McSpadden nabs top-10 finish at USA Cycling mountain bike nationals – Vail Daily

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Independent Vail racer Bayli McSpadden finished in seventh place in the U23 cross-country race at the USA Cycling mountain bike national championships last Saturday at Winter Park. She completed the three-lap course in 1 hour, 24 minutes and 11 seconds, just 31 seconds out of sixth and less than a minute from the top-5 finisher, Lauren Lackman.
“Overall, it was a pretty good result,” McSpadden said.
“I’m just kind of working on progressing and getting faster each race. I don’t want to jump to results now because I just want to work up to it. So, getting a top-10 for my first year in U23 — I was pretty psyched.”
Trek Factory’s Madigan Munro won the race in 1:17:19 with Sofia Waite (1:18:10) and Michaela Thompson (1:19:51) rounding out the podium.
McSpadden improved her placing from 2021, even though last year she was in a lower category. Going into the race, she was hoping for a top-10, with a “reach goal” of a top-5 finish.
“If it would have happened, it would have been great, but I know that like maybe I’m not there yet and that’s OK,” she admitted.
“I gave it my all and it still turned out well. The result was definitely higher than I was expecting.” 
McSpadden admitted feeling pretty nervous beforehand but said she went into things with a “present mind” and felt strong. Her main focus at the start was to settle into a rhythm and keep herself from overextending.
“If you blow up at that elevation, there’s no coming back from it,” she said.
Despite navigating another athletes’ first-lap fall, McSpadden came through the first lap right with Natalie Quinn in 26:12.
“Throughout the rest of the race I just slowly got faster and faster and caught people every lap,” the 19-year-old Vail resident said. McSpadden would gain exactly one minute on Quinn during the next lap. She also did the second lap 17 seconds quicker than Madelyn Roberson, the eventual sixth-place finisher.
“Those girls are fast. It was so fun, though and I felt very on form.”
Her finish on Saturday earned her enough points to get into Sunday’s short-track cross-country race. Since there was no U23 women’s event, she raced with the pros.
“That was a little bit upsetting for a lot of girls,” she said of the lack of a U23 event.
“But it was actually really fun to race against the pros.”
Unfortunately, McSpadden was feeling her Saturday effort in her legs the next morning.
“I was pretty mentally and physically tired, so it was a battle for me and not my best performance, but I think it was a good lesson learned — and the battle was still fun,” she said.
“It’s definitely not where I want it to be but I did what I could after the day before.”
While the finishers completed eight laps of the short course, McSpadden was pulled after six, finishing in 20th out of 28 athletes. Kate Courtney of Scott-Sram MTB Race Team outsprinted Savilia Blunk by two seconds to win, with Kelsey Urban finishing in third, 30 seconds back.
“I was pretty upset about that because I know I have what it takes to not get pulled and I just had no legs and nothing left in me to do it. It was definitely a tougher race for me,” McSpadden commented.
Still, the weekend as a whole was a success for the incoming college freshmen, who plans to kick off her collegiate mountain biking race career this fall, with the possibility of some cyclocross on the side.
“Going off of that for next year, I think I have some good momentum,” she said, adding that she’ll race collegiate road next spring before gearing up for another U.S. mountain bike nationals summer of 2023.
“It made me so excited for more. With my new training going into this year and a new mindset — I think the progress has been showing and my body is adjusting and I’m getting faster,” she added.
“I think a top-3 finish really wouldn’t be out of the question, so I’m super excited to see what will happen next year.” 

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