been doing," she said.
"I still work full time, so that's even more of a balancing act. I work for a medical device company. They've been supportive and letting me work remotely some this year." Trained as a mechanical engineer, Huck is working as a project engineer.
At nationals, Huck was clearly having a good time and riding well. "While I was not very smooth the first lap, I think it was just nerves, and I bobbled a bit in a few sections. Then I started having more and more fun each time I went around. It was a good race."
After having to pull out of the 2013 cross country nationals due to heat stroke, Huck was pleased to overcome her fears about having the same issue this year.
"You know how when you get food poisoning, you can't think about the last thing you ate without feeling ill. It was kind of like that flying in here. I was really wondering if I could do this again although I had been hanging out in steam rooms and trying to ride at the hottest part of the day to get ready for this."
Huck, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, could do with out the heat and humidity, and she's looking forward to the 2015 US Cross Country Nationals in Bend, Oregon where she's expecting more favorable conditions for her including a drier climate and a race at altitude.
Huck also finished fourth in the short track cross country at the US Nationals.