Drake MTB 1st race of the season Team placed 2nd to Woodcreek.
A wonderful start to the season Congraduations to all the riders for riding so hard! Here are the “Race Reports by our riders”
Fort Ord- NorCal #1 3/6/16
I could start this race report from when I was a sixth grader, watching my brother in his first race as a freshman for the Drake MTB team. But, the boring anticipation for the next three years would fill up the Bible, so I’ll skip straight to the most exciting and nerve racking moments. The 5 mile lap never fluctuated more than 100 feet or so in elevation, and I didn’t think that a rider like me, who thrives on long climbs, would survive such a power test. And it truly was that- no technical sections, just steep digs that scream of a spring road bike “classic.” Lining up as a freshman D1, with no callups made for a mad dash to get to the front row of racers. The rows went 5 wide, and there were around 50 riders, and so my inside 4th row positioning was not too shabby. In front of me was River in the third row, and Logan, Kyle, and Gabe were around me as well. The gun went off, and I knew if I wanted any chance I needed to be in the thick of it by the top of the first 30 second climb, because after that there are no other chances to pass for a long time. Squeezing my way up the inside, I wound up in the top 10 by the single track, and by the top of the climb I found myself in 3rd. Big thanks to Gabe, who told me before the race that his friend from Tam would be main competition, and he was right. Besides a San Rafael kid who went out like a pack of wolves were chasing him, the Tam kid was next, so I decided this would be the wheel to follow. Logan and Kyle were right there as well. By the bottom of the first descent, we found the San Rafael kid on the floor, who had overcooked the turn. The Tam kid led me through the next section, and by the following hill I looked back and saw no one behind. I could tell he didn’t expect me to pull through, so I was more than happy to let him take me past the sophomore D2 kids. We made pretty good work of them through the remainder of the first lap, and with about 1-1.5 miles to go in the lap, we crossed the road and headed up a steep fire road climb. I had pre road and noted that this climb was probably the most important part of the course, where for the rest of the race there are not many places to pass. I decided to lead into the descent, and it worked out. I caught and passed two or three sophomore guys, and stuck them in between me and the Tam kid (who is named Kaveh by the way). By the bottom, I had 5 or so seconds, and so I decided I would keep it hard, and if he could bring it back I would let him go back to the front. But, Kaveh couldn’t bridge the gap, and I got a 10 second advantage by the first pass of the finish line. By 2 miles to go, my dad told me he couldn’t see Kaveh behind me, and when I hit the fire road again, it was a 20 to 30 second gap. I kept going hard, and got to cruise in and take victory, in the end by 1:20. Logan rounded out the top 3 with a great performance, along with all the other guys. Kyle, Bridger, and Gabe also put in solid top 10 rides, which was definitely something to be stoked about. Congrats to Ronan for taking an awesome sprint victory, and to Uma, Elise, Aliyah, and Matthew for also repping green on the podium. Great job to all of you guys who put in amazing rides! That was a great weekend, and I can’t wait for the next one!
Dang there’s so much too say, I don’t know where to start but I’ll try and keep it short. First off, GREAT job guys, even without our varsity riders we got second place, image the damage we’ll do at Granite Bay! Congratulations to everyone who raced today, you all did great, and great job cheering, eveytime I passed a section of drake fans it gave me a burst of energy, especially the saucy boys who were flashing people. As for my race, it went pretty well. But started so late was strange because I’m used to racing pretty early. Right off the bat there was a pile up, which actually ended up helping me (thanks Eric). The first lap was crowded with people trying to find there place in the pack, when I got to the puddles throughout the course, I felt like they weren’t so bad, just annoying, once I started my second lap I felt a bit sick to my stomach, as though I haven’t eaten enough food, so I decide to take it easy because I didn’t want to bonk. Around this lap I started to ride with a Granite bay rider, he was ahead of me for the entire lap, I tried to take the “kill’em with kindness” idea to heart while I rode with him, I would remind him to drink water and stuff like that, when I got to the puddles again j wasn’t expecting much so I rode right though, and they must have gotten twice as deep, which got me by surprise, luckily I didn’t fall in, like some other people, around my third lap I was still taking it pretty easy, and passed the granite bay rider, and started with a d2 rider, who was also using the “kill’em with kindness” tactic , by the end off my third lap I realized I wasn’t very tired so I started putting more effort in, I ended up finishing with a lot of energy, with some regret that I hadn’t tried harder, but I still feel like I did well. Overall this was probably one of my favorite races because I felt great and I had a lot of fun on the course, probably because of the sick bike I was riding, courtesy of Rob Reed. I’d like to say that I’ll do better next race, but I think I’ll be making a fashion statement again, so who knows what will happen.
JV Boys D1 6th place Howdy all, Nerves play a big part with any sort of competition for me, and this race was no exception. Nearing the race day I was feeling rather calm, but the morning of, my brain snapped and I started freaking out. Of course, I shouldn’t pressure myself too much for the first race of the season, and having to do four laps means I need to have more strategy with how much power I use on which parts of the course, and depending on which laps I am on. I should relax, take it easy, and just feel things out. Well, easier said than done. The very late starting time didn’t help, and the smell of lunch being cooked made my stomach even more delicate, but I managed to choke down half a bagel at around 12pm (I did have a sausage breakfast sandwich at 7am, thanks to Starbucks). Then, the trainers. They make lots of noise. I got warmed up, I think, although I couldn’t really tell at the time, but the noise was most definitely made. Being in the A group for lining up was nice, but I knew that on the first lap people would pass me, so no matter where I started, as long as it was in the top 20 or so, I wouldn’t be affected too badly. My strategy was to leave the gates at around 80% of my capable burst power output, and just get warmed up for the first one and a half laps, regardless of place. Then on the last three and a half I would close the gap. 3..2..1..Go. Not much of a cluster getting up the hill, but it was a bit cramped trying to find space on the double and single track before the first downhill. In my head I kept reminding myself to keep a steady pace, kind of like an internal cruise control, although much more difficult to maintain. Soon, I was speeding downhill, swinging my bike around the swooping corners. Can I just mention how fun the tight flowing downhill sections were? I mean there were people in front of me who don’t know how to go around a corner with speed, but still. Diving in, feeling the front tire grip, pedaling as you exit, diving right back into the next corner, and repeating.
As the race went on, the slight deterioration of the trail due to the storm became blatantly obvious. Puddles? Huh? Yeah, there were some “puddles”, or small lakes, also sometimes referred to as ponds or mud pits, pretty much just something you shouldn’t ride your bike through. So, exactly where to ride through them was a whole other gamble, and no matter how hard I tried, it seemed I always went the wrong way (it’s almost like you’re going to get dirty no matter what!). All I can really remember is getting drenched, fish tailing around, and painfully hearing my poor bike grind crud in my brake rotors and chain, rendering any sort of lubricant useless. Ah noisy drive trains, the bane of my existence. But this was a race, and I need a new chain anyway, so I dealt with it. First lap done. I was about where I wanted to be, but I knew I could push harder. The second lap I start passing people by slowly ramping up my power, or at least keeping it consistent. I pass my rival from last year, Sage Byers-Godwin, which was a triumph in itself. You guys who were cheering did a great job, you were spaced very nicely over the course, keeping moral high. By the third lap (and some stroke of good luck) I figured out how to get through the puddles without having to swim across. I began passing more people, drafting them, somehow catching my breath and (sorta) my legs, then bolting by. Then I caught up to Wyatt on the third lap and trailed him for a bit. I feel bad for doing so after hearing about how he was in pain, but I’m more amazed by how well he did considering this race is twice as long as his previous races from the prior season. Once I passed him I went into a conservative sprint, swerving around people and steadily gaining on the main pack. This was the point that always comes, where I felt like my bike fit isn’t ideal, my leg stride just doesn’t feel like I was utilizing my full potential, and my bike is wrecked somehow. I ignored, regarding it as near-finish craziness. A little while before the gravel hill I caught them. Powering up the hill was painful but exhilarating as we were all neck and neck, truly going for it, and laying everything out on the table until the finish. Going past the Drake pit zone for the final time I felt dead, my concentration was dwindling, the sketchy drop leapt up at me, and I committed to a dead sprint. Gustavo Tagliari pulls away from my front wheel, and made the difference between us only a second. People were cheering, the announcer was announcing, and I finally crossed the finish line. I managed 6th place, one second off 5th, 3 seconds off 3rd. The two Ethan’s who were in front of us for the most part tied within a second in a photo finish. I had a good time, although I hated the puddles, but the course was much nicer than last years route. I am extremely proud of everyone because we all worked hard, but within our boundaries. For all the new riders, racing is about having fun, not winning. You are going to get nervous, and you won’t be able to ignore it, but once you get on the course, things will fall into place. Even if they don’t, racing is about the experience, not how well you do. Just go out there and enjoy it! Or just look forwards to the delicious food waiting for you at the finish line. Thank you to the coaches and all the parents who came out to a sandy course on a stormy weekend to help our team, you guys do an amazing job of staying organized and making the experience as flawless as it can be! Again, really proud of everyone regardless of where you placed, because just getting out there is one of the biggest challenges. Roll Pirates! Walden Reed
Varsity Girls 8th Place
First off I want to give a huge congrats to all the riders for going off at the first race this weekend! I couldn’t be more proud to be a Drake Pirate with not only our awesome colorful jerseys but amazing teammates, coaches, parents and overall supporters who make these weekends an absolute blast and some to never forget. I also really want to encourage all riders to try and write a race report- this doesn’t need to be a long essay but even just a few sentences to let everyone know how your individual race went:)
As far as my race this past weekend…To be completely honest I was pretty terrified to be racing varsity and the daunting 4 laps just kept looping around in the back of my head as the suspense just kept building up. But finally Sunday came upon us and after a good nights rest, I managed to put some food down my stomach and warmed up trying my best to visualize my strategy for the next four laps. Unfortunately the only thing that was really wrapped around the inside of my head was the picture of the finish line and relief to have gotten through the first race.
Approaching the starting line both Ella and I sat in the third row of girls as I looked up past the leading five, not denying that I was extremely intimidated by their fancy helmets, sunglasses, shoes and bikes. Trying to get into the mindset of just finishing the race as my top goal, I put the intimidation to the back of my head and propped up on my bike as the countdown began…3,2,1!! And I was off! Getting a pretty quick start I sprinted up the first hill to find myself in the top 10 on our way to the single track. Trying my best to keep the top 5 in sight I stayed at the back of this group through most of the first lap. Seeing the girls pop their heads back to see me on their tail I could here a “Pick up the pace!” from the leading Redwood rider, Viveka, which surprisingly put a smile on my face knowing I had caught them by surprise:) Rounding out the first lap already covered with mud head to toe I found myself losing sight of the top three and later the next two. I knew they couldn’t be too far ahead but I had to conserve my energy for the next three laps. Beginning the second lap my legs hurt and looking back this was by far my worst lap. Trudging up the first hills I had so many thoughts going through my head “I can’t do this” “Four laps….oh good god how I am I going to get through this…” The lap felt like a long one as a San Domenico rider passed me half way through and I begin to think it was over from there and I had used too much of my energy in the beginning. Riding solo I rounded out the second lap and took on my third reloading on water and using the cheers and screams from around me to get me up the hills. Midway through the third lap I began to regain my energy. The hills began to feel easier, my motivation to go faster seemed to pick up, and after sprinting up the gravel hill to catch sight of a varsity rider in front of me I managed to pass her as I approached my fourth and final lap. Picturing the finish line in sight I put my head down and charged forward giving it everything I had. My legs burned on the hills as my bike now completely covered with mud was on the verge on not being able to take anymore giant puddles. Approaching the last and final gravel hill I heard someone yell, “You’re in 7th!” As my eyes widened and face beamed I used everything I had get to the finish line. Seeing my teammates at the end I gave it a final push crossing that line with the most exhausted yet rewarding feeling in the world. Collapsing in the arms of my teammates I truly felt I had given it my all that race and proven to myself that I was more capable of what I thought I was.
Accomplishing my goal of finishing the race and my real personal goal of reaching the top 10 I am glad to have my first varsity race under my skin and am eager to see what the rest of the season holds. Once again I want to congratulate everyone on such an amazing weekend not only with each individual race but the cheering and support that went on behind the scenes truly making for an amazing couple days. I look forward to a great season of exciting races and can’t wait to see how much everyone improves. Thank you again teammates, coaches, parents, and friends, and GO PIRATES! -Marya
This was a wild one to start off the year. I was pretty excited going into this race because it would finally give me a chance to see how my training over the summer and during the pre-season would pay off. Before this race, I reflected back on my freshman experience so I could figure out what I needed to work on to improve. I identified 3 key things: (1) figure out a better warm up (I warmed up too slow last year in the races); (2) get a cleaner start (I crashed in my first race, and had other rough starts); and (3) stay in the front pack (I would let the lead pack get way ahead of me and try to catch them the rest of the race, which proved impossible). These became my main focus for this race.
For the warm up, I made sure to go pretty hard on the trainer, trying to not go too light. Along with that, I found a hill where I did some sprints and this warmed me up pretty well. When it came to the start, I made sure to scope out the start line during the pre ride for the best line which ended up being the middle. Luckily, I was the number one call-up so I was able to pick the ideal spot. As I waited on the start line, I was surprised by the fact that I wasn’t nervous for the race, which was completely divergent from my intense nervousness the year before.
As the countdown finished, we were off. I had a pretty good start ending in 3rd at the top of the hill behind Redwood riders Andrew and Oliver. I was happy to let them lead out for the first couple miles, and that is what happened. Eventually, I passed Andrew on the first significant hill and Oliver soon thereafter, giving me an early lead. This lead was short-lived as I was passed by a Tam rider, Pearson, who caught up with me about 3-4 miles in the course. He would end the first lap a second ahead of me. Since he was making good time, I decided to let him carry me along.
On the second lap, I could tell he was pretty tired so I passed him before the downhill single track. At this point, I was thinking I might have this race in the bag, as he quickly fell behind. I now had a good lead on Pearson and I didn’t think anyone would sneak up on me. As fate would have it, my confidence was soon challenged as I heard someone yell out behind me on the gravel road, “passing on your left!” As I looked back, I saw a Tam rider about 100 feet behind me making short work of a freshman rider. At first I thought that Pearson had come back, but then we passed a Tam coach, and he said, “Keep on him Hobey.” I started to think, “Hobey,” “Hobey who?” I didn’t remember a Hobey from last year, and when I got home I found he placed 40th overall as a Freshman. Obviously he had improved a lot since last year!!! I now realized that I may lose the race, as the phantom Hobey seemed really strong. He ended 2-3 seconds ahead of me at the end of the second lap. Bill, the announcer, was surprised, as he observed that “Drake Rider Ronan Goulden is now trailing a different Tam rider, very strange!” Exactly what I was thinking.
The third lap ended up being a dog fight, to say the least. We must have gone back and forth at least 10 times, changing the lead. At one point we hit a huge puddle and I fell and had to run my bike out of it, giving him a slight lead. Luckily, I was able to catch back up at just the right time, as Hobey ended up whipping his back tire out on a hill and fell as he was trying to pass another freshman rider. I struck immediately and gained a small lead, going into an all out sprint the last mile and a half. We were flying past freshmen riders, and when a Granite Bay rider wouldn’t get out of my way I was really worried, I could feel Hobey hot on my tail. I knew I needed to burn the uphills because he was slightly faster downhill. I sprinted the last uphill section, hitting around 20 miles per hour according to my trip computer. As I passed the Drake Pitzone, he was only about 5 feet away from me, and either one of us could take it. We hit the final corner, and once I got out of it, I had a feeling I had it. I sprinted as fast as I could and right at the finish line I put my arms up, winning by two seconds. After last year of ups and downs, this one felt really great.
Although this was a super exciting race for me, I would also like to congratulate and thank all of the Drake team. First off, thanks to all the parents who volunteered and helped to set up this race and make everything run smooth. Also, thanks to all the coaches for volunteering their time to help us train and become better riders. Congratulations to all the podium finishes; including Otis 1st, Logan 3rd, Elise 3rd, Aliyah 5th, Matthew 3rd, and Uma 4th; and all the other racers who pushed themselves to new heights. Also congrats to Walden with an impressive 6th place finish in JV, along with Marya’s 8th place in Varsity. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next two weeks at Granite Bay.
15th Frosh Boys
First I’d like to congratulate everyone who raced this weekend; even without our three varsity riders we managed to climb into second place! I’d especially like to congratulate Otis and Ronan for winning their categories, and to all those who got on the podium.
This all began just a couple weeks ago for me, when I showed up to my first mountain biking practice after not having ridden for multiple months due to playing Drake soccer. I wasn’t extremely eager to join the team, either, since I had done some mountain biking before entering this team and had not been too fond of it, but I decided to give this a try. The moment I arrived there, I could just feel how inviting the team was and knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it.
Fast forward to this past weekend, our first race of the season at Fort Ord. I can’t hide the fact that I felt so nervous beforehand that when I woke up the morning of, I began shaking. Since this was my first real mountain bike race, everything was new. As my race got nearer and nearer, I began to feel worse and worse. I watched as all the girls finished their races, a little bit ashamed that I wished I were them right now so I didn’t have to go race. Finally, I head over to the starting line.
I find myself between a few of my teammates, all of us eager to get good starting positions. One of them, Otis, had been to a few races before and through a series of events, brought me into the third row and himself and a couple other drake riders into the fourth. Suddenly, I am hearing 3…2…1…GO! and as if they were never there, my nerves disappear.
I sprint up the first hill, wanting to get into a good position so I could keep up with the leaders. For a few minutes, everything is going just as I wanted, and then I begin losing them, as they are moving as fast as someone might with a few months of training, not two weeks. I ride around sharp corners, down flowy descents, up short climbs, and through puddles much deeper than they had been the day before on the pre-ride, which was a little surprising to some, who had to walk their bikes through. I make it to the fire road climb in the latter half of the course, and suddenly I feel a burst of energy and sprint up the hill as fast as I can, then cruise the rest of the descending course to the finish line, signaling one lap to go.
I climb the hill up to the single track again, and realize I am extremely tired. To make matters worse I realize I didn’t grab water at the feed zone. Hell, I didn’t even know where the feed zone was. I almost give up out of exhaustion and dehydration, knowing full well I could do better if I have some water to drink during the race, but realize I still have a decent position and need to push through it. I ride through the second lap, disappointingly a good amount slower that the first, but manage to have no one pass me, which felt good. Through the rest of the course I go, all the way to the finish with the last bit of energy I have in me. Finally, it’s over. And the irony is, after all the dreading and freaking out over the race, I can’t wait to do it again.
Thanks all for such an amazing time!
Fort Ord Race #1 Drake D1 PitZone: 1st Place
I am not sure where to begin (all the months of planning (thanks everyone), meeting (again, thanks everyone!), merchandise ordering (thanks Cindy), wonderful person who took over merchandising (thanks Margie), raffle ticket selling (thanks riders), Pelo fundraising (thanks parents), piggybackr campaigning (thanks riders), Biketoberfest-ing (Thanks Chris Lyons), new Drake kit designing (thanks Eric Brandt and the team captains), Drake Diva-ing (thanks Alexis), Kick Off Dinner-ing (Thanks Stanleys and coaches and ride leaders), training rides (thanks coaches and ride leaders), treasurer reporting (thanks Philip), trailer cleaning and organizing (thanks Kelly, Sonya, Eric Brandt, Alexis, Margie), propane filling, the Green Goddessing (thanks Carolyn), field trip reporting (thanks Jolie), lodging reservations (Thanks Lori), dinner reservations (Thanks Lori), trainer tent (thanks Trevor), water bottle ordering (Thanks Anastasia), food prepping (thanks Ed), photo taking and organizing (Thanks Gabi), Drake trailer pulling (thanks Rod Reed), Spread sheet sign up-ing (Thanks Stanleys), Pelo riding, swap meeting, and coaching, coaching, coaching (thanks Otis and Sarah). There are so many more who have done so much - I will continue to add to the list as the days go on. It truly never ends!!!
What huge excitement going into the first race! The Drake team is a well oiled machine and we have a very large team this year. In some ways, we needed to think a little outside the box from other years and figure out new ways to support our riders and their families.
It was an amazing weekend!!
Truth be told, I check my email every hour to see if a new Rider’s Report has been posted. I LOVE reading them. I love re-living moments from the weekend, the smiles, the mud, the cheers, the food, the organization, the coaching.
I bow down to each and every one of you who rode this weekend. This is a HARD sport and while it is easy to be a side line spectator and parent, it is much harder to be in your position, whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned veteran. I just want you to know that as a parent, I respect you and your hard work and your dedication and your positive attitudes and your sportsmanship.
If you have suggestions for the PitZone for the next race, please email Alexis or myself. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
One last note - Chris and I are usually the last ones leaving the PtiZone at every race and we do a “sweep” of the area and pick up any left overs. This race we took home a couple of lawn chairs, a pair of biking shoes, clear lens glasses, a Norcal shirt, a Drake MTB shirt, a nice Gymboree puffy jacket size 5-6 in grey (Basil Willis - is this yours?), a Sun Valley baseball cap and a few other miscellaneous items. Please email me directly if you are missing something - chances are I have picked them up at the end of the race and have them in my possession.
One last note (I PROMISE) - please put your name on ALL your clothing. I know your teachers told you this in preschool but you didn’t wear all the same clothes in preschool. You now are wearing ALL the same clothes - please, please, please put your name on your kits (Sharpie works fine).
I can’t wait for the next race. It was unfortunate not having our varsity riders this race but with them back in action, we are going to just add another layer to this incredible team!
Thank you everyone!
Living vicariously on the computer
Nice, nice email Margot. It is seriously making me weep. (Not joking.) I am so pleased and grateful that you coerced us into being part of this amazing team/family and I will forever appreciate the experiences we have had. It is so sad that our time with the team has ended (I probably could have supported Lucas through another season if I hadn’t messed myself up), but I am relishing still getting all the emails and pretending we are still involved. It was hard not being on site for the last race, rain and all; I guess working all weekend was a good way to take my mind off what we were missing. Today I am really feeling the loss of this special adventure.
Margot you, Chris and Alexis are a super trio who have done an amazing job of holding this special parent group together around these powerful kids and amazing coaches in a very singular, cohesive way as it’s grown so big. I marvel at your ability to create this constant and enlarging “group hug” that motivates so many to participate to their fullest, relish each other’s investments and companionship, and inspires these wonderful kids to push themselves to ride so hard, even bringing home a state championship.
I am so grateful to have been part of this loving group, and appreciate everything you all have done for me and my family in the last two years, and also especially this last month. Your friendships have brought a lot of love and fun into my otherwise tedious recuperation. I feel the family group hug all the time and miss y’all so much. You’re all awesome!
Arggh! Roll Pirates!
Greetings, my fellow howdy-butts!
I would like to take a few minutes of your time to go over Sunday’s race from my perspective…
First of all, racing always hurts. But this race hurt a lot. A lot, a lot. I would like that to be your take-home message. Just kidding. I would like your take-home message to be something about the importance of having your head in the game and/or keeping a positive attitude.
This race has been on my mind for months. All the training rides have been done with the knowledge that they were preparing me for Fun at the Fort or whatever it’s called. Monday rolled around (oh, biking puns) and I was already a little nauseated. Once my week got started, I found I had very little energy to focus on the race. My time and energy was highly directed elsewhere. Therefore, the race actually snuck up on me with overwhelming stealth and speed. Too soon, I found myself preparing to leave on Saturday morning.
This was when my nerves got really bad. Having had a rough week, I was not physically or mentally or emotionally prepared for the task ahead and I knew it. My goal became to simply ride the race. I could’t really talk by the time we were on our way to the pre-ride.
After the pre-ride, I felt a million times better. I knew at the very least I would be able to finish the race, which had been an actual concern of mine on Wednesday morning.
The team dinner was fun, as usual, but I started to have a rough time again. I was scared of going back to my room and laying awake with my thoughts and fears. I read Harry Potter until I fell asleep, which was very fun, and before I knew it I jerked awake at 5:30 am by the wind and rain howling around our room. I was not excited to race in those conditions.
I couldn’t eat breakfast, which has been a struggle of mine at every race that I have yet to overcome. There were some problems with setting my bike on the trainer resulting in the solution, “You’re all set up but not really so try not to rock too much.” That made me fear somehow springing free of the trainer and flying straight through the bagel tray on the table in front of me.
I was staged in the second row, which was good, and I was right behind Elise. As the clock ticked down, I found my intense nerves resulting in me becoming very funny. I have very little recollection of what I was saying but I got some complements on it afterwards and also was cracking myself up.
The time to go came too quickly and I was unprepared. I struggled to get my left shoe clipped in as we started sprinting up the climb, finally getting it about 2/3 of the way up. After that fire road, I was gasping for air. My cardiovascular system was kind of in shock, which made me know that I hadn’t ever really warmed up. That is, unfortunately, not the end of the climb and I was suffering as we approached the first and only fun downhill. Swishing through the trees, I was feeling happy that the people behind me weren’t just waiting for me to let them pass; I was going fast enough. The rest of the first lap is kind of a blur of pain and the recurring thoughts, “I have to do that part again, oh and that part again, and that thing again.” This was especially in relation to all the “puddles”, also known as oceans. I had no time to process the information or pick out strategies for the next lap because it all kind of looked the same to me. The feed zone crept up on me and too soon I was starting my second lap.
This was no easier than the first and kind of worse. I generally feel better once the race starts, but I was filled with a desperation I had not experienced previously and I had a very negative outlook. My sights were set on finishing, whatever that meant. Water was sloshing in my shoes with every pedal stroke and the girl behind me who was crying pretty much summed up my life. It’s all a bit muddled, but sometime during my race a girl tried to pass me and ran herself into a ditch and a Redwood kid tried to high-five me while I was going downhill which was either a dumb form of encouragement or a savvy sabotage. The puddles were emotionally exhausting. They made my feel dirty and my bike got madder and madder every time. Approaching the finish line, I couldn’t tell if there was someone behind me because my bike was making enough noise to have been an entire team. I found myself sprinting just in case and also because I knew the sooner I got over that line, the sooner it was over.
The rest of the day was fun, but that race was brutal. I’m hopeful it can only get better from here. For everyone who raced that race, regardless of placement, “I love you!” And to all who spent the day making our race possible, “I love you!” And to anyone who actually read this novel I accidentally wrote, I’m sorry. I realize that most of it is not even about the actual race, but for me that’s how it goes. I know the importance of a positive attitude, but just couldn’t muster it this time around. I’m feeling stronger now, though, and confident that I did the best I could have done. Which only means that I can improve!
Howdy all! I hope everyone is recovering well from the race and preparing for the next round of rain.
Sophomore year brought in a wave of more responsibilities and expectations. I felt a bit more prepared this year for the first race than my experience as a deer in the headlights freshman. I packed my bag the night before and drove up with my family and Hannah. We got to the course around 3:30, so our pre-ride was chaotic and rushed since the NorCal officials wanted us on the course as quickly as possible. I only got in one lap before they closed the trail. This was frustrating, but I was somewhat familiar with the course from last year and Hannah gave me some pointers. Dinner at Los Laureles Lodge was so much fun. I didn’t realize how much I missed spending time off the saddle with the team.
The morning of the race, my stomach was in knots as usual. Despite the reassurances of coaches and family, I have never truly gotten over pre-race jitters. We got in the car and I attempted to eat a banana. The pit zone was hectic, but it was a place and situation I knew well. I went through the motions of getting my bike checked, filling and labeling water bottles, and warming up. My warm up was short and not strenuous, something I regretted later. The whole time I felt disconnected, as if I were observing myself through binoculars. Good luck wishes from everyone imaginable blurred on my way to call ups. Vanessa’s jokes and conversations with other riders went by in a flash, and the race had started. I clipped in smoothly and headed up the hill. Right away I felt wrong. My lungs burned, I was gasping for air, and my legs were jelly. I had started in second but was seventh at the top of the first hill. My body continued in this strange state for the majority of that first lap.
Thanks to the muddy January rides in Marin, I was prepared for mud puddles and bogs. It seemed the rest of the league was not. I skirted one especially deep puddle with several JV and sophomore riders submerged in it. This, and the lack of long climbs, led me to roughly fourth place by the end of the first lap.
Turning the corner to cheers from the team boosted my morale leading into the second lap. I passed the competitor in third and cemented my position with an attack (thanks Alan!). Several coaches and officials helped me learn my place and how far I was behind everyone along the way. At the end of the second lap, I realized just how much energy was left in me and attempted to quicken my pace. What I did not know was that the rest of the course consisted of sketchy single track and mud, something that is very difficult to sprint through. The last hill brought a nice burn into my legs and the finish line came up too quickly. I was ready to follow the JV riders into their third lap when I pulled off the course to hugs and congratulations.
Overall, I really enjoyed this race and I’m incredibly proud of the team. Extra props to those who moved up a category this year and had to adjust and the new freshmen who killed their division. Otis, Logan, Kyle, Gabe, and River, you guys did amazingly having never raced the course. I don’t think we’ve ever had five in top 20 before! Sophomores like Aliyah, Uma, Ronan and Wyatt are all beating everyone’s expectations in JV and sophomore divisions. Upperclassmen riders like Marya and Walden are really holding our team together with not only their race performances but also their leadership. Unlike some other teams, we really have strength as a whole and don’t depend on a few star riders. We also have the most incredible group of supportive coaches, parents and sponsors who have been planning for the season for over 6 months!
I would have loved to copy and paste the entire team roster because everyone is integral to the team. Can’t wait for Granite Bay!
Coach Sarah Starbird
Race #1 Fun at the Fort
2nd Place Division 1
For the coaches, the race prep starts weeks in advance with confirming all the equipment for the PitZone is ordered, the riders are registered with NorCal and for the race, the field trip forms are logged in at the office, and the bikes are making their way to Sunshine for final adjustments. And, all this happens with the support of many of the parents (thank you).The training on the trails and with the kids falls into place without too much effort since we have such an incredibly committed team of riders, ride leaders and coaches.
The anticipation of the weekend was shadowed by a literal grey cloud of possible rain in the forecast. It sounded like we should expect buckets for 2 straight days so it made everyone just a little more anxious. When we finally arrived at the venue on Saturday at 2pm, it wasn’t raining and all looked clear for the pre-ride. As we were getting ready, a race official announced they were going to close the course at 3:30 when the rain started. “What?#&(!# They can’t do that - we schedule our pre-ride for 3:30”. How they knew “exactly” when the next shower was going to arrive is a secret we want in on. With this announcement, it upped the anxiety since the course was new and we wanted everyone to have a chance to check it out. Only a handful of riders arrived early enough to set out with Otis and Rob to see how things looked. The initial report was that the course wasn’t too too muddy and there was less climbing. Less climbing isn’t really to our advantage. We train on hills; steep long hills. And, everyone knows these races are won on the climbs so it was good to hear that this provided some relief to the riders but it wasn’t necessary great news.
With that, we headed back to our second home, Los Laureles. The dinner with all the parents, riders, their siblings and coaches is one of the highlights of the weekend. As coaches, we don’t find too much time to just sit, relax and enjoy one another’s company in a big group. We are typical spread over the entire Mt. Tam watershed and talking through radios. So this is a treat for us as much as the families. At the conclusion of the fun, we decided to be ready for PitZone set up at 6:20am for a 7am assembly at Fort Ord. We went to sleep with the rain pouring down and woke up to the same sound. It was looking like the weather could be a factor. But when finally pulled into the venue Sunday am, the rain had stopped and the forecast looked clear. To say we were relieved is an understatement.
Fast forward to the team meeting. Liam’s inspirational talk got us all pumped for a great day of racing, cheering and having fun. As seasoned riders, the girls all knew what they needed to do. 1. Eat!!! For some reason, this seems to be the most difficult for many of them but there was some progress. If you add up all the food consumed by all 10 girls, it might have totaled about 1000 calories. We have room to improve but at least most of the food stayed down this year. The good luck bracelets were on, the shot blocks were fastened on the top tubes, the head phones were in their ears and the girls were on the trainers for their warm up.
We migrated over to the start line and prepared to GOOOOOO! We all know how great our girls are but never sure how they will place in the first race since we don’t really know the competition yet. The varsity girls were off, then JV and then sophomore. It was sad to see no freshman this year but we have plans to change that for next year. Elise was the first to cross the finish line and with a smile and some relief. Soon after was Aliyah with a podium finish in 5th and Stella right behind her and then Lily and Jade. Hugs and Smiles everywhere!!!
Uma, back from the dead after being sick for over a month and finally recovered from her horrible knee injury finished a strong 4th. Hannah crushed it on the downhills and jockeyed with Lisette to come in right behind Uma. Mayra and Ella had their work cut out with a 4 lap race. Both persevered through the long course made us proud.
The next race was the Frosh/Soph boys. Last years Freshman were seeded by how they did last year though we have Alessandro, Blake, Cyrus, Collin, Harry, Dashiel (injured but at the race to support the team) and Josh who were doing their first race but not 2 laps if they were Freshman but 3 laps!!!
The Sophomore’s started out quickly with Ronan and the rest of our riders moving up quickly. They all road very well with Ronan getting a well deserved win and Matthew flying onto the podium in 3rd. Calvin rode nearly into the podium in 7th with Gabe riding well while getting over illness into 11th and Marcus coming back from an injury riddles Freshman year into the top 15. Big props to Harry, Alessandro, Blake, Collin, Josh and Cyrus for riding well for 3 laps in their debut. Jeffrey rode a solid race, Leo finished up with a fast last lap and Lucas was rolling around the course with a smile and a great effort.
Wow, the freshman boys!! Otis Lyons gets the first victory of the year for the team smashing the field and doing it in great style. Hey Drake MTB the future is looking extremely bright(we may need to issue shades for the team) for the boys. 6 Drake riders in the top ten in the Freshman field. Logan riding into 3rd place, Kyle (coming back from an elbow injury with limited training) just missed the podium in 6th. Bridger and Gabe Rueter both finishing in the top ten. Tommy persevered while having difficult mechanical problems, Faris may have thought he was at a race in Calistoga and wanted to partake in the healing mud baths there while racing. Note about Faris, he did look like he rolled around in the mud but the second time he went down he was evaluated for while before continuing to race and still finished!! Andy looked good in his first race and Gabe Schwartz had a great smile on his face while finishing his first race.
Boys JV race, wow now these riders move up to 4 laps. Walden rode an incredible race, shades of Dean and Liam at Laguna Seca last year. He missed the podium by seconds. Wyatt in his debut in the JV field as a sophomore, not an easy task. He rode to 8th place while battling back/hip/shoulder problems. That JV field is fast and getting 8th while not feeling great is amazing. Walden and Wyatt will be putting their stamp on this field all year. Brennan took a fall on Thursday’s ride and was unable to race. Finn did a great job of helping out while he was unable race including fixing his teammates bikes. Julian looked really solid while flying around the course. Eric, Marcos (on a borrowed bike, thanks Rob), Dylan, Noah, Charlie and Alec looked good in tough fast race. Thanks to Alex for letting us know that Mateo (in his debut with Drake) suffered a mechanical and was unable to finish.
Liam, Dean and Sam really helped out all race weekend and we look forward to seeing them show Drake colors in the next race and compete in the incredibly fast varsity field.
It has been three years since I first stepped onto the sandy single track that is know as Fort Ord. I was full of adrenaline, energy, and fear of someone about to start their very first race. That was my freshman year.
And since then, those three things are now accompanied by excitement and emptiness at the start line. The patterns that I have fallen into before my races have helped me lose myself during a race, causing me to shut out the exuberant crowds and the other racers. Sadly it is not possible to block them all out completely. Otherwise I would be running into the back of a lot of people.
This race was no different than the rest. Except for the dread of a four lap race and the fear of disappointing your team mates. No matter how much I tell myself, “You do your best, and that’s all anyone could ask,” some part of me always thinks that I’m letting someone down. The community that is accompanied with the Drake MTB team helps to bury those feelings and bring up positive ones, which is absolutely fantastic. This atmosphere is not something that not many other teams have, and we are lucky enough to benefit from it.
I will start my recap with the night before the race and after the team dinner. The nerves had just begun to sink in but I tried to hide them with laughter and joking. As I sat under the table of Walden’s room, trying to charge my phone, I realized that tomorrow was the big day. I of course remember that we had a race, but the realization of the stress I was about to put my limbs through hit my like a stone. I decided I needed to run in the rain. As silly as it sounds, the physical exertion and the sharp chill of the rain helped clear my mind and set my priorities. I knew that the race will be what I make it. If I decided to make it extremely competitive, then I would be missing out on all the fun that is accompanied by the struggle. And by doing that, I would be ruining the day for me and potentially my teammates as well. I resolved that I would try my hardest and that my standing wouldn’t get me down. I would retain a positive attitude no matter what.
As I usually do at the beginning of important days, I woke up fully alert and ready to go. I knew what was expected of me and what I expected of myself. As I set about repacking the car and checking our hotel room, I began to push the coming race from my already cluttered brain. I began to worry about things happening around me instead of fully focusing on the task at hand, which I do admit can be a pretty poor choice when I’m juggling so many things at once. As we drive down Giggling Road toward the venue, I couldn’t help but dream about life on the podium. I have never been so lucky as to win an event, but that is always subject to change.
The venue was mostly how I remembered it, with the addition of one or two new teams. As I entered the team tents, I was greeted with the warm smiles of my teammates and the smell of grease and potatoes sizzling at The Galley. It took sometime and the hinting of several of my friends for me to realize that we were situated right next to the Cycling Development tent, which was home to a girl who I have grown quite fond of over the past week. This realization clouded my mind and disposed of any and all angst I had about the race and replaced it with the dread of actually having to meet this girl. Real world worries were once again trumped by the teenage brain. My next few hours were jumbled up in my discovery of the seemingly endless swimming pool sized puddles dotted throughout the course, and cheering for my new found passion.
My thoughts on the starting line of a race always seem to differ from those of other racers. I always catch myself wondering why I have to pee so badly even though I have hardly had any water that day, while others must be thinking about how they are going to perform or what line they were going to take on the big downhill. Either that is just a way of calming myself, or I am just flat out weird. Either way, we were lined up and I immediately knew what was going to happen the moment those four fateful words were yelled into the microphone. The problem with having 47 JV boys, is that we are fairly large and crammed into such a small space. As soon as Go was broadcasted, the inevitable happened. A log pile, the tangling of handlebars as Wyatt will fondly remember from last year, formed at the front of the pack, stopping any general staged racer in the pack and forcing me into the very last place. Alan’s voice was ringing in my head, screaming at me to pass the racers in front of me. One of my problems with passing people is that I feel almost mean. It’s almost like it is wrong to me even though it feels so good to move up.
As I enter the single track at the end of the first hill, I begin to settle into what would become my “sprint” for the rest of the four laps. As shouts of support were hurdled at me from all sides, I began to pump my way through the sloped sections and to the first hazard. Of all those voices, one stood out. I’ll let you figure out who I am referring to. As I stuck my arms and legs out in my “Spider Pose” as Elise likes to call it, I prepared myself to pass as many of the racers as I could. My first opportunity presented itself when two riders chose a loose line and began to lose traction and speed on the first real hill. This started the ball rolling for me, I soon began to eat up places until I was sitting rather comfortably behind a SRD rider in 39th place.
For the next laps, I would remain on his tail as stubbornly as I could muster. Some deep rooted part of me knew that no matter what, I would finish this race. But what condition I would be in, depended on what moves I chose to take in the following miles. By my third lap, I was still feeling energized and ready for one final lap, until something that I dreaded happened. My knee popped out and back into its socket. This may sound pretty horrible to many of you, but it is something that I have had to live with for quite some time. My meniscus has been eaten away from years of cross country and constant motion, leaving me with almost no cartilage in between my knee cap, my patella and my bones. With this wonderful little surprise, I had to make a decision between leaving the race early to get my knee checked. and finishing the race which would risk further damage to my knee. I opted for the latter, risking my leg for the possibility that I might pass the Dawg in front of my and finish sooner. As the fourth and final lap came around, I made my move, as he recovered from the poorly positioned feed zone climb, I upped my pace with the pounding of my heart beat in my ears, sounding very similar to the sound of a very fast cannon. I wish I could have said that I dropped him then and there, but he clung on for dear life. And that was how we continued the race, with our roles seemingly switched. As we past the large swamp of a mud pit, I heard a shout as his front wheel lost grip and slid deep into the mud, sending him headfirst into a mud pit. I put the crash out of my mind and refocused on finishing as fast as I could. With the finish line quickly approaching, I upped my cadence and used what was left of my strength to power through the finish line.
Finishing is always so satisfying. The feeling of finishing with a flood of emotions and pain confuses the brain in a strange way that is always relieving. I ignored the screaming of my muscles and the waves of agony radiating from my knee so that I could pursue the person belonging to that ever-cheerful voice I heard throughout my laps. But that’s a story for another time. The close friendship that almost all of the JV Boys have built on and shared since we were freshman is one of the best things for me after a race. Being able to talk to my friends and teammates brings us closer as a family and as a group. It is simply bliss.
Thank you to everyone who helped out and supported us as we embarked on yet another journey in our lives. For many of us, It was our first time on the course, and hopefully not the last. I hope to see you all at the next race!
Yours, Alec Levy-O’Brien JV Boys 39th Place
Howdy all, I know it’s a bit late to be writing a race report for Race #1 because i mean it has been a week since last weekend, and Race #2 is just around the corner. Buuuuut i figured, it’s never too late to share my first hand experience racing with the mountain Bike Team or racing mountain bikes in general.
Saturday March 5, 2016, The day before the race. I wake up at home and begin packing everything i will possibly need for a wet and fun filled weekend, at least i hoped….. I joined the team as a Sophomore rider this year, and i was pretty nervous since i had never been in a mountain bike race before and i would be racing 3 laps. Once we began the 3 hour drive (Including a pitstop at In-n-Out obviously) to Ft. Ord, I kept getting more and more excited the closer and closer i got to the venue. Me and my family get the pre ride around 2:30, and one of the race officials yells to all the cars “Get out and ride the course as soon as possible before it starts raining”! So I grab my bike off the back of the car and ride to the start. Once i got there a rush of adrenaline gets to me and i just fly through the course, maneuvering through the super flowy downhill trail that Ft. Ord has to offer. As i ride, i make sure to look for places to hydrate, pass other riders, and see where uphill sections start and stop so i know at what point to change gears during the race. as well as look for obstacles including puddles, which didn’t seem to be a big issue the day of the pre ride. After the pre ride, me and my family head back to Los. Lorales for the team dinner, as well as some great rounds of cards against humanity following dinner with some team members(you guys know who you are).
Sunday March 6, 2016, The day of the race. I wake up and was surprisingly not as nervous as I thought i was going to be for my first race. I pack all my gear and my bike into the car and me and my family head to the race around 7:30am. When we got there, i definitely was more nervous than i was the day before and i just kept reminding myself that it was going to be okay. I ride over to the Drake Tent and the nerves immediately go away because i see all my friends and that distracted me from the thoughts of my first race nerves. After chatting with friends for i bit i go get some food, which consisted of a sausage inside a tortilla and a banana… I must admit that was probably not as much as i should have eaten but i mean it worked to get rid of my hunger. I then take my bike over to where bikes are getting looked over, while there my bike was fitted with its number and tags and then my bike was put on a trainer for later. Maybe 1 hour of chilling in Eno Hammocks watching and cheering the girls on later, me and the guys walk back to the tents, change into our gear and hop onto the trainers for a good 15-20 minutes maybe. This was my first first time on a trainer and it was almost like pelo minus Alan yelling at me to stay in zone 4 the whole time… While on the trainer i manage to drink a bottle of water and another banana., which gave me some good fuel.
After warming up it’s time to line up at the start. All the Freshman and Sophomore boys line up in the staging area and wait for our group to get called up to the start line. The row in front up front of mine is called up, which holds Collin, Marcus, Leo, Harry, and Lucas. Then my row holding Blake, some Tam kids, and I is called up. The announcer says “start is in 3 minutes” and a wave of nerves gets to me and i start taking some deep breaths to calm myself down a bit. Blake offers me a piece of bread that he somehow managed to fit in his jersey pocket, but i decline the generous offer while laughing hysterically trying to figure out why the hell Blake brought a loaf of bread on a race? The Announcer says “1 minute until start”, i look around and think about how far up i want to get up ahead from where i was once its time to go. The announcer begins the countdown, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go”! I clip into my pedal and put every little bit of energy i have into my legs and get right behind Lucas and Harry. The single track begins and i get in the zone and pass harry and Lucas once the first climb begins. I start breathing really hard and take a huge drink of water on a flat bit and settle in right behind a tam kid just fast enough for me to stay with him and follow his lines. We get to the first puddle which turns out that over night they turned into small lakes. I follow the Tam kid through the puddle and then pass him and Collin on the Gravel uphill. I pass Dashiel while he’s sitting in the Enos cheering me on and past the drake tent, then through the finish line which marks the start of the 2nd lap.
I decide not to take a bottle from the feed zone because i still had half a bottle worth of water, so instead i take this chance to really concentrate and get as far up as i can and as soon as i knew it, i was riding through the finish line once again marking the start of the 3rd and final lap. I round the corner after the finish line and hear my dad cheering me on and that encourages me to really go all out in the final lap, I take a new water bottle from the feed zone and take a huge sip of water and begin to manage my breathing so i wouldn’t poop out halfway through the final lap since i was feeling more tired than i did in the 1st and second lap. I pedal down the downhill and sprint up the uphill with Collin on my tail. We sprint up the gravel hill and down the downhill, Collin then gets a burst of energy and passes me right before the Drake tent. I sprint to the finish line and try to get in front of me but he manages to finish just a second in front of me putting him in 27th place and me in 28th. After the race i was so tired, so Conner, Leo, Blake, Gabe and I retreat to the Eno’s to cheer on the JV and Varsity race, making sure they all knew they were doing great.
For my first race i am very proud of 28th, and can’t wait to improve before this upcoming race in Granite Bay on Saturday. The experience at Ft. Ord was amazing, thank you to everyone who made the whole thing possible and i just love being on the Drake Mountain Bike Team. Great job to everyone who raced, you all did great. I am so excited for the rest of the season and can’t wait for more great memories on the team in the future.
I started the weekend looking at the weather report for Sunday, worrying about the race conditions ahead. The car ride was rainy and I was constantly checking the bike on the roof of the car whenever a gust of wind came through, or a sheet of rain. I was really looking forward to racing at Fort Ord again because the course was great last year.
The pre-ride was rainy but fun, and the course was different from last year. There wasn’t too much mud, but I was still nervous about the race conditions the next day. The team dinner was entertaining, as always, but there were no broken glasses this time! I loved getting to know all of the new kids, and happy so many kids joined this year! I try to get to bed early before race days, but that never ends up happening.
Race Day! Ed’s breakfast was amazing (as it always is) and the girls all had great races, with a few podiums! After watching their races, I started up on the trainers, and prepared for the race ahead. I felt surprisingly less nervous this year than last year, partly because I knew the course well, and I had a full year of race experience down. I was eager for the countdown, in the same call up line as Jeffery and Gabe. The race started, and I sprinted to get a spot in the pack before the single track section. It was early in the race, but it was already difficult to breathe, and my heart was racing. Turned out, as it did in the other races, that I was just nervous and I started to feel better as the downhill section started. I maneuvered through the fun switchbacks and trees, trying to avoid as much poison oak as possible (which was pretty much impossible on that course). The mud was a lot worse than on the pre-ride I soon found out, pulling a Redwood kid in sideways, and I tried not to have the same happen to me. I felt pretty good on the first two laps, trying to drink as often as I could (which was still not enough), and on the third lap, I really started to feel the effects. My lungs stared burning and I lost a few places but kept going, trying to keep the mud off my glasses and the little bit that managed to get under my glasses and into my eyes.
There were so many teammates out on the course, encouraging me to ride harder. I’m so grateful for everyone out on the course helping to motivate me and the other racers. I finished the race out of breath, aching and covered in mud (but thankfully not as much as the kid from Redwood). I finished a little farther back than I had hoped, and a few places slower than last year. I think it was because I hadn’t had enough water on the first two laps, and I started to feel the dehydration mostly on the third lap. The drive home was stressful, as the wind was bad, and the bike was on top of the car, shaking around more than it should.
Thank you to all the coaches and ride leaders for preparing us for this race, and supporting us through the whole process, and to Ed for fueling us up for the races. I hope the new kids on the team realize the support and experience of the coaches and parents, and how all of this makes Drake so unique as a team.
I am sorry about the lateness of this. After the race I had a busy week working, catching up with friends, spending lots of time with my family, and trying to rest when I could. I am now on an airplane flying back to school, and finally have some time to put into this “spectator report”. Sorry as well if this is long. Hopefully it is useful and interesting for you all.
It’s really odd coming to a race and not having to deal with everything that comes with racing. I didn’t have to worry about eating, hydrating, my race time, by bike, my competition, and all the other stresses associated with these events. Although going to a race without having to worry about racing sounded perfect to me as someone who wasn’t ever the most competitive racer (I always treated races as fast, sometimes really fast rides), it wasn’t as ideal as I initially though. I had the most amazing time this past weekend, but I surprised myself with how much I missed the stresses and difficulties I used to resent.
When I wrote my race reports as a racer I always knew what I would write about. I would explain how my race went, talk about the difficulties I encountered and the amazing times I had, and then compliment the team on what an impressive job we all did. I figure that because I don’t have a race I participated in to talk about, I will talk about the things I have learned as a racer these past four years and as someone who tried to involve myself with the team to the fullest extent possible.
First some background for those of you who don’t know me. I joined the team as a freshman who had spent very little time on a mountain bike before high school. After returning home from my first long Sunday ride I decided that mountain biking probably wasn’t the sport for me. I was worn out, starving, was barely able to lug myself (and my monster tuck of a bike) up Mt. Tam, and wasn’t sure if it would be worth sticking with this sport. After a few more practices I got a little more comfortable and decided to stick it out through freshman year. After participating in my first race I was hooked. I didn’t start out as a fast rider or someone with any cycling or racing experience, but I knew the team was the place for me and biking was a sport I loved. I spent the last two years as one of the team captains , and have ridden enough that climbing Mt Tam doesn’t hurt quite as much as it used to. I have also participated in quite a few races outside of the league. Hopefully I am qualified to share some of what I have learned in these last few amazing years!
The first thing worth mentioning is stress. I know… you all hear everybody talking about stress and how to deal with it, and get so many conflicting ideas on how to deal with it, but it is something that effects everyone so its worth thinking about. I got very stressed out before races, even after four years of racing a somewhat non-competitive mindset. Although I am probably just adding to the pile of ‘stress solutions’ you have heard: Here are three things I did that helped lower my stress levels. The first was to spend all my time when I wasn’t warming up or preparing for my race staying distracted. I would cheer as loudly as I could, talk to all the other racers and parents and coaches, and do anything and everything to forget about racing. I raced in the afternoon for 3 of my 4 years on the team, so finding a way to keep my mornings occupied helped immensely. The second way to relieve stress, which came most in handy while warming up and waiting on and around the start line, was to imagine I was in a more peaceful, relaxing place. While doing things I enjoyed prior to racing; such as skiing, wakeboarding, hiking, cooking, watching TV, or anything else that was relaxing for me, I would imagine myself about to start a race. I would associate these relaxing times with the most stressful parts of racing. Then, while at the start line of my races I could imagine myself doing an activity I enjoyed. It didn’t remove all my stress, but it helped a lot. The third technique that will always work is to just start racing. The moment Vanessa finished her countdown as the race started all worries would leave me. Keep reminding yourself that once you cross the start line you will just be riding, which is what we are here for and is something we all love doing.
Another thing that I learned after my time on the team is that being competitive isn’t the best way to race. I spent most of my sophomore year (racing JV) committed to becoming the fastest racer I could, with the goal of finishing ahead of my competition. I trained harder than I ever had, got a light bike and set some pretty optimistic goals for myself. Although I ended up having a successful season, it wore me out. I discovered that trying to be faster than others was not as healthy or fun as trying to be faster than my past self. The next year racing varsity I decided that instead of trying to be faster than my fellow racers I would work on improving on my past times, while keeping a good attitude and having fun (the reason why we all bike!). I spent my next two years smiling and saying howdy to everyone and chatting with other racers and other teams coaches and parents while riding and ended up having an amazing time. Staying positive and treating races as fun, fast rides didn’t prohibit me from doing well in races, and helped me make a lot of great friends from all different teams. We all ride to have fun - so why not treat races just as fast rides with lots of friends we get to see every other week?
The third thing I will mention is the team itself. The Drake team is full of some of the most amazing people you will all ever meet. We are an institution. We are fast, we have fun, we are well respected, and we are a family. This sport and this team has so much to offer. Like most things in life the more energy and time you put into the Drake team, and the mountain biking community in general, the more you will get out of it. I am going to urge everyone to involve yourselves as much as you can. You don’t have to be a team captain to be a leader and help unite the team. You don’t have to be a coach to help lead rides and pass on information and skills you have to other riders. You don’t have to be a Redwood or Woodcreek or Cycling Development rider to get befriend Redwood or Woodcreek or Cycling Development (Alec) riders. You also don’t have to be fast or competitive, all that is expected from all of you is to try your best and have fun. Regardless of your level of seniority on the team and speed you ride and category you race in, you should involve yourselves as much as you can. Put everything you have into this team, and it will make your high school experience so special.
One last note about the Drake team: Because we are so large and successful and respected other teams and riders look up to us. While out riding and racing lets all work to keep the great reputation we have worked so hard to build. Don’t be afraid to talk to riders and parents and coaches from other teams. When you want to pass during a race, be polite and say please and thank you and if you are in a difficult place to go by someone, wait it out. Losing 2 or 3 seconds is much better than crashing during an unsafe pass or upsetting a fellow racer. The same goes when you are being passed; pull over and wish good luck to the person passing you. Also, when riding around Marin don’t be afraid to talk to others out riding or hiking or horseback riders. Make sure you stay on the right of the trail, and keep your speed in check. If you see someone else with a mechanical issue, ask if they need help. If karma exists, these are all easy ways to get it.
Also, during my last two years as team captain trail access was something I focused my time and effort on. I know the trails in Marin can get boring, but I want to remind everyone that the best way to get more trails for bikes opened is to set good examples as bikers. Keep speed in check, be polite to other trail users, and stay off illegal trails. Us bikers are gaining respect (albeit very slowly) among the hiker and equestrian groups, but any bad publicity will quickly set us back. If you want to work to get more trails opened, either contact me, and I can get you in touch with some great people who would always love help and support with their cause, or talk to Vernon and Robin Huffman from San Domenico. They are some of the leaders of the political action committee Access for Bikes and they work tirelessly to open more trails for us. They love having high school students help them advocate for the trail access we need.
I am so proud of everyone on the team and all your work and dedication to the team is clearly paying off. I cant wait to be back for the NorCal championships and states!
I heard about the drake mountain biking team a few years back. And ever since then, it had been my goal to be a part of the team. My goal of being on the team was finally fulfilled when we had the halloween ride and breakfast at the mtb museum. I’d never been on a mountain bike team, nor had I raced, but I felt very welcomed even though I knew nobody. It felt especially nice to finally meet people who shared the obsession and passion for mountain biking that I feel.
Going into the first race weekend, I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect because people would try to describe the situation to me and I would just nod, acting like I had even the slightest idea what they meant. The day of the pre-ride, I was still pretty stressed. We arrived about 2 and a half hours early because I was anxious that we would hit horrible traffic. As we were waiting around, we watched some people that were racing. Nothing too exciting. As people started to pull in, we headed over to where our pit zone was. Over the next few minutes, people started to roll in more consistently and finally we had enough to do our first pre-ride. I ended up doing two laps of the course and at the end of it had only memorized the first 2 turns or so. After the pre ride was over, my dad and I headed back to our hotel room to shower and stuff. To my dissapointment, I discovered that the room had a TV with only one channel, of which was the news channel… For the next hour or so I sat on my bed listening to Donald Trump say stupid things on the news. At last the time had come to start heading over to the dinner. At the dinner, I had a great time and was able to leave the part of me that we stressed about the race.
The next morning, I woke up and was in a scramble to get to the course. Not my best start to the day. Luckily, the weather was better on sunday, because on Saturday the weather was bad. The whole morning, I was super nervous. I tried to just focus on the moment and not worry about stuff that had not happened yet. The morning had gone by so quickly that before I knew it I was on the trainer, warming up. Once I was on the trainer for a while, we were informed to hop off and make our way to the staging. All that I saw once we headed over to the staging was a huge group of kids and I figured that I must be in the wrong place, so I waited around for a few minutes waiting to see if I was in the right place. While I was doing all that wondering around, everyone else was piling in getting in the front rows. I then decided to just line up because I saw Otis way ahead of me. I tried to weave in between everyone and make my up to where Otis was. Then they called us up row by row and I ended up in row 4 on the far left with a few Tam kids to my right. As all the kids started to quiet down, I knew the race was going to start. As the woman counted down, I thought to myself, “OMG! this is my first race ever…” and I felt totally frozen for those few seconds. The second she said “GO!”, I immediately sprinted way up because I knew there was no way that I could pass 20 kids once the single track started. By the top of the first hill, I was roughly in 12th place I want to say. As the first lap continued, I kept passing people and by half way through the first lap, I had gotten myself to 3rd place, where I would stay for the remainder of the race. On the second lap, on the south side of the course, I did get forced off of the track by a D2 sophomore which slightly upset me, but I think it gave me that extra little push to go as hard as I could. As I crossed the line, I almost missed the exit to the track, which would’ve been unfortunate. I hopped of my bike and was almost Immediately congratulated by Otis and then many other people. Overall, I had an amazing time that weekend and I am very happy with my finish and I feel very proud to be a member of this team, and don’t think that I could’ve made a better decision by joining this team.