My first MTB National Championship Race was an awesome experience! Before the fun began, there was a lot of preparation and hard work. I had to work very hard with breathing, strength training, and nutrition. Getting on the stationary bike helped me with the strength and breathing. Once I was all ready and done with work, it was time to go up I was excited! It was a long drive up there, it was astonishing!
A week ago was Round 3 of the 2015 California Enduro Series in China Peak. I knew this race was going to be challenge because I've never been to China Peak or ridden any similar trails. The only way I could prepare myself for this race is by going in with the mindset of using all I've learned and trained for.
After hanging out and relaxing on Thursday, we set off to get some practice runs in on Friday. Having the use of chairlifts helped a whole lot, as we were able to fit in 7 practice runs. From the start of practice, I knew these trails were completely different than anything I'm used to. Stages 1 and 2 were what I would call the "warm-up" stages as they didn't have anything that technical but instead a lot of blown-out corners and pedaling sections between those corners.
Stage 3 was by far the most physically demanding stage; it started out with some sketchy technical sections, then dropped you into the trees into a bunch of tight switchbacks and a good amount of pedaling. After the pedaling section, you dropped into the infamous rock garden. I had to look at it a couple of times, but I chose my lines according to how smooth I can hit it. After the rock garden and a couple other fairly technical sections, the course dropped you into more pedaling between the trees all the way to the end.
Stage 4 was more on the technical side, but instead of tight rock sections, it was high speed, rowdy technical sections. This section was rowdy for the majority of the stage until the last 30 percent where it was all washed out turns that were extremely hard to get traction.
Round Two of the 2015 California Enduro Series took us the furthest from home that I’ve ever been for a race. We traveled to a little town about 10 hours from home on the Mendocino coast called Caspar. The locals welcomed somewhere near 300 racers, their families, and support staff with open arms, and were thrilled to show their local riding area to a whole new group of people.
I had been saving my pennies and selling everything not bolted down so I could purchase a new bike in time for the race. With the help of Tani & Gerrin from the shop, I was able to get my hands on a Giant Trance 1 with exactly the build that I wanted. I picked up my bike one week before this race and tried to squeeze in every ride I could so I could get to know her a little better before leaving home for the race.
Thursday morning before the race was a blur; I tossed all the last minute things into the car and drove to meet with Zach for our trip 2/3 of the way up the state. The drive up was pretty uneventful and we made really good time. We arrived to find the rest of the team just finishing up their course pre-riding. We geared up and talked the world’s best team manager, Lou Mollineda, into dropping us off at the top so we could get some pre-rides in ourselves before we set up camp for the weekend.
Friday morning we awoke to beautiful weather, lots of sun and perfect temps for riding. After the arrival of a few more teammates, we put together the days plan, trying to get as many of the race stages covered as we possible could. The plan was well executed and I think the team had a good handle on what the trails were like. Friday night I started thinking about how many miles were ahead of me for the weekend, and the pre-race jitters certainly kicked in. I reviewed the trail map multiple times to try and remember all I could about the stages I would be racing on Saturday. The morale around camp was quite high, I think the team felt well prepared and ready to tackle the next days of racing.
Racing a 50 mile endurance race on tired legs with a single speed is a good experience and good training, but it does NOT feel good at all....I highly recommend it.
The endurance course was two laps on the 25-mile cross country course. I felt good for about 15 minutes after the start, then I had no choice but to settle into a slower more manageable pace while the group I was with rode away.
The following 15 minutes I rode with another group of riders, but again I needed to dial it down a bit more to deal with the altitude and leg fatigue so I fell off the back of that group. I rode in this position for the rest of the race. I did manage to catch a few riders, but not the two singlespeeders that were ahead of me. I finished third so I still managed to get a podium spot.
OTH Race #3: Elite Short Track Brutality
This past Tuesday was the 3rd race of the 2015 Over The Hump MTB Race Series. It was also a special type of night; for this race, the Elite racers didn't have a main race but instead had a nearly 4-mile Short Track race after the main race. To qualify for the short track race, the elite racers were paired with a beginner or junior to be a ride-along coach during the main race. Giving myself a challenge, I set out to race the Elite/Pro Short track.
Before the main race, I was paired up with R.J., who was a beginner racer. The incredible thing when chatting with him on the start line was that it was his first time ever racing. He looked strong at the start line when I first met him and he proved to race even stronger. Being his ride-along, my job was to coach him and help him through the race. I tried my best to do so by giving tips and helping him to keep pushing to the finish. For his first race, he ended finishing 3rd in beginner men 29- class. By the way he was racing, I knew he going to be up there and he did exactly that. Big congrats to R.J.!!
Race Report by Mario Correa, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photo: Team Bigfoot
I went back to Weaverville, California after a seven year hiatus to work on my climbing. Last year I raced a hundred mile race in Oregon with 17,000 vertical feet of climbing and had a meltdown on the way to a third place finish. It was a very ugly finish; I didn't pace properly, was under fueled, bonked, and in a world of hurt the last several hours.
The 2015 Over The Hump MTB Race season got off to a great start with sellout attendance at Race #1. The venue at Irvine Lake was buzzing with excitement. While I was feeling excited about this race, I was also a bit apprehensive as well. The reason for that is that I jumped into a higher category a couple seasons ago and had typically finished in the last 3 to 5 spots of my group, Men Sport 50+. I knew I had to make changes going into the 2015 season, so I started being coached by teammate Luke Wronski, a successful Expert-level racer and employee at The Path Bike Shop.
Luke put me on a high-intensity/low-volume training plan, which worked well with my busy schedule. This incorporated strength training, interval work and a core workout routine. His coaching and my hard work (read: pain) paid off big at this race, my first XC race of the year.
Race Report by David Hardwick, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photo: Melody McClain, Called To Creation
I wasn’t really sure I wanted to go to the Santa Ynez Valley Classic, but after a few last minute considerations I decided it would be a good way to test the diet and training program I have been on for the past month. I departed home early Friday morning, prepared to sit in some LA traffic to aim for a 10AM arrival time so that team member Zach Graves and I could get a course pre-ride in. That plan worked rather well, as we arrived within 15 minutes of each other. I haven’t been to the Dirt Club in Los Olivos for many years, but I’m familiar with the hills and I was prepared for some good hard pedaling in the Enduro. I’m really glad that I had prepared mentally because stage one was, as fellow race team member Jordan Steyer put it, “one 12-minute interval”. And man, did it feel like it.
I went to a fun event with a great vibe, the 2015 6 Hours In Frog Hollow just outside of Zion on April 18, 2015. I wanted to test out my new singlespeed setup and to make a comparison to my result/fitness from the 2014 race.
12.8 mile course, perfect weather, SingleSpeed Solo category, pitted off my truck tailgate, wore the old green Path Bike Shop race kit since it was warm out and I haven't had time to make a sleeveless version of the new kit.
One tooth difference in gearing, fully rigid setup, lighter bike with carbon frame, bigger Path Bike Shop water bottles, new Giro Shoes from the shop, and I fueled up only on Poptarts and Rockstar Energy drink. Also, my fitness is not what it was at this point in 2014, but it would be a good sign if I wasn't too far off of my lap times from the race last year.
The week leading up to the 2015 Sea Otter Classic, I came down hard with a bacterial infection that wiped me out for three days. I seriously questioned whether or not I would be healthy enough to race. I picked up an antibiotic Thursday and hoped for the best. By race day Sunday I felt good. Huge shout out to my team mate Nathan Heronen for turning me on to a sinus spray that allowed me to breathe out my nose during the race!
At the start of the race I went out hard, doing everything I could to be up at the front before the course bottle-necked into the singletrack. After getting through the first singletrack, the race settled into a rhythm. I stayed with two other riders in my class for most of the race.
2015 Sea Otter Classic - XC Race Cat-2, ages 15-18
As everyone knows, the Sea Otter Classic is like a mountain bikers' dream. Everything bike related is there, including the racing. I set out to race the very brutal XC race. The course was 24 miles and 3500' feet of climbing. It was the longest race I've ever done so far and it definitely hurt.
Waking up race morning was tough since race start was at 8AM, so I was awake by 6AM. To make things even better, it was super foggy and freezing cold. After doing a decent warmup, I went to go line up at the start and ended up waiting 20 minutes until the race actually began. I was freezing and shivering just standing there waiting for the race to start, but once the announcer said "go", the adrenaline warmed me up quickly!
Off the start everyone was just going at it and getting into draft groups right away. I dropped back towards the back of the field during the first few minutes as everyone was attacking and blasting ahead. I knew if I would do that, I would blow up later on since it was a very long race. Slowly but surely, I was gaining positions one by one; mainly on downhills and singletrack where I had my advantage of technical skills.
Round 3 of the 2015 US Cup at Bonelli Park was a really great day for me. After taking a month off of racing to get married and settle in to a new home, it felt great to be back at it. Bonelli Park was my first ever US Cup cross country race as CAT-1. I wasn't sure how my fitness would stack up against a much stronger field compared to the races in Fontana, CA.
I went out conservatively, singling out the individuals I knew I had a chance against. By the end of the second of four laps I knew I was in a good place. The longer daily bike commutes that have become the bulk of my training proved to help with my endurance.
On the final lap, myself and one other rider battled it out for 2nd place. He took off on a sprint halfway through the lap. Unfortunately, I was unable to reel him back in. Given that this was my first crack at a US Cup CAT-1 race, I couldn't be more thrilled with my third place result. This also gives me more confidence heading into the 2015 Sea Otter Classic this weekend!
So proud to be representing The Path Bike Shop, Kona Bicycles, Kenda Tires, and Smith Optics. Huge thanks to Lou and Tani for all the support. I am beyond blessed to be able to race my bike and work with such good people.
A time trail is considered “the race of truth”, a race against the clock.
Truth is, almost everyone is racing against the competition not the clock.
The first race of the year is always a rude awaking.
Truth is, every race is a rude awaking if I'm not warmed up.
Have a new singlespeed setup this year that I've been looking forward to racing.
Truth is, there's still some changes needed before it's 100% dialed in.
Felt like a big yellow bratwarst in the new yellow kit.
Truth is, I'm several pounds above comfortable racing weight; no more salt & vinegar chips after training rides.
The plan was to stand for the entire climb.
Truth is, my arms fatigued quicker than my legs so I resorted to plan B and walked a little.
Why was I thinking of the Vision Quest West Horse Theif on the Dreaded Hill climb?
Truth is, I need to race more to increase my focus; racing is the remedy for monkey mind syndrome.
I thought I won the race when I was done.
Truth is, I was a few seconds off of first.
The mistakes I made were more costly than I figured.
Truth is, every second counts.
I'm sort of happy with my current level of fitness given the circumstances.
Truth is, I have a long way to go to be ready for my big races this year.
Mario placed 2nd in the SingleSpeed category at the 2015 Whiting Ranch Time Trial.
In my third season of mountain bike XC racing and my first year on The Path Bike Shop Factory Race Team, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter who you beat going up the mountain, but how you push yourself to get to the top. So on the morning of the Non Dot Adventures first race of 2015, the Whiting Ranch Time Trial, I enlisted this approach for the race.
This is my third year racing the OC Classic Race Series, and I have always found these races to be made up of the most supportive and enthusiastic bike riders known to Orange County. That is why I do these races. I love the Non Dot Adventures crew, and their passion for the mountains is somehow transferred to the race itself.
Well, the Santa Ana winds were back. The Santa Ana winds are a local phenomenon that is kicked off when high pressure sets over the Great Basin of the southwestern United States, creating strong, dry, gusty winds that blow from the desert towards the southwest, with gusts can easily exceed 40mph. Add these destructive winds to high temperatures in the 80s, mix in a sky without a cloud and practically no shade, and you have the setting for the season finale of the Super D race for the 2015 Southridge KMC Chain Winter Series.
There was a lot on the line for this race. Over the course of this series, The Path Bike Shop Race Team has been fighting hard for every space on the podiums, and with points being doubled for the last race of the season, many of the team had the mentality of getting on the box or crash while trying! The Path Race Team has had many successes this year, but also a few injuries. In fact, one such injury put a racer out for the remainder of this series. That may lie in the back of the mind for many riders…but not these strong lads and ladies!
The course for this race was not only the longest of the series, but the toughest as well. It began with a 30-second sprint right from the starting gate, followed by a short, steep, punchy climb that saw many riders expelling all their energy right there. And we're talking the kind of out-of-the-saddle punchy climbs that make you want to curse the day you were born…..and this was only the beginning of your race run! After this, it was loose switchbacks, rock gardens, g-outs, and a long sprint that makes the infamous “wall” portion of every Fontana downhill race seem like a walk in the park!