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Fourth Race Reports A day at the Ranch in Petaluma

Drake HS took 2st place Team D1 at Petaluma this weekend! Here are the Race Reports.

Howdy! Here is a video from our own Brennan Healy!

Photos from this event are here.. https://goo.gl/photos/sNXXcYSKQ4xpxdgo7 PETALUMA

Now for the Race Reports!

Tommy

This race was a little different in that it was so close, which allowed us to spend the night at home. This offset my initial nervousness; because we hadn’t yet actually driven down or preridden, my nerves were delayed. This seemed to have an impact on my wellbeing before the race; my nerves never really built up at all, at least until the five-second countdown. I wasn’t priority, partly because I had ridden the previous race as a sort of training ride due to illness. Unfortunately, this meant that, despite reaching the general staging area 20 minutes early, I was staged in the last row.

I passed through the starting line in dead last, pretty annoyed. But this annoyance sparked a fire. I was determined to make up as much time as I could, and sprinted as hard as I could for the first 5 or so minutes, passing 3 people in my category. I let off a little bit, but I was certainly still working hard. I put on bursts of speed every time I passed someone to try to drop them, soon passing 4 more riders in my category and quite a few D2 sophomores. On the last stretch of climbing before the downhill near that one shaded creek, I was passed by the 1st and 2nd D2 riders. I could hear the next few riders not far behind, and resolved to keep up with them once they passed me. I kept up for about two minutes leading up to and during the downhill, and at the bottom I let off a bit. During that sprint, I caught 2 kids from my category, and a bunch of sophomore D2’s. After that little break, I passed through the garden and the almost flat downhill with the tight turns. I was passed by a couple more D2 riders. I knew that a lot of racers would slow down on the climb out of it, so I put a ton of effort on that little climb. This meant that I had less energy on the brutal bumpy sections, but it was worth it because I caught a Miner that I had been eyeing. The last little down and uphill I took a little easier to conserve energy, but passing through the finish line I had a relatively bad cramp.

I had learned from other sports that you can work through side stitches with added effort, so I kicked and powered through. It worked, and I passed a Tam kid that beat me in the first race. I really worked hard through the uphill, despite my initial pain; I then passed approximately 6 D1/D2 sophomores. I passed an old friend from SR, and we sprinted together. I then dropped him. After a little bit, I came up behind another Miner, and after looking at my number plate and realizing that we were in the same category, he became super pissed and yelled a lot. I was afraid that this adrenaline would rocket him past me, but he was tired and didn’t try to get his place back. I Pelo sprinted the last couple hundred feet to the top. Throughout the uphill I was passed by one or two D2 riders. Reaching the bermed section, I caught a kid in my category braking a lot on the berms; during one of them I squeezed past, slipping a little but not falling. I saw two Tam riders in the distance, and decided to try to catch them. I caught during the downhill. At the bottom of the hill, I was passed by another D2 freshman. On the short climb towards the end, right after the last big downhill, the two Tam kids kicked and dropped me. But when I came around the turn marking my sprint, I saw that one of them had fallen and was already getting back on his bike. We went down the super sketch left turn onto the grass, bypassing the cattle guard, and he seemed shaken up. I was scared that his anger at falling would propel him through the finish line before me, and so I put on a huge video game sprint. Even though I could hardly get any power or traction through the really bumpy section at the end, I kept him behind me and finished 30th, passing a total of 15 riders in my category and a bunch more sophomores.

In the last couple of races, I was afraid of burning out and, therefore, was passed by people that I had already passed. However, I realized in this race that I can go much harder than I initially thought I could without losing all of my energy. Now I just need to find out how much harder.

I am really happy with how I did, especially after having such a bad start, and am very excited for Laguna Seca.


Uma

I was very excited to return to Petaluma this year, it being my favorite and most successful course last year. I had high hopes for this race. Today was also a day that I was reflecting on having torn my ACL because it was the one year anniversary of my fall at Boggs. I was grateful to be able to be racing successfully again, thanks to much support from many people in my life including my loyal friend Jessie who spent the summer sitting on my bed entertaining me and my parents, grandmother, coaches and teammates.

Today started the same as any other race, waking up early, eating a good breakfast, driving to the race with earbuds in and attempting to get into ‘the racing zone.’ Although it did feel slightly different because we hadn’t all been staying together at a hotel and getting ready for the race, so I felt a little more nervous then usual. After warming up, and chatting with other racers at the start line, I felt better and ready to go. We were off before I knew it, and at a surprisingly fast pace. Starts have always been hard for me, but this one was particularly painful. For the first few minutes I had to work very hard to not take it easy and fall back. I kept reminding my self that it would get better like it always does. Sure enough, I stuck it out for a little while and then once we were solidly into the climb I was riding in fourth place, the three girls ahead of me already spreading out.

As we moved towards the top of the climb I realized I had to catch the girl in front of me then or I probably wouldn’t be able to for the rest of the race. I had a burst of energy and managed to catch up to the Vacaville rider, Stella. I stayed on her tail and drafted for the rest of the climb and the downhill, where she kept a good fast pace. Near the end of the first lap I felt recovered from the first climb and we were gaining on the girl in second, Kate. As we turned to go around the hill at the end, there was a group of Drake kids who cheered me on until I was out of earshot, and it really helped! Just as we got away from the crowds at the beginning of the climb on lap two I found the strength to pass Stella. Which was good because a San Domenico rider was getting a bit to close to us. I sprinted up the hill for a little ways, fortunately getting away. One thing I love about this course, besides the long uphills and downhills, is that you can see the other riders for a long way. I could see Kate in the distance, keeping my eyes on her I was able to keep a steady pace for the remainder of the climb. I reached the downhill and rode down on my own, going faster and faster in my efforts to catch Kate. I kept seeing her around corners and pushing a little harder. Often though, it turned out there was a long section not visible just around the corners and she was a bit further ahead of me then I thought. As we neared the end people would tell me; “she’s 50 seconds ahead.” Then later “forty seconds!” I pedaled as hard as I could around the last bends feeling pretty good. Finally I saw the end, noticing that Kate had already finished. I sprinted the last bit, finishing in third. Where parents and coaches greeted me with enthusiasm.

Overall I thought this was a really fun race with a great course! I had a great time at Petaluma and I hope the rest of you did as well! Great job to all of you that made podium; Otis, Logan, Elise, Ronan and Dylan. As well as all the rest of you, who worked hard and helped Drake to bring home that awesome chicken medal! And big thanks to the coaches and parents who make this possible. It’s been a long haul in the past year of recovery, and I’m stoked to be back in the game. I can’t wait to race with all of you again at the Norcal championships!

~Uma Teesdale


Dylan

Let’s begin with the fact that last year, this course was a disappointment. So, I went into the race this year presuming that it would be another dry, bumpy as hell, race situation. To my delight, this was not the case. When I arrived Saturday morning, I immediately got on my bike and went and pre rode the course with Stella and Josh Martinez. What I gathered was, the climb was pretty much the same but wetter as a result of the rain, the arched mesh bridges had been turned into slatted metal ones, the descent was bermed, and there weren’t any poppies in bloom. All of these things improved the quality of the course dramatically.

I started to warm up pretty early because I wanted to be at the front of general staging so that I could catch the front group quickly off the line. I achieved my goal and was on the front of general staging, surrounded by Redwood kids. In fact, I skeeved my way into the fifth row because somebody was missing. Not as good as last race, but still pretty good. Suddenly, Vanessa was counting down and we were off. I instantly got out of the saddle and sprinted as hard as I could up the outside of the pack. I was going so fast that by the time we reached the finish banner, I had put myself in third place behind Tyler and Ethan Wolfe from Woodcreek. We settled in this way but only for a moment when Ethan passed Tyler and attacked. I went right around Tyler to catch Ethan and then the whole group pulled back together. After a blisteringly fast pace up the climb, there was a group of about 7, which included Ethan, myself, Tyler, Liam, Julian, Wyatt, Ben Cook, and one other Woodcreek kid. This soon changed as we began descending where Tyler, Ethan, Liam, Julian, and I pulled away from the other kids. Ethan was leading it down the descent pretty quickly and I was taking some sketchy chances trying to keep up with him. We finished the first lap with the same group of 5 and threw our selves into the second lap. Right as we came through, Ethan pulled off the front and slowed down, motioning for me to go by. I reluctantly took the lead and set un uncomfortably fast pace up the climb. I looked back and saw Liam and Tyler in trouble and that spurred me to go even faster. At the top though, we had all gotten back together. I led the descent this time and tried to go as fast as I could to see if I could drop anybody off our group but Ethan was glued to my wheel and the rest of them weren’t far behind us. We reached the last cattle guard bridge and I had the amazing idea that, this time, I was going to jump the whole thing. I did it, and heard Ethan behind me go, “Woah!” Guess you weren’t expecting that Ethan. We reached the last little uphill on the second lap and Ethan passed me again wanting to lead it into the third lap. I let him and the 5 of us bumped our way to the last lap of our long race. We started the third lap and almost immediately, Ethan decided he didn’t want to lead it. He slowed down and pulled off, but this time, I was stubborn. I slowed down as well so our little group was suddenly going nowhere. I heard some grumbling from the back and so I relented and went to the front. I was quickly out of that position however when Tyler launched an enormous attack about halfway through the climb. I struggled to stay with him and looked back to see Ethan and Liam get dropped. Julian was still with us and Tyler continued forging ahead. We were now catching Varsity and JV riders and I was worried Tyler might attack if I got stuck behind someone, so I made sure to be right on his wheel. We reached the descent and Tyler led all the way down to the little climb with Julian and I just hanging on to his wheel. I had decided that I should probably attack on the climb before the end so as we got there I got out of the saddle to do just that. I went to pass Tyler, but didn’t get very far because Julian went flying by both of us in his own attempt to escape. I tried to go with him but was incapable and watched a gold medal slip away from me. I was now leading Tyler and was ready to go hard when Tyler passed me chasing after Julian. I started to lose him and considered giving up second place as well but thought better of it and tried to chase after him. I don’t know how but I caught back up and was right behind him going into the feed zone. I prepared myself for a sprint when we came up over the road but just as I started to pass him, my clip came out of my pedal. I realized that he had beaten me right then and sat down and slowly crossed the line.

It was an amazing race and I was super glad for all the support from the team. Great job to everybody out there yesterday. Only one more race before States!

Dyl Fry


Julian

Howdy everyone,

Great job in Petaluma yesterday! I’m glad we were able to finally have a race close to home and not have to deal with the long drive. Coming out of spring break, I was looking forward to this race all week, and also wondering how much energy I would have for prom that night. But I was mainly just excited for both and looking forward to the weekend.

I decided to pre ride a lap the morning of, so when my dad and I arrived at the race I headed out with Logan and Sam. The condition of the course was quite a lot different than last year. The bumps were pretty annoying but I was glad there were some decent berms in place. After the lap I was feeling good and was also feeling prepared for this race fitness wise unlike last race where I hadn’t been able to practice much before the race. I watched the girls’ races and then headed back to the pits to get all my stuff together. After a good warm up, I headed over to staging.

This race I was twelfth call up, and wondered if I would have a chance at getting top ten. I watched Varsity start and then prepared myself for the countdown. As the timer started, I had a very fluent clip in, and started sprinting up the road. I knew there would be some people sprinting passed me here but I didn’t care because I knew I would be able to catch people on the climb if I didn’t sprint out too fast. After watching Dylan fly past me at 100mph from general staging, I settled in and prepared for the climb. I don’t remember a lot from this first climb but I know I was keeping a good pace and passing some people on the way up. When I got to the top, I think I was behind a Woodcreek rider whom I followed for a bit of the downhill but then passed on one of the straight sections. When I got to the bottom of the descent, I was in a pack of four with a Redwood rider, Harrison Jantze, leading the group, and then myself, another Redwood rider, Nathan Delaney, and a Woodcreek rider, Andrew Pizzo.

As we crossed the finish line marking lap two, I knew Harrison was slowing down, and decided it was time to pass him after the large cheering section of Sophomore boys. As I passed, Nathan and Andrew followed, and by this time I knew my place was somewhere in the low teens. I kept a steady pace and I think we passed a few stragglers on the way up the hill. By the time we got to the top, Andrew had fallen back towards Harrison, so it was now just Nathan and I going into the downhill. Nathan was a fast descender, and he kept my pace around the tight turns. I kept looking behind me to see if he was still there and he always was. At one point I looked back and said, “You won’t give up, will you!” I think he said “I’m still here” or something. So now we had developed a relationship and he now felt like a human I could work together with instead of an anonymous enemy who’s sole purpose was to stress me out. But then as we were going through the garden section on that slippery turn, I heard some noise and I looked back to see that he had fallen. “Oh noooo,” I said, not really meaning it, and I preceded to pick up the pace to see if I could open up a gap. Where he had fallen was on a slight uphill so we weren’t going very fast and I knew he would be able to get back on his bike quickly. Sure enough, I could see him riding not too far behind me and by the time I got the bottom of the hill and started going up the short ascent after the bridge, he had caught back up. “I’m back!” he said. I don’t know how, I thought. I led the way down to the finish and I passed my dad who said, “drop him on the climb!” Easier said than done, I thought. Nathan had been right behind me for basically the entire race, and he didn’t seem to be losing much energy.

As we crossed the finish line and started heading up the hill again, I didn’t slow the pace and we climbed up the long hill with nothing much happening. I could also sometimes catch glimpses of a Bruins and Redwood kid not too far off. I thought we might be gaining on them and I thought about picking up the pace but I guess I just didn’t have the mental energy. All the way up the climb Nathan never backed off my tail and as we neared the top I was wondering if he would want to try to get ahead of me before the descent. We then started descending and probably about ten seconds in I looked behind me and Nathan wasn’t right there. I could still see him but he wasn’t right behind me so I then went into “keep the gap” mode and rode hard all the way down. As we started up the last little climb I could see that Nathan was still a good distance behind me so figured I had clinched it if I could keep up a fast pace to the finish. That I did and I finished the race strong in 12th place.

I waited for Nathan to finish and I asked him what had happened back at the top. He said he’d fallen and I guess this time he couldn’t catch back up. Overall I had a successful race and it feels good to know I get better at racing every time.

Again, great job to everyone who raced yesterday. I hope everyone had a good weekend and I’m so stoked for Laguna Seca and States!

-Julian


Gabriel

Howdy all, Coming out of this race I felt so excited with my results, I even decided to write a race report. The weeks prior to this race I had ridden a lot, with a decent amount of road training thrown into the mix as well, so I knew I could improve upon my poor placement at race 3. Arriving at the course Saturday morning I was nervous, and dreading the race (Bridger can witness). It has always been hard for me, waiting so long for our race to start after all the girls and sophmores, seemingly just time to eat, and stress myself out the more I think about it. As usual, the next thing was the struggle to get my bike on a trainer, although I was helped by our fantastic mechanics. I had a short warm up, “will this make me bad???’ I headed up to staging, where I was lucky to be in group A, even though I missed a race, although one of the last callups was absent so, I was able to sneak into a row ahead. At the start, as I think back on it, I was being kind of lazy, and not very ambitious, simply following someone ahead of me up the road. I remember a voice saying “Gabe what are you doing, go faster!” as I watched Faris fly by me, from general staging, I realized that I was pretty relaxed and not going very fast so I sped up, right in time for someone to throw their bike across the path and block me. As we reached the dirt, and the bumps began, I looked ahead and saw way to many people ahead of me, so I decided for now, catching up to River was my goal. I was passing people all the way up the hill, and managed to catch Faris who was doing very well, in front of our other strong freshman Kyle and Bridger. I passed Faris at the top, and saw River a couple switchbacks down the trail, I was getting closer. I was excited for the downhill, because I knew that I could catch up to people, and also put a gap between those behind me. That is exactly what happened, by the time that the little uphill singletrack had started I had caught River and a group of Tam kids who I knew could battle it out until the end. This pack of about five stayed together for the rest of the downhill, and I started the second lap right behind them. The second hill was a rough one, my long time friends from Tam had a vigorous pace going, and I knew I had to stay with them. When the climb opened up, I passed four of them, and River stayed right behind me, I knew we could have these Tam kids after us. Unfortunately the fastest Tam kid passed river, and wouldn’t let River pass him for the rest of the race. By the time we had got halfway up the hill, our group had caught a lone rider from redwood, who stayed right in front of me for a while. When I saw that the Top was fast approaching I knew that I had to lead the pack into the decent, I knew I could put some distance in between myself and them. I attacked, and led the pack into the downhill, peddling at every opportunity. I didn’t realize until after the burms, that I had made about a 10 second gap from the redwood rider. Thank God. By the singletrack uphill I was fried, giving it every last big of energy that I had, although the redwood rider was able to catch up. The last downhill was my only opportunity to get more distance, if it came down to a sprint at the end I wouldn’t have been too confident. So I let the brakes go and nearly wiped out around some turns, but made about a five second gap, just enough to not rush the finish. As I approached the tents there was a really bumpy part, and my bike was making some less than comforting noises, and I thought that I might be the lucky Running finisher. My bike held up, and I finished three seconds ahead of the pack, coming in sixth. This was the hardest race yet, but I am super excited for the next one.

The quest for podium continues! Roll pirates Gabe Reuter


River

Howdy Pirates,

I was extremely happy when I found out we would finally be racing in an area not two or three hours from Marin, and even more so when I found out the Petaluma course was a hilly, climbing oriented loop, perfect for Drake riders who train on trails like this all the time.

Arriving there at around 8:45, we left just enough time to pre-ride and get all ready to race. Before I knew it, the girls were already off, and after what seemed like like no time at all, I was waiting at the start. Finally, the countdown finishes, and we’re off.

I start sprinting right away, knowing that once we get onto the trail, it is very hard to pass large groups of people. Once we begin the climb, I find myself hovering around twelfth place, with Otis and Logan leading and Gabe, Faris, and Kyle close behind. As we move up the climb, riders begin to spread out, and I stay right behind two Tam kids in front of me, knowing they are strong riders and can lead me through the course.

After the climb, though, the three of us begin our descent, and I find they are not moving as fast as I would like to be. I try to pass them, although they are just fast enough that I can’t, and suddenly Gabe is right behind me. As we finish our first lap, Gabe passes me and falls behind the two Tam kids as we begin the climb once again. Immediately, I feel aweful as I climb, thinking to myself I should just give up, this is too painful.

I push through it, though, and catch right back up to Gabe and the Tam kids. Gabe finds a burst of speed, though, and passes both Tam kids just before the climb finishes. I know full well that I will never catch Gabe if I can’t pass these guys, and manage to pass the first one, although the second one stays ahead. We move at a good pace, though, and pass four or five riders on our way down. A Bruins kid manages to hold on, and stays right on my heels.

As we are finishing the descent, the Bruins kid and I pass the Tam kid, and begin to sprint it out. We see Gabe and a Redwood kid just up ahead, although they are just out of reach to catch. Suddenly, the Bruins kid attacks, and I can’t keep up. As we round the final corner to the finish, another rider, who I later find out is Bridger, comes from behind to out sprint me, although barely manage to stay ahead of him, finishing with another ninth place.

Great job to all of our riders this weekend, and especially to Uma, Elise, Otis, Logan, Ronan, and Dylan for getting on the podium.

Roll Pirates


Marya

Marya Race Report- A Learning Experience

Well…to begin, this was not my best race. But while there may have been some bumps along the way it was an amazing learning experience that I will grow from for these next upcoming races. I hope that what I share can help anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation in a race.

Alright…coming into this race I felt pretty good. Having trained hard the previous weeks I was looking forward to this new course with a lot of up, which seems to be Drake riders strength :) This was my first time riding the Petaluma course so I got up extra early to pre-ride in the morning. The pre-ride felt strong and after, while a little nervous about the length and large amount of up, was eager to get racing. After actually eating breakfast this time I warmed up with the girls while many of us couldn’t keep our mind off the upcoming night…prom:) While fun to talk about it also provided a very good distraction from my nerves! As I lined up with the rest of the varsity girls I didn’t feel as nervous as I had in the past. Not sure if it was all of them just asking me about prom about 10 seconds before we were off or just the excitement for a new course, but before I knew it Vanessa was counting down and we were off.

I had a strong start moving quickly in the middle to keep up with the top four very strong riders in front. With them all still in eye on the start of the up I knew I couldn’t lose them. Keeping them within in a close range I made sure to stay on their back wheel. As Allen was mentally screaming in my ear to not give up I stayed moving. While the climb continued to extend I found myself slowly losing sight of the top four. Instead I found myself trailing behind three other girls (Redwood, SD, and Bruins) putting myself in 8th. At this point I felt strong. As we approached the end of the uphill I found myself right on these girls tails on the switch back down. My legs felt strong and I felt like I had saved enough energy to continue with these girls for the next two laps. We were about to approach our second lap when my tire slid out on a switch back and I slid across the trail. Taking a pretty bad crash I found myself frustrated and disappointed that everything was over for this race. I shook off the dirt and quickly adjusted my chain, having fallen off in the crash. I hopped back on my bike after only one other rider having passed me and continued on. At this point something felt weird as I peddled to the finish line to begin my second out of three laps. I looked down I noticed I had a flat tire, and realized I must have gotten it when I crashed. When I also looked down I noticed that my pump was gone, and had fallen off my bike in the crash as well (TIP #1- always have CO2 on you!). I caught Sarah and Otis’s eye as they told me I could either stop or continue and get assistance with a 5 minute penalty. I decided to take the assistance as I knew just finishing would score the team points. As got help fixing my tire I found myself watching the riders pass me, just knowing I could be ahead of them at this point. I was growing even more frustrated and wanted to get on my bike as fast as I could. But there was also the voice in the back of my head that kept saying, “you now have the penalty so it’s not even worth it anymore…” (TIP #2- Ignore this annoying voice in the back of your head!). So as I finally got back on my bike I sprinted up trying to see if I could catch anyone ahead of me. Unfortunately many were already far ahead. In this case I ended up finishing the next two laps pretty alone while almost catching two riders in the end. This was a long and painful ride. I let the voice in the back of my head try and convince me that it didn’t matter how hard I rode anymore, but tried my best to ignore it as well. I still rode my hardest and while a great challenge to pass the finish line in the end, knowing I could have possibly had one of my best races, I accomplished my goal of finishing and not letting the team down. From this experience, and anyone who may find themselves in a similar one, whatever you do don’t give up! When you get back on your bike don’t lose your momentum, motivation, and willpower to keep riding but instead go 10x as hard as you were going before. Channel your frustration rather than letting it bring you down and remember to smile and know you are accomplishing something big just crossing the finish line.

Congratulations again to everyone! So proud of this team, you all killed it!

-Marya


Ronan

This race really started about four weeks ago for myself. After the second race, the Drake team started to do Fish Elms as part of our training, intervals that start with this long steep uphill and then loop around only to do it again. I might be the first to say it but I actually really like doing them, mainly because they play to my strength. Being a skinny, light guy, I have struggled to get the speed necessary on downhill sections, causing me to have to pedal while descending just to keep up with many other riders when they are coasting. Like many things in bike racing, however, this balances out on the uphill, as my size allows me to put a lot of power in the ascents relative to my weight. Beyond increasing my endurance and strength, the Fish Elms have taught me how hard I can go up long hills and have helped to build my confidence.

Jumping ahead to the Petaluma race, I knew the course played to my strengths. This was the first course of the year to feature a good, hard climb, around 800 feet or so. Needless to say I was excited and nervous when the day of the race arrived.

Finally, we were at the start line, Vanessa began the countdown, 3, 2, 1 and we were off. Right off the bat, Hobey and Zach, two Tam riders, led us out in the 1st and 2nd position, with myself, Calvin, and James, a San Rafael rider, right behind them. We began the climb and I decided that on the first lap I would stay with the group and make sure I was in striking distance of Hobey, learning from my mistake the last race when I let him get away from me. As we went up the hill the first time, I was waiting for someone to attack and try to get separation, but it never came. I stayed with Hobey and Zach on the downhill and the rest of the first lap and just bided my time.

On the second lap, my training really came into play. I waiting until after the bumpy start of the uphill section, and then I attacked and quickly passed both Zach and Hobey. I was worried they would start to ride my wheel up the hill, but I thought of Fish Elms climbs and just pushed as hard as I could. Because of the openness of the Petaluma course, it makes it easy to gauge how competitors are doing. About half way up the climb I looked down the hill to see I had developed about a 30 second lead on Hobey and Zach. However to my surprise, there was another Tam rider that had passed them and was grinding up the climb like I was. He was Pearson Ames, who I had spent a lap with in the first race, and I was happy to see how well he was riding. This also motivated me to pound the uphill harder because I knew I might not be as fast on the downhill section. By the end of the second lap, I maintained about a 30 second lead on Pearson, with Hobey and Zach dropping back.

As the 3rd lap rolled around, I felt I had a good chance of being able to put this race away as long as I really burned the uphill again. As I began the 3rd lap, I once again pretended I was just riding Fish Elms, trying to get my personal best. After that climb, I was able to add about another 40 seconds to my lead, which was important for me because all that was left between myself and the finish was the remaining downhill and flat sections. Even with this lead, I still worried they might catch up to me so I sprinted every flat and uphill section. As I began to close out the race, I heard the excited cheers of the Drake spotter at the radio tower and after the final turn, I sprinted to the end, putting my arms up as I crossed the line.

These past two races have been pretty exciting for Drake and now that we have a small lead entering the final race, the final Norcal race should be really fun. As always, thanks to all the coaches, parents, Norcal, and everyone else for putting in the time to make high school MTB experience as great as it is. Congratulations to all and looking forward to the green hills of Laguna Seca.

-Ronan


Eric

I have always disliked the Petaluma course and because of that it has always seemed to screw with me mentally. I had a nice dinner on Friday at iron springs and went to bed early because my parents had to wake me up at about 6:00 am (way too early). I got up and already had all my stuff packed for the day. I got to the race course early and helped set up deciding not to pre-ride because I had rode it so many times ( we rode it once as a Sunday ride last year and I did something like 5 or so laps). It was nice going up to the first switchback an get some good photos and cheer riders on. I got an early lunch and hung out before getting ready for the race. I warmed up on the trainer and then went to the start line. The varsity boys went and then I went off with the rest of the JV boys field. I was passed by a few riders and got into a good enough pace for the first lap telling myself that the start doesn’t matter. I rode with a few other riders behind me for most of the first lap and I was feeling good. My blocks that Matteo kindly gave me for food and energy managed to stay on my top tube but I didn’t drink as much water as I wanted to the first lap. The second lap was a lot of the same but on the climb I sped up a little bit to try and deter a Dawg that was a little ways behind me. I liked the berms and was a little freaked out when I rode over the cattle guard before the poppy field to see that one of the metal pieces had shifted a bit. The third lap was tough for me. Not so much physically but mentally. This course seems to get into my head. I never really seem to have any places that I excel at in the course and the course annoys me. On my third lap I was fed up with the slightly off camber corners and the bumpiness. It got into my head and I tried to stay positive but I found myself getting angry at the course. Sometimes I can turn that anger into energy and ride harder but that wasn’t the case on this course. I was passed by quite a few people also on the third lap and that didn’t help either. by the end I didn’t even sprint to the finish like I normally do. I did look and see that nobody was an immediate threat behind me. I learned that mentality is a huge factor in races. In Pelo Alan always says when we have a long zone four stretch that you have to “dig in” and its not about how tired your legs are but its about knowing you can do it and you wont back down. How you feel mentally can really throw you off in a race and finding anything to hold on and think about in a race is really important. It can be a song that’s stuck in your head, someone cheering you on, or a piece of wisdom from Alan. Whatever it is try to only think about it and don’t let the bad thoughts throw you off (which is easier said than done). I ended up in 30th place and, for how I was feeling the third lap, I’m content with that placement.

-Erik


April 29, 2016