Category Archives: Race

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

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!

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.

Fun at the Fort 3/20/2022 – Tobin Power

My goal heading into the race was to get 3rd place or stand proud on the soapbox. Unfortunately, I had missed the first race at Exchequer, so my front row call-up from finishing top 3 last season was ripped away from me. When I was lined up to start the race, there were probably six rows of five kids in front of me, and I thought “Nice, thirty kids in my way!”.
When the race started, all my nerves and thoughts shattered into nothing as the pack began to move up the hill. I held my position and tried to lay back on the row in front of me. I was on the brakes a mere ten seconds after the start, and smoothly navigating a massive pile up of riders that spilled across the road. I quickly passed about a dozen people or so before the singletrack, and was feeling good. With the notoriously chaotic race start out of the way, I could relax a bit and just enjoy racing. The pace was fast, grip was great, and spirits were high. I worked on my strategy, coasting behind large packs, and attacking once riders got separated. About 10 minutes in, Joaquin and a couple Berkeley kids got tangled up on the trail, and I had to awkwardly hammer through the grass to get around, yelling at Joaquin to get up and keep going.
 
I had passed a few of my teammates and was surprised I had progressed this far in positions after maybe 15 minutes. I spotted Odin in the distance, and that shocked me even more since that meant I was most likely in the top 10. I hammered passed him on the fire road climb and continued storming ahead. I overtook a few more kids around the grass on the narrow singletrack, and that was extremely fatiguing.
 
I finally settled behind a Piedmont kid and eased off the gas and followed his pace. At the top of a downhill, I heard one of the Course Marshals mutter, “Here comes 3 and 4.” Now that really got my attention, my goal was at the tip of my fingers on the first lap! At ¾ of the lap, there was a long, flat, open straight that I knew was my chance to overtake and try and catch second place, which at the time I thought was Theo. I channeled energy and tried to break away from the Piedmont kid, since I knew if I relaxed and let him follow close behind it’d turn into a battle, and that wasn’t what I wanted especially since I was already a little gassed from making up thirty spots. I crossed the line with my legs burning and lungs working hard, but I knew I could sustain at least my current pace for the next lap. I spent the second lap half recovering and half trying to find P2. Coach Doug appeared course-side and told me there was 30 seconds to P2, and about 2 minutes to the leader. So I wasn’t too close, but I also hadn’t seen a single soul behind me for the whole lap. The third lap started out like the second, until I glimpsed and saw a rider hauling toward me on one of the early straights. He passed me on the climb and I was kicking myself to fight back, but I noticed his race plate was a different color. I yelled at him, “Hey are you D2?”. He responded “Yeah”, and I could breathe again.
 
That was pretty much the excitement for the race, the rest of the third lap was quiet, with only my thoughts and legs battling it out. The last steep climb was tough, everyone in your face yelling and ringing their cowbells, the loose sand, and bright sun beating down on you made that last push mentally and physically tough. I sprinted through the last few turns as I heard the same cheers and bells a few seconds after I crested, figuring there might’ve been someone hunting me down through these final corners. I focused for the final downhill and ripped through the turns, finally braking hard into the final grassy and off camber turn. I pounded to the line and finished strong.
 
Third place, soapbox, hell yeah.

Fun at the Fort 3/20/2022 – Theo Borys

Exchequer had been my first real mountain bike race, and I had surprised myself by placing 5th. I went into Exchequer with no expectations, and it ended up going well. At Fort Ord, I now had a place to aim; 4th. Chris had gone up to varsity, leaving an opportunity to place higher. 4th place was my goal for the race, however I felt a lot more nervous leading up to the race. I became more stressed the morning of the race. Then I started warming up, and before long was called up to the first row. I didn’t really have a strategy for the start besides “enter the single track in the top 5”. Hint: that didn’t happen. 
   
When the announcer started to count down the start, it seemed like it was happening in a dream. I didn’t really register the start of the race, but I started pedaling when he said go. The first row remained together as we approached the single track. Less and less room became available as we moved forwards. And then, suddenly, I started to lose control of my bike. The next moment I was on the ground. I’m not sure what happened – maybe someone bumped into me from behind, or my handlebars knocked into someone else’s – it all happened too quickly to register. Even looking back at the video that my dad conveniently filmed, it’s unclear what exactly happened.
   
Other racers were whizzing past me. I saw two others collide behind me and cause an even larger pile up. My first instinct was to get out of the way – I ran to the side of the racetrack. I was off my bike for what seemed like forever; my handlebars were reversed. I tried turning them but I turned them the wrong way, making them even more tangled. I turned them back the other way and, at last I could bike again. I started running and then hopped on my bike. It had felt like an eternity, but was really more like 5 seconds – but that was still enough for the majority of the racers to pass me. 
   
I started riding again, and surprisingly felt pretty good. I was fine, my bike was fine, and the benefit of being almost last is that nobody is going to pass you! I stayed behind a slower group of around 15 riders until we entered the single track, and then I started passing. At first I passed just one or two people at a time. But we were moving so slowly, and there were so many riders in front of me, that I decided I needed to be more aggressive. I took a trick out of Chris’s handbook and just started sprinting on the grass next to the single track. It was incredibly bumpy, but it ended up working – I passed around 10 riders at a time. 
   
After passing the large group, I started passing smaller groups of riders, or individual ones. I saw Miles and tried to say something encouraging. A few minutes later I saw Felix with a small group of riders, passing them on one of the steeper hills. He said “keep it up”, and I tried to respond but I was breathing too hard at that point. Around the end of the first lap I passed Noah. Throughout the entire lap I was totally unsure where I was. I had passed around 30 riders, but I had no idea if I was 10th, 20th, or 30th. At the last fireroad climb I saw Doug, and he yelled “you’re catching up!”. This made me feel better, and I tried to go up the fireroad pretty quickly. 
   
A bit into the second lap I found Odin and Joaquin with two Berkeley riders. Odin, Joaquin and I started drafting off each other, switching who was in front every few minutes. The El Cerrito Power Squad was going to sweep the podium! (well, we hoped so). The Berkeley riders were getting a nice draft off of us, and eventually one of them decided to pass. He kept riding next to me and trying to push me off the trail, but didn’t fortunately didn’t succeed. Eventually he sprinted past us on a downhill, and started bombing some berms. Within 5 seconds he wiped out, and yelled some obscenities. I didn’t see him again for the rest of the race. At this point I started speeding up as well, and dropped Odin and Joaquin. I guessed I was either 5th or 4th, depending on which spectators you listened to. I rode on my own for a while and I think I paced myself pretty well. I saw Doug at the fireroad again and he again yelled “you’re catching up! Just a little bit ahead, push harder!”. I had no idea whether there was actually someone ahead of me or not – was he just saying this? Either way it worked, and I sped up. I passed another rider a bit later, but spent most of the 3rd lap on my own. Eventually a kid in a leader jersey passed me, and I became incredibly confused; was that Olaf? Why would Olaf be behind me?? I learned later that it was actually the JV D2 Leader – some incredibly fast kid who had managed to catch up over 3 minutes. 
   
Nearing the end of the third lap, I knew I was 4th. I had a good amount of energy left, and started sprinting up the last hill where all the spectators are ringing cowbells 1 inch away from your face. I heard everyone yell “10 seconds!”, “10 seconds ahead!”. I didn’t know who was 10 seconds ahead of me, but I started sprinting. Unfortunately, the next bit was flat curvy singletrack, which isn’t really somewhere you can catch up much. I saw an El Cerrito jersey in front of me, and realized it was Tobin. I sprinted the rest of the third lap, and crossed the finish line 7 seconds behind Tobin, in 4th place.
   
Despite the crash, I felt the race had gone pretty well. I paced myself, passed a lot of people, and ended up achieving my goal. I’m looking forward to the next race and seeing how it goes with a (hopefully) not as eventful start.

Fun at the Fort 3/20/2022

On Sunday, March 20, the ECHS Mountain Bike Racing Team competed at the NorCal league’s second race of the season at Fort Ord near Salinas. A total of 24 team members raced, and the race weekend included a fun and muddy pre-ride in the rain, followed by a team dinner at a local hotel before the race, and lots of cheering out on the course and fun times and great food together at the team tent. The 80’s theme of the race brought festive costumes and memorable retro music to the weekend. The sandy course was a little over 6 miles long, with about 660 feet of elevation gain per lap, and flowed well. Most racers completed 2 laps (a little over 12 miles), but JV Boys and Varsity Girls rode 3, and Varsity Boys rode 4, completing around 25 miles total. ECHS came in 3rd for overall team points earned among Division 1 teams, just behind Berkeley and Salinas.

The final results are as follows:
Varsity Girls: Cate Flowers, 5th (podium)
Varsity Boys: Chris Hill, 8th; Will Diego, 12th; Finn Kaste, 14th; Tristan Schoenfeldt-Aultman, 16th
JV Boys: Tobin Power, 3rd (podium); Theo Borys, 4th (podium); Odin Simms, 8th; Noah Barry, 9th; Joaquin Chun, 11th; DJ Kang, 16th; Felix Bloemraad, 22; Miles Hansen, 34th; Rohan Acharya, 38th
Sophomore Boys: Jalen Epps, 21st; Blake Christner; Neel Chandran
Freshman Girls: Annika Borys, 5th (podium); Edda Grondahl, 6th; Gabrielle Walmsley, 21st
Freshman Boys: Jack O’Neal, 1st (podium); Jaq Chin, 6th; Daniel Gansmiller, 8th; Gabriel Sabatini, 19th

Our next race will be on Saturday, April 9th in Modesto. Come watch a race if you’re interested in learning more or seeing what the racing scene is like, or ask one of the team members listed here about their experiences!

Thank you to our community, friends, families, coaches, and sponsors for your support of our team! Go Gauchos!

Exchequer Opener 02/26/22

The ECHS Mountain Bike Team earned third place in its first NorCal league race at Exchequer Mountain Bike Park in La Grange, California this past Saturday. The course was 5.8 miles long and had 540 feet of elevation gain per lap. All levels except Varsity Boys raced 2 laps, and Varsity boys raced 3 laps. All told, 22 team members raced.

Many riders camped in temperatures hovering around freezing before the race, but still performed strong and cheered each other on throughout the day. Their next race is on Sunday, March 20 in Salinas.

Here are our riders’ results:

Varsity Girls: Cate Flowers, 9th

Varsity Boys: Finn Kaste, 16th; Will Diego, 17th

JV Boys: Christopher Hill, 1st (Podium); Theo Borys, 5th (Podium); Joaquin Chun, 6th; Odin Simms, 10th; Noah Barry, 17th; DJ Kang, 19th; Tyler Ko, 26th; Miles Hansen, 32nd

Sophomore Boys: Neel Chandran, 27th; Andrew Ford, 32nd; Blake Christner, 33rd; Jalen Epps, 35th

Freshman Girls: Edda Grondahl, 3rd (Podium); Annika Borys, 5th (Podium); Gabrielle Walmsley, 24th

Freshman Boys: Jack O’Neal, 1st (Podium); Daniel Gansmiller 4th (Podium); Jaq Chin, 10th; Gabriel Sabatini, 21st