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Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the training like?
The training starts out gradual in the late fall and increases in duration and intensity until around March or April when the duration steadies. We create a training schedule for student athletes to be in peak performance shape at the championship races, and the details can be seen on the Team Calendar.

Can you tell us at the beginning of the season where and when the races will be?
The final race schedule will be posted on the NorCal website in January.

What advice do you have for someone who is new to the sport or doesn’t know many people who ride?
When the little voice in your head starts giving you reasons for not coming out to ride, ignore it, and meet us, or just push yourself out the door and get on that bike. The team is a great way to get into biking with your friends, and to make new friends.

Are riders taught about bike safety and preparedness?
Yes. Drake MTB has a team technician to assist in some mechanical issues and to provide some instruction. We also go over and enforce proper road use including lane positioning, signage, and group formation.

What is going through my Rider’s head during, before, after a race?
This write-up from a former Rider gives parents and family a very complete picture of what it means to train, to race, and to keep a balanced perspective on life. Two thumbs up on this write-up!

Can I still play on another sports team at Drake?
Riders can participate in fall sports as long as they are finished with these commitments by January.

How much might this cost me?
While we have made great strides in reducing the cost of participation over the years, a rider should still expect to pay over $1,300 for the season when bike maintenance, uniform, meals, licensing and other items are factored in. See Expenses for additional details.

Are there unofficial training rides? When and where?
There are no unofficial training rides sanctioned by Drake MTB. However, Drake riders are encouraged and expected to buddy up and ride with their peers informally when rides are not scheduled.

Are there official training rides and workouts?
Yes, please refer to the Team Calendar.

If you want to ride on your own, can you recommend some routes?
There are many routes to choose from. Drake MTB recommends getting a Marin County Bicycle Coalition map from Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax and familiarizing yourself with local routes emanating from Fairfax. In addition, the Team Calendar has active links to the Strava routes here is a typical example used for each team ride.

Can riders of all different levels participate?
Yes!!! Please read Team Eligibility requirements for more details.

Can someone ride and train with the team and then not race?
No. All riders must make a minimum commitment to participate in races; 3 of 6 during the season.

Who are the coaches and how do I get in touch with them?
See the Contacts link on the website for emails and phone numbers.

What bike shop do you deal with and do they give a team discount?
Drake MTB is sponsored exclusively by Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax. They have been serving the Drake Community since 1971, and Drake MTB since its inception.

What about transportation and accommodations at the races?
See Race Day and Travel link on the top menu http://drakemtb.org. Riders and their families are entirely responsible for transportation to and from races. As a matter of policy, Drake MTB staff may not carry riders to or from races. The NorCal League usually publicizes accommodations near the races should you decide to stay the night. Many families look for places to camp.

Minimum Team Requirements
Attend at least two Team Rides a week. We take attendance before every practice. Participate in at least three races during the season. See Eligibility and Team Rides for additional details .

How do we find out about last-minute ride changes?
Schedule changes and meeting locations will be communicated by email. If there is a last minute cancellation due to inclement weather, Coaches will notify the riders via text message

Parts and Accessories Program
Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax will provide a 20% discount to current team members and coaches on any part or accessory in stock. Please note labor, gift cards and Tamarancho passes are not included). Items are for athlete/coaches use only and are not to be purchased and resold.

Can I either of my parents ride along with the team?
If you are curious about becoming Parent Team Ride Leader please check out the requirements here, read through the Coaches and Ride Leader web page and email DrakeMTBCoaches@gmail.com. We welcome all parents who want to share some time on the trails with us and can always use more support.

What about nutrition?
See the Nutrition page for in-depth information from an experienced cyclist mom. We are a PEANUT-FREE TEAM, so no foods with peanut ingredients or peanut-flavor energy bars. Please check ingredients of the foods you are bringing.

What kind of a bike, components, equipment will a rider need?
Bikes are personal items that can be very expensive, so there is no blanket recommendation that will fit the needs of every rider’s family. However, we can say this:

  • Frames are generally the same on any bike, but fit is very important. Please consult a shop expert on fit. We recommend a “hardtail” frame with front suspension.
  • Components can range from inexpensive and fragile to expensive and super light. We recommend some mid-range components (e.g. Shimano LX or XT, SRAM XO) as a minimum for withstanding a season of use, but understand that families must make their own decisions.
  • If at all possible, either purchase a bike with a 1x setup or convert the bike you have… 1x means that you only have a single chainring at the crank , eliminating the weight and complexity of a front derailleur which is particularly important during races.
  • For safety reasons, all riders MUST have helmet, gloves, eye-wear, padded shorts (baggies are fine!), bike shoes, and CLIPLESS pedals (there is a learning curve, but you’ll thank us later). A complement of non-cotton clothing is necessary, including layers for very cold winter rides – see What to Wear on a Ride. Each rider must also have a basic repair kit What to Bring… of pump, tire levers, patches and/or tube, multi-use tool, and emergency food.

What the heck is “bike fit” and where can I get help on that?
Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax has several staff members who are experts on bike fit, and we recommend that you visit them for a consultation.

Are tires important? YES! they are the only thing connecting you to the ground
Make sure that you have quality tires at the beginning of the season. If your tires are more than a year old, or are close to being bald, then it is highly recommended that you get new tires. This will make you ride safer, more controlled, and you will enjoy the training and racing more.

For training, especially in the rainier part of the training season, make sure you have some tires with aggressive tread patterns, like Continental Mountain King or Maxxis Ikon in the rear and Maxxis Ardent in the front (Maxxis tires seem to be easier to set up as tubeless, so consider that in your selection). Sunshine has these tires in stock in 26/27.5/29 sizes, and team members get a 20% discount on them. Put the fattest tire that will fit on your bike, like 2.35 or 2.4! You won’t regret the increased traction and float on all those training rides. If you are Justine, then use a tire like the Maxxis Minion DHF so that you can shred downhills with heavy mud and rocks and not worry about flats.

As you get closer to race season, it might make sense to put a set of race tires on your bike that are lighter (Maxxis Race TT, Continental Race King) and skinnier (2.0ish) with a less aggressive tread pattern. This will decrease your tire weight and rolling resistance, a big help especially on the longer races.

If you can use tubeless tires on your wheelset, then use them! Tubeless tires that are 2.2 or larger can be run as low as 17-19psi in the front and 20-25psi in the rear for hardtails (this of course highly depends on your body weight). This gives the tires a lot more “give” on the trail that translates to a larger patch of rubber on the ground, giving you more traction, especially in corners. Be careful to not go too low on the pressure or you can easily pinch flat or harm your wheels on a large rock or bump. If you want tubeless, sunshine will be more than happy to see what they can do to convert your wheels. Don’t feel like going to [Sunshine](https://www.sunshinebicycle.com/pages/hsmtb/]? go to club night and bug a seasoned rider or parent or coach to see what they think.

Are riders supervised during the whole ride?
No. The nature of mountain biking is such that it is impossible to keep your eyes on each rider all the time. Some will ride behind the coach, others in front. If this is an unacceptable situation for your family, then Drake MTB is NOT for you.

What are the races like?
The courses are cross-country courses. Since Drake riders train on Mt. Tam and in Camp Tamarancho, they generally find the courses at races to be easy. Freshman riders can expect to race about 10-12 miles, while Varsity boys can race up to 28 miles. Check out Race Day information here for videos of the Pit Zone, past races, and #DrakeMTBDivas to give you an idea of what a race is really like.

How can I support my rider during a race?
This write-up from a Rider does a better job of telling parents how to support their Rider during a race than just about anything else we have come across. In a phrase, Cheer Loudly and Often!

All these cycling terms confuse me, help!
If you don’t know your Pit Zone from your Trainer, check out our cycling Glossary.

Don’t Forget to Check your Brake Pads!
Brake pads wear out quickly after riding in the rain or mud, so be sure to check your brake pads at least once every few weeks so that you are not three quarters into a long Sunday ride and walking your bike down Shafter Bridge.