These are the answers to the most frequently answered questions about joining the ECHS Mountain Biking team. Still can’t find an answer? Email us directly through the Contact page.
What are the practices and training like? Practices start out in November. Practices are 4 days a week, and are generally an hour and a half to two hours each. Riders will be grouped by ability to train with others close to them. We create a training plan each year for athletes to follow to improve fitness, which will be communicated to athletes on a weekly basis.
Are riders taught about bike safety and preparedness? Yes. ECHS MTB has a team mechanic who will assist with mechanical issues and provide some instruction. We also go over and enforce proper road and trail use including the use of lights, lane positioning, signage, and group formation.
Are riders supervised during the whole ride? No. The nature of mountain biking is such that it is impossible for coaches and ride leaders to keep their eyes on each rider at all times. Some will ride behind the coach, others in front. During those times, the rider is NOT under supervision. Riders are, however, encouraged to circle back at intersections to the back of the group to keep the group together, the riding consistent, and prevent riders from getting lost.
What are the races like? The venues are cross-country courses. Spectators can walk the course and get multiple views of racers as they continue in the race. Freshman riders can expect to race about 10-12 miles, while Varsity can race up to 28 miles. Basically, we all spend the day together, cheering for each other, and having a blast.
Can riders of all different levels participate? YES! ECHS MTB is a very inclusive team and has riders at all levels. Riders are grouped by ability and practice in groups with like-skilled teammates. We do expect you to have ridden a bike at least once before joining the team, however.
Can I play on another sports team at ECHS? We don’t recommend playing a spring sport in addition to mountain biking. We have allowed student athletes to participate a second sport in the past and we have found it’s hard to train for two sports and make enough practices for one or both. We do, however, recommend some cross training in addition to mountain biking in the fall. Joining the cross country team is one good option for this. Discuss your situation with your coaches and make the decision together.
Can someone ride and train with the team but not race? No. All riders must make a commitment to participate in races and support their team on race day.
What is the practice schedule? Monday- Rest Day; Tuesday- Team Practice or Spin Class; Wednesday- Team Practice; Thursday- Rest Day; Friday- Team Practice or Spin Class; Saturday- Rest Day; Sunday- Team Practice. More information can be found on TeamSnap after joining.
How much will being on the team cost me? While we have made every effort in keeping the cost of participation down, a rider should still expect to pay a little over $1,000 for the season when bike maintenance, uniform, meals, licensing, race lodging and all other items are factored in. ECHS MTB offers full and partial scholarships for those who qualify.
When does the season start? The mountain biking season is a bit different from other sports. We start in November, and by December we are fully into training for the first race which is in early March.
Are there unofficial training rides? When and where? There are no unofficial training rides sanctioned by ECHS MTB. However, riders are encouraged and expected to buddy up and ride with their peers informally when rides are not scheduled.
If you want to ride on your own, can you recommend some routes? Of course! We live in a great area for mountain biking and there are many routes to choose from. Talk to the coaches and ride leaders about what routes and trails would be appropriate for your level. The team usually uses Tilden Regional park for the week day practices, and locations in Marin or further away in the East Bay for the weekend practices
How good of a bike is needed? Almost any bike in good repair with the proper components will do. If you are considering purchasing a bike, please feel free to talk to a coach about what you might want to look for. Just as long as the bike functions properly and is safe, you should be good to go.
What kind of a bike, components, and equipment will a rider need? Bikes are a personal item that can quickly become very expensive. There is no general recommendation that will fit the needs of every rider’s family or budget. However:
- Frames are generally the same on any bike, but fit is very important. Please consult a shop expert on fit. We recommend a “hardtail” frame with only front suspension as these are generally cheaper and fit the smooth NorCal courses well.
- Components can range from inexpensive and bulky to expensive and super light. We recommend some mid-range components (e.g. Shimano LX or XT) as a minimum for withstanding a season of use, but understand that families must make their own decisions.
- For safety reasons, all riders MUST have helmet, gloves, eye-wear, padded shorts (baggies are fine!), bike shoes, and CLIPLESS pedals (there is a learning curve, but you’ll thank us later). A complement of non-cotton clothing is necessary, including layers for cold winter rides. Each rider must also have a basic repair kit of pump, tire levers, patches and/or tube, and multi-use tool.
Who are the coaches and how do I get in touch with them? See the “Current Leadership” link on the About Us page for names and positions within the club. Use the Contact page on this website to contact the team. We’ll get back to you promptly!
What bike shop do you recommend and do they give a team discount? Mike’s Bikes and the Trek Superstore in Berkeley provide excellent service and gives our team members a NorCal League discount. If you prefer something north of El Cerrito, The Pedaler in El Sobrante is also a bike shop that provides us with discounts and service.
What advice do you have for someone who is new to the sport or doesn’t know many people who ride? When you start giving yourself reasons for not coming out to ride, stop, meet us, or just push yourself out the door and get on that bike! If you start out on easier rides, just finding a good loop to do 2-3 times a week to start out with
Can you tell us at the beginning of the season where and when the races will be? The final race schedule will be posted on the NorCal website in January. See www.norcalmtb.org. Race dates are set, but due to weather, changes to venue are not out of the question until midweek before the weekend of.
What about transportation and accommodations at the races? Riders and their families are responsible for transportation to and from races. Families are strongly encouraged to attend to cheer on their riders and parents/guardians form our volunteer work force during each race day. ECHS MTB will generally reserve hotel rooms for riders and parents at the same hotel Check out the Race & Travel page on this website for additional information.
Can Parents/Guardians become Ride Leaders? YES! If you are curious about becoming Team Ride Leader please contact one of the coaches. We welcome all parents/guardians and family members who want to share some time on the trails with us and can always use more support.
What if I get a flat? Every rider should carry a spare tube and the tools to fix a flat. All riders will be taught how to fix a flat. Most of our riders prefer an under the seat bag. Contents should include:
- Set of tire levers
- Link Breaker (usually included on a multi tool)
- At least one tube that fits your wheel (26”, 27.5”, 29”), make sure to put it in a zip lock bag so other items in the bag don’t rub a whole in it
- Multi tool
- Patch kit
- Small pump or CO2 cartridges with inflator valve