Category Archives: Rider Stories

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Diego Andrade

When I got out of the car for the pre ride I expected the course to absolutely be ripped to shreds, It was sorta raining and I really didn’t feel like getting muddy. But alas it was inevitable. I pre-rode with Aiden and Chris, we all noticed the distinct lack of climbing as well as lack of passing opportunities. It was going through my head that only NICA would have the audacity to have us go up a jump trail. I ended up doing 2 laps on the pre ride, one for scouting, the second one to see how much grip I would have operating at higher speeds. It was a really fast course, and I only ended up going OTB once on the pre-ride (Turns out drainage ditches off the course can be a real doozy). Besides that I was feeling pretty good.

I’m gonna do us all a favor and skip the part at the hotel (something about sourdough and a certain test?)

So Race Day. I watched the races before me and cheered on my fellow riders. Congratulations you all absolutely killed it by the way! But eventually it was time to warm up, I rode up and down the street a few times trying to get ready for the sprint that I knew was going to start my race. In doing so I lost track of time and almost ended up missing my call up. I didn’t, but I was the last person to arrive, let’s say I was fashionably late. Soon enough Coco called us up and started counting down. I knew the key to this race was probably the start, so when the countdown ended I took off. I did end up being first in the single track, but I soon lost it when I stuck a pedal and a Salinas rider passed me. I got on his wheel and off we went. I figured let him tire himself out then I can just snatch back the lead. Unfortunately my plan didn’t work, I got complacent and felt like I was putting down almost no effort for two laps. What I expected to happen was I’d blow by him on the third lap because I was still fresh. What ended up happening was whenever there was a passing opportunity he’d just sprint and take it easy whenever there wasn’t one (Actually a pretty smart strat for this course). We were doing intervals for the entire last lap. For those that don’t know me, I freaking hate intervals! Anyways I was always on his wheel and even managed to get in front of him on one of the sprints. Unfortunately, he got me on the sprint before the last flow section essentially sealing his victory. I crossed the line knowing I could have done better, but ultimately pretty happy with my result. I guess we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out. Hopefully I’ll be able to snag a couple of the races.

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Finn Kaste

I was very excited for this race in the days leading up. I have some very fond memories of last year’s league races and I was excited to race with my old competitors. I wasn’t too nervous because I didn’t know really what to expect. I did however have some wicked poison oak from the Sunday before and on the drive up my mind was mostly focused on resisting the temptation to scratch it. Pre-riding the course however got my mind back on the race. I rode with Tristan, Maddie, and Joaquin. It was cold and drizzly but I had a raincoat and rain pants on so I was warm and dry. I noticed there weren’t many passing spots but the trail was so smooth and flowy it almost felt like we were floating (practicing in tilden we don’t get to encounter many trails like this). It was honestly quite relaxing. I really got to enjoy the trail which is why I love pre-rides so much. It was quite beautiful and scenic as well. We were done in no time. I heard that the trail was quick but I had no idea it was that quick. I decided not to do a second lap and to just head to the hotel. After a tasty dinner and a quick meeting, I went right to bed. I need a lot of sleep and I’m really not a morning person, especially with the time change, I got up as late as possible and had breakfast at the course feeling well rested.

After cheering on the earlier race categories, we started to warm up around 11. I was ready to go. I knew the race would be over in no time and it would basically be a sprint. We headed over to the start and got into the correct spots based on our call ups. I recognized a few people from last year. I saw Henry from BHS and Nico from SRV. Before I knew it we were being called up and in no time the announcer was counting down. We took off at a full sprint. I was sprinting like mad but Henry managed to pull ahead and started leading the pack. I saw Nico unclip and fall back out of the corner of my eye which meant at least for the time being I didn’t have to worry about him (he finished 12th). Two big Berkeley kids who I didn’t recognize passed me out of the blue. I smoothly entered the single track 4th in the pack.

On one of the climbs I managed to pass both the berkeley kids and I caught up to Henry. It seemed like we were not going too fast and on the first fire road stretch I saw my chance and passed him (Henry ended up finishing 14th). That meant I was in first. I had never been in this position before and I was a little nervous because there was a long line of kids behind me and I didn’t feel confident setting the pace. I felt pretty strong on the climbs so on the loose hill before the hairpin turn I started to drop the pack. This boosted my confidence and I started to go faster. At the second road crossing I saw Joaquin cheering me on. It felt great. I looked behind me again and saw no one in sight. I couldn’t help but smile. I had completely dropped the pack. I kept going faster hoping to widen the gap. My newfound confidence seemed to numb any fatigue and I found myself being able to effortlessly speed along the course. When I entered the feed zone I heard people frantically yelling and suddenly the two new berkeley kids from earlier on passed me out of nowhere. I managed to get around one of them and I tried to draft off the other. I felt pretty awkward on the pump track and he started to drop me. I also started to hear the buzz of multiple bikes behind me.

At the start of the second lap I went through a puddle and a giant clod of mud flew into my eye obscuring my vision and causing me to briefly swerve off trail. I knew there were a bunch of kids piled up behind me and I have a really bad habit of feeling guilty in situations like this because I feel like I’m holding people up. I went off to the side to let them pass. 3 piedmont kids who I also didn’t recognize went zooming by at the speed of sound. I didn’t even bother trying to stay with them, they were going so fast. I felt my confidence leave me not just because I lost my chance at first but I had also lost my callup. I had no clue there would be so many fast new kids.
I was alone for the rest of the race. At one point I looked behind me and saw the other Berkeley kid. He was a good ways back but I didn’t want him to catch up because I would lose my podium spot. I picked up the pace hoping to widen the gap. I caught a few glimpses of the Piedmont kids ahead and saw that they had caught up to the berkeley kid and were drafting in a pack of 4. At the hairpin turn I heard someone call my name and to my surprise, it was Tristan! I was amazed he had made it all this way because he started in general and the course really wasn’t known for its passing opportunities. I knew he posed a threat to my podium placement as well but I thought to myself if anyone was going to pass me it had better be him. He had made it so far and not just in the race, but as a mountain biker. He deserved the podium spot. I continued to try and widen the gap between me and the people behind me. As I awkwardly struggled through the rollers I started to worry that someone would catch up but I heard no one behind me.

I finished fifth achieving my goal for podium plus I got a sub 40 minute time. This race came with a lot of surprises. My old competitors seemed completely out of my game and there seem to be so many new fast people. This just makes the season ahead more mysterious and I’m excited to see how things will turn out.

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Cate Flowers

I was a little anxious for my first race, but my goals were to finish and beat 2 people soooo, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure. I went to the general lineup area and was in the last line with Miya and Linda and only about 20 sophomore girls.😂😂 I was getting a little worried at that point that I would be able to get to the single track fast enough and when I saw the JV girls take off I was excited for a second and then they postponed our race almost 15 minutes because someone fell down.😬

Then the stokemaster?? Came out and started singing songs about ham and eating food which made me hungryyyyy and still more nervous. When they finally set us off I was in the wrong gear and kinda wasn’t expecting the lineup to sprint so fast so I had to catch up a bit. I sprinted past a lot of the pack and got into the single track ahead of a couple people and then I slowed down a little to get through the mud puddles😂😂

The first lap I was really trying to stay ahead of the sophomores and going a little too fast and I made sure to not hit any trees!! I passed some people on climbs but usually got passed on the flat parts and on the rolls section I fell over and almost went off of the track😣 but I was ok!!

The second lap I realized how much I was nooot pacing myself and had to recover during the race which was a bit difficult. The second lap I made it up almost all the hills and started sprinting again at the end and passed some people. Also all the girls were SO POLITE when passing or being passed everyone was super willing to move over😊 Sooo when I finished I felt really accomplished because I finished my first NICA race and didn’t get last place!!!😃 EVERYONE WAS AMAZINGGGG😱😱

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Zephyr Wu-Zucker

I woke up on Sunday ready to race. The preride had been super fun and I was ready to do 3 fast laps. As other races happened, I rode around trying to loosen up my legs. 

I got to the starting area super early since I didn’t have a callup and was going to be in general. I ended up being moved up until I was right behind Axel who was in the B group. The first lap was a mad dash for position and I ended up right behind Ezra for a lot of it. Once we got to the feed zone, I made a move to pass him but immediately crashed on the loose turn after it and got passed by several riders.

My second and third lap were less eventful. Towards the end, I heard a familiar voice telling me to move; it was none other than Will. He, Keith, and Jens all passed me and it was just me and 3 Berkeley kids. At the very end, they passed me and I was mad because I knew that if I had been more careful I would have finished better. Finishing 16th out of 34 riders was ok, but I was disappointed in myself because I knew I could have gotten 13th if I had been careful. Not bad for a first race though.

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.

 

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Lucas Nacamuli

When my alarm went off at 6:27 am I was ready to go. I quickly got out of bed and changed. Odin, Jacobo and I went down stairs and had the breakfast of champions, a chocolate muffin and sausages. Then I grabbed my stuff and loaded my bike on my car. Before I knew it I was at the race.

I road around for 5 min and than started warming up. A few minutes later I was lining up, I got a place in the third row. We sat there for about 15 minutes, the race organizer talked for a while but I didn’t hear. They counted us down and then we were off.

I got a bad start and was unable to clip in. I kept trying to clip in but I slipped my pedal. I finally clipped in and was able to pass a bunch of people. When we entered the single track I was behind a group of three. They were going slow so at the first opportunity I passed them.

The first lap was a blur I had a gap on the kids behind me but had no idea what place I was in. As I came around a turn I saw Enzo and he yelled, “your in 5th” at first I didn’t believe him. Going into the second lap I saw Lucan Keller from Berkeley and Joaquin were behind me. I pushed hard and created a gap but Joaquin passed Lucan and caught up to me. He stayed behind me for a bit and then passed me in the climb before the hairpin turn. But I stayed on his wheel until the climb through the jumps. The race was uneventful after that and I ended up in sixth place. For my first NICA race I was very happy.

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Jake Gomez

When we got to the race on Saturday afternoon, I was so scared since I knew it was going to be very muddy. I like when the trails are a little bit muddy but not to the point where I’m drenched. After the pre ride I was so hyped since I had ended up having a great time. At the hotel I started to get nervous about passing zones since there weren’t really any. I was scared that I was going to crash in the beginning and then have a crappy race after.

I started in C call-up which I wasn’t to happy about. When the race started all the nerves went away and I realized that I need to go my hardest in order to get a good position in the single track. I was sort of aggressive when it came to passing since it seemed like all the riders that I was with had literally just learned how to ride a bike. They couldn’t clip in and there was so much cussing out that it just made me want to go faster. I was able to pass a bunch of people which was awesome but it also took a lot of energy. Once I had secured my spot, all I thought about was passing the next person. Somehow I caught up to a 5 person group and passed them all. At that point I was just having a great time, that is until I realized I didn’t have my shot blocks. For some reason, not having my shot blocks made my mind go into a self destruct mode. I was thinking that I was gonna run out of energy and then I would bonk and get passed. But then I remember Jonathen telling me that I need to keep a happy mind and it will usually pay off. This worked and I was able to snap out of it.

There was his one turn that caught me off guard and I nearly crashed. Some kid was behind me and he passed me. I was so mad at myself when he passed me so I sprinted to catch up to him. It was almost like he teleported or something because right when I turned the corner he was long gone. It turns out that he was the person that came right before me but he was insanely fast. I ended up getting 15th which I’m super happy for. I hope that I will keep inching up race by race and hopefully get onto the podium.

Swasey Shred 03/08/20 – Tristan Schonfeldt-Aultman

I was not really anxious to race. Due to the trail making it very hard to pass people, I had already played the race out on my head multiple times. I thought I would start in general, since I did not have a call-up, and get to at most 15th place during the start of the race, and during the open trails, like the feed zone, I would pass more people to get to at least 10th place at best. I thought that that would be the whole race.

Immediately though, things went wrong. For some reason, both of my feet unclipped from the pedals and I fell farther back trying to clip in again. As soon as I clipped in again, I sprinted strait to the single track. Somehow, I caught up to Jake by the single track, and soon after the entrance on a tight turn, someone way ahead of us, but not near first, stopped or fell. A big line formed and we had to wait to move fast, but soon we took off again, and in doing so, I past a few people.

Up until the first open trail I passed a few more people, but right when I turned the sharp right turn to get to the open trail I sprinted like mad. I sprinted like I would have no energy after. I passed even more people doing this, and luckily I still had energy left. I had no idea what place I was in, but I had caught up to Dakoda and passed him near the end of the first lap.

Soon, I was halfway through the second lap, and I had passed a few more people. Then on the biggest rocky hill on the trail, I saw Finn. I was so surprised and happy that I had actually caught up to Finn. I had assumed he was in 5th or 4th place, and there was one person behind him and in front of me. I was determined to pass him and catch up to Finn.

I started to get closer and closer to him in the last parts of the race, but on one turn that took you to the last part of the track, I slid out and lost a lot of ground. When I got back on my bike and started to sprint I saw him again, but someone had caught up to me. They were close behind me and it was my new goal not to get passed.

On the very last part of the race, I was so worried that I would get passed. I could hear him right behind me and I was tired from sprinting to get ahead in the group. It was a new feeling to me, to try to ride as fast as possible while I was very tired and there was someone right behind me. It almost felt like I was trying to get away from a monster or killer in a horror movie.

I was not going incredibly fast on the very bumpy parts, and thought he would pass me. I was not very used to riding on very bumpy and winding downhills. However, on the last climb to the finish, I pushed incredibly hard. As a result, he did not pass me, and I speeded through the finish. I was very happy with that race, especially since I ended up getting 7th. I did not expect to get that good of a position. My first league race was super fun, and I hope I had gotten a good call-up for the next race.

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.

Granite Bay 2/23/2020 – Violet Reed

Photo by Rich Hallock

I had a rough start in the morning and almost showed up late to the high school but the car ride there was fine.

Getting out of the car it was warm(60 degrees) which was odd because I’m used to it being 30 degrees. Getting warmed up was normal until I saw, Rowan an old competitor of mine. She’s a grade younger, so I was surprised she was racing high school. When we raced together in the past she beat me every time.

I was in the lead for the girls for the sprint and stayed in front the entire time. It felt odd because I had never lead like that before. 3/4ths of the entire first lap I was passing guys left and right and Rowan wasn’t even in my mind. I hit a pack of slow people and when I turn around she was only two riders back so I panicked and sprinted.

It was fine until the start of the second lap when I heard her breathing right behind me, so I stayed on my game. The entire lap she was right behind me, but whenever she would make a move to get in front of me I would dodge a head. I was coming around the last turn onto the sprint when I heard Enzo yell about someone on my back tire.

I put my last energy into the finish and Rich got this amazing photo. On my fourth year of racing at Granite bay I finally got my win (and beat Rowan).