Race Report by Charlie Gilmore, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Fifteen years ago I set a goal of finishing the Warrior's Society Vision Quest as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Since that first year, Vision Quest has become an annual obsession for me and this year I was hoping to finish my 15th consecutive. This was also my first year racing with The Path Bike Shop and my first Vision Quest on my Spark RC. Several weeks leading up to the event I was dealing with a lingering cold so I wasn’t sure how I would feel on race morning. I didn’t feel great race morning but I contributed that to the fact that it was 3:15am. I grabbed a cup of coffee, my traditional race morning peanut butter and honey sandwich and headed to the race start in Blackstar Canyon. I had plenty of time to get ready and even got a nice warm-up in which I usually don’t find time for. The weather was perfect which made it much easier to prepare because I didn’t have to worry about wearing or carrying extra layers.
The race started at 5:30am sharp and I could instantly tell that the warm up helped as my legs felt ready to go. I knew I was riding well when I hit the top of Blackstar in near record time for me and I felt strong across the main divide and down motorway. At the first aid station I quickly took on some water and headed up Maple Springs. I was definitely starting to feel fatigued at this point but I began catching other riders which kept me motivated. I crested the top of Santiago peak and had a clean run down the back side and Holy Jim trail. It is a bit demoralizing at the second aid station when you see Counting Coup participants turning right to the finish and you know what is in store for you so you have to stay mentally tough at this point.
Race Report by Dan Blurton, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
My 2018 race season kicked off on March 18th in San Dimas at Bonelli Park for the first round of the 2018 GoldState Series (or in years past, known as the Kenda Cup). All winter I was super nervous for the 2018 race season as it is my first year racing Cat 1. The last few years racing Cat 2, I felt strong and ready to move up.
I headed up to Bonelli on Saturday, the day before, to do some pre-riding on the course. Ran into fellow Path Bike Shop racer, Blake Wray, so we rode together to check different lines out and see where we could gain some time. It was good to see his line choices! After a good day of riding, I headed home to get my bike prepped and ready to do battle!
Now it’s race day and my nerves are going crazy! I make the short drive back up to Bonelli, all the while going through the course in my head over and over coming up with a game plan. I arrive, suit up, and head out to do some warm up laps because for me I’ve got to get in a good warm up in before or I am nothing! Not long after, I hear them calling up all Cat 1 racers to the line. I end up in the front row of a field of 14 deep fast dudes so if my nerves weren't already at the peak, now they are. We are off! I got a great start as I was second going up the first hill, and I felt great as we head into the first lap. I was able to complete lap 1 holding on to second place, but not long after, the third place rider reeled me in and passed me. Now I’m just going as hard as I can to manage to hold onto third place, but these dudes are fast! Then about a third way into the last lap I get passed again by a guy who I figured was not in my class until I notice him looking back at me. Oh no! I just let him around me! With only a quarter of the way to go I sped up a bit more but it just wasn't enough. So I ended up 4th Place in my first Cat 1 race, a great feeling coming from a field of 14 fast guys.
Thanks to Josh Wray for the awesome bottle hand-offs and everyone who came out to cheer me on! Thanks to the Path Bike Shop, Kenda Tire, Docent Brewery, Sta-Tru Wheels, Dirt Bagz, Accumed and CPRX Physical Therapy for all you guys do for me to make it possible to go racing! On to the next one!
Photo Credits: top from Sho-Air, bottom from Sam Wiernucki.
Race Report and photos by Charlie Gilmore, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
This was my third time racing the True Grit Epic and it is hands down my favorite race. The course is about 45 miles in length with over 5,000 feet of climbing and combines some of the best mountain bike trails in Utah, including Barrel and Zen Trails and Barrel Roll. In addition to being physically demanding, the course tests your bike handling skills, both up and down. This year I traveled and roomed with three really fast riders, including Chris Heinrich who also races for The Path Bike Shop and is an accomplished single-speeder.
On the drive out, Chris educated me on his strict race diet which includes a heavy dose of Cheetos and Taco Bell along with a spirit or two. We arrived in Santa Clara on Thursday and settled into our condo which was less than one mile from The Zen Trailhead. We met up with Brad Keyes (Carbo Rocket Keyes) and got a great pre-ride in on some of the most technical trails on the course. Friday we did a shorter Zen ride, had a very relaxing pre-race day and got to bed early. Race morning we did a very brief warm up ride and lined up for our race. Chris was racing open single speed and I was racing in the 50-59 category and we both started in the third wave.
12 hrs of Temecula with SoCal Endurance - January 27th, 2018
My race weekend started out like always, with a late night rush to get all my gear and equipment ready the night before. Made and packed all my food and got my bike all prepped for a grueling race ahead. Off to bed I go! Next thing I know my early morning alarm goes off. I really start to second guess myself on this race, but I load all my stuff up and off we roll to Temecula.
Once I arrive I get all signed up and decide to try my hand at the Open/Pro Class. Get my pit all set up and my food out and ready to go. I roll my bike over to Kenda to get some new rubber put on and like the awesome guys they are, Raul from The Path Bike Shop and Roger from Kenda Tires rush to get the tires set up on my bike.
Now it’s 5 min before the start, I roll to the start line, and my nerves start going wild! 5...4...3...2...1 and we are off for 12 hrs of fun! Race started good as I was riding with the lead pack. Next thing I know I start clicking off laps. I hit the half way point, nothing too crazy had happened in the first half so I am feeling good.
This weekend I braved cold, wind, rain, hail and a flat tire in the Nevada desert, but came away with my first win in dual slalom.
The DVO Nevada State Gravity Championship took place at Bootleg Canyon near Boulder City, Nevada Jan. 19-21. Like the other races in the DVO Winter Gravity Series, it featured downhill, enduro, and is one of the few within driving distance to include dual slalom. I raced my first DS race last year at Sea Otter and have been waiting for another chance. Races at Bootleg are pretty similar to Southridge races at Fontana; it’s a little mountain with shuttles, vendors, friendly riders and a cool vibe. It’s right near Hoover Dam, which is worth a visit and going on the tour.
I was really looking forward to racing my new Polygon TridZZ that I special ordered from The Path. The weather report looked perfect earlier in the week, but Saturday afternoon when I showed up to practice, I could see rain off in the distance in the desert.
The qualifiers were scheduled for 4 p.m., with the races heading down after dark. We each would get one timed run that would determine our race brackets for head-to-head racing. Because the races were set for after dark, they had a company there setting up these cool helium balloons with lights to illuminate the course. Unfortunately, the winds were so strong, it was like they were trying to fight one of the Macy’s parade balloons in a hurricane.
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”.