Hello Team Parents!
Hard to believe, but competitive high school mountain biking has been available at CdM high school for the past 7 years! In the spring of 2009, a grand total of 3 CdM students joined 3 other OC area students to compete against 70 other students from across Southern California. Our team won the overall championship that first year, marking OC as a force to reckon with in high school mountain biking.
In 2015, over 600 students are expected to compete, about 10% of whom will represent OC area schools. Safe to say that high school (and now middle school) mountain bike racing is here to stay!
Season 7 of the SoCal High School Cycling League is officially underway!
Speaking of numbers, here are a few that offer some perspective:
In 2009, 6 racers from Orange County joined about 80 other students from SoCal for the inaugural league race.
3 of those racers were CdM students, so our roots run deep.
In 2015, we’ll be one of nearly 60 teams and 600+ students racing at 5 races.
Behind the numbers are 100’s of coaches, parents and volunteers who train, coach, drive, feed, equip and generally support these racers.
For those families who are new to the league this year, get ready for 1 of the greatest sporting/family experiences ever.
What a deceptive food name. On one hand, it conjures up images of warm apples, crisp crust and melting vanilla ice cream. On the other hand, right now somewhere in the world someone is biting into a pie crust stuffed with…kidneys???
Somewhere between these pie-extremes lies the lowly Cowpie. Not edible by any means, but certainly pie-shaped, and abundantly present at the 5th and last race of the 2013 season. This is not entirely unexpected, given the large number of bovine roaming the hills and fields of the race site, an active ranch in lovely Los Olivos.
Like all cowpies, they were low (and pretty much covered every inch of ground), but these particular poop patties were doing their best to gain altitude by hitchhiking on the relentless gale-force winds that defined the race experience for CdM and their competitors. League veterans described the conditions as the windiest race in the 5 year history of the league, and that’s saying something.
Our CdM team sailed into cow country tied for 4th place overall with the El Toro squad. How would the winds of fate treat them at the final race of the 2013 season?
Reilly brought along some history with cows and mountain biking. While riding a practice lap before the Keyesville race, she swore she could hear cows mooing somewhere just out of sight. Since none were ever actually seen by witnesses, it’s a mooving mystery to this day.
In Los Olivos, many cows were visible throughout the venue, yet Reilly focused on what was most important – navigating the narrow sidehill trails said bovines had formed over years of grazing around the ranch. And as at all the other races she participated in this season, she finished with sheer determination and never quit attitude.
In Alex’s own words: “Race #5 was the best race for me, it seemed longest, but I felt pretty good during the race. The wind was unbelievable though. Throughout the whole race it was headwind or just unhelpful wind. I was blown off the trail multiple times throughout the whole race – it was really annoying. The trail was great and was full of obstacles and jumps which were all fun. (And I always had one wheel on the ground… of course!) The best part was the halfway marker “the tea” where the smell of good earth tea was potent. I felt like I did a pretty good job in that race and overall it was a great experience.”
Caden saddled up at the ranch in second place overall. This fifth and last race was his opportunity to lasso the coveted first place overall title. Alas, it wasn’t in the cards for Cadoo this day, but, thanks to his consistent performance all season, he retained his second place title for the season. Not bad for a downhiller in disguise!
This would be James’ last regular season race in the SoCal league. He and his family are relocating to Ohio and the conclusion of the school year. Just like the other races this season, James sliced and iced with Sean Bell and Daniel Johnson, the “Three Amigos” of the JV D2 class. It was yet another close call, with Sean beating out James and Daniel by the usual slim margin. Nevertheless, James’ consistent podium placements all season netted him the winner’s jersey for the season. James will be missed both as a competitor and friend, and we wish him the best of luck in his new ventures.
James: 2nd JV D2/1st overall for the season
Caden: 6th Sophomore D2/2nd overall for the season
Alex: 18th Sophomore D2/20th overall for the season
Jack: 1st Freshman D2/1st overall for the season
Reilly: 21st Freshman D2/21st overall for the season
Bianca : 19th overall Freshman Girls/18th overall for the season
Vanessa: DNS/30th overall JV Girls for season
Total Team Points: 9268/5th place overall for the season!
Race Report Race #4 – Cruise the Keys
A long and winding road paralleling the Kern River terminated at the winding trails and windy days of Race #4, held at the Keyesville Recreation Area. This picturesque and rugged race venue offered a whole new set of challenges for our racers, including cows, climbs rocks, sand, water, and the aforementioned wind.
All the elements were in place for a spectacular day of epic mountain bike racing. Would our team be ready to face the 1-2 punch of Mother Nature and Teen Racer? Our squad for the day consisted of five riders, including all the boys, with Reilly representing the fairer gender. Bianca and Vanessa were both travelling for spring break.
Reilly continued to demonstrate her burgeoning skills and fitness on probably the toughest trail she’s ridden on, much less raced. Fighting strong winds, steep ups and downs and a couple of crashes, she persevered as always, finishing a tough lap to garner valuable team points. Bonus: she’s really good at scouting scape-cows and mining rocks rich in quartz!
Though he’s a heavyweight on the bike, Jack was hampered a bit by his lighter stature, less than ideal for fighting a powerful headwind. Evan Williams, Jack’s chief rival this season, turned himself inside out to latch onto Jack’s wheel for a brief time. Though Jack was able to shake him off, the 18 second gap at the finish between him and Evan was by far the smallest of the season so far. This should make for an interesting final race in Los Olivos!
Mr. Alex ‘Consistency’ Foster delivered again, finishing 18th in style as always. Somehow Alex never looks like he’s working hard, but to finish as well as he does on a tough 18 mile race course is far from easy. His teammates can always count on his ability to rack up team points and boost the style factor along the way.
Caden has ridden like a man possessed this season. His worst finish was 5th place in race #1. That “poor” result motivated him to a win in race #2. Ever since, he’s been sparring with Crescenta Valley’s Alexander Derouche, finishing third in Race #3 and second at Keyesville. Currently in second overall, and separated by a mere 65 points from first overall place for the season, it could all come down to the final race of the season, and to which rider is better suited to the steep hills and rolling cow trails of Los Olivos.
When you’re the Top Gun, every Whippersnapper that rolls into town wants to duel. After a 2012 shut-out and a perfect 2013 season through Race #3, it’s been a long time since James had seen anything but the top podium step. This year, all three of the first races have been very close, with James winning by a margin of less than 10 seconds.
Both Sean Bell and Daniel Johnson had attacked and survived James’ counterattacks, and the outcome was never certain until the last 25 meters. At Keyesville, Sean finally found the opening he’d so patiently waited for, and slipped around James for the win. Ever the generous sportsman, James congratulated Sean on his win, then began plotting his winning strategy for the last race.
James: 2nd JV D2/1st overall after 4 races
Caden: 2nd Sophomore D2/2nd overall after 4 races
Alex: 18th Sophomore D2/25th overall after 4 races
Jack: 1st Freshman D2/1st overall for the season after 4 races
Reilly: 21st Freshman D2/23rd overall for the season after 4 races
Bianca : DNS/19th overall Freshman Girls for season after 4 races
Vanessa: DNS/29th overall JV Girls for season after 4 races
Total Team Points: 7431/Currently in 3rd place overall!
Well done one and all! On to Los Olivos!
March 24, 2013
Pity the poor folks who don’t reside here in SoCal. While much of the nation suffered yet another round of winter weather, the intrepid CdM team joined 340 or so other high schoolers for a warm and sunny day at the beach. Granted it was a man-made beach but hey, sand is sand right? Just ask Bianca, whose passion for the grainy stuff runs deeper with each passing day.
Sand, grass, pavement and a bit of dirt made up the most unusual mountain bike race course in the history of the SoCal league. It was exceptionally flat and exceptionally challenging too. Poor Bianca pegged the difficulty level at “puke”, topping out the climb on lap one with a technicolor jettison of her hearty breakfast. It was smoother sailing for her after that pause, and if she struggled with her nemesis (sand), she made it look mostly effortless.
Between the grinding sand, speed-sapping grass, sticky pavement and dusty singletrack, most of the racers crossed the finish line looking downright haggard. Even the strongest racers struggled – after all, when a race course is described as “flat and fast”, that means you have to go fast-er to stay in front. Lap times were blazing, as was the sun. Thank goodness for the cooling effect and wonderful backdrop provided by Lake Perris. It helped to have a carpet of grass under the team pit tents too!
The CdM squad had five racers at the event, with Reilly out with an injury and Vanessa out with an illness.
As mentioned above, Bianca didn’t fully enjoy her ‘Springtime In Perris’ experience. Despite her ups and downs, she remained steadfast and stoic, finishing her race with a smile. The girl has verve, spirit and gumption. What a trooper!
With two convincing wins under his belt so far this season, there was no reason to fear a different outcome at race #3. Except Jack was sick for most of the week leading up to the race, and competed in two road races leading up to the event. Would lingering illness and tired legs be his undoing? It was a bit unnerving at the start, as Jack wasn’t the first racer off the start line and out of the infield area. But when he pedaled off the beach and through the chute on lap one, he was once again comfortably in the lead, a gap he maintained for the second and final lap.
Just like Jack, Alex started the day with a handicap – a sore back from an earlier training ride. As always, Alex’s slacker style saw him through three tough laps in the heat of the day. Even though the course didn’t play to his bike-handling skills, he still managed a respectable finish.
Another nail-biter was set to unfold in the Sophomore Boys race. After taking his first ever win at the last race, Caden was looking to add another check in the win column. Finishing first might even put him in the coveted leader’s jersey. Alas, the mostly flat and easy course wasn’t ideal for Caden, who usually gaps his competition on short power climbs and technical trail sections. Nevertheless, he rode hard and finished on the podium with a very respectable third place.
One more sandy showdown was scheduled for the Sea Kings and Queens: the JV boys race, featuring the unbeaten and seemingly unbeatable James P. James has won race #1 & 2 of the 2013 season, but not by much – just a few seconds in fact. James’ craftiness as a bike racer, honed by scores of tactical road bike races, has served him well. In both earlier races this year, he has entered the last corner of the race course in a close pack, and emerged from traffic free and clear.
The Perris course didn’t offer a tight last turn, relying instead on a sandy ramp onto a long stretch of uphill grass to check the racer’s speed through the finish line chute. So a win here would likely be a pure power play to see who saved the most for the final sprint. Once again James delivered, riding a very smart race to a clean finish.
James: 1st JV D2/1st overall after 3 races
Caden: 3rd Sophomore D2/2nd overall after 3 races
Alex: 20th Sophomore D2/26th overall after 3 races
Jack: 1st Freshman D2/1st overall for the season after 3 races
Bianca: 18th Freshman Girls D2/16th overall after 3 races
Total Team Points: 1801/Curently in 3rd place overall!
Well done one and all! On to Keyesville!
March 10, 2013
Does Mother Nature look fairly upon high school mountain bike races? Not always, as racers and coaches from prior seasons can attest. And while she has acted benevolently more often than less, she doesn’t always play her cards early.
Sycamore Canyon, the venue for race #2, had a “rain cancels” clause in the permit. And with stormy days early in the week, League Director Matt Gunnell was on pins and needles, watching the weather forecast hour by hour. It wasn’t until Friday morning that Sunday’s outlook became clear: sunny skies with possible Santa Ana winds.
Once again, as with race #1 in Temecula, the weather would align with the wishes of 351 racers, their families, friends, coaches and race staffers. One less thing to worry about, and all the better for racers intently focused on winning, placing, showing or just surviving their first or second race of the season.
Each CdM racer woke up Sunday morning intent on accomplishing a goal. Would they meet or exceed their expectations? Only time would tell.
Race #1 saw James hitched onto a train of 4 very fast racers. For 15 miles they sliced and diced, trading the lead position. In the end, James took the win by the narrowest of margins over fellow OC riders Sean Bell and Daniel Johnson.
The question for race #2: could James pull off a repeat performance? Once again, the answer wasn’t clear until the final 50 feet of the race. James, Sean and Daniel merged into a group of slower riders in the final turn, and for a moment it was unclear if any would emerge unscathed. In the end, (was it luck, skill or both?) James had the best position, and broke free from the group and across the finish line first.
It was the most dramatic finish of the day, and it’s clear that these three young men are equally hungry to dine from the top step of the podium.
Ahh…the enigmatic Caden. So chill off the bike and in life. A man of few words who let his riding speak for itself on Sunday. He must have been unhappy with his 5th place finish at race #1, because he left the gate in front and never looked back, taking the victory by just over a minute. A convincing win to say the least.
Jack rode to a convincing win in race #1. Was it a fluke? Did his competition just have a bad day? Or did he have the race of a lifetime? Well, race #2 shed some light – with yet another resounding victory, Jack is clearly the strongest rider in the field. Barring a mechanical or crash, he is clearly the man to beat for the remainder of the season.
Making his 2013 season debut, none other than The Alex Foster. Alex is as laid back as Caden, and his languid style shows up on the bike. He attacked the race with easy grace, finishing well with seemingly little effort. A welcome addition to the team. Great to have you back Alex!
With fellow Sea Queens Reilly and Bianca out with injuries and illness, Vanessa lined up as the sole female rider for the team. No pressure…except her score would weigh heavily in CdM’s overall team results for the day. After pre-riding the course on Saturday, Vanessa felt confident she would finish the race. And finish she did, despite a minor mechanical issue and a couple tip-over crashes. Her performance helped push the CdM team into third place overall for the day!
James: 1st JV D2
Jack: 1st freshman D2
Caden: 1st Sophomore D2
Alex: 22nd Sophomore D2
Vanessa: 26th JV Girls
Total Team Points: 1894
Well done one and all! Onto Perris!
Febuary 24, 2013
Like a desert oasis, the air in Temecula was calm while the rest of Southern California got hammered by relentless winds. Could it be that the combined energy of 349 high school racers, their parents, coaches and friends, was a force greater than nature?
One thing was certain: the air was swirling with a nervous energy as racers and support crew set up their pits, hopped on trainers to warm up, filled their water bottles, snacked on energy food or fine-tuned their bikes. When the first wave of racers took off at 10 AM, the fifth season of SoCal high school mountain bike racing was officially underway!
Way back in 2009 that first season saw a grand total of six racers from Orange County toe the start line. They would go on to win the team trophy for the season, besting the other 75 or so racers from the region. Fast forward to 2013, when over 40 racers comprised the “Orange Tide” inundating the arid, sandy hills of Vail Lake Resort. For CdM and the rest of the Orange County based squads, command central was a combined pit zone of multiple EZ-ups – a mini-city abuzz with teens in various states of being, whether “in the zone” preparing for their race, joking and chatting or basking in the relief and glory of a race well run and done.
The CdM Sea Kings and Queens rode that tide into the race venue with distinct individual goals:
After a perfect 6-0 season and State Champion crown as a Freshman, James returned to Temecula as a JV racer out to prove he can still cut it against a much larger and more competitive class.
The other 2012 alumni, Caden improved his finishing position at at every race in 2012, cracking the top 10 at the third race in 2012 and never looking back. With many miles of riding and training under his belt, Caden arrived at the race ready to throw down in the Sophomore division.
After 4 years of sitting on the sidelines watching his step-siblings compete in the league, this would be his debut on the big stage. Would thousands of miles of training and numerous road races be the right stuff to hold off the onslaught of Freshman?
Vanessa, Bianca, Reilly
Our girls’ goals were all the same: to finish their first-ever mountain bike race, preferably in one piece!
The results? Outstanding, and good enough to put our team in 4th place overall!
James: 1st JV D2
Jack: 1st freshman D2
Caden: 5th Sophomore D2
Vanessa: 24th JV Girls
Bianca: 16th Freshman Girls
Reilly: 17th freshman Girls
Total Team Points: 1866
Well done one and all! Onto Sycamore!
Hello Team Parents!
Want to ride better, safer and more in control? Get off your butt!
A classic mistake for new mountain bikers is to sit on the bike seat when coasting and going downhill.
While it may feel more secure to be sitting, when your butt is on the seat, you’re forfeiting control and balance because:
- Your center of gravity is up high – at seat level as a matter of fact
- When you apply the brakes or hit an object with your front tire, your weight quickly shifts forward onto your hands and arms and ruins your balance
- You’re not using the largest and strongest shock absorbers at your disposal – your legs
- It’s much more difficult to brake and turn the bike properly
To gain bike control and confidence, you’ve got to get low. To get low, you’ve got to get off your butt and stand up.
Sound counterintuitive? Think about center of gravity again – when you stand on your pedals, your weight is on your feet instead of your butt. That makes it much easier to resist the forces of braking and obstacles, and allows the bike to move around underneath you.
So after getting off your butt and standing up:
- Level your pedals so they are parallel to the ground
- Hinge at your hips until your back is flat and parallel to the ground
- Make “chicken wings” with your arms by bending your elbows out to the sides (not straight down)
At this point your butt will be well behind the seat, your weight on the pedals, with legs bent and ready to absorb trail nasties. This riding position requires a strong core and flexible hips, and many riders (including youthful ones) are unable to stay in this low position for very long. So start doing your planks and stretching those hip flexors!
We’ll be working on this fundamental body position throughout the season, and integrating it into braking, turning, climbing and descending.
Thanks to NICA Skills Director and Kung Fu Master Lee McCormack for his wisdom and the photo.