Posted by: cdmmtb | December 7, 2012

Riding Tip of the Day – Get Off Your Butt!

High School coach Josh demonstrates the low standing position on a steep downhill. Imagine how much hairier this would look if if he was sitting upright on his seat!

High School coach Josh demonstrates the low standing position on a steep downhill. Imagine how much hairier this would look if he was sitting upright on his seat!

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:

  1. Level your pedals so they are parallel to the ground
  2. Hinge at your hips until your back is flat and parallel to the ground
  3. 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.


Yes, Virginia, there are high school mountain bike teams right here in Orange County!

Here’s the dirt on the recently concluded 2012 high school mountain bike season:

  • 6 races held in Southern California between February and May 2012
  • Over 20 students from Orange County schools competed in one or more races
  • Over 275 racers from 26 Southern California high schools participated
  • Kids at all levels of skill and fitness raced, many for the first time ever

As big as that sounds, the numbers will be even bigger in 2013. Several OC schools are developing new clubs and teams for next season.  And independent racers who are home schooled or attending a campus without a school MTB club or team can race too.

Interested?  Check out the non-profit SoCal High School Cycling League website.

Posted by: cdmmtb | May 24, 2012

Great States!

Proud coaches and exhausted racers at the 2012 High School MTB State Championships

Kudos to Shane, Caden and James, the three CdM team members brave and committed enough to journey to the 2012 High School Mountain Bike State Championships!   I’m confident all of them would agree the trip was time well spent for a variety of reasons:

  • Shane completed his last race ever in the SoCal High School Cycling League. Shane is one of 4 graduating seniors in the league who attended every league race held during their high school matriculation.   There were about 80 riders total in the league that first year – over 275 competed in 2012!

    Shane and his teammates from 2009, the first year of SoCal league racing

    Caden was looking to finish his first season in the league with the race of his life, and he delivered.  Caden improved his race times consistently throughout the season against incredibly tough competition. His 12th place finish at States is remarkable given the competition and conditions.   I’m confident he will be back with a vengeance in his sophomore year.

    Caden was all business prior to the race start, and went full out the entire race

    Last but not least, our man James put a bow on a perfect season by winning his race at states with the perfect blend of tactics, strength and courage.   Less than a handful of league racers can boast of a shut-out season, and James is one of only two 2012 Socal racers who went 6 for 6.

    James atop the podium for the sixth time in 2012

    All three racers did their school, teammates, parents and coaches proud!  Well done, men!


Posted by: cdmmtb | May 15, 2012

We Made the Papers!

Check out this great article about our team published by the Orange County Register!  Awesome coverage!

Posted by: cdmmtb | May 15, 2012

To Everything, There is a Season

Our first season has officially closed, and what a fun one it was! A brand new team, a cool new jersey, new sponsors, new friends, new racers and lots of first-ever race finishes.

Though we didn’t have the biggest team out there, and while we wished for a girl among our ranks (to improve our overall team score),  what each of you did by joining the team for practices and/or races will have an impact for years to come.

Thing is, this isn’t a one year deal or a limited time experiment.

First, it’s about fun, and there is no expiration date on that.

Second, it’s about your health, and moving the needle away from video games and towards the outdoors.

Third, it’s about pioneering high school mountain biking in Orange County. As part of the first school-based team in the Newport Mesa School District, your legacy is assured.

So, well done to one and all. I hope to see everyone who practiced or raced with us come out next year. We need to double our team size and go after the team prizes!

More to come about our post-season party.


Posted by: cdmmtb | April 17, 2012

How to Improve your Fitness in Just 18 Days!

We have about 18 days until our last race. If you’re willing to put in the time and discipline, you can do a lot over the next 18 days to improve your race fitness. In fact, you can do a few short workouts and gain very real speed and endurance.

Your best shot at improving is by completing a series of short but painful high intensity workouts and allowing plenty of time for recovery between sessions.

This is where the discipline comes into play. It’s much easier to go ride your usual mountain bike loop a couple times during the week, then ride an epic loop on the weekend. Fine and dandy, but if you want to focus on your race results, it’s time for a temporary change in your approach.

Here’s a plan you can adopt and modify as needed. It assumes riding is your primary activity. If you are in track or another high-intensity sport, you can substitute sport-specific intervals for the bike intervals.

45 minute Interval Workout


  • Complete this workout 4 times between 4/17/12 and 4/29/12.
  • Take a 100% rest day after completing this workout
  • This is best performed on a trainer, spin bike or on a bike path without traffic lights or other interruptions
  • If you are performing the intervals outdoors, you can start each interval as a standing sprint, but sit down and continue accelerating for the last 15-20 seconds
  • You should feel like puking after completing your last 30 second interval!

10 min easy warm-up

1 min fast spin @120 RPM

1 min recovery

1 min fast spin @120 RPM

2 min recovery

5 sets of:

  • 30 seconds max intensity at 120 RPM (these should hurt!)
  • 30 seconds recovery

5 minute recovery

4 sets of:

  • 30 seconds max intensity at 120 RPM (these should hurt!)
  • 30 seconds recovery

5 minute recovery

2 minutes @ 100 RPM/medium hard gear

2 minutes recovery

2 minutes @ 100 RPM/medium hard gear

5 minute cooldown

Hill Repeat Workout


  • Complete this workout 1 time between 4/17/12 and 4/22/12
  • Take a 100% rest day after completing this workout
  • This is best performed on a road or mountain bike outdoors
  • Use a hill with a 6-8% gradient – not super steep – the goal is to climb at sub-max intensity for 10-12 minutes per repeat
  • You can also use a milder slope and push a bit harder to increase the intensity
  • Hill candidates:
    • Newport Coast Drive from PCH to San Joaquin Hills (do early in the AM when traffic is light)
    • Bake Parkway from Irvine to Portola (do early in the AM when traffic is light)
    • Aliso Bike Path from Aliso Woods parking lot to Live Oak (milder slope)
    • Blackstar Canyon (off-road)

15 minute warm-up on flat ground

10-15 minute climb at sub-max (7.5/10 on intensity scale)

10 minute recovery (can be rest break if off-road)

10-15 minute climb at sub-max (7.5/10 on intensity scale)

10 minute recovery (can be rest break if off-road)

10-15 minute climb at sub-max (7.5/10 on intensity scale)

15 minute cooldown

If you follow the above program, you’ll complete five quality workouts and get a minimum of five rest days. The other days can be spent doing other activities, including mountain bike rides, but no rides should be longer than two hours in length, and resting is encouraged!

On the weekend of 4/28, we will offer a hill climb workout at Blackstar Canyon. This will be a nice addition to the program, consisting of a 75 minute sustained climb to Beeks Place and a nice easy ride back down.

Note that all these workouts are scheduled to be completed by 4/29/12.

So what will you do for the week leading up to the race? Focus on eating lots of food, including plenty of protein. Go to bed a little earlier than usual, rest after school and mentally prepare for your best race of the season. On the Thursday before the race, if you are too amped up, do a quick interval workout with two to four 30 second intervals, but no more than that. Your goal for the final days is to maximize recovery.

That’s about it. E-mail me if you have questions!

Coach Andy

Posted by: cdmmtb | April 7, 2012

Race Report – Race #3 Keyesville Classic

There were two races held at Keyesville: one versus other kids and one against Mother Nature.  Spectators and racers scanned the skies and weather reports, knowing it was a matter of time before the weather would nasty.  Would all the racers cross the finish line in time?  Or would some end up battling the elements as well as one another?

In the end it was a little of both.  Our Freshmen racers got through their laps relatively unscathed.  In fact, for the early race classes, the course was bone dry and a bit loose in spots.   Where it wasn’t sandy, the track was rutted and rocky, with two steep and technical climbs thrown in to keep everyone honest.

Despite the challenges, our Freshman performed better than ever.  James had a fairly lonely race – with his arch rival Imeh Nsek sitting out this race, James cruised in over 3 minutes ahead of the second place finisher.

Caden enjoyed his best result yet, finishing in the top 10 for the first time against a very tough field.   Caden’s stellar bike handling skills came in handy on this fast and challenging course.

And Alex must love number games, as he’s moved up exactly one position in each of his three races: 20th at Vail, 19th at Hog Canyon and 18th at Keyesville.   At this rate, He’ll be atop the podium in his senior year!

Blue skies were replaced by bruised clouds as Shane and his JV competitors toed the starting line.  The came the rain, and it would fall for the rest of the day.  The previously arid course was quickly transformed into a combination of hero dirt (good) and wet, heavy sand (bad) that fouled chains and crushed spirits.

Shane persevered as always, riding well but suffering a mechanical on the last lap that cost him a position or two.

The other great performance of the day was the amazing and awesome pit zone location and construction masterminded by the parents of the South County Composite Team.  We all had front row seats to the start/finish chute, walled canopies that kept us dry and out of the wind, a dedicated warm-up area and a bunch of grateful kids.


Official league race report:

Race Photos: buy one and support Phil:





Posted by: cdmmtb | March 21, 2012

Planning and Preparation – The Key to Keyesville

Some of the sweet singletrack of the Keyesville Classic. Photo courtesy of Stephen Messer.

Race #3 is just around the corner.  Spring has officially sprung, but Mother Nature might not consult her calendar in time to adjust the weather dial for Sunday’s race.

Having your body and your bike prepared for racing in the cold and wet could save your race and/or help you gain a few spots over lesser prepared competitors.


First and foremost, prepare yourself by having the following apparel items with you. You may not use them all but having them packed in a separate bag ensures you’ll have them if you need them.

Remember, NO COTTON!  Smartwool stuff is truly amazing, a bit more expensive but lasts forever and works the best.

1. Arm warmers  

2. Knee warmers

3. Lightweight, breathable but water-resistant jacket

4. Water resistant winter gloves – not so thick that braking and shifting is impeded

5. Neoprene socks or thin plastic bags for wrapping your feet before putting bike shoes on

6. Earband or thin skullcap to fit under helmet

7. Thin base layer shirt to wear under your jersey -such as a Smartwool or UnderArmor shirt

8. Warm dry clothes and towels for post-race clean-up

9.  Clear lenses for your sunglasses and anti-fog treatment (available at REI)

If there is any amount of rain in the area, there will be water crossings on the course – there were last year and shoes will get wet if not soaked.


Tires – most tires that come with bikes these days are great all-around designs that are adequate in sloppy conditions. If your bike has a semi-knobby or very low profile knob, I recommend changing at least the front tire to something beefier, such as a Specialized Captain, Ground Control or Purgatory.

Drivetrain – make sure your chain, chainrings and derailleur pulleys are clean and properly lubed before heading up to the race. No matter how you prepare, if it rains your drivetrain will cake with grit and mud and may cause  shifting problems, but at least you’ll start with the best possible foundation.  I recommend a medium weight lube, not wax based, but not synthetic either, as the cleanup is a nightmare.

Front fender – this is strictly optional and maybe overkill, but again if it’s raining or sloppy, a front fender can really save your eyesight and keep you a bit drier to boot.

You can fashion a cheap and simple downtube-mounted fender using a 2 litre soda bottle cut into a large curved piece zip-tied onto the downtube behind the front tire.

Posted by: cdmmtb | March 16, 2012

League Report on race #2 Features CdM Rider

Check out the race report published by the SoCal High School Cycling League for the Hog Canyon Classic.  It includes an interview with freshman James P.


Posted by: cdmmtb | March 14, 2012

Race Report – Hog Canyon Classic

What more can you ask for?  A beautiful day spent in a lush and scenic state park doing what you love.  No, not HOMEWORK, silly.  I’m talking about racing mountain bikes!

Though this was our second race, it was full of firsts:

  • The first time a SoCal league race has been held in a State Park
  • The first mountain bike race ever for Dustin and Michael
  • The (second) First Place for James
I don’t know about you, but I thought the course was one of the funnest I’ve ever ridden.  The climbs were tougher than they appeared, but every one of them was followed by ripping roller coaster slot car descents  – the stuff of dreams.
Compared to race #1, there was quite a bit more climbing on each lap.  Yet all of our returning racers were able to stay very close to or improve their times versus the first race:
Shane: +39 seconds vs. Race #1
James: -35 seconds vs. Race #1
Caden: +43 seconds vs. Race #1
Alex:  +145 seconds vs. Race #1
Patrick: +132 seconds vs. Race #1
And nothing gives your coaches greater pleasure than watching you complete your first ever mountain bike race wearing a smile, so kudos to Dustin and Michael for stepping up to the plate and swinging away.  Job well done!

Not having a girl on our team really handicaps our team score, yet we’re still in 10th place overall after two races.   That speaks volumes about your effort and consistency.

You do your coaches and parents proud.  Keep training, improving and having fun!

Coach Andy

Link to results page

Link to race photos

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »