Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Hellyer County Park Velodrome

On February 1st, the Monta Vista Cycling Club, in association with the Cupertino High Cycling Club took a trip to the Hellyer County Park Velodrome. Those who attended included: Malcolm, myself, Collin (our ex-Varsity teammate), Emma, Scott, and of course our team mom Della. Our old friend Mathias was also fortunate enough to join us on this outing.

After getting there a little after 9:30, we began our beginners lesson as a big group by a ride leader named Mateo. We first had to get used to riding fixed gears as some of us weren't that experienced. I have to say, never before have I been so inclined to keep pedaling.

Practicing around the little practice track was easy. The small  50 foot diameter, flat, concrete ring was nothing compared to the sloped race track. Mateo taught us what each colored line meant, how to ride along them, and proper racing etiquette. Apparently, the 1 foot wide legal racing space between the big blue line and another red line could fit 3 racers side by side. All of us were in awe at the intensity of racing track.

Getting used to riding the track took a while, but eventually, we ended up starting exercises. We paired up and began riding around the track nice and slow in a double file, with Mateo at the front. Once he yelled "Go!" the pair in front had to sprint race all the way around the track and catch up to the rear of the double file again. Mathias and I were pretty close in the 3 races that we did, while Collin and Malcolm tied all 3 times. Della, Scott, Emma were all very fluid racing around the track, weaving between high and low track and holding a line.

In the final exercise, we got a true taste of what racing was all about. We split up into groups 1, 2, and 3 based on racing experience and skill level. We all decided on group 2. While Collin and Malcolm led the front, Mathias, some Cupertino Club members, and I formed the peloton behind them. As for the race format, we were to do laps constantly until a whistle was blown, signifying the last lap was now beginning. Of course, Collin and Malcolm sprinted 2 laps till the end, so I wasted all my energy trying to keep up. Mathias did the same so both of us finished far behind the main pack. Needless to say, we were all pretty exhausted.

Overall, track racing was pretty fun and a lot more intense than xc mountain bike racing. It's for the select few that love the physical shoulder shoves and lung busting attacks than those who love endurance. I'll definitely come back again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Skills Camp - Jan. 18-19

Over the course of the camp's two days, I think I had the most fun on a bike I've ever had in a long while and learned useful new tips and tricks from amazing coaches.

As soon as we rolled into the parking lot at Camp Tamarancho after a very bumpy ride up a hill with my mother freaking out about the cliff right beside her, we were greeted by Robert "Coco" Ramirez, the camp director. We then proceeded to get our helmets checked out and given name tags written on hot pink duct tape by Vanessa Hauswald, the executive director of NorCal.

Next everyone got their bikes fitted and safety checked. I learned how to place a bike safely on the ground or against a wall when you are without a kickstand.

Atop a small hill was the camping grounds where we would stay. The view on top of the hill was terrific with a stretch of city lights on one side and the vast green forest on the other.

It was here, while I attempted to take a picture of the view, that I discovered that I had the wrong memory card which was not formatted for the camera that I had. Phones were not permitted during the camp so I could only use whatever tiny space of internal memory that I had on the camera and hope that it would suffice. I managed to take only about ten photos.

After I set my bags down, I came across another problem. How does one set up an extremely complex structure with a million parts aka the tent? That's how I came to the acquaintance of two of the nicest girls, Marya (from Drake's mountain biking team) and Jillian (from Marin) , who invited me to stay in their cabin with them.

After the lodging arrangements were sorted out, we went back down the hill and while we were waiting for some late comers, discovered what were apparently called the "swag piles". Piles of jerseys, biking shorts, jackets, shoes, and gear that were donated to NorCal who were getting rid of them.  Coco stated that we would basically be bringing back an entire new wardrobe of biking outfits.

We were then called upon for a camp meeting where we all introduced ourselves and learned about bike maintenance and I changed my very first flat tire. The picture below is of a tire changing competition which the girls managed to accomplish in 3 minutes flat.

 After the meeting, we went on a four hour long skills clinic which was led by Lindsey Richter, who had been in the show Survivors: Africa.

During the four hours, we worked on cornering, braking, how to take switchbacks, how to move your body in difficult riding situations, where to look while riding, and other skills. We then went on a difficult trail (Goldman trail) which had some pretty technical and rocky downhill and uphill switchbacks along with many roots that we had to ride or lift our bikes over. Although some parts were strenuous, we had a great time and learned many new skills.

When we returned, we had some free time to clean up for dinner and get to know each other. Another thing we had to figure out was how to get up and down these tall, rickety old bunk beds with no ladders. I chose the top bunk, which was probably not a good idea as the whole thing shook and squealed at every movement I made.

After getting that sorted out, we went to dinner and watched a movie, "Where the Trail Ends" which was incredible.

At around 4 am the next morning, as a light sleeper, I was awaken by an odd scratching and skittering noise on the roof of the cabin. I had seen a nest of pillow fluff on a ledge near the ceiling and rodent droppings the day before but didn't think much of it. I believe that our cabin was a squirrels nest.

The morning alarm was Coco, driving through the camp in his car, honking incessantly.

The picture to the side is of the sunrise, although my camera could not take a very good photo of it.

It was still dark so we had to tread carefully down the hill to get breakfast. After breakfast, we packed our bags and prepared to leave, surprised that the camp had flown by so quickly.

The last ride of the day was focused on switchbacks, going over obstacles, and how to pop your front tire up. We then went on a short trail down Goldman again which was nice because we could put our new switchback tips to practice.

When we returned back to camp, we had a quick debrief and then, group photos. There was much exchanging of phone numbers and emails as we prepared for departure and the formation of a little group of riders who planned to go riding sometime together.

Overall, the camp was much more than I hoped for and I learned many skills and met wonderful new people and had heaps of fun.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Riding the Gap

First off I would like to congratulate everyone on the turnout today! It was great to see so many faces, including that lovely mug of Ben Dodge, our coach from last year, who I am pleased to say will be joining us again. As us veterans know, that means it's time to bring back Monte Bello repeats. Also, cheers to Cameron and Frank for going to the Wilderness First Aid Class this weekend. It's great to see new ride leaders stepping up. Now that all the news is out of the way, a quick ride summary.

We rolled into the Monta Vista parking lot to find everyone rearing to go. Nice! By 9:00 am we had somehow fit 6 bikes and 6 riders in my mom's brand new mini van and had begun the windy road up to Saratoga Gap. Just as we were parking, Ben rolled up on his rock lobster 'cross bike, looking fresh (especially considering he had just climbed 9). Over the next 3 hours we worked on skills through switchbacks, rock gardens, and root drops. We also managed to snap that gorgeous picture of everyone and meet a roadie/unicyclist named Chuck who decided to join us. By the time we got back, I am pleased to say that everyone was exhausted, but wore the biggest smiles regardless. I can't wait to do it all again. Here's to an amazing mountain bike season.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

White Oak was Wonderful

We live in the best biking community with the most incredible, supportive and passionate people in the industry.

It was a twisty turny ride to a wide-open parking lot on Page Mill. You could see the morning fog settling in the valley below but we were in full sun and all ready for some fun.

We warmed up heading towards the Bella Vista trail where we ran into our friend Donde, looking strong and fit as ever, with his dreadlocks flowing in the wind. He was hammering up the trail on his Rock Lobster ‘cross bike. He was kind enough to stop and chat even though I am pretty sure he was in the middle of an effort.  No matter where you are or what you’re riding you always run into those familiar faces. Got to love biking!

This was my first ride of the high school season and I started to feel the flow come back pretty quickly. Endurance is going to come back much more slowly. I hit a few switchbacks that were somewhat technical. It was just enough to practice the skills that I was taught in the leadership summits put on by NICA (http://www.nationalmtb.org/leaders-summit/).  The trail ride was a welcome relief from all the noise in my head. It is hard to think about everyday concerns when the fall colors and smells fill your head. Every time there was a junction the group would wait and meet up.  We had a few laughs and compared bikes and swapped stories.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day.
The coach from the Woodside Beasts, Jarrod, also joined us for our inaugural “leaders ride.” We had great conversations about making biking accessible and fun for all different skill levels. We talked jerseys and team building and how we want to share this with the greater community.

Arunas, our guest rider, is the real deal. He showed up all decked out in his Focus gear and sporting the Focus Raven, their top of the line cross-country bike.  His first thought probably was, “what is this middle age moms deal?”  Don’t think I haven’t thought that more than once.  After we started riding and he was out on the trail with other like minded individuals the real deal was... “this is a lot of fun!!!!”
Our alumni rider Collin Marcroft showed off dressed in his winner’s jersey from last year’s Sea Otter Classic, looking like a true college student. Collin’s bike handling skills are legendary in our team. There has never been a coach yet that hasn’t been awed by his handling skills. It looks like he is going to join the NICA team as a ride leader and maybe even an assistant coach time will tell.

Like any volunteer program it is the passion and the fun that drives us forward.  I would like to thank Bicycle Outfitter (http://bicycleoutfitter.com/) for supporting our ride and giving us a home base so that our biking community can connect with other communities and we can share our passions.

If you are interested in sharing this passion too, join us on Tuesday November 12th at the Flints’ house for our first meeting.  This meeting is open to anybody interested in helping develop the sport of high school Cross-Country Mountain biking in this area. If you are interested in coaching /assisting or are just wanting to ride please let me know at mvmountainbike@gmail.com

Student interested in the sport are free to come in and see what it is all about.  For team members this meeting is mandatory. If you are unable to make it you must let us know.

See you on the trail!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

On the Sponsorship Trail

Della and Malcolm on the search for sponsors, this time at wildberry yogurt!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bike Dawgs Promo Video

For all you MV'er's, This is what high school mountain biking is! It took a while but someone finally made a top-notch promo video!

Go Bike Dawgs!

SR Bike Dawgs MTB from San Rafael Bike Dawgs on Vimeo.