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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.


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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.