Some of the 2011 MTB Team

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Hey coach, what do I do now?"

The above is a question that's being asked repeatedly. The good news is that if you're looking to keep riding bikes in the "off season," you're hooked!

The SoCal League is set up to mimic a traditional high school spring sport in its schedule. What this means is that you can do some official "prep" work between October 15 and November 30th, the "training" season can begin on December 1st, and the "competitive" season occurs from March through May. After that finishes, the club goes dormant until the next season begins with no official League activities save for optional short duration camps in the summer. This is done for a very specific reason. As high school athletes you're still in your formative years in the sport. A very real risk is burnout if the team is on a year round training and racing schedule. The flow of the season is designed to allow your mind (and in some cases body) to take a break after the competitive season so that when you return in the fall, everything will seem fresh and exciting.

What this means is that official club activities finish on May 31st and can't start again until October 15th. What this DOESN'T mean is that you have to stop riding your bike! In fact, you can use this "off" time to train by yourselves, do fun riding, or even explore other cycling disciplines. Though the League is all about XC MTB racing, there are MANY other types of riding out there! At this point in your cycling "lives" ANY type of cycling will benefit any other type of cycling. Examples of how these other disciplines might help you as an XC MTB rider? Long road rides will help build your aerobic base, BMX will help your handling skills and pack riding, downhill will help your bike handling skills and give you confidence, track riding will help you focus and give you the ability to spin your pedals REALLY fast, cyclocross will put many of the XC skills you have to task in a shorter race, "just riding" your mountain bike will build your base and confidence --- the examples are endless!

So what do you do now? The decision is up to you! However, to help you, here are links to some resources you might investigate. One thing you might want to do is find and join a local cycling club (I'm partial to PAA, and it's also close ;-) as that is usually an inexpensive way to "link in" to the cycling scene. You can meet many experienced riders and racers and people are always scheduling rides of various types you might choose to take part in. Additionally, there are usually generous discounts that come up which make the membership fees seem VERY reasonable! I am not advocating for nor do I have any financial connection to any of the below other than one cyclocross race in Glendale that I promote as part of the SoCal Prestige series. In fact, I've only ridden on a velodrome twice and both times it was part of a cyclocross race. I also have no BMX experience save for one race in about 1978. I will, however, help to answer any questions you have! --- Pasadena Athletic Association Cycling Club (Coach Jan, Coach Banner, Sponsor Coach Rick, Sponsor Tom Reilly, Sponsor Jerry Sanders, St. Francis Coach Bird, and I all belong to PAA) --- LA Velodrome at the ADT Events Center --- Encino Velodrome. They even have a FREE beginner youth program Thursday evenings. Velodrome Director Al Nash is a PAA member. --- This is a BMX track in Simi Valley. --- This is the SoCal Prestige Cyclocross Series. Races take place between September and January. Juniors usually race for 30-35 minutes. You CAN race on a mountain bike. Juniors usually race free if they have an annual license (I can explain that to you) or by purchasing a "one day" license for $10. Practices begin around August and take place in the Hahamonga area we practice in. Watch the website for updates. --- XC MTB race series at Vail Lake. --- This is the national governing body for cycling. --- This is the local (Southern California and Southern Nevada) chapter of USA Cycling covering our area. They maintain the calendar for all local road, track, and cyclocross races. --- I don't know anything about this other than the fact that, if I was your age, I would want to go HERE for camp! In addition to many other action sports, they have some pretty impressive facilities for learning advanced MTB skills!

2009 State Championships

For those who were able to go to States this year, the experience was fantastic! It's really difficult to explain the sheer scale of the event unless you see it yourself. This was BIG TIME racing with all the bells and whistles from an announcer with a British accent, to a Pit Zone that went on for days, to campers as far as the eye could see, to an interview tent stocked with reporters, to a podium ceremony with hundreds of spectators (see photo above), to....

GUSD was ably represented by racers Weston Weaver, Dillen Maurer, Reilly Pratt, coaches Sean, Dale, and Matt, and Dillen's parents. We had a deluxe campsite (actually, all campsites were pretty similar --- ours was just really close to start/finish) with all the ameneties (including a bag of water hoisted into a tree to shower under).

After a LOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGG drive Saturday (about 9 hours) we set up camp and got on our bikes to pre-ride the course. The course was a fun mix singletrack through the trees (which we don't really get too much of in SoCal), difficult power climbs, and fast fireroad. Though the weather was warm, almost all of the course was in the shade of 100 foot pine trees keeping the direct sun off most of the time. We rode two laps of the 6+ mile course including the second lap with the Newport Composite team. Though we were competitors through the season, it was nice to feel cameraderie with the other SoCal racers as we were a small contingent amongst the nearly 400 NorCal racers. It was great hearing "go SoCal!" That being said, the NorCal folks were VERY welcoming to us. They were genuinely happy to have us there as they can see that as SoCal grows and strengthens, the level of competition throughout the state will grow!

Saturday night the coaches were able to attend a little ceremony where the NorCal and SoCal Leagues were ceremonially joined to form a "State Championships." We were joined when two halves of a California shaped cake were brought together by the NorCal and SoCal Board Presidents. Needless to say, after a day of labor and pre-riding, the cake didn't last long!

Sunday morning we watched what had been a large group of campers grow into a HUGE number of attendees as many riders/supporters of the close in teams arrived on site. The forest was full of brightly clad riders, team tents, and campers of every shape and size. Racing got kicked off with the waves of girls at 10:00. And these were fields of 20, 30, 40 girls! At a little before noon, the Freshmen boys and Sophmore boys fields set off. This alone was 4 fields as there were two fields for each category as NorCal is divided between Division 1 and Division 2 schools. All SoCal teams competed in Division 2 this year. Wesley and Dillen competed in Freshmen boys and Reily competed in Sophmore boys. All three riders rode hard and finished smiling and dusty and excited to come back in 2010!

The third wave was the JV and Varsity boys. There were some VERY fast riders in these fields. And it wasn't only the top 2-3 riders that were fast. The top 20 in every field rode competitive lap times. This is exciting because it shows the depth and level of competition happening in NorCal. Within 3 years the SoCal fields should show similar depth!

After the racing there was a fantastic awards ceremony. The podium was set under a canopy of tall pines and MANY people stuck around to support the winners. After the podium, people dispersed quickly and within 2 hours there were only a few isolated campsites still occupied. As the tradition of the League is to "leave no trace" the forest was left clean and it was hard to tell that hours before there had been over a thousand people camping, riding, racing, and spectating.

See you next year at States!

is a link to the photos Dillen's dad took of the weekend and below are some videos.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

End of season party and trail work!

Block off Sunday May 31st on your calendar as it will mark the last two club events of the season!

Coach Banner is organizing a trail work day in the morning/early afternoon hours. Trail work is an important part of mountain biking as most trails are created and/or maintained by volunteers. As mountain bikers, we use the trails regularly. As mountain bikers --- we need to get in the habit of taking care of those trails in a responsible way! More information on time and location to follow but please check out the following links to some important mountain biking / trail advocacy groups!

IMBA --- International Mountain Bicycling Association
CORBA --- Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association
MWBA --- Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association

Sunday afternoon/evening we will be having our official "end of season" party! More details will follow but this is for all racers, families, coaches, and sponsors!

State Championships

Saturday May 17th marks the date of the first California State High School Mountain Bike Championships! Up until this year, the 5th race of the season was the last race of the NorCal League season. This year it is a unification race to find the champions of the combined NorCal and SoCal Leagues. This year the race is being recognized for what it is (a TOP race) by USA Cycling (the US Olympic recognized governing body for cycling in the United States) and the top 15 finishers in each cateogory are automatically qualified for the USA Cycling MTB National Championships in Solvista, CO this July.

The following team members will be attending and representing both GUSD Cycling and the SoCal League:

Weston Weaver --- Freshman Boys
Dillen Maurer --- Freshman Boys
Reily Pratt --- Sophmore Boys
Sean McCoy --- Coach
Dale Standel --- Coach
Matt Gunnell --- Coach

Wish us all luck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Race #4 (SoCal Finals) Report

Spirits were high as the club assembled in the parking lot at the Charlotte's Meadow area of the Stump Grinder Dirt Club (SGDC) outside of Los Olivos/Buelton/Solvang on Saturday afternoon. Race promoter Mike Hecker is justifiably proud at the unique and exciting venue he has put together to host racing and training. The SGDC is completely on private property in the beautiful hills and valleys of Santa Ynez wine country. The SGDC is a membership location where local riders can pay an annual fee to come ride the short but challenging climbs and swoopy singletrack with fantastic vistas of verdent hills and miles of vineyards. SDGC also hosts a variety of races ranging from various national level mountain bike races (the Kenda Cup West was here the weekend prior) with world class pros to low key short-track races to 12 and 24 hour marathon events. In addition to the start/finish area --- Charlotte's Meadow has a tire swing in the shade of a GINORMOUS Oak as well as a Pump Track that saw a LOT of use!

After getting geared up everyone went out in small groups to pre-ride the course. Special props to Pam's mom and Reily's dad for pre-riding! Rumor has it they're both at least SOMEWHAT hooked and looking forward to going on training rides with the club next season. You hear that parents??? Don't be left behind! Get a bike and ride with us!!!

The course was very scenic and very challenging. It had the most climbing of any course this year including one VERY steep and twisty singletrack climb that only the most technically skilled riders could ride up! There was also a bunch of smooth fast singletrack on the side of steep, grass covered hills, a few power climbs, and cows. That's right --- cows. It's not called the "Cow Pie Classic" as a joke! In fact, on the pre-ride we caught this photo of some of the native "wildlife."

After a great pre-ride. Everyone headed to their various accomodations to get ready for dinner. For most of the group this was at the Firestone Walker Taproom in Buelton. Even though it was a busy Saturday night we were slowly but surely able to "take over" about 1/3 of the restaurant. Dinner was great but the best part was getting to know each other just a little bit better and --- even though this season is just ending --- start making plans for next season ;-) After finishing dinner there was just enough time for a late night game of "Uno" in Graeme's parents' trailer!
Sunday morning started bright and early with a "hearty" breakfast at Ellen's Pancake House. When I'm in Solvang I NEVER miss breakfast at Ellen's! We pretty much took over the main room and counter of the restaurant with GUSD jerseys as we scarfed down our pre-race carbohydrates ;-)
After breakfast the racing began! The weather was slightly breezy with nice temps in the shade but warm in the sun as there wasn't much cloud cover! The course conditions were fantastic! The racing was epic as the loop ended up being over 7 miles long with PLENTY of climbing! Spectating was great as riders not only passed through the start/finish area twice per lap but, after the initial hard climb, were visible mutliple times as small specs criss-crossing the hillsides through valleys and past oak trees. When it was all set and done everybody had a hard but satisfying day.

After the racing was complete we all ate our fill of freshly cooked Brats courtesy of Graeme's folks! Thanks again!!!

The day concluded with a great awards ceremony and a team photo including all of the racers, coaches, and parents!

Special congratulations to Pam for finishing on the series overall podium (3rd place) for Frosh/Soph Girls. Below are congratulations from several teachers:

Thanks for the good news.
Mrs. Evans

So cool! Too bad I opened this email after I saw her today. I'll definitely make sure to congratulate her tomorrow. She's an amazing kid and this is just one more thing that makes her amazing.
Erin J. Weller

Wow Jan,
This is great! Congratulations to you as well!
Have a great day,
Celeste Lau-Chwierut

Great job coaches.
Mrs. Zamorano

Jan! That's fantastic! Congrats to you too!!!!
Liz Weaver

That's REAL BIG!
Thanks for sharing
Mr. Pehar

Here are some links to GREAT photos taken by Dillen's dad and Coach Banner!

Below is some of the action in video!