Mammoth National Championships, Experience of a Lifetime- Jake’s Blog

IMG_4860This year’s National Championship Race Events were awesome and unique! Right from the start, I could tell that this year’s National Championships were going to be great!  For the first time in 5 years that USA Cycling was holding the gravity an endurance races at the same venue.  We were there for a full week to take in this unique experience!

Day: 1 Monday: We arrived late Monday morning at Mammoth Mtn and went to pre-ride the XC race course.  The race course was really fun!  1/8 of a mile from the start you went up a steep fire road climb,  turned onto a singletrack climb. You follow the single track climb until you hit another steep fire road and then follow that to the top.  IMG_4635The descent was super fun and technical with lots of huge washboards, rock gardens and rutted powdery corners. We spent most of our day finding the fast lines on the descent and getting them dialed in for our Race.

Day: 2 Tuesday: We spent the morning practicing the most technical rock garden on the Shotgun Trail, which was part the  XC  course descent so we could go through it as fast as possible. After that, we practiced Nye’s Short Track course.  Afterwards, we talked, hung out and relaxed with our Uncle Tim for the rest of the day.

Day: 3 Wednesday: To keep my legs and body in top physical condition, Dad and I went and rode Uptown, Beach Cruiser, Bering Straits, and down Off the Top to Beach Cruiser trails on Mammoth Mtn. We made it over half way up the Mountain and looked over The Minerets.IMG_4586  One back, I helped Nye get warmed up for his Short Track race.  After, I wished him good luck I went to my spectating spot at the top of the climb so I could have a good view of Nye’s race.  I watched Nye as he raced his way from a 20th place early on in the first lap to a solid 12th place in the 13-14 age group!

Day: 4 Thursday, XC race day:        We prepared our bikes for the XC race, and then we went over to the race venue. At noon I went over to the staging chute with an umbrella to keep cool from the super hot Sun.

IMG_5194As I waited for my 1:00 start I stood alone for half an hour, because It was important for me to get there early, so that after the top 16 racers were called up I would be the next person to line up,  At 12:45 they lined up the 16 call up list racers, and I was ready to move when they called up the last racer so that I could get the best starting spot. It didn’t happen like that.  After the 16 racers were called up, the race official kept on calling people’s names to stage! The rules clearly stated that only the top 15 racers and the previous year’s National Champion would be called up, but the race official kept calling people up, so I ended up around thirtieth and in the 5th row!  I was so mad USA Cycling messed up their own rules and that I waited an hour for Nothing!  In the beginning of the first lap I stayed around thirtieth until the climb when I moved up a few positions. So over the 1st lap I passed racer after racer until I caught the lead group just as we crossed under the finish line which put me in 5th going into the 2nd lap. By the end of lap 2nd  I was in second, and one quarter of the way into the 3rd lap I passed and dropped the race leader. Throughout the remainder of the race, I extended my lead to over 1 minute on second place, and became the Cat 1 15-16 National Champion!IMG_4970                                                                                                                                                    Nye, at the young age of 12 raced hard, and managed to place 13th in the 13-14 category.  There was no time to celebrate because at 4:30 we had our Dual Slalom qualifying for our races on Friday.IMG_4461                                                                  I ended up qualifying 16th in the 15-18 category and Nye was 8 out of 16 in the U14 category!

The awards ceremony for the day’s races wasn’t until 6:30, although it was a short wait, but my anticipation made it seem a long wait.  When I was called up to the podium I was so proud and happy to be able to wear (my 3rd)  Stars and Stripes Jersey again!

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Day: 5 Friday with two races to come I still needed to keep my fitness up. So we went out for an early ride. My Uncle Tim was kind enough to give us a shuttle to the start of the Mountain View Trail which was right next to the scenic overlook of the Minarets!IMG_4876    The Mountain View Trail was super fun and flowy, it was just what I needed to stay amped up for my upcoming races!  Our Dual Slalom race was at 2:30. IMG_4474I had the 16th fastest qualifying time so I had to race the fastest qualifier.  The race start gate dropped I kept up with my competitor until the lower half of the course until he put a small gap on me. I was pretty happy just to be able to keep up with the racer who eventually won my age group and became the national champion.   I was also happy to have learned to race something new!  Nye did much better than I did he beat his first competitor, but he lost to his second competitor who went on to be the National Champ, and Nye ended up 8th (he might have placed higher but he had a small crash) out of 16 racers which I thought was great!

Day: 6 Saturday. The only practice times for the Enduro were from 6:00pm until dark on Friday and Saturday.  Friday I need to get some rest and recovery so I didn’t practice.  Dad and I decided to pre ride the Enduro Course on Saturday, when I wasn’t tired from my XC and Dual Slalom race. At 6:00 Saturday night me and dad went to practice all 4 of the Enduro stages before dark, which was going to be a huge feat and an adventure, for sure.  We quickly learned how technical and crazy the stages were!  Each stage held its own set of challenges. Stage 1 was super technical, with tons of rock drops, root drops, rock gardens, roots, jumps and steep descents!  It was the Pro Downhill Line, so hard it made a former World Masters Champion say “it’s a handful”!  I’d have to say I agree!  Stage 2 was the most pedaly stage, and was my favorite because there was a big drop onto a wooden ramp!IMG_5090 When I first came up to the drop I thought “that looks hard!” but after I jumped and cleared it, I was thinking how I couldn’t wait until race day to shred it again!  Stage 3 was another pedaly stage.  There wasn’t anything technical until the lower half of the course, where fun was kicked up a notch.  There were lots of concrete paver birms, steep descents with tons of rocks, roots and drops, which all were super fun.  The stage ended on the lower half of the Dual Slalom, which was awesome! It was rad to finally have a really unique race course!  Stage 4 was a lot like Stage 1. It was gnarly, with drop after drop, it made me have to stay completely concentrated. After going through a rock garden, the course came to a fire road and followed that most of the way down the mountain. The last part of the stage was SO FUN!  After getting off of the fire road the trail dropped down the side of the hill and hit a couple huge table tops and then descended down a steep, loose and rocky decent down to the finish!  We finished the pre-ride just as it got dark, but even if it had gotten dark we were prepared to keep riding, because we had our awesome Light and Motion bike lights to light our way!

Day: 7 Sunday’s Enduro went great for me! Being the first ever National Championship Enduro race I was inspired to do my absolute best!  Stage 1 went good, I cleared every obstacle except  a set of two rock drops where I lost all of my speed in some really deep crushed granite just before them.  Aside from that my run went great and I flew through all of the other obstacles with ease!IMG_5206  I having a great time on Stage 2.  I went as fast as I could through all of the pedaly sections, and I was so happy when I finally hit the big wooden drop and cleared it!  On the super steep, loose and rutted finishing descent I went faster than I thought was possible for myself!  On Stage 3. I had a great run and blew through all of the obstacles until I hit a rock too hard and sliced my tire, but thankfully it didn’t go flat until I crossed the finish line.  I quickly fixed and headed up for my last run!  I had my best run on Stage 4. I nailed all of my lines, hammered the road sections and flew down the last steep, rock and loose descent! In the end, I had a ton of fun and I ended up 14th out of 37 racers in the 15-18 class!

IMG_4613This year’s Nationals was awesome!  I had so much fun, I learned about racing in a Gravity discipline, I rode some of the most Crazy trails of my life and I became a National Champion for my 3rd time!  I am already really looking forward to next year’s National Championships and I hope they will be as fun and unique as this year’s were!

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Marin Bikes In Downieville—Nye’s Blog

imagePrevious visits to Downieville have been great, the trails were super fun and the people were very friendly.  We’ve done training camps similar to this one before.  I’m going to tell you about our weekend training on our Marin Bikes in Downieville and all the fun we had!

imageTraining for The Downieville Classic was a blast!  I was looking forward to riding the trails for a long time! The trails there are super fast and have lots of technical features on them.  There’s a little of every style on the trails, flowing, rocky, optional jumps and several sections with water flowing down them.  So basically the trails were RAD!!!  I shredded down the trails thanks to my sweet Marin CXR 29er Hardtail Cross Country Bike!  Everyone their rides a full suspension bike on the course, but my Team Director felt that I would benefit from riding a hardtail and gain time over the entire course rather than just those few section technical sections where one or few seconds a full suspension bike might gain here or there on the descent.  Riding my Marin CXR Hardtail also has helped polish skills because I couldn’t just barrel down the trail without watching out for obstacles like I can more easily do on a full suspension.   I had to maneuver through rock gardens and bunny hop roots.  We stopped at several spots to find optional lines and practice them.  I think I should be well dialed for the race.

imageSince he is racing the All Mountain class (which includes separate Cross Country and Downhill Courses) Jake is riding his Marin Attack Trail Enduro Bike and he was tearing up the trails during our practice camp.  He still can race up the climbs really fast!   From watching him behind going down the descents and from what he told me after the ride his bike was fantastic, racing through rock gardens and jumping over roots super well!   He said it glided around corners and kept his momentum, jumping off of roots and ledges was simple, I could see that!

imageThere are lots of fun things to do in the Downieville area, right where we camped at Union Flat Campground there was a great swimming hole.  In the middle of the river there was a big boulder and we jumped off of it into the river!  We enjoyed that!  We saw people dredging for gold in the river.  That looked cool.  In Downieville we stopped by 49 wines to say hi to our friend Will Clark, my parents enjoyed a couple of beers while we had some ice cream.  We had a good time talking with him and walking around.  Our dog Rex had a great time too, chasing squirrels and chipmunks around the campground.  He didn’t like the river though.

imageJake and I are really excited to race at Downieville again this year.  I’m going to only race Cross Country because the Experts and Pros are the only ones who can race it.   Last year Jake became the Downieville Champion in the Sport U18 category and 2nd overall in sport!  My goal is to follow in his footsteps and become this year’s Sport U18 Downieville Classic Champion!

imageDoing training at Downieville was super fun.  We believe that the Marin CXR Hardtail is a perfect choice for the Cross Country and because they threw in a 20 mile downhill race based on the results for the Cross Country race the Marin Attack Trail Enduro Bike was perfect for that.  I just love going to Downieville, the trails are fantastic, the people are nice and the river is super fun and cooling.

Our Day Will Come—Nye’s Blog

IMG_4258Patience is A Virtue! Since I started racing, I’ve raced against people who have been several years to several decades older than me. I’ve had trouble sometimes understanding that losing to people who are years older than me is nothing to be ashamed of. In bicycle racing when your my age patience is always a virtue.
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When we lived in the Four Corners area in Colorado and did races there the lowest category was under 18. I first did some kids races and did really well and I wanted to race some more. When I began racing (in Colorado and New Mexico) against 18 year olds and adults I did really well, too! I was racing against 18 year olds but the caliber of my fields need to be greater. I usually won or was on the podium because of that. It was hard racing against some of the kids in Colorado who were that much older than me and really fit. Those races were rare around where we lived. I raced against adults a lot too! I usually beat them, but they weren’t Cat 1 or 2.  After 5 years of racing there we moved to Reno to find more races that where closer to where we lived.

Sea Otter 102Racing in California was a lot different, I was super fit from racing kids (and adults) who were much older than me,  but, when I didn’t win or be on the podium and that disappointed me. That continued and I lost some  confidence. I got bummed out after every one of those races and I didn’t put it in perspective. We occasionally did a race where it was my age group were I did well and my confidence grew a bit but, then I lost it when I got beat by higher aged or cat racers. That made me impatient not doing more races where I was going to podium and I got bummed. I never put it in perspective because these kids where just as old as the kids I was racing in Colorado but a lot more fit.

Version 2This year we are racing Enduro to rekindle our technical skills growing up on Moab and Colorado tough trails and to have a new form of fun. Our first Enduro race was the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. I felt great doing practice runs on it and it was super fun, I placed 14th and that wasn’t what my goal was and I was bummed out the rest of the day. I should have been proud of myself, beating almost half of the field and the category was U18!  It was the same in a the next couple Enduro races I did. My parents kept telling me I did great, especially since I was racing 18 year olds, I new when I raced against kids my age I was always beating them. I finally thought about what they said and it was true. I should have been stoked I was placing as high in the races as I did in, since I was racing 18 year olds!

IMG_4235Have fun racing, don’t be sad when you place below adults and teenagers many years older than you. If you had fun, did your best and felt like you did well, let that determine how you feel, not your result. To all of you younger racers out there, remember, patience is a virtue. Our day will come!

Point of Fact, Preparation Pays- Jakes Blog

imageThe Scott Enduro Cup in Sun Valley Idaho last weekend was awesome! They had a great race venue, and the trails were really unique and fun! Not only did I have an outstanding race but I received reassurance that PREPARATION PAYS OFF!

Let’s take a flash back to the Wildwood Enduro, to show how much not preparing can cost you. We arrived at the Wildwood Enduro venue noon, the day before the races started and inadvisably we only were able to pre ride one of 8 stages. That turned out to be a huge mistake, because I didn’t preride 7 out of 8 stages. So at Sun Valley Enduro, unlike at the Wildwood Enduro where we didn’t pre ride the course,  we were determined not to make the same mistake twice!

imageWe arrived in Sun Valley Idaho late Wednesday afternoon two days before the races started. On Thursday we went out and rode the Backcountry Stages. Stage 1 was very pedaly during the beginning of the stage. Once it started going down, the trail turned very steep with lots of baseball sized rocks. Stage 2 had 30 seconds of pedaling right off the gun. Then it turned into a super, steep, narrow and rocky trail. After about a mile there was a steep 15-20 percent grade climb then back to a steep descending trail to the finish line. Saturday was the Resort day so all of the stages were on the ski mountain. With no chair lift running we rode up 10 miles with 4,000 ft of climbing, but since one of the 3 stages was closed we only rode 2 stages. Stage 2 had a mile and a half, nearly flat section of trail  before the tight and windy single track began, and continued for 3 miles. Stage 3 was a 5 mile long, on an exposed hillside, twisty loose and very pedaly stage and it was super important to pre-ride.

The Enduro Cup had only one class for Juniors, 18 and under, as a 14 yr old I knew I alway have to be at my best against my older competitors and PREPARATION is a must!  When day 1 started I was confident that our pre-riding would pay off, and it did! On stage one all of my lines were smooth and I had the 2nd fastest time.image Stage 2 was super fun and techy, but I felt like I had a great run. In the end I came away 3rd!  So for day 1, I was sitting in 3rd overall, 8 seconds behind 2nd. Pre-riding the course was paying off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

imageDay two was very hard! Stage 3 (the one we didn’t pre-ride). Was by far the most technical, especially with nearly the entire trail covered in baseball sized stones and blown out tight corners. I had a hard time on that stage. The rocks were difficult to maneuver through, and I was being jolted and bounced all through the stage. After that stage I looked at results and was 8th place in that stage now 40 seconds behind 2nd. If wanted to get second place back I was going to have to go full-out! But I had high hopes because I was one of the few racers that pre-rode stages 4 and 5 which were so pedaly the could have been part of a XC race course. On stage 4 I felt awesome. Being a XC racer defiantly helped me do well on this pedaly stage. I came in 4th and the top 4 were all within ten seconds of the winner. On stage 5 I felt even better than stage 4. I pedaled on every section possible and when I finished I literally fell to the ground from exhaustion! My time was only 2 seconds from the winners time! I thought about how much that stage would have sucked if I haven’t pre ridden it. By the end of the day I had placed 2nd 15 seconds ahead of 3rd! If that doesn’t show that Preparation Pays Off I don’t know what will!

imageThe Scott Enduro Cup in Sun Valley is the Perfect example of how pre-riding and preparing pays off and in the converse the Wildwood Enduro, where I finished 7th shows the opposite.   Without pre-riding stages 4 and 5 there was no way I would have made up 40 lost seconds and gained 15 seconds on the rider who was in third! Now that I have proved to myself and every one reading that Preparation Pays Off, I’m never going to be unprepared (if it’s at all within my power) again!