Non Dot Adventures Aliso Woods XC Race 3
A different time of year for the Non Dot Adventures’ Aliso XC race! At first I was little concerned hearing the race was being held in August instead of April, especially since it’s a longer race and has sections where the heat could be an issue. However the organizers wisely held the race early in the morning and it ended up being a perfect day to hold a race.
Every race has different challenges and therefore different strategies involved, and for Aliso the key for me as a challenge and a strategy was pacing. The Elite women race the same distance as the Elite men, with one trip up Cholla, two trips up Mathis, and three descents down Rock-It. The beginning is also tough-a deceptively easy fire road that stretches for almost 5 miles; however it has a slight grade upwards and several sandy sections which can suck the life out of legs before reaching the first climb at Cholla. After each tough climb the strategy for me was to recover quickly enough to be ready to tackle the technical descent and rock gardens of Rock-It. I had completed a quick pre-ride a week or so prior to figure out a few sections of trail, make sure I had good lines, and do a climb up Mathis, but I wasn’t feeling too ready for the length of the race. Most of my training and racing up to this point had been short, intense distances, and I knew it was going to be tough to estimate proper pacing for the length and challenges of this course. My goal therefore wasn’t necessarily to win but to stay in one piece and try to improve on my course time from last year.
Race Report by Brooke McFerren, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Sea Otter Classic XC Race 2017 (Women Cat-2 40-49)
Springtime means wildflowers, warm weather and the Sea Otter Classic!! Peter and I were fortunate to be able to travel to Sea Otter this year after a one-year hiatus. We arrived in nearby Salinas early Friday morning, grabbed a few zzzz’s and a free breakfast, and headed over to the venue at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a look around and a pre-ride of the course. Both Peter and I decided to race the shorter Cat 2 XC course this year, which consisted of roughly 20 miles and 3000 ft of elevation. We immediately noticed some course changes from the last time we raced Sea Otter two years ago. A nasty cross-traffic area was eliminated, there was an awesome beach sand downhill surf-a-thon about 5 miles in, and an endless slightly uphill fire road section about 16 miles in. Most of the course was similar to what we had experienced in the past however, meaning uphill singletrack, some speedy asphalt descents, a few tricky gravel climbs and endless gorgeous scenery. The main take-aways from the pre-ride for me were clearing the beach sand descent efficiently (lightening the front end, using momentum, and letting the bike do what it wants) and using the narrow “clean” line during the steep, loose gravel climbs. I also decided my main strategy would involve quick recoveries and blasting down any descent I could find, since the uphill singletrack sections would likely be full of traffic. I felt confident in my conditioning and training since I had thankfully been healthy and able to train the last month.
My race week kicked off with an awesome team training night and some nice mellow rides before heading to Fontana for the 2nd round of the Kenda Cup West!
Race morning I loaded up and headed out to Fontana for the races, wanted to get there early enough to watch young gun Blake Wray in the Cat 1 race! I made it in time to watch him throw down with the older kids and he killed it! After watching him I started to get ready and get going on my warm ups. Since it takes me forever to warm up! Lol
Now was the time to head to the start line and the nerves start kicking in. 30 second count down and it's race time! We take off and I'm trying to stick to my plan of not sprinting too hard off the start, and next thing I know I'm out front! We all start to go at it a little harder and I see my water bottle go flying off my bike! So I decide to calm it down a bit since now I have to run a whole lap with no water! We are all pushing good and we come thru from lap one and I see god... I mean I saw Lou and he handed me a water bottle! Now the fight was on! I ran up front going back and forth with two other guys throughout the race! Now on the last lap on the last gravel road climb I made a move on first and sprinted past him and kept it pinned all the way to the finish! I was able to get the big win there, but by only 3 seconds!
An awesome day racing and I can't thank everyone enough who helps me get here!!
So the 2017 race season has arrived! At least for me it has, and as a great opener to the season Non Dot Adventures puts on a time trial event at Whiting Ranch. However, I was a little hesitant about participating in this race this year. I suffered a bad fall in December that left me with a broken nose and serious neck pain, and followed that up with a nasty sinus infection. That combined with the unusually rainy weather left my training with something to be desired-as in non-existent! In addition, I was graduating from school the day before the race, so I wasn’t sure how prepared I’d be the morning after! But thankfully the last few weeks before the race my health came roaring back, daylight savings time gave me sunshine to train, and the weather cooperated. I was able to get some good training in and felt energized and excited by the time race day rolled around.
The Whiting Ranch Time Trial is a great event to kick off the year. As always the event was well attended and well organized by Non Dot Adventures. It was so fun to see everyone again in our little XC racing community, especially my fellow Elite Women competitors. Quite a few Path Bike Shop Race Team members were there racing and the support from the Path was fantastic (mmmmm doughnuts!!).
Race Report by Dan Blurton, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Race Action Photo: PB Creative.
My day started off by forgetting my breakfast at home and remembering it when I was almost to the event! So with no food in sight I ended up having a pack of Clif Blocks for breakfast! I got all signed up and did some last minute prep on my bike then off to the starting line I went.
The race started at 9am and you have 4 hrs to get in as many laps as possible. So off we went, I look over and people are starting to sprint and hammer! I decided not to because it was going to be a long 4 hours if I blew up off the start. As the I got halfway thru the first lap I started passing a bunch of people and I just got in my groove. As the race went on I just kept my pace. As I came in on my 7th lap I checked to see if I could go out for one more since there were 40 minutes remaining on the clock. They said yeah so I took off, grabbed some more water and off I went! I was able to complete my 8th lap with 10 minutes to spare.
When it all was done, I was able to grab 3rd place in the Master Men 30-39 4-hrs Solo race, which I was super stoked on! Thanks to The Path Bike Shop for all your support!
November…a time to celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy the fall weather, get ready for the holiday season, and RACE! The season finale of Non-Dot Adventures’ OC Classic was held November 12th at Caspers Wilderness Park. It was the last of four races of the series, and I was fortunate this year to be able to race in all of them. Each race has it’s own unique challenges and atmosphere, and Casper’s to me is one of the most beautiful but also very challenging mentally. While not especially technical, the long steady climbs along the ridge and all out pedaling sprints in the canyon makes my legs and lungs scream “stop!!” Knowing that I have to repeat three times makes it even harder! All the while though I am surrounded by the gorgeous scenery and the awesome crowd. Pedaling through the old corral each lap and hearing those cheers and cowbells always gives me a boost!
Race Report by Ava Fong, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
My name is Ava Fong and I am 11 years old. I have been racing Over The Hump Race Series for about 5 years. It has been an amazing experience for my fellow competitors and I. This season was special for me because it was my last year racing in the 9 to 11 year old girls. I missed 3 races early in the season, so I wasn’t doing well for the overall title at first. But then, I kept working harder every race. My placing in this last race would be very important for me so that I could have a chance to be the overall winner of the series.
The course conditions this evening were typical for Over The Hump—dry and dusty. My Dad has had me running my tires a little lower pressure than when it’s packed and tacky. This has made my bike feel more secure in the loose gravel. At this race, the girls got to start on their own horn blast after a gap from the boys race. I made sure to get a good start. I went hard from the line, standing out of the saddle up the first hill. I was afraid to slow down and that the other girls might pass me.
I was relieved to finally cross the finish line. I got 1st place, and that was enough points to get me 1st on the podium for the Overall Series!
Next season, I will race Junior Girls and face a tougher course and many fast girls. I couldn’t have done anything without my supportive family and friends. I also want to thank The Path Bike Shop for all they do for me.
Race Report by Brooke McFerren, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Summer is officially here! In my opinion, the beginning of the Over The Hump weekly Tuesday night MTB race series heralds the arrival of the summer season. For most, OTH is a casual, fun, family event where one can kick back, knock off some of that work or school week stress, and even imbibe in some post-race brews and Wahoo’s tacos. For others, it’s a terrific mid-week training ride, a great way to measure the effects of hard miles of interval or endurance training against other worthy competitors. For me it’s a little of both. This year I don’t have any specific races or a race season I’m training for as I have in years past. This year is more about finding fun challenges in my everyday riding, trying to become a better rider, and using racing to keep motivated to stay fit and sharp as a rider. So this year I have had a blast at the first 2 OTH races trying out the Elite women’s class of competition, having fun but also pushing myself to the limit!
This year OTH series has moved to a new location at Oak Canyon Park (behind Irvine Lake) and a new course set-up. Each week the organizers have listened to feedback and tweaked the course here and there, resulting in a fun and fast race course. My first impression of the course at week 1 was that it’s very well suited to the large amount of racers of all levels on the course at the same time. There is not much bottlenecking and plenty of places to pass. Week 1 was amazing, with a huge main start venue with what seemed like twice as many vendors and shop tents set up compared to last year. As always the organizers had everything running smooth with parking, registration, check in, and timing of the races. There were tons of volunteers helping to keep things going, which was so appreciated.
After the first race of the California Enduro Series was held local at Fontana, all of us from SoCal had to make a 8-hour trip up Reno, Nevada for Race #2. I was super excited to finally race the first "far-away" enduro of the season. For the weekend my main goal was the stay upright with no bike problems and come away with a podium in a category I had to transition up to: the Expert 18-29 category.
What's a road trip without memories to go behind it? After the 8-hour drive up, my teammate Ben and I decided to get out of the car and immediately preride some of the stages. We found out it wasn't the best idea after being in a car for so long and eating In-N-Out 30 minutes before. Nevertheless, we made it through and finished the day on a good note. Heading into Preride Day 2, I was ready for some more of Reno's rocky terrain. I'm not talking about small pebbles; try sharp, boulder-like rocks. If you ever decide to race or ride there often, I probably wouldn't advise super lightweight tires. I'll see you on the side of the trail if you do end up running them.
Waking up on race day, I felt ready and didn't feel that nervous. A big thing with being a successful racer is not letting your nerves control you, so I've really been trying to train my mental being. I started a slow start on the first stage but after that, I felt really comfortable. I felt I was flowing with the trail but sprinting on any section I could. After finishing up the last stage and cruising back to the venue, I was exstatic with how I ended up.
Race Report by David Hardwick, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photo: Dan Williams
I didn’t get a chance to try any of the races at Rim Nordic last year because of scheduling conflicts, so when I saw I was free to hit Round #2 of the 2016 Rim Nordic Enduro 5-race series I jumped at the opportunity. My teammate Dan hit me up the weekend before and mentioned he was going to go up and do some recon on the course changes for the upcoming race. I told him as long as we can through it a detour to Exploration trail when we were finished that I was totally in. So the weekend before the race I met up with Dan and another teammate, Sam, to go check out the race stages. It was a great day of riding, laughing, learning and teaching. We all learned something new and Dan and I traded race lines to try and get a step up on the competition.
Okay, now to the meat of the story. Saturday morning is here way to early but it’s race day and I’m feeling excited. I know Dan is going to be waiting for me at the shop so we can carpool up to the mountains. There’s a little extra pep in my step this morning. We meet up at 7am, move his bike and gear to my Subaru and it’s time to get moving. We arrived at Rim Nordic about 8:30 or so, allowing some time for socializing and me time to get registered. We met up with a few other teammates and chatted about the changes from Round #1 and how we were feeling about our prospects for the day’s race.
Race Report by Brooke McFerren, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
This is my first year racing with The Path Bike Shop team, after moving here from Florida last year with my husband (and fellow Path Bike Shop team racer) Peter Osborn. We are happy to have found a “bike shop home” at The Path and are proud to represent them racing cross country this year.
We were looking forward to race the Non-Dot OC Classic Race 2 at Aliso Woods since we raced a few Non-Dot events last year and knew that they throw fun, challenging and well-organized events. The Aliso Woods event proved to be no exception! This year had a fantastic venue at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park in a beautiful shady area, and the course had some changes from last year.
This is also my first season racing Elite Women and I have been enjoying the challenge of “moving up”. The competition is awe-inspiring and all the women racing out there at every level have been so welcoming and friendly. In fact, as our small group lined up at the start line and took off, it felt almost like a pleasant Saturday “Girls Ride” rather than a typical XC heart-attack leg burner start! I knew however that soon enough, the true racing would be coming! Sure enough, after almost 5 miles of slightly inclining fire road at the bottom of the canyon we were heading up Cholla in a freight train of Super Sport Men and us “girls”.
Race Report by Dan Williams, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
May 1st saw the beginning of a new month and the beginning of gravity racing up in the San Bernardino National Forest, as this day saw Race #1 of the 2016 Rim Nordic Enduro Series. Rim Nordic is located in Running Springs, California, just east of the more well known ski/biking city of Big Bear Lake (think Snow Summit). Rim Nordic sits at approximately 6,700 feet above sea level, which makes pedaling quite a bit harder for those of us who live and ride by the ocean hills of Laguna and Aliso Viejo.
The terrain at Rim Nordic is not exceedingly rocky, but don’t let that fool you. There is still quite a bit of loose, off camber turns to keep you on your toes that are mixed with high speed, steep chutes! The organizers did a great job for the first race of the year, putting together 5 stages, and one of the stages was part of their old downhill course!
Anybody who has ridden up in this area or Snow Summit knows the terrain; loose decomposed granite that lacks grip, and forces you to become a master of cornering if you want to put down a decent time. Big thanks to our tire sponsor Kenda Tires, as they provided us with their Honey Badger DH tires. Those tires gave us the extra bite we needed so we wouldn’t blow corners! In addition, the day before the race saw small amounts of snow in the morning, then rain in the afternoon. This made for “hero dirt” conditions the day of the race....YEE-HAW!
I raced Cat 2 at the Kenda Cup West Bonelli Park #2 event. This race weekend was also part of USA Cycling's US Cup, a UCI-sanctioned competition for the pros.
They shortened the course for all races on Sunday due to rains the previous day. This meant extra laps to make up the distance. Of course, the part they closed off is the less technical portion, so there was little or no recovery on the very demanding technical side. That said, the track was perfect--tacky hero dirt. However, there were some grassy areas we had to ride over and these had their share of pooled water and mud which made for some spectacular slide-outs for those who took the direct line through the muck instead of a safer line off to the side. I was actually more hesitant making turns on the flat muddy areas over my four descents down the "Rutted Rock Garden" section (Strava URL: https://www.strava.com/segments/1093516).
I was pretty exhausted afterwards but managed to get 8th Place in a very talented field. This is a great race series to attend as you just might see that domestic or international pro you like.
While some teammates have already been racing this year, my 2016 season just got off to an exciting start at Non Dot Adventures first race of the season, the Whiting Ranch Ultimate Time Trial on March 19th. This is the first of four races they conduct in the Orange County Parks. Rather than a mass start of a typical cross-country race, riders are released once every 30 seconds to race against the clock. Many call a time trial “the race of truth” because there is no hiding in a pack, it’s just you and the clock. And your burning legs.
On race morning, we were greeted by chilly, overcast conditions with many racers wondering how to dress or even when to shed their jackets prior to the start. The cool air and clouds would soon be appreciated, however, once the riders started up the infamous Dreaded Hill, a nearly one-mile beast with grades averaging 14% and portions up to 26%.
This past Saturday saw the 5th and final Super D race of the Southridge KMC Chain Winter Series. Weather for the day was almost ideal, with mild temps, somewhat overcast skies, and no rain for the day. Unfortunately, the downhill race the following day didn’t have it so good.
As usual for the series this year, Southridge put together a two race run format; but this time with a little twist. Racers rode down a very fun, yet somewhat short course that had awkward and tight “S” turns, ruts, and a rock littered field that kept your wits sharp. At this point, we climbed back up to do the same course, but for the second time, they would have you continue over the road to the Super D’s famous Waterfall feature of somewhat intimidating rocks, then a dozen turns before you hit the sprint to the 4X course and the finish line.
Race report by Blake Wray, Jr. racer and member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Coming into this weekend I was a little nervous because I broke my arm a couple of weeks prior. During the 6-week period of having to stay off the bike, I was anxious to see if I had lost any bike handling skills that I would have to work up to. It was my first big weekend of racing! Saturday was the SoCal Enduro and Sunday was the Kenda Cup cross country.
Saturday was super exiting and fun! The courses were fast but also had some fast sections. All 4 of my runs were safe, but some felt faster than others. The first 3 stages were my strongest stages while in Stage 4 I had a couple of mistakes. They weren't bad mistakes but they cost me about 3 seconds. Stage 3 was my favorite because it had both the fast and technical parts in the trail. The day was successful and I came out with a 2nd place in a field of 18 racers in the 12-17 age class.