Category Archives: Race Reports

Six Sigma Championship – 05/21/2022

On Saturday, May 21st, 18 members of the ECHS MTB team were among 585 racers from 77 NorCal teams who competed at the Championship race at Six Sigma Ranch in Lake County. At the end of the day, El Cerrito High–under the guidance of Head Coach Doug Diego–took home the 3rd place trophy for team achievement, just 18 points behind the 2nd place team. The race was hot and dusty and our riders prevailed, with some of our upperclassmen rushing back after their tough competition to make it home in time for prom.

The course took place at a repeat venue, but on all new trails that featured great climbs, technical bits, tight turns, water crossings, and more. Each lap of the course was 6.2 miles and had 733′ of vertical gain, so freshmen and sophomores raced 2 laps/12.4 miles, JV boys 3 laps/ 18.5 miles, and Varsity boys 4 laps/ almost 25 miles. 

Here’s how our individual racers stacked up:

Varsity Boys: Chris Hill, 4th (podium); Finn Kaste, 17th; Will Diego, 18th; Tristan Schönfeldt-Aultman, 19th

JV Boys: Joaquin Chun, 9th; Theo Borys, 10th; Tobin Power, 11th; Odin Simms, 22nd; Miles Hansen, 58th; DJ Kang

Freshman Girls: Annika Borys, 4th (podium); Edda Grondahl, 5th (podium); Gabrielle Walmsley, 30th

Freshman Boys: Yoann Perrodin, 2nd (podium); Jack O’Neal, 3rd (podium); Daniel Gansmiller, 17th; Jaq Chin, 23rd; Gabriel Sabatini, 63rd

Please congratulate our team on a fantastic season!

Six Sigma Showdown – 05/01/2022 – Felix Bloemraad

When I entered Six Sigma on the day of the race pre-ride, the first thing I noticed was how busy it was. Due to the other region that raced there that day, the large field that served as a parking lot was full of cars, tents, trailers, and more. Arriving at the El Cerrito tent, I saw that a number of people were already there and setting up tents to camp over at the venue the night before the race. I was staying at a nearby hotel, so I just hung out and talked to people until the pre-ride.

The ride started out fine, with a fast start into a few small turns, but we soon were stopped because of a long line waiting to cross a creek and make it up a short but steep climb. It took a couple of minutes for us to make it to the front of the line, but by the time I did, I noticed that my bike was making strange noises. After meeting up with the rest of the team on the other side of the creek, I decided to head back to the tent early because I was really concerned by the noise coming from my back tire.

Back at the tent, I learned that the sound was probably just the plastic disk between my gears and the spokes, so I headed over to the Mike’s Bikes van to get it removed. It was removed with no problems, and the concerning sound stopped, but I found an even bigger problem: my bike’s frame was cracked. Unfortunately, this probably meant that I couldn’t race on it the next day, so I decided to talk to Coach Doug about it.

Thankfully, it turned out that we had a team bike available that I could use, but I would have to finish the race quickly the next day in order to get it to another rider for her race. With the problem (partially) solved, I headed out on a full pre-ride and ate dinner with the team before heading to my hotel for the night.

The next day, I was feeling pretty nervous about the race. I was biking on a bike I had never ridden before, on a course that had a lot of sharp and loose turns. Additionally, there was a section of the course which ran through a creek under a bridge, and I was not looking forward to getting splashed with muddy water in the morning.

My race started pretty well, I was able to get ahead of a lot of people during the initial sprint. I also managed to cross the creek that so many people struggled at the previous day. Most of my first lap was pretty hard, because I was constantly trying to stay ahead of the others and I had to pass D2 riders. Fortunately, by the second half of the first lap and the whole second lap, I was mostly on my own. At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was doing in the race, so the only thing I could do was ride as hard as I could.

Since I was now alone, I managed to enjoy the beautiful course a lot more. The race was held on a series of cliffs and meadows, with nice views and pretty flowers. It was truly one of the nicest courses I’ve seen.

Funnily enough, despite dreading the massive puddle of water before the race started, by the time I got to it on my second lap I was actually looking forward to the chance to cool myself off. It wasn’t actually that hot yet, but combined with how hard we were working, I was feeling really hot.

The race ended well, too. I managed to pass a number of people from D2 on the second half of my last lap, and I was happy to be finished. I ended up placing 27th, which wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but I was still happy with it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the team bike to Gabbie before her race.
Even though I didn’t place as well as I had hoped, it was enough to qualify for states!

Six Sigma Showdown – 05/01/2022

This weekend, 21 members of the ECHS MTB Race team participated in the NorCal Regional Semifinals at Six Sigma Ranch and Winery in Lower Lake. Riders lined up against other high schools from the East Bay all the way down to the Central Coast to ride a gorgeous, technical, meandering loop that was lined with oaks, poppies and lupines and offered punchy climbs and fun challenges. The loop was a little over 6 miles long and featured 692 feet of vertical climb per lap, plus a stream crossing. Freshmen and Sophomores completed 2 laps; JV Boys and Varsity Girls 3 laps, and Varsity Boys raced 4. 

El Cerrito High got 3rd place in Division 1 Team points.

Here’s how our individual participants did: 

Varsity Boys: Christopher Hill, 3rd (podium); Tristan Schönfeldt-Aultman, 12th; Will Diego, 13th; Finn Kaste, 14th
Varsity Girls: Cate Flowers, 6th
JV Boys: Tobin Power, 3rd (podium); Theo Borys, 6th; Joaquin Chun, 7th; DJ Kang, 15th; Noah Barry, 16th; Odin Simms, 17th; Felix Bloemraad, 27th; Miles Hansen, 32nd
Sophomore Boys: Jalen Epps, 20th
Freshman Girls: Annika Borys, 6th; Gabrielle Walmsley, 17th
Freshman Boys: Yoann Perrodin, 1st (podium); Jack O”Neal, 2nd (podium); Jaq Chin, 7th; Daniel Gansmiller, 9th; Gabriel Sabatini, 22nd 

A second set of podiums was held at this event to honor the riders’ overall standings in the 4-race series this spring. ECHS riders on the steps in those included:

Varsity Girls: Cate Flowers, 6th
Varsity Boys: Christopher Hill, 3rd (podium); Will Diego, 12th; Finn Kaste, 13th; Tristan Schönfeldt-Aultman, 14th
JV Boys: Tobin Power, 3rd (podium); Theo Borys, 4th (podium); Joaquin Chun, 5th (podium); Odin Simms, 11th; DJ Kang, 12th; Noah Barry, 15th; Felix Bloemraad, 23rd; Miles Hansen, 28th; Tyler Ko, 36th
Sophomore Boys: Jalen Epps, 29th; Blake Christner, 32nd
Freshman Boys: Jack O’Neal, 1st (podium); Daniel Gansmiller, 6th; Jaq Chin, 8th; Gabriel Sabatini, 16th; Yoann Perrodin, 31st
Freshman Girls: Annika Borys, 3rd (podium); Edda Grondahl, 6th; Gabrielle Walmsley, 17th

On May 21st, the NorCal Championship Race will be held at Boggs Demonstration Forest in Cobb, CA. Nineteen ECHS riders have qualified to race in the championships against riders from all over NorCal, from the Oregon border down through San Luis Obispo county. Good luck, Gauchos!

Six Sigma Showdown – 05/01/2022 – Tristan Schonfeldt-Aultman

This race was going to be interesting. It was the first race of the season where varsity was going to go first at 8. I didn’t really know how I was going to handle that but I preferred it over waiting the whole day for our race.

So we woke up and started warming up for 30-40 minutes and before we knew it we were lining up at the starting line. The countdown started and we were off, and of course like all the other races this season, I had a pretty bad start and ended up pretty much at the back. It took me roughly 2 laps to catch back up and I realized I kept getting dropped on the downhills. I guess I was just being cautious since it was the morning.

Eventually though, at the end of the 2nd or third lap, we formed the ECHS train where me, Finn, and Will were all riding side by side. It was then that I took the lead after the three of us talked about who was going to lead on the straight away. And so until the under-the-bridge section Finn was right behind me and I even passed someone else on the way.

Finn seemed to bonk at that point though because Will had passed him and now I felt the pressure to keep up the pace so Will wouldn’t catch me. So that last half a lap was painful as I kept sprinting up the hills to finish quickly. I then was surprised to see another varsity rider and was able to pass them as well, so that was cool. I then sped down to the finish line and sprinted to the end, coming in 12 and beating Will and Finn as the second varsity rider in our team for that race. This made me super happy and it was a nice last race before championships.

BHHR 4/23/2022 – DJ Kang

I had never done a road race before. I registered and knew it would be a long sprint. I kept up the whole way until we got to Castro ranch rd and my chain had problems going. I lost about 20 seconds and couldn’t recover and at that point knew just finish. I didn’t feel like I put my best effort in the first lap and put in way more the second lap. Ultimately I just wanted to finish and not worry about result.

BHHR 4/23/2022 – Will Diego

This was by far the most bizarre race I’ve done, mainly because I race XC and this was my first ever road race. Rather than an all out sprint at the start, the race began with a gradual ride down San Pablo Dam Road. For the first few miles I was in the middle of the pack, constantly being passed by incredibly aggressive riders and slowly getting pushed farther back in the pack. My main goal was just to not crash.

After 20ish miles we reached the first climb and the pack began to separate as the pace increased. Funny enough this shifted me from middle of the pack all the way to around top 10. Then this became even more distinct after the Papa Bear climb. Finally I had caught up to the other riders on my team, all of us being in the top 10 riders.

Then on the flats of the 2nd lap, just as before, the more aggressive riders passed me and I was shot back to approximately 20th. My goals, after seeing I was able to stick to the front, were trying to stick with the lead pack and to again not crash. As we got closer to the Mama Bear climb the pace began to pick up, then as we hit the climb I had to do a slightly high pace, still nothing compared to anything I’ve done before in XC. As we rode through the hills the pack became increasingly more separate.

Then finally on the last climb my teammates and I were in the front and went to a full out effort, going as hard as we could for the 3 minute effort. All of us together until the final 200 meter sprint, which was the most brutal. During that sprint I was able to move from 4th all the way to 2nd, beating one of my teammates but losing to the other. As soon as I passed the finish line my legs failed and I had to coast over our group of parents. I reached them, set my bike down then instantly collapsed onto the ground and sat down, my legs completely shot after the all out sprint. This was by far the most unique race I’ve ever done but it was also a super fun race and I look forward to racing on the road in the future.

BHHR 4/23/2022 – Jack O’Neal

Coming into this race with a week of riding this new bike I didn’t want to crash. For most of the race we were riding pretty chill except for when Grant put in some attacks to keep us on our toes. No one got off the front and the people at the front were playing games. At some points we were going so slow you were barely pedaling. The masters group passed us at one point and that made everyone notice we were going too slow, we passed them again almost instantly. Last lap Grant drove the pace up momma bear and I got to the third or fourth wheel at the bottom of papa bear. Closing on the finish I passed Yoann and Grant and pushed as hard as I could till the finish.

BHHR 4/23/2022 – Odin Simms

I came into this race with low expectations. Not because I didn’t think I was strong enough, but because of the day I had ahead of me. I planned to do this race, then immediately drive to Napa for a practice ride with my enduro team. I tried to be as competitive as possible during the race, but I had the upcoming enduro ride in the back of my mind the entire time. I stuck with the lead group for about half the race, before falling behind near the top of papa bear. I put in an effort to try to get back on the group, and eventually caught a few other riders who had also fallen behind. We formed a group of about 10 riders, including Neruda and Benson, riders who I had met at other races we had competed at together. The pace of our group was too slow for our liking, so we traded pulls and tried to convince the rest of the group to try to get back with the leaders. Eventually a few riders tried to break from our group before the first climb of the last lap. I stuck with them until the bottom of papa bear, about a mile from the finish. they attacked again, and when i tried to go with them i cramped and got passed by the group we had broken away from. It was an unfortunate end to the race, but overall I had a really good time getting to ride with some friends I don’t see often, and I’m looking forward to more road racing in the future. Congrats to Jack, Will, and Yoann for sweeping the podium. Hopefully I can be up front with you guys next year.

Modesto Flow 4/9/2022 – DJ Kang

I was going into Modesto, looking for glory. I did the preride and thought to myself, this course feels like a breeze. I got back to the hotel, hanging with the team and knowing I could manage my diet well the next morning. 

I made sure I had plenty of water and energy for the race. The dust was really bad, and much of it was getting into my face. The wind was also a big problem, with the dust and knowing it would slow me down when it came to the race. 

The race came. I started in the second row and am following the front pack for the entire first lap. In the second lap, I start to get tired, hot and got dust in my face, which makes it hard to breathe. I then know I just have to go as fast as I can, and not lose too much time.

In my final lap, I see a tired Andres Roberts and know I have a golden opportunity to pass him to get 9th place. Going into the final turn, I can barely breathe, however no one wanted it more than me. I pass multiple D2 riders and Andres. About 5 seconds before I finish, I throw up. I throw up again as I finish, and pass out at the end. Coming in 9th Place, was a huge achievement and knowing I let it all out, gives me nothing but joy.

Modesto Flow 4/9/2022 – Finn Kaste

Back in October when I first read the 2022 race schedule and saw the race in Modesto, I thought it was an error. I couldn’t picture a mountain bike race course in flat, agricultural Modesto but to my disbelief, I soon found out that it was not an error. The pandemic derailed my sophomore and junior year’s mountain bike racing and this is my last season with El Cerrito so I want to make the most out of it. I was profoundly disappointed that one of our races would be wasted in some urban park in a random, boring, flat city that I only knew from passing by on 99 south. I felt convinced that it would be a throw away race.

Seeing the POV video the week before did not improve my attitude. It could have been the GoPro effect but I watched the entirety of the video and it was pretty much exactly what I had imagined. I couldn’t believe we were racing on such a dumb course. I also saw, not surprisingly, that there was only 37 feet of climbing per lap. I tend to be the strongest on climbs and I suck at loose, flat turns. To add insult to injury the weather was forecast to be 90 degrees and windy. Luckily as race day drew closer that turned into a relatively sane but still not ideal 79 degrees. In the days leading up to the race I didn’t have a twinge of nervousness. I didn’t care in the slightest. The course was a joke, the weather was terrible, and I had just come back from a trip and hadn’t worked out in 10 days. 

On Friday as we pulled into the dusty parking lot under the overpass, the car thermometer read 98 degrees. There was still an hour before the team preride so I went out on my own to get it over with. I was impressed that there actually were some okay climbs, and the turns were pretty grippy. There were also some fun jumps and berms. I was done in 21 minutes so it was a very fast course. It wasn’t necessarily ideal for me but I felt a lot better because it seemed at least somewhat on par with the regular NICA courses.

The next morning, Tristan and I practiced some of the downhill turns and we got them down pretty well. Feeling more confident, we did another lap just for the heck of it and finished just as the freshman girls started staging. We had the whole day to wait and spectate but this time there was no apprehension. I had no expectations. This course was so different from the usual, I knew any order from the past would be thrown out the window. 

At 1 we finally started preparing. Warming up I felt a bit sluggish but I wasn’t surprised since I hadn’t really ridden in so long. We went to staging and Will and I somehow wound up in the second row. I set up my GoPro and started my Garmin and seemingly instantly everyone was counting down. 

We took off at a decent sprint. I let Chris and a bunch of others pass me. We were in a pretty tight pack going through the first squiggly series of turns and I was surprised how slow we were going. It seemed all my preparation with Tristan was a waste. We picked up the pace however as the course straightened out. I tried being responsible by not sticking with the top pack. As luck would have it, I saw an Oakland kid who was also straying from the pack and I started drafting off of him. Things were going well and I felt like I was pacing well but soon I noticed that we seemed to be catching the long front pack. Some people passed me to catch them. I saw Will in the back. I couldn’t resist and I sprinted ahead as well. I caught them and wound up right behind Will. I decided to stay right on him and to not let him go.

I realized we were going surprisingly slow. I wasn’t even breathing hard and I found myself braking at odd times. Because of the wind it seemed like everyone was trying their best not to be the one pulling the pack. I couldn’t believe it. I heard Tristan behind me yelling “this is crazy!” With the massive group ahead of us, it felt like practice. We were going at a conversational pace with occasional sprinting intervals after someone crashed or slowed down. After the first lap we were still so tight that we might as well have still been in the start chute. It was a very unreal feeling. 

About midway through the second lap on one of the sprinting intervals, I was surprised that my legs didn’t seem too happy. I decided to have one of my blocks. I felt great cardiovascularly but my legs were definitely complaining. I was surprised to find that I seemed to be losing the group. Luckily there was a big slow down at one of the tight, awkward turns and I quickly caught up. By the third lap, my legs felt better and I was still no more than five or six seconds behind the leader. It was so amazing but bizarre. I kept cracking up because it was so unlike any other race.

 As the lap progressed however, we finally started to pick up the pace. It was going smoothly at first but right at the finishing stretch there was a sprint and I started to lose the pack. My legs were complaining again and I couldn’t keep up. I was relying on there being another slowdown but there wasn’t. I tried keeping a fairly consistent gap but my energy was waning fast. Without a pack to draft off, I felt the full wrath of the headwind and I fell farther and farther back. I looked behind me and saw Tristan and Ulysses, a Berkeley kid that has always been closely matched with Tristan and I. They were quickly catching up and soon they passed me. I decided there was no way I was going to stay with them and all I could do was hope Tristan could hold Ulysses back (he succeeded). I struggled through the rest of the lap on my own. I wound up finishing 14th which was not great given it was a heat of 17. On the bright side however, I checked my gopro and saw it was still recording with 8% battery remaining. I had caught the four lap race in its entirety on my gopro which was a win for me. 

All in all it was a very unique race that I’m very glad to have experienced. Three epic laps followed by a bit of a crummy fourth lap but even though it wasn’t my strongest day or an ideal course, it was a very worthy race for my last NICA season that I’ll never forget.