Author Archives: dougdiego

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Odin Simms

After having missed two days of school and Friday’s practice because I was sick, I went into the race less confident than the practice races.  After the pre ride, I was exhausted, further worsening my confidence.  

My goal for the race was to have a good start and clip into my pedals.  On the day of the race, I accomplished one of these two goals. After successfully clipping into my pedals, I sprinted to the entrance of the single track and immediately crashed, causing a massive pile up.  I got back on my bike and started going again.

After completing a full lap and a half, I passed the feed station and going into the next turn, I crashed again and was passed by two riders. I got back on my bike, again, and finished the race.  I placed 20th. I wasn’t happy with this placement and felt like I rode pretty sloppy. I wish I hadn’t crashed twice, because I feel like I could have placed much better if I hadn’t. Overall, I can’t wait to keep pushing myself and ride better.  Congratulations to everyone who raced.


Granite Bay 2/23/2020 – Tobin Power

Photo by Rich Hallock

I was excited for my first MTB race ever. We pulled up to the event, and it was like all my tiredness from waking up at 5 am went away. There were tents everywhere with music playing, hundreds of people on bikes, and the cold wind blowing on me. I had put my bike in another car, so I set off to find it in the massive parking lot. Eventually I spotted my bike on top of a roof rack and got it down and registered it.

I warmed up with some teammates and did laps of the parking lot and a rocky straightaway. When 9:00 approached, we all headed down to the start line. I started from the back unfortunately, and waited for our group’s turn.

When the countdown came, I had some butterflies, but they all disappeared as soon as I put my foot down on my pedal. I sprinted forward, navigating my way through the field. I found a nice open pocket and drafted on Jacob. On the first turn, I lost him but kept in the lead pack for the straightaway. Entering the singletrack, there was a major slowdown. Me, being pretty new on clips, had to unclip and put my foot down. A few riders passed me as I slowed down a bit too much, but I was soon back with the pace. I raced head to head with Kaz and Lucas. I was on their tail the whole way up until the downhill, where Lucas dropped me.

Eventually, I started hitting some slow adults. It was a pain to pass since it was all very narrow. I think I lost a lot of time on the leaders because of this, and this was the first setback of my race. Lap 1 felt like forever, especially since I was riding it blindly. I was a bit nervous going through the giant granite rocks since I hadn’t had any previous insight on what line to take. After not really passing anyone except for slow adults and a few others of my category, I reached the beach. Making the sharp left turn out of the forest was sketchy, and I came into it way too fast. I slowed down and slid out off the track. I bounced up immediately and got back on my bike.

The beach was horrible, riding on sand and loose rock. A pounding headache and the sun beating down didn’t help either. I was completely gassed going onto the road, but that was the recovery area for the course. I took a few sips of water, and did the lap all over again. This time, I knew what I was doing slightly more. I battled with a few Berkeley kids and this one kid who was just there to race. Sadly, the beach was not any easier, nor any more forgiving. I was cautious about the turns, but it still got me. My tires slipped and I fell into a pile of rocks. I saw multiple riders pass me including Odin, so I quickly shook it off and started racing again. I was able to pass the people that passed me before, but the sandy doubletrack caused some more trouble for me. My tires kept sliding around, and at one point, it was basically all the way around. But thankfully, the race was almost over.

I powered through the last section, but I had already been passed by two people. I saw the final turn off and sprinted to the finish line. Crossing it was an amazing feeling. I had no idea how well I had done, so I just hoped I did well enough to satisfy myself. 17th, not bad for a first race where I had no clue what the course is like, and crashing twice. I’m glad I went and now I have the race experience so I can prepare better for Redding.

CCCX 2/9/2020 – Cate Flowers

First of all they really should not put the girls in the back where we have to pass almost the whole field to compete with the guys☹️ Sooo my race was a lot more tiring then I expected and a loooooot longer😂😂 I’m used to cross country races which are around 25 minutes max so it was hard for me to keep up my adrenaline for almost an hour.

When we started EVERYONE started SPRINTING and I didn’t want to be in the waaay back so I started sprinting as well which was not the best decision😂 I got into a pretty good rhythm when I finished the first half lap and I was about the same speed as this other girl in blue and orange. The course was relatively smooth and super fun because it had a bunch of twisty turns that I went around a bit fast and there wasn’t a lot of climbing. It was really sweet to see people cheering on the sides but also PRESSURE when I passed them☺️ In the third lap(?) I was feeling a little bad and I was going a looot slower then the first lap but I saw Eric and Zephyr and Todd and Helen and Tenzin along the way at some point in my race. I think I didn’t finish all the laps I was supposed to? Because a bunch of fast people finished after me and I really was not going fast😂

Anywaysss there was this one hill that I always had to walk the last foot and a different hill that I made it up!!! And there was a lot of bushes everywhere which was fun and the girl in orange and blue fell into one😬 we were pretty much the same level and kept passing each other but at the bushes I passed her and didn’t see her again.😂 Sooo my first mountain bike race was twisty and confusing but super fun!😄

CCCX 2/9/2020 – Felix Bloemraad

We arrived to the race in freezing temperatures. The organizers wouldn’t accept the form that I had filled out at home, but my hands were so cold that I could barely even sign my name on the new form they gave us. My bike was on a different car, which hadn’t arrived yet, so I tried to warm myself up as best as I could. When my bike did arrive, I pre-rode the track with Noah and Zephyr, trying to get a feel for it.

At around 9 o’clock, there was some general confusion about where the starting line was. By the time we got there, some people were already lined up, but there was an actual start line. It seemed like a long wait at the starting line, but eventually someone called us forward. In the initial sprint on the road, I managed to stay right behind Zephyr, but entering the singletrack someone in front of me crashed and I lost him. I heard some more crashes from behind me, but luckily I wasn’t slowed down too much.

The first part of the trail was pretty flat, with one small downhill, then a smaller uphill. By the end of the uphill, I got a pretty bad headache, and had to slow down a little. The rest of my first lap was pretty uneventful. By the second lap my headache was gone and I was passing some people. In my third lap, I sprinted most of the second loop, only to be told that I had one more lap. Thankfully, the course was pretty flat, and I recovered quickly. I crossed the finish line for the last time with a group of three other riders, all of us sprinting to come in first. I had run out of water on my last lap, so the first thing I did was get some more, before heading back to the starting line to cheer on Cat 1 and 2 riders.

CCCX 2/9/2020 – Violet Reed

I slept most of the way to Fort Ord so when we got to the race parking I was still half asleep. It was about 38 degrees if I remember correctly, so it was really cold. I warmed up for about 20 minutes before the race and then pulled up to the starting line. I was a little nervous because I was sick but other than I felt good.

You could tell it was a little bit disorganized because there wasn’t a actual marked starting line and there was lots of different people telling the riders lots what to do. I was up in the very front until someone told me that the girls started in the far back.

That might sound fine but it meant the the girls were put behind the 45(?) and older and the little kids. Which means I can’t complete with the guys my age which is the bulk of the competition for me. I really didn’t like that.

The race start was fine overall until I started to be challenged by one of the girls. She passed me going into the first turn and then I got stuck behind a little kid and their dad who WOULD NOT let me pass.

With some effort I passed them and could still see the girl(her names Maddy by the way). I kept hitting traffic with over protective fathers and their kids who wouldn’t let me pass to save my life, so I lost sight of Maddy which made me frustrated.

The starting half lap and first lap went just like that, passing little kids around every turn.
The second lap thinned out a lot. This is where I started to feel the effects of being sick. I was coughing and sneezing a lot which didn’t feel good. What did feel good was knowing I was maintaining a second place position in my first unofficial race.

Halfway through the second lap Elizabeth caught up to me for second but she disappeared very soon after. I knew that with Elizabeth catching me other girls would be close so I sped up.

Hearing cowbells and teammates cheering me on was a huge motivator to keep going and after my second lap I had to keep reminding myself that there was only one lap left. The last lap was really hard.

It was getting windier which was picking up dust that was going into my eyes and lungs. I started to develop back pain which made my back ache going up hills. Halfway through the last lap to see who was behind me and it was another girl which really spooked me.

I sprinted for a hot minute to get some distance. That’s when I heard cowbells. I switched into my largest gear and sprinted the last 30 seconds of the race to the finish line. It took up all of my energy. But when I crossed the finish line I felt so accomplished. I knew I came in second and it was all worth it in the end.

I got a medal and a sick t-shirt(which I learned I shouldn’t have gotten but who cares). All the other girls were super nice and it was a really good first race.

CCCX 2/9/2020 – Tristan Schonfeldt-Aultman

Photo by Paul Gilbert-Snyder

I was very anxious and intimidated by the CCCX race. It was my first race and I was not feeling prepared to race against such fast people. I began to feel better after warming up, but the thought never left my mind. Am I good enough?

After we all lined up at the start, each group of riders shot off as the whistle blew. When my group left, we all started going really fast. We tried to get ahead of one another before the entrance to the single track. When I got to the single track I was behind Jens and continued to follow him for a while.

However, when a sandy turn appeared around a corner I did not slow down in time and slid out. I quickly got back on my bike and continued ridding, but three people had passed me. Soon later, I fell again when I followed someone through a grassy corner which exited into a sandpit.

By the end of the first lap Finn was right behind me, and stayed there for a long time, encouraging me. When I reached for my water bottle, it was not there. I knew then that it had fallen out when I had fell. My spirits dropped a little, and I considered what it would feel like to ride the rest of the race without water, but luckily Finns parents had seen that I lost my water bottle and gave me another one. This made me so happy, and I was prepared to push on.

After Finn had passed me and I rode into a bush and fell again after a turn, there was a big gap between me and anyone else. I thought I only had one lap left, but I actually had two left. I had used most of my energy for that second to last lap and ended up going slow on the last lap. Ridding this fast for so long was completely new to me. It was much different than cross country, but it felt easier and more fun.

Suddenly out of the blue, somebody appeared behind me and passed me. This was the last part of the race and I was determined to get in front of him before the finish line. I kept following him at a distance, but right as the end was approaching I passed him at the top of an uphill slope. I sprinted to the finish line and finished in 7th place, I was happy with the outcome of the race. I look very forward to racing again.

CCCX 2/9/2020 – Doug Diego

Photo by Paul Gilbert-Snyder

I’ll go first this year and kick off the riders stories, as the coaches only get to do the practice races. I arrived at Fort Ord to see many riders with their fresh race plates riding excitedly around. For close to half the team this was their first race ever. It was not my first ride at Fort Ord, but it was my first race there.

I found a few riders and did a pre-ride with them. The course didn’t have much climbing. It was a fast ride with lots of flowing single track. Riding in Tilden, we don’t get much of this. We’re used to hills and fire roads.

The first start was casually organized. The riders just lined up where they thought the start was at about the time listed in the race flyer. About 10 minutes after the scheduled start time, the race official came out and organized everyone. Shortly after, they were off. I rode around the course to watch riders go by and cheer them on.

I did my warm up with other riders from the team. Our race start was just as confusing as the first, but we were eventually organized and sent off. At the start, I kept John in my sight hoping to keep pace with him. I kept up with him for almost 2 laps before falling back from his group.

With the pressure off, I still rode hard, but enjoyed it a bit more. It was fun to see many riders from the team when we passed at intersections. It was also nice to have a crowd cheering me on. Each time I rode past someone I knew I tried to work on my race face smile, but I suspect I’ll crack up when I see those photos.

I finished feeling good about my race, and excited for all of my teammates. Overall the team did great. Many completed their first race. Many made it on the podium. I saw a lot of accomplished racers out there today. I hope all had as much fun as I did.

What’s in Neils Bag?

If you’ve ever ridden with Coach Neil, you’ll know that he carries a pack with a complete bike shop inside it.  I’m constantly amazed with the amount of stuff he carries for just about every situation.  He was generous enough to write up what he carries.


  • Allen and Torx keys for all fasteners on the bike except the very largest one (I carry 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 & T20, T25, though I have found need for a 10mm allen a couple times and had to MacGyver a work around)
  • Folding multi-purpose tool with pliers, a blade, and some other items.  Mine has metal and wood saw blades, several screw drivers, and scissors – it’s basically a Swiss Army knife built into the handle of folding pliers.  I use the pliers and a small flat blade screwdriver most often.
  • Chain tool – could be on a multi tool or separate
  • Tubeless valve core removal tool – this one comes in handy with pumps like my Lezyne, which thread onto the valve stem and occasionally remove it when disconnecting the pump or when the valve core needs to be replaced due to the tip being broken off or sealant clogging it
  • Tubeless tire plug kit – there are a variety of these out there with different pros and cons but this is majorly important for me as I have put holes in countless tires
  • Tubeless tire sealant (2-4 oz bottle) – whatever I can do to avoid tubing a tire the better.  Few people check their sealant status and it dries out, so having a refresh available can mean the difference between tubing a tire and risking flatting the tube and continuing the ride
  • Chain lube: I use this for its intended use as well as general purpose oil.  I’ve opened stuck bearings and squirted some in, put it on pedals or cleats when they get caked in dried mud or sand and are not releasing well, and used it on various squeaks and creaks that come up.
  • High Volume Pump – at least as high volume as you can get with a mini pump.  Basically the longest that will fit in my pack and largest barrel diameter.  Should be labeled as an mtb pump.  The tiny micro pumps are sort of passable for road tires, but flats happen fairly regularly off road and it sucks to work with those with large volume tires.
  • Shock Pump: Not really mission critical, but I have typically carried this with me over the years.  My current pack doesn’t fit it well when the water bladder is full, so it’s not always in there currently.  Of this list, this is the least important for team rides.  More of a peace of mind item for back country rides or when taking potential customers out on demo rides and needing to setup suspension for them.


  • Tube (2 for backcountry rides) – absolute last resort option if plugs and adding sealant fail
  • Complete tubeless valve
  • Valve core
  • Chain quick link & ideally a couple chain links
  • Brake caliper mounting bolts (M6 x ~18mm)
  • Disc brake rotor bolts (M5x ~10mm)
  • Shimano SPD cleat
  • Shimano SPD cleat bolts (M5 x ~10mm flat head)
  • Fiber Fix replacement spoke (I’ve carried these for years but I can’t remember using one)
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Chainring bolts (though these are not relevant to most current team bikes)
  • I also have a few random fasteners that are specific to the gearbox system and replacement springs for chain tensioners

Nutrition (Fueling) and avoiding GI issues

Good hydration helps your body to perform well in all aspects of your life. Whether it’s on the bike or in the classroom, your mood as well as your mental and physical performance benefit from adequate hydration. Try to drink throughout the day, so that you never really get very dehydrated. Be sure to have a glass or bottle of water (8-16 oz) in the last couple of hours before riding, and another one in the few hours before that. In general, try to average about 12-16 oz every 2-3 hours that you’re awake and a little more while you ride.

While riding in cool weather, you should have 1 bottle every 1-1.5 hours of riding. You may need up to 2-3 bottles per hour in warm weather. In cool weather, plain water or a sports drink mix are both fine. For shorter, easier rides just one bottle of water will be good, because you don’t really need any extra electrolytes or calories for those easy rides. In warmer weather or during very hard workouts, it is good to have a drink mix with electrolytes and some sugar to help absorb and retain the water more effectively. You will also want to take in some fluids after riding. After racing, hard workouts, or longer rides in hot weather, you will be low on fluids and may want 2 bottles or more in the first 30-60 minutes after finishing the ride.

Most of the time when you’re not riding, focus on drinking water. Sugary drinks like sodas or most juice drinks are high in empty calories and not good for you. During exercise, some sugary drinks may be okay, but usually most sports drink mixes are much lower in sugar than any soda. Except for the times that you are riding or immediately after you finish your ride, it will be good to mostly avoid extra sugars and focus on just drinking water.

Eat properly before training and racing to maximize energy and get the optimal benefits of training. Your body cannot adapt and get stronger and fitter from training if you do not eat healthy and appropriate foods before, during, and after your training rides and races. It’s good to have a balanced mix of fats, protein, and slowly digested carbohydrates at every meal. This ensures that your body receives an evenly distributed amount of energy throughout the day, rather than quick highs and big crashes from a high sugar diet. Always try to include a lot of vegetables and some fruits in your diet. Try to avoid processed foods, and instead choose natural plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, maybe some fish, poultry, or meat products. You will be healthier and fitter in the long run if you eat mostly unprocessed foods and avoid added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and artificially added fats.

After any moderate to hard training session, it is good if you can plan a snack or meal so that your body gets in calories and protein when it needs it most to recover, stay strong, and get fitter. If you won’t eat one of your main meals for a few hours after riding, then just having a small snack with some protein and carbs within half an hour is a good option.

When you are training hard, you want to be sure to get enough protein in your diet. This should not be difficult if you eat a mix of different food groups and include beans, nuts, and some meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products every day. If you don’t get at least a few servings of each of these every day, because you have certain dietary needs or restrictions, then you may consider adding a protein powder to your oatmeal or post-workout fruit smoothie. Soy, pea, whey, or other protein powders should all provide adequate amino acids for your needs.

Training day with 9 a.m. morning ride:
Eat a light breakfast 1.5-2 hours before riding that includes a little protein, carbohydrates and fat. Some examples:

  • Oatmeal with nuts and berries
  •  Yogurt, granola, and a banana
  • Eggs with toast and butter or olive oil

Take 1 or 2 water bottles with you on every ride (however many fit on your bike). Take a small snack (a sandwich, bar, banana, cookie, or other small solid food item that will sit well in your stomach while riding). Consider taking some gels, chomps, or a bottle of drink mix if your ride will be hot or exceptionally long or hard.

You can burn anywhere from 200-600 calories per hour, depending on how hard you’re riding, how fit you are, and your size. If you are only riding for an hour or less, then you don’t need to worry about taking in extra calories. If you are riding 2 hours or longer, then most athletes will feel stronger and perform better if they take in some extra calories throughout the ride. It takes time to digest food and absorb calories, so don’t wait until you’re hungry or feeling tired and weak, start eating early in the ride. You can focus on solid foods earlier in rides because that will take longer to digest and will provide more sustained energy. If you are racing or riding very hard, then try to pay attention to your body and eat foods that won’t upset your stomach.
Gels, chews, chomps, and drink mix get digested and absorbed quickly, so they work better for many athletes during hard workouts or races. Don’t rely on these fuel sources, though, for most of your riding calories.

Use the mantra; “Person first, equipment second.” Take care of your needs for fluids, calories, and protein before worrying about cleaning your bike and gear. The sooner you eat the better you will recover. It’s best if you can eat within the first 30 minutes after riding. If you can’t, then at least get something before an hour has passed. If you don’t, then your recovery will be much less effective. Not enough protein or calories keeps your stress hormones elevated. As soon as you step off the bike, the clock starts ticking for your 30-minute window. It’s good to get 20-30 grams of protein and some carbs (with how much depending on the intensity of the workout) then.
You can eat real food or take a prepared recovery product. Milk or yogurt with some cereal or fruit can be good. A fruit smoothie with protein powder is great. A sandwich with some meat or toast with a couple of eggs can work. Pick anything that’s available and includes 300-500 calories and some protein, or if it’s time for a full meal, then that will work well, and you probably don’t need to worry about making any special plans as long as you have several hundred calories and some protein in the meal.
If you have a small snack after riding, then try to plan a full-sized meal within the next 2 hours after that snack. As always, try to include some protein, fat, and carbohydrate, and avoid lots of added sugars and fats. If you are not sure what nutrients are in your food, there are good resources online where you can look up the nutrition facts of any food.

Training day with 4 p.m. after school ride:
Eat a normal (healthy) breakfast and lunch. Pay attention to your body and energy levels. Make sure you are staying hydrated, and pay attention to whether or not it will help you during your ride if you have a piece of fruit, a sandwich, or some other small snack 1-2 hours before the afternoon training session. Not everyone will need a snack at this time, but some people will feel best with a small snack between lunch and afternoon training. Again, always take some ride food and 1-2 bottles on your bike.

Race day:
Think of it the same as a training day, with some changes – read above. Always consider your training days as practice for race days. Your riding and your eating habits can be tested out in training before you implement them on race days.
Know the course ahead of time so you can plan ahead where you can eat and drink. Eat the same type of dinner and breakfast you always eat, don’t change anything up on or right before a race day.
If your race is within 2 hours of breakfast, then there should be no need to eat more. Hydrate and fuel during the race. Leave sugar products to the end, giving you energy to attack and sprint at the end.
If your race is later, eat a snack within 2 hours of the race. For example, toast with butter, a sprinkle of salt, an avocado, or a small sandwich.
Hydrate in the first hour, then hydrate and eat real food during hour 2. Use glucose tablets or blocks in the last 15 minutes for quick energy to attack and sprint.
Recover with the same schedule as a training day; protein within 30 minutes, followed by a real meal within 2 hours.
Limit or avoid:

  • Processed carbohydrates or added sugars, except maybe during training or immediately afterwards for your recovery snack.
  • Regular use of NSAID drugs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen). Basically, all pain-killers except for Tylenol/acetaminophen are NSAIDs.These drugs stop your body’s inflammatory activities, which are instrumental to adapting to training. If you are always taking ibuprofen or naproxen, then you are preventing your body from responding naturally to training by adapting and getting fitter.
  •  New practices on race day. Always try out any eating or drinking strategy or product in training before you try something on a race day. This way you can avoid unforeseen problems with digestion. Nobody wants an upset stomach during a race.

Notes for women:
Hormonal changes can affect your bodies and may make hard training or racing efforts feel more or less difficult on different days. Just pay attention to your body so that you can know when to expect when you will feel normal or good and when you may not feel as strong on your bike.

  • 5-7 days before menstrual period you might need a little extra carbohydrate if you are
    experiencing fatigue.
  • Branched chain amino acids are also helpful if you are making hard efforts in the 5-7 days before
    your period.
  • 3 grams before training, 5 grams after training.
  • Increase your protein intake during your menstrual period.
  • Consider taking a multi-vitamin with iron or an iron supplement if you do not eat much red meat. Even if you do eat meat most days, you may still benefit from going out of your way to add iron to your diet. If you take supplemental iron, it is a good idea to get your blood checked by your doctor a few times each year, maybe at the beginning and the end of the season.

Reach out to other women on the team if you need more support.

Dealing GI Issues

Trail Runner magazine with some guidance on addressing GI issues (upset stomachs and other) experienced while on a ride or run. What the Gut?

Equipment for team rides

What equipment MUST a rider have on team rides?

  • Helmet – Make sure that it fits properly. Two fingers maximum should fit in the slack under the chin when it is buckled up. ( We’ll confirm this in the first practice.)
  • Gloves – Gel padding can help prevent numbness. Full fingered gloves are recommended for mountain biking to protect fingers better in case of crashes.
  • Glasses – Sport-specific. Do not wear glasses made with actual glass; this can be a hazard in a crash. Great options can be found on Amazon for under $20. Ask others what they’re wearing and where they got them.
  • Trailside repair toolkit – Build a kit: spare tube; patch kit; inflator cartridge or hand-held pump; multi-tool; and tire levers. A small saddle bag can be hung under your seat. Riders need to be self-sufficient, coaches assist when necessary but riders need to carry their own gear and be able to fix a flat (don’t worry, we can teach you!).
  • Lights (front and back for early season midweek practices).
  • Hydration pack or water bottle(s)
  • Snack food like a bar, dried fruit, or nuts that can easily be eaten on the ride.

I’m a new rider, what kind of shoes should I wear?
If you are new, you should start off the season with comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.  Right now it’s just dusty, but if we get rain it could be muddy.

After you are comfortable on the bike and as your skills increase, you may want to upgrade.

Most riders will end up wearing clip-less pedals with shoes like this.

When clipped in, your feet won’t slip off the pedal.  They are also more efficient because you can pull up on the pedal.  But they are expensive because you also need to buy new pedals.

Other riders prefer flats with a pair of mountain biking shoes.