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.
Race report by Bryan Bolt, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Coming into my second race for the 2016 Fontana KMC Winter Series was fantastic! It was yet another perfect day for the 4th race of the season. It had rained 2 days prior which made the trails desirable for riding and the weather was in the low to mid 70s.
I decided to race in the open class single speed this time around since I had just finished building my new Pivot LES 29er. With the new 142x12 dropout, the bike’s performance was awesome! The course was pretty tough on the single speed due to the short steep climbs, however, I’m glad I geared down to 20t from 19t in the rear and 32t in the front. The bike handled great on the technical downhill and the transfer of power to the rear was effective when pedaling hard. The adjustments definitely paid off showing that I beat my final time by 2.5 minutes compared to my first race in gears in which I also got 1st place.
I can’t thank my sponsors enough and for always cheering me on. Big shout out to The Path Bike Shop: owner Tani Walling & team manager Lou Mollineda
Wow! This past weekend was pretty eventful! First race of the 2016 season for me was the Ironbutt Challenge, which consisted of riding the 6 Hours of Temecula solo on Saturday followed by the SoCal Enduro on Sunday. I chose to do both races instead of just the enduro for training purposes. I'm doing a lot of multi day enduros this year so this was a good tool to be able to simulate racing multiple days in a row and to gauge my progress in my training with the Trans NZ right around the corner.
Race report by Bryan Bolt, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
It was great to be back in race mode again! For the last year, I’ve been overwhelmed dealing with life changing events and job issues. However, I decided to race the Fontana Winter Series Race #2 and gave the legs a try.
I couldn’t have asked for a better turnout; the weather & dirt was perfect and most importantly, the people. The race started at 9:30am with temps in the mid 50’s. I was definitely pumped and excited to ride this technical course again. The great energy was so amped and it felt so good to be able to race alongside the locals and just to be back in the game. Without getting ahead of myself, I stayed with the leading pack until the last lap. When I saw that opening, I took that chance and rode to the finishing line and won 1st place.
A special thanks to Lou Mollineda (The Path Bike Shop Race Team manager) for always encouraging me on my abilities to ride. Also wanted to thank Tani Walling (The Path Bike Shop owner), Megan Welch & the rest of The Path Bike Shop crew on ALL their help. Looking forward to the upcoming races for 2016.
I have decided to take on the 2016 BC Bike Race. For those of you who know the race and me as a person, you know how crazy an endeavor this is.
I’ll start with myself, I have been riding for 4 years now. I’m not the greatest rider, but I tend go full throttle on anything I do. Mountain Biking has provided me with a means to stay fit mentally and physically with a smile. The addiction to competition has also fueled my love of the sport. I have raced each year, starting with Beginner class then moved up to Sport class. I have not done amazingly well but have always had fun. This sport has also taken me out of my “OC Bubble”; I have traveled to Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia to ride. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest instantly. My trips are what led me to the BC Bike Race. I was in Squamish and Whistler a few years ago during the time of the race, and I had the opportunity to ride parts of the course. They are the best trails I have ever ridden.
The BC Bike Race is a 7-day stage race billed as “The Ultimate Single Track Experience,” with 200 miles in seven days, 3-8,000 feet of climbing per day, and 90% single track terrain. The race starts on July 6, 2016 (it sold out in 4 days in July 2015 when registration first opened). I will be racing on a two-man team with a co-worker Roger Williams. He has a long history of riding and is an extreme person who never quits…the perfect teammate.
Since I feel that my riding is not yet ready for a race like this, I decided to get some help. With recommendations from others I’m using a training plan provided by a coach. She has every day planned out from December 1st, 2015 until race day. I will be riding 6 days a week, weight lifting, stretching and mobility exercises, and Yoga a few times a week. In the last 4 weeks I have put more hours on a bike then I ever have before. I even purchased a cyclocross bike from The Path Bike Shop to get more miles on the bike. I am using my road bike and a trainer at home and work in order to ride every day possible, rain or shine.
Accomplishing a race like this is no small task, I am lucky to have a lot of supporters. My wife has allowed me to spend countless dollars on the race itself, new bikes, and on everything else I need. I also have a 1-year old son and spending time with him is always a priority. I am a firefighter and have the support of my Captain and crew; this allows me to get time on my trainer at work when there are no calls. The Path Bike Shop is a huge support, helping me with everything I need when it comes to riding. They have a crazy amount of brand choices, amazing service, and just a friendly shop with good people. My buddy Lou manages The Path Bike Shop Race Team and has done an amazing job getting the team sponsors that allow us to compete.
I will be writing periodically before the race and my experience in the race itself. In the next blog entry I will detail my race bike I’m currently building up. Hint… there’s no such thing as too much turquoise!
This past weekend marked the first race of the calendar year in Southern California, as both grass roots and World Cup level racers made their annual return to the sandy, rutted, and rock-strewn hills of Fontana, California for the 2016 KMC Chain Winter Series presented by Southridge USA.
The week leading up to the race saw El Nino raise its head, as rain pummeled the SoCal terrain. While this may create a sloppy mess in some regions, the decomposed granite and sandy soils of Fontana simply sucked it up, and racers arrived on Saturday to find some of the most amazing track conditions you could desire at Fontana! No blown out berms, lots of grip, little wind, and cool temps.
Last year saw the preponderance of the one run race format, but this year, Donny and the gang at Southridge brought back the two run format for the first Super D of the year, meaning that riders rode down one stage starting on one hill, then climbed back up to race a second stage on a different hill. So, in essence, we raced a two-stage enduro race. Speaking with many of the other racers, it seems that this was a welcomed format, and racers want more of this. Hey, this guy is included in that! If we did this two run format the rest of the series, I can only see more racers showing up, so let’s keep it going!
Unfortunately I had quite a bit of time off the bike the past few months due to injury and illness, so I knew I wasn’t going to have the optimum stamina and leg/lung power for this race. Therefore I concentrated on bike setup, with emphasis on tire pressure and suspension settings. My Kenda Honey Badger DH tire I used up front felt like I could lean on it in both sandy turns and on rocks, and not once did I feel like it was going to push or give out on me. I also fine-tuned the use of bottomless tokens in my RockShox Pike fork and bottomless rings in my Monarch shock. This helped to keep my Santa Cruz Nomad riding above the holes in between the rocks, yet still gave me great traction, as well as a great pedaling platform when it was time to sprint! Shameless sponsor plug: go to The Path Bike Shop and they’ll help get your rig set up like they helped me!
Back to racing! Stage one started off with rocks, rocks, and more rocks, along with a few small jumps, rocks slab rollers, and steep sections that lead you into sharp corners...more than a few things to keep you on your toes. This fun and rather quick stage finished just to the right of the infamous “wall”, then riders climbed back up for the second stage. The second stage was much more physical, as there was one long pedaling section in the middle that required a good balance of flow and power to keep your speed up, just as it dropped you into another steep rock slab, crossing the fire road into some super fun swooping banked turns with a few jumps thrown in for good measure. You then crossed back over the road, into the Super D Rock Garden, then a long sprint into the bottom of the 4X course before you finish at the vendor area!
The Path Bike Shop Race Team had a very good showing for the first Super D race of the year! Blake Wray was on the podium, earning 2nd in Beginner Men 18 & Under! Sean Small and Nick Patricio has strong showings in a very competitive class, earning 6th and 7th respectively in Expert Men 35 & Under, and Zachary Graves got 9th in Sport Men 35 & Up. Me...I managed to get on the podium with a 4th place finish in Sport Men 35 & Up! I couldn’t have been happier with my finish. By a very long shot, I felt this was the best Super D race I have experienced at Fontana!
I would like to thank Tani and all his employees at The Path Bike Shop, and all the other team sponsors: Kenda Tires, SRAM, Race Face, Crank Brothers, Speed Tuned Wheels, Tustin Brewing (YUM!), Invigorade, Ford & Mazda of Orange, IXS Sports Division, Cal Boring, GoDirect Fumigation, and Johan at Acumed.