Andrew Fee - Fort Ord Race #1 2019

Earlier in the week leading up to the race, I learned that I had no call up and would be starting in general staging because even though I finished fairly well in all my races last year, I only raced in 3 so I did not have a high overall score of points. Knowing this, my strategy was to take it pretty easy at the start, but for the rest of the race the goal was to gain back as many spots as possible and treat this as my throwaway race in the overall standings.

On Friday my mom pulled me out of school early to pack up the car. We were on the road by about 1. Traffic was pretty bad and we stopped for food on the way down so we got to the course at about 3:30. I got my number plate and went out for a preride lap with Arlo, Tom, and others. After doing one, I decided to do one more just to make sure I was pretty familiar with the course. Compared to the CCCX race I had just done, this course seemed a little bit more technical (as technical as Ft. Ord can be) and more hilly with lots of short punchy climbs. After the second lap I headed back to the hotel to shower and then walked over to Gusto with my mom to eat dinner with the BOD team. I had tons of bread, a bowl of pasta with meat sauce, friend calamari, a caesar salad, and lots of water. I went back to my room a little bit early because I had to do some homework that was due by midnight. I got it all sorted out and got in bed with the lights out by about 9:30.

On the day of the race, I woke up at about 7:30, packed up the car, and headed to the venue, arriving just before 8. I put my bike and bags in their proper place and then grabbed a large bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and cashews for breakfast. I filled it a little too much and ended up not eating all of it. I then headed over to the start with Johnny and watched the girls’ starts. Once they were all on their way, I went back to the pit to put blocks on my top tube, fill water bottles, and get my bike on a trainer. At about 9:30ish I hopped on the bike to begin my warmup, during which I drank almost a full bottle with electrolytes and ate a gu. By the end of the warmup I was properly sweating and feeling good overall. I got my bike off the trainer, refilled my bottle, took off the leg warmers, and headed over to staging to make sure I got to start in the first row of general. Surprisingly I had no nerves while I waited at the start, and I ended up starting in the 5th or 6th row. During this time I was talking to the riders around me to make sure they knew to hold their lines and not make any crazy moves, because my last race start at Ft. Ord resulted in the worst scrape I’ve ever had, right at the start.

Coco announced the call ups, and then we were off! The start was super chill - I practically spun up the hill and just made sure I got onto the single track in front of the rest of my row, and without incident. Then on the following short little flat I made several passes before the first hill. On that hill it felt like we were moving pretty slowly and as we reached the top, I realized I was on the wrong side of a split in the field and I was losing time on the lead group. I passed the rest of the train as quickly as I could and ended up in front on the first real descent. I then developed a stomach cramp, which was really inconvenient and has never happened before. I tried to push through it and made a little gap on the riders behind me. After that point for the rest of the first lap and the first half of the second, I was alone. Occasionally I could see Arlo and another rider in the distance ahead of me, but I could not close the gap. I found myself struggling to the top on the climbs that I was able to power through during the CCCX race, and I continually had to back the pace off to catch my breath. For the majority of the race I was alone, trying to ignore my pain and close the gap between myself and Arlo. It seemed like he was at the top of every hill that I was at the bottom of, so I would try to catch him each time, but ended up failing. About halfway through the second lap I noticed that the other rider had dropped Arlo and he seemed to be getting tired. I knew it was time to really close the gap and on the gravel hill I came within about 10 ft of his wheel but lost him a bit again on the following descent. We stayed about 5 sec apart until the final large hill, where I gave everything I had left to catch him. By the top I was on his wheel, and was preparing to pass him, but a freshman rider was blocking my way. Arlo and I both rode around him at the same time, one of us on each side, but I was too gassed to pass Arlo as well. He remained ahead of me and ended up finishing 3 seconds ahead. 

Overall the race went okay, because I finished in the top 10, which was a major improvement from my starting position, but I think I could have been fresher on the hills and also could’ve done something differently nutrion-wise before the race so I wouldn’t have cramped up on the first lap.

- Andrew

Bishop O’dowd, Sophomore

Arlo Hadley - Fort Ord Race #1 2019

We got to the venue Friday afternoon at around 4. I did a lap with Andrew and a couple of freshman on the Tech team. I really liked the course compared to last year even though not much had changed but it flowed a lot better this year. I ate a decent meal with the team at Louis Linguini, went back to the hotel, showered and went to bed around 9:30. I woke up at around 8 and got to the venue right before the girls' start. This is when I realized that I should have woken up much earlier because I didn't have much time to eat, change, warmup and get my water bottles ready before the race. I ate a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and some nuts. Then I went to warm up with Johnny because my bike didn't fin in the trainers. We went up the paved road that is about a ten minute climb and put in a few little efforts to get warm. We got back to the pit and got my water bottles ready but I forgot to put dink mix in them. 

I got to the starting line just in time. I had 5th call up which was cool because it was my first time starting on the front line. I wasn't to too sure who to look out for because its the first race of the season and I didn't know how hard everyone was training. I got a pretty good start that put me in fifth place at the top of the first hill. The first quarter of the first lap i was in the front group because the leader at the time was going super slow. Once he burned out from leading everyone passed him and thats when the pace really picked up. 3 people passed me to catch up with the leading group and then it was just me and one other kid for the rest of the first lap. Right after we passed the finish line he passed me so i was alone. I rode the first half of the second lap without seeing anyone in front or behind me but then i saw Andrew about 50 feet behind me. I knew that if I let him sit on my wheel until the last hill he would pass me so I kept my pace up and didn't let him get any closer. At this point my back was killing me more than my legs were because I recently got a new bike but never got it fitted. Coming around to the last hill Andrew was a good 20 feet behind me so I knew that I had put in everything up the hill because it is really the last place to pass anyone. He tried to pass me right at the top of the hill but I had more energy left and was able to hold him off. After the last hill I flowed down the decent into the finish.

I wasn't too happy with how I placed because I came in 9th (loosing 4 places) but I will do better in the next race because I got my bike fit and the next race is Granite Bay which i really like.

What went well: my nutrition was good and I didn't cramp up.

What could have been better: I needed a bike fit.

Arlo Hadley

Oakland Tech, Sophomore

Lily O'Hare - Fort Ord Race #1 2019

Fort Ord Race Report

I got down to the course on Friday just in time for a good lap. Things were feeling pretty good, and I felt ready for some racing the next day. After a very fun team dinner, I was able to get a pretty solid 8 hours of sleep before the brutal 6:15 wake up. I got to the course at a good time, feeling surprisingly not stressed. Unfortch the oatmeal was not ready quite as early as I had hoped, so I only ate a few bites. I had a nice warm-up on the trainer and got my bottles and food dialed in. After a quick trip to the bathroom, disaster struck! My mom said they were getting me set up on a different bike because mine was unfit for racing. I gotta say, this kinda demolished my calmness. I started getting pretty nervous and I just thought it was kind of hypocritical that the coaches have been telling us not to change anything on our bikes less than a week before a race and then while my race is staging they hit me with a completely different set up. It’s chill though, things worked out fine and the guys from Trek were very helpful to get things ready on a nice bike.

I reveled in my number 1 call up because quite honestly I was not planning on winning. My start was subpar, definitely need some sprinting practice. I was sitting in fourth for most of the first lap, feeling good overall but hurtin more than I should on the uphills. At the end of the first lap, I got passed by both the people behind me to wind up in 6th. I wasn’t loving it, but kinda wasn’t feeling the power it motivation to change it. It was pretty difficult for me to get my water bottle out of the cage so I took my first ever bottle feed and chugged some, then tossed it. My second lap was pretty chill, I didn’t encounter anyone from my race but got to see some of my teammates. I finished kinda bummed, but not altogether horrible. I was glad to see my brother at the finish and I had lots of fun heckling the other races. Excited for the season!


Bishop O’dowd, Sophomore

Max McFadden - Fort Ord Race #1 2019


Max McFadden

Oakland Composite, Varsity

Hi team,

I got to the venue on Friday in time to do 1.5 laps of pre-ride, but I wasn't really stressed about it since it's fort ord (and pretty much the same course as last year). I ate a late dinner with the team, showered, rolled out my legs, and got in bed a bit before 10. I had a mediocre sleep and got up at 7. For Breakfast #1 I had a couple of rice cakes with almond butter and banana on top, then another banana with almond butter. I did some heckling with Karp and Cam in the morning and then I headed back to the team tent to get breakfast #2. I found all of my old riding buddies who're at UCSC near the tent and we all exchanged greetings. For breakfast #2 I ate a big bowl of oatmeal with a banana in it and a couple spoon fulls of almond butter. At around 10:40 I started moving around on my bike getting ready to warm-up. I ate half of a bagel with cream cheese and got on my way with Hunter. First we rode some cutty trails behind the race course, and then got to actually warming up with a few 4 minute sub-threshold efforts on the paved hill down the road. I did some sprints and felt ready to go. 

I was 1st call-up which was sick but all good things must come to an end. Spoiler Alert. My race plan was to get the hole-shot at the start, and then win. I got the hole shot at the start, no problem. I powered up the first climb and led the descent, then started doing some serious chilling when we got to the flat section after the descent. We were all soft pedaling and I was making conversation for a little while, which I was okay with since nobody seemed like they wanted to attack anyway. I cruised pretty easily up the first climb following the descent, still dilly-dallying pretty hard. Then Nate Davis came around me like a bullet and put in a big attack. After about 1 minute it was me, Nate, and Saldaña off the front with a little gap. It might've been nice if we made the move stick but unfortunately for that idea, neither me or Saldaña were feeling like pulling so we soft-pedaled away and got caught by everybody pretty quickly. We were in a pretty fat group of 8 or so for most of the race, I think thinning out to 6-ish by the last lap. I sat in the top 2 for most of the race, and didn't really go anywhere further back than 3rd for the whole thing. Nobody was really pulling at all, except for some random sprinty attacks on short steep climbs whenever someone was feeling like a hero. Anyway, going into the second half of the last lap I knew that positioning was crucial, especially in the last half mile or so of the race. There weren't any good places to pass once you crossed the road and there wasn't much room for a sprint finished so I figured whoever was ahead at that point would most likely win. I sprinted ahead in what I thought was the last good place to pass, and got myself into 1st. My legs were pretty cooked at this point (not exactly sure why), and it turns out I misjudged the course, because a few moments later saldaña came flying around me into 1st. I was still right on him and I did all I could to try to get around him before that final steep hill but he would sprint every time I did and he just had more left in the tank than I did. My legs sorta quit halfway up the last climb and saldaña made a little gap that would be tough to close in the short distance to the finish. Nobody could get around me but I wasn't really focused on getting 2nd at that point, I was just frustrated that Saldaña got away from me. This ended up being not so productive, and in frustration I lost focus going into the finish and got sprinted around by Cam to put me in 3rd at the line. I was just glad it was my buddy Cam that beat me and not somebody else! 

I was not very happy at the end of this race so I rode off and took some time to ride alone to take a moment and step back a little bit. This helped my mood a lot, although I am sorry to have missed the team circle. I know that 3rd varsity is a good result so I hope that I didn't come off as ungrateful, it just wasn't the result I was aiming for.

What went well: didn't have any major bike or nutritional issues, raced smart for most of it

What to improve: Put in some more training

Max M

Oakland Composite, Varsity

Max McFadden - NICA State Championship

Max McFadden - Oakland Composite, Varsity

Max McFadden - Oakland Composite, Varsity

I tapered for over a week for this race, and really I had dropped the volume from my training by 2 weeks before the race, now just focusing on really short, high intensity intervals to get a little bit of extra top end and rest out the fatigue that had accumulated throughout the season. I was worried that this tapering would be all for nothing though, as I had prom the night before the race. I found out at sea otter this year that standing and walking around can really tire out your legs for the next day, but I had fun at prom and my legs ended up feeling just fine on race day. My goal for this race was to get onto the podium.

On Saturday morning, My brother, coach ray, and I drove up to the course to pre-ride. I was planning on doing at least 3 laps of pre-ride, but after 2 slow-ish laps, I was 1:40 into my ride and the course was the same as last year, but worse, so I really just didn't want to ride it anymore and I quit after 2 laps. We then went home, and started preparing for prom after eating at ~2. Prom was really fun, and I got home around 12:30, feeling hungry. We made some oatmeal loaded up with fruit and almonds, and then got to bed around 1. I was able to squeeze in almost 7 hours of sleep, and I started my morning with a big smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, Protein powder, cocoa powder, dry oats, peanut butter, greek yogurt, kale, Maca powder, and almond milk). We left a bit before 9, picking up Caleb on our way to the venue. When we got there, I had a second breakfast which consisted of more oatmeal, with a tiny bit of syrup, and a bunch of almonds. I went up and heckled for a bit, but came back down to the pit at 11:30 to squeeze in a banana and a bagel with almond butter. I got kitted up, got my bottles ready, and started warming up at ~12:20. I did my normal warm-up (15 min easy, 2*(4 mins sub-threshold, 5 mins easy), 10-15 mins easy w/ 2-3 30 second spin-ups), and drank a bit less than 2 bottles w/ drink mix for warm-up, and ate a gu while lining up at the start. I got my race bottle at the start line from mom, and got a lucky first row call-up since the 5th place call-up wasn't there.

When we started, I missed my pedal the first time around, but I got in the 2nd time and was able to take the hole shot from Dylan without too much trouble. But this was just for the glory, so when we hit the dirt I let him and Noah come around to pull up the climb. I fell back a couple more places as people were still making aggressive passes early in the race, but I sat in 5th pretty comfortably all the way up the climb. When we started to come down from the climb, I somehow dropped a chain on one of the fast, flat-ish sections, and with everybody lined up early on in the race, this lost me ~12 places, pushing me back into 17th or so. I feared for a minute that this would kill my chances at a podium, but I saw that the leaders weren't really that far ahead of me. I made a couple passes, but got caught behind Julian LePelch who was in 14th at the time, and he wouldn't let me pass. I was calling out and starting to come around over and over, but he was riding aggressively and defending his position. This was frustrating, but I was pretty soon able to come around him and I made my way back up through the field. Coming through the first lap, I think I was in 6th, about 5 or 6 seconds off of Noah and Dylan. I caught back on to the front of the race early in the climb though, and was feeling really strong, seeing that the field was starting to break apart and spread out behind me. I saw Caleb 1 long switchback behind me, and he yelled "Max!" to which I replied "Caleb!". Near the top of the climb, I began feeling confident in my legs, and I took the lead and pulled the last bit of the climb and into the descent. I still felt really good, and was going pretty quick through the loose sorta berm section, but unfortunately I lost my rear wheel on an especially loose corner, and went down harder than I though I would. I got back up, and my bars were totally crooked, so I quickly twisted them approximately back to being straight, which ended up not being very straight at all, but I though whatever and hopped back on in 5th I think, and the lead group had 15-20 seconds on me I think. I chased hard, again fearing that this would cost me the result that I was capable of, and I sorta noticed that my thumb was hurting a bit, which I figured could sprained or broken, since anything less than that I don't think I would've felt during a race (turns out it's fractured). I caught back onto the front group before the end of the lap, and my legs were a bit fried going into the climb, but I hopped up into 2nd anyway on Noah's wheel, who luckily took it easy for the majority of the climb, which meant I had some time to recover. Towards the top of the climb Noah turned it up to a solid fast pace, and the group thinned out to 4 of us, Me, Noah, Dylan, and Luke Lamperti. Noah kept up a good pace on the descent as well, which meant that roadie phenom Luke Lamperti was hurtin and had to chase back onto us 3 after every little downhill section. My legs started to cramp a bit towards the end of the 3rd lap, which I was bummed about since I did my nutrition perfectly (good pre-race, 1 gu and 1/2 of a bottle per lap) and got worse on the 4th lap, but it still wasn't terrible. He had a bit of work to do as we rolled through for the 4th lap, but he got back onto our group near the bottom of the climb, and his someone yelled "C'MON LUKE DON'T LET THESE KIDS PLAY YOU", which Luke clearly didn't hear as he was subsequently dropped when Noah started pedalling hard a few seconds later. I was surprised and relieved that Luke dropped off quite hard, but Noah was pushing a really hard pace, and I was just barely able to hang on to him and Dylan until nearly the top of the climb. But once they got away from me, my legs were totally dead and I was cramping pretty bad, and I kinda accepted that I wasn't gonna be able to reel them back in, as they had a big gap on me shortly after I dropped off. However, I still pedalled hard when I could, but there was nobody behind me in sight which was a relief, although I probably could've done the last lap a little bit faster than it ended up being. But I came through with at least a minute between me and 4th, and 45 seconds back from Dylan. I was really happy about my result, and my legs felt stronger than they ever have. I'm really happy to end my Norcal Season with this result, and I'm looking forward to racing Wente and Downieville this summer! See you guys on the trails

Max McFadden, varsity boys, Oakland Composite 3 / 65

Lily O'Hare - NICA State Championships

Lily O’Hare, Bishop O’Dowd, Freshman

Lily O’Hare, Bishop O’Dowd, Freshman

Popped over to Petaluma Saturday afternoon to pre-ride with my dad and bro. Got in one lap with berry and felt fine. Because I was going slow, the climb felt chill and descents felt sketchy. I didn’t try to go fast at all but I knew when the time would come I’d be struggling. I was also getting pretty congested from all the plant life, which was no fun. We drove home, and I had my first night before a race in my own bed. It was nice to get to sleep at an early hour and rest well. I woke up bright and early and made it to the course at around 7:45. I ate some oatmeal, relaxed with the girls, and got ready to hop on the bikes. My warmup felt fine, nothing noteworthy except that I was feeling far less stressed for this race. I rode up to the start and hung out with the other freshman callups. They were all friendly and they were all feeling the same way I was, which is nice to know. I lined up in the third row, next to fellow south conference rider Risa Sundu. We chatted a little and I was feeling good. I was nervous for the start because this was my first race not starting in the front row. Thanks to berry trading my pedals for his, I clipped in immediately and went off. I was about top ten going into the climb and felt ready to work my way up. I had to do a quick dismount when a girl stopped going up a corner, but it was all good. Now, even though I said the climb felt chill during my pre-ride, it was feeling deadly at race pace. I just didn’t feel fast with all the bumps and turns. I was able to pass some people towards the top and felt good going into the descent. Right after the twisty section in the shade, I got passed by this girl on a full suspension pivot riding flats and I knew she was gonna be ripping the upcoming descent. I made a goal to stay with her until I could make a move on the climb, but if we flash forward that didn’t happen. I did my best going around those turn’s, Berry’s words of advice ringing in my ears. When I got down to the flatter area with all the rv’s, I got passed again. I couldn’t get myself to go fast going over all the bumps, but I promise I did my best. Going up the climb the second time felt a lot better, but it was still brutal. I was able to make some passes, which boosted my morale. Unfortunately, it dropped again as I went down the descent. After I caught up to this one JV rider, a pack of like four freshman flew up and made a pass. Even though I’ve discussed it many times with Caleb, I didn’t hop in with their pass. In that group was Risa and Olivia Hurley, two South Conference riders. That hurt because I knew I had it in my to beat them but I couldn’t execute it. But then I came around one corner and saw Olivia had wiped out. I took my chance to pass and tried to keep this position. As I came down through the field and to the twisty part, I saw Risa about 50 feet in front of me. It was frustrating because I might've had the power to catch her but I just couldn’t put out the necessary watts. Anyhow, I got passed by the varsity girls near the end and finished feeling strong. I got 21st, which was not quite what I was hoping but I think I gave it my all and I actually had some fun. Also had a blast at the team party and during the whole season. What went well: starting and just racing with a bigger field, passing. What to work on: keep up my training over the summer and next season, drink more during races.

Lily O'Hare, freshman girls, Bishop O'Dowd, 21 / 53

Andrew Fee - NICA State Championships

Before driving out to the course on Saturday, I had my dad wrap my wrist because it was feeling a little weak after being in a brace for three weeks. My mom and I then drove out to the course at around 9:00 and aimed to be there at 10:00. Once we got to the pit zone we ended up helping out with the setup for about an hour. Shortly after, and around maybe 11:30, Scott and I did two laps of the course. My legs were feeling pretty good (thanks to the Binders’ trainer) and on the downhill I felt pretty confident. I didn’t really enjoy how bumpy the course was, and the dust was awful to ride in without glasses. After the preride my mom and I returned home where I rested in preparation for Sunday.

On Sunday we returned to the venue at around 8:30 to watch the girls start. Afterwards I went up to the Stanford medical tent to see if they could tape up my wrist. They did, but it was very tight and uncomfortable, so I took the wrap off almost immediately. I then went to Dara and Tom to see if they could do a better job. Tom supplied some athletic tape that Dara expertly applied to my wrist and it felt very comfortable. After that it was about another hour until I had to start warming up. I felt strange on the trainer, because my bike was tilted at an angle so I was constantly trying to keep myself upright. After warming up I ran to the bathrooms and then got my bike to head up to staging with Alex. I was in general staging because of participating in only 3 races, so I was planning to be in one of the first rows of general. Unfortunately, Alex and I got there late and we ended up being in the second to last row, where I realized that I would not be placing well.

Almost immediately after the start, where the road transitioned into gravel, a kid from the last row tried to come around me from the left and pass me. He failed, and rode straight into my back wheel, which ironically was exactly what happened at Ft. Ord in the beginning of the season. Fortunately I caught myself from completely falling, but I had to unclip both feet to get back on the bike, which put me in dead last. The rest of the race was just a game of catch up. Towards the top of my first time up the long hill, I got into a groove behind a kid from Petaluma who also seemed to be trying to make up ground. He was making very smart passes so I decided to draft behind him for a while and take advantage of the passes he was making. For the rest of the first lap and about halfway up my second time up the hill, I stayed behind the Petaluma rider. However, on the second time up the hill he began to burn out, and told me to pass him, which I did. My legs started to cramp up right before the shaded downhill section, so I told him to take back the lead. He replied with “I’m flatlining,” so I decided to make a push. I eventually lost him and caught up to another big group to head into the downhill section. The dust got so bad that I began to close my eyes on straight sections of the course to give them a break. Soon before the first feed zone, I started making passes. By the end of the race I had passed the entire group and had probably a 5 second gap on the front of the group.

After the race I learned that I placed 42nd out of 80, so I ended up passing almost half the field in two laps, which is as good as I could have hoped for after the terrible start.

Over the summer I need to work on drinking (with electrolytes), wearing glasses while riding, and downhill skills.

Andrew Fee, freshman boys, Bishop O'Dowd, 42 / 80

Caleb O'Hare: NICA California State Championship

Caleb O’Hare - Bishop O’Dowd, Varsity

Caleb O’Hare - Bishop O’Dowd, Varsity

On Saturday, I drove up to Petaluma with my old man and kid sister. My plan was to pop to the Mike’s Bikes tent and ask if they could fix up the lockout on Trevor’s bike, which he graciously allowed me to ride for this race. When I got there, they said I would just have to wait a little bit before they could get to me. So I waited. Other kids started coming in and popped in front of me and I waited longer while Mike’s adjusted their brakes. Eventually, after my Pa and sis had completed a lap, it was my turn to get checked up. The man looked at the lockout, decided it was too much to deal with (not his fault, he had a lot to do) and cut off the cable for the lockout. Oh well, no lockout. I like to go fast when I’m by myself so I went out and did a lap in about 29 minutes. I realized I would not need a lockout. The course was in horrible condition, and I was extremely grateful to be on a full suspension, it made a world of difference. I didn’t mind the climb; I’m usually better at longer climbs rather than sprinty ones. I got to the top of the climb and was stoked for the descent. But to my dismay, there was not really a descent. I had to pedal the entire time. Bummer! This race would test the powerful. Near the end of the lap, the course only deteriorated. Again, I was thankful for a full suspension. I finished my lap fast and talked with friends for a bit before heading home. It was nice to sleep in my own bed before the race.

            I headed up around 9 with the McFaddens. I downed some food and heckled for a good while with the lads. My warmup went well and I was feeling prepared as I could be. I drank a bottle with 2 scoops of gu powder in my warmup and filled 3 more bottles with 2 scoops for the race. Before the race, I downed a delicious birthday cake gu (I like to have 1 before the race and 1 every lap). I was in the 5th row for the start, behind Birdo and next to Emmet. We embarrassed Noah and made some North conference kids laugh at how un-serious we were taking the start. Then, it was time to go. The start was fast, but luckily not too long before we hit dirt (unlike SoCal state champs). Josh Vahlberg passed me and I was behind Emmet up the climb. It was a fast pace but I was feeling great. I passed Emmet and worked my way up the stream of riders. It wasn’t long before I found myself in a familiar position – lots in front of me but no one behind me. I liked this position, it meant I had nowhere to go but up. By the downhill, our group of the top ~20 varisty riders had a pretty good gap on anyone behind us, and I was stoked to come through the first lap on the tail end of the lead group. On the climb, I passed more people who had destroyed themselves on the first lap, including the SoCal leader and a couple other fast kids from SoCal. A lot of them were on hardtails, I felt for their pain. But I was happy to have a fun little group of Colin Ellsworth; a fast guy from the north conference, Josh Vahlberg; another friend who’s been really fast all season, and a kid from Tam High who had actually caught on to our group from starting last – he was the JV leader last year. Our group mobbed past even more riders and stayed together for a lap. By the third lap, I was still feeling mint. Colin had gone off the front, Josh had taken a big ol’ digger but was still in front of me, and the Tam High kid had also taken a nice roll in the dust and couldn’t really catch back on to me and Josh. I led Josh for a bit up the climb, and saw my pals Max and Noah a big switchback up. I shouted to them, and was happy to be somewhat close to the leaders. Partway up the climb, we started to reel in Matt Saldaña (He won JV state champs last year). Not even his S-Works epic hardtail could save him on this course. I asked Josh if we would like to lead again, and he did. We were really starting to catch Matt, and before the top of the climb, we passed him. Josh and I were fully prepared to drop him on the descent, even if it was fairly nonexistent – Matt is a super fast rider, but has been known to be a bit behind the curve on the DH. Even though Josh and I were clearly going faster than Matt when we passed him, he hung on our wheels, and that sly fox passed us before the descent! I was not happy with that. It allowed me to rest up a bit, however. Josh managed to sneak passed Matt on a quick climb and I tried to follow but couldn’t quite make it. Now I was getting a little flustered as Josh was getting away and I was stuck behind Matt, who was slowing me down at this point. On the “berms” downhill, I went for a left side pass, and instead of letting me by, he began to close in on the left side, completely blocking me. We were both going very fast, and a Danger sign was coming up directly in front of me since he was pushing me to the side. I knew I would have to bunnyhop it, crash, or skid to a stop. Angrily, I skidded to a stop. Josh was now pretty far ahead, and I was now realizing that Matt wasn’t going to make passing him easy. So I had to follow Matt for a bit more, before I stormed by him, making sure he couldn’t catch back on. At this point, I was coming into the last lap. I was by myself on the climb, with Josh about 30 seconds ahead and the Tam High kid about 20 seconds behind. On the climb, I caught up to yet another bonked rider, except this guy was on a full suspension. Even still, the undulating bumps had crushed him. We chatted for a while, and he was actually hanging on to my wheel for a decent bit. I kept looking back to see if the Tam High was catching up to me. Luckily, although he was still close behind, he wasn’t making up time on me. Even though I had a gu at the start of the lap, I still had one left, so I decided to eat it to really make sure I wouldn’t bonk and get passed by the Tam High kid. This was my 5th gu of the race. By the top of the climb, I could still see Josh in certain sections. I really wish I had been able to hang with Josh, because I was still feeling strong and we could’ve worked together to make up time. But alas, he was pretty much doing that by himself, as he passed a bear dev rider, Julian Lepelch, who was now the next guy in front of me. Rather than trying to hammer and catch him, I decided to just keep it smooth and fast till the finish. My race was already going so well I didn’t want to risk destroying myself to make up just 1 place. So, I did just that – I ignored the pain, drank some juice, and kept it smooth through the corners. I still hammered where I could, and near the end of the lap I knew that the guy behind me was far enough back where I could relax a bit. On one of the final flat sections right near the finish, Morgan told me, “Noah won!” I was so amazed and happy for my friend. We sometimes give him a hard time, but we all love him lots and are so proud of the rider he’s become. I came through the finish with a random JV rider, and decided to sprint for the heck of it. Just like Matt Saldaña, he drove me into the side of the course and I had to stop pedaling. But whatever, who cares – it’s my last NorCal race! I still sprinted to the line with him and might’ve beaten him. I finished dirty, battered, but still feeling like I might’ve had a little more. I gave Max a nice hug, took some pics, and congratulated Noah. Not long after, Birdo finished, and Dan and Emmet came across the line holding hands. What a lovely memento for our last race. In the end, I had finished 12thplace out of the 65 riders in varsity. This was probably my best race this season. I was 23rdcallup, so I beat a lot of riders ranked higher than me, and finished not too far behind the 11 fastest high schoolers in Cali. What a great way to end my high school cycling career. Time to get fat over summer! In all seriousness, racing NorCal has been an amazing experience, and I can’t thank our fabulous Oakland Composite coaches enough. Morgan, you have done so much for the team, and me and I will always be grateful for it. Scott, you always push me to be better on and off the bike, without you I’d probably be fat and slow. And to all the other coaches – you have put so much effort to making this team the awesome, state-champ winning team it is (just wait till next year, and we’ll have 2 varsity state champs under our belts ;) ). I love you all Oakland Composite, and I think this is what I’ll miss most after leaving high school. Thank you!

Caleb O’Hare, varsity boys, Bishop O'Dowd, 12 / 65

Ander Bjork: NICA California State Championships

Ander Bjork, Piedmont High, Varsity

Ander Bjork, Piedmont High, Varsity

The last race. The very last high school race. This is what was going through my head as we drove north from Piedmont on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We managed to fill up two full trucks with the PHS team and our camping gear. Before too long in the car, we were driving through beautiful rolling hills of Northern California. It was wonderfully green. When we arrived at the preride there were not too many folks there. We drove our trucks up to the camping spot and parked, laying out our gear to claim a spot. Matt headed down to the OC pit to grab some stuff and my car group waited for Lyndon’s, who had stopped at In N Out. We got set up for the pre ride and were heading down the trail when Robert got unlucky on a turn and gashed his arm badly. We traded bikes and went to the finish, where he got professional assistance and eventually an ER trip. That put a bit of a damper on the mood for preride. The course was exactly how I remembered it, except more dusty. 

After the ride, we set up camp and were excited to hear that Robert had not needed stitches and would be coming back to camp the night with us - Yay! That lifted everybody’s spirits and let us have a blast at the BBQ. I ate way too much delicious ranch food and tried to stay warm outside (but eventually settled on the floor of the barn). Then it was team camping fun (including a poorly lit night hike, sparkly tent LEDs, doggie-bagged desert, and many laughs), and I stayed cozy in my Chewbacca onesie. We all gave in to my dad’s pleas and the cold wind, turning in just before 10:00.

Put-pupupupuppu. Put-pupupuppuupupupppupuppuupupuppuupu! The noisy generator of some lameo got turned on at 4:45, and I was woken up. Nathan and I had shared a tent and both had to be somewhere at 8:00: he at volunteering, me at Stanford bike fit. For that reason we got up around 7:00 and packed up real quick. I then grabbed a disappointingly cold breakfast at the OC pit. It turns out that most people had not camped, and the scrambled eggs and bacon of last race were replaced with bagels and shmeers. Luckily one of the parents had peeled some hard boiled eggs so I had two. In retrospect, I wish I had been more diligent about my pre-race nutrition.

Stanford bike fit was fun and they told me my fit was near-perfect. Good. Then it was the usual morning of heckling, with lots of team cheers. I was excited to find the NorCal flag displayed prominently on a dune-buggy. It had been missing for a long, long, time.

I got chewed out for cutting across the course near the finish. I hadn’t really been paying attention to the crossing guard and saw the coast was clear, obliviously hopping under the red tape and getting across. This was not a good choice. I tried to run away but he was really angry so I went and talked him down about it (making sure to cover my Oakland Comp hat in case the schmoozing went badly). Nice guy, actually. I learned to cross just before the feed and avoid the big crossing (and his yelling) entirely.

Julien, Conor, Robert, Aaron, and I got very ambitious with our heckling and hiked all the way to the big switchbacks. We got to see some super fast Sophomore boys rippen through and one of them even dusted Julien on the berm. My first time at Petaluma there had been a couple of gorillas over there cheering. Unfortunately, my Dad wanted us to “rest in the shade” so we headed back pretty soon. I didn’t grab any more food, but I got all ready for my race. 

Warm up was good (maybe a little too hard), and I hopped off the trainer feeling calm - until I heard that they had already staged Varsity boys. I fumbled my precious strawberry-banana GU and ran to the bathroom, then got up the hill in time to squeeze into the last row of general staging. Ouch. Once again I got weirdly lucky and Ezra moved me up one precious row to fill a hole. Now there were 60 Varsity boys in front of me. States definitely felt more intimidating this year because I’ve gotten the “cushy varsity” experience from being in a smaller category. This race I had to face a bigger crowd!

Despite being in the 2nd to last row the start was ridiculously fast and disorganized. I probably made up a couple of spots, but nothing too major. Then came the first climb. Remembering my previous race result of 10th place, I decided I would try to get to around 30th place. This meant I should pass around 30 people. I proceeded to up the pace whenever possible for that first climb - I probably passed about 10 guys. Luckily the track was pretty wide and we had it to ourselves so the going was smooth. After spotting Kai and Liam from SF Comp I decided I would catch them up. I got up to Kai about ⅔ of the way through the climb and was happy when he couldn’t hold my wheel. Liam continued to elude me for the rest of the lap. I had beat him at Six Sigma, so I thought if I got up to him I could stay there and do well. However, I never caught him up. He was the tantalizing candy around the corner for the first three laps, then disappeared. I am still glad I tried to catch up because I knew I wanted to push myself as hard as possible this last race.

When I started feeling tired at the beginning of lap 2 I slammed a GU and drank plenty of water. Same for lap 3. It felt like a blur, except the descent, which I rallied. On one of the dustiest corners I slid out and ate some fine grade dust. But my bike and I were both  totally OK and I was honestly quite happy that I was pinning it - usually I am not gutsy enough to go too fast. I was riding with a nice Sam Varsity dude who had a big cheer squad. And I was sad to pass Emmet near the top of the hill. He reminded me that I needed to save my energy for later, but I was still pursuing Liam at that point. Lap 3 I passed a few more people on the climb, even though NorCal reports this was my slowest lap. Before starting the climb for the last time ever I was feeling pretty beat. A group of 5 or so riders started to catch me up, and I lost a place for the first time in the race. I pushed harder than I ever have and managed to stay around 10 seconds ahead of the group. On the flatter parts I put down energy and built up a decent gap. But somehow they caught back up just before the campsite, and I caught up to 2 more who maybe hadn’t realized it was the end of the race. So then I was leading a group of 6 or 7 Varsity boys into the last leg of the race. As I was working hard to keep them off my tail I saw a red blur speed by. Berto turned around in his saddle and urged me to hold his wheel. Ouch! I tried to and he did help me a lot to keep up my speed. I managed to stay ahead of the group until Sam passed me on the new tight switchback section before the steep descent. That was disappointing, but I shrugged it off because I was too exhausted anyway. 

Coming into the finish I tried to catch Sam in front, not realizing there was another guy right behind me until it was too late. He slipped by as I tried frantically to get up my speed over the gravel and bumps. As I smashed my pedal down, my calf cramped up and I could see him sail away. It was frustrating (I grunted “NO!” through my clenched teeth), because I felt like I could have beat him if I’d known he was there and had been in a better gear. I also think that my mindset was responsible for my inability to beat him; as I saw him I felt it was already too late. It was a disappointing way to end, but I was consoled by the fact that I’d had a ridiculously strong race. From my starting position, I had passed 31 Varsity Boys, earning myself a spot as 29th in the state. And more than I have in any past race (which is actually saying something if you know me) I left every ounce of strength, endurance, and grit on that dusty 1.5 track.

Thank you all for an amazing season, an amazing 4 years! I am honored to have been part of such a fantastic team.

Much Love, Anders

Anders Bjork, Varsity Boys, Piedmont, 29 / 65

Arlo Hadley - Six Sigma

We drove up to Six Sigma around 1 on Saturday. I could definitely tell how hot and dry the race would be just from pulling up to the preride.  I got dressed and went for a pretty relaxed preride with Matthew, where I tried to drink a little bit too much so I could get a good sense of where I could drink during the race.  Because previously at Granite Bay I did not drink enough.  I had some troubles going around a few corners at first, but got the feeling for the course.  I could  definitely tell how bumpy it would be on race day.  My left hand was hurting because of the bumps and gripping too hard (this recurred in the race).  Just from the preride I knew I didn't like the course because you could not keep or gain any speed due to all the corners.

After the preride we set up camp and headed to The Spot for dinner.  I ordered spaghetti and meatballs, but only got one meatball.  It was pretty good.  I also had a few pieces of garlic bread with barely any garlic or butter. So it was pretty much plain toast.

We decided to go walk down the street to Fosters Freeze but about a half mile away from the restaurant, we realized it was an hour and ten minute walk, so we all got picked up and went back to the camp site to fall asleep.

I slept pretty well and woke up a little bit late, but that extra 45 minutes made me feel really rested.  I ate a bowl of oatmeal with a half a banana and brown sugar and some nuts.  We watched the girls' starts, but didn't really notice much about the course affecting the starts. Then we all hooked our bikes up to start warming up. We did a pretty easy warm up with 20 minutes of spin and three ramp-ups to 130 rpms, and then we spun out for another 5 minutes. I drank a little more than a bottle of water.  We got ready for staging and the heat was really picking up. Lucas and I had a little chat with Garrett, the Freshman Leader about where he trains and how he does school. Then the call ups - I had a 7th place call up just behind Lucas. I was not feeling too great just because of nerves and my stomach, but once the race started it all settled and I wasn't focusing on that anymore.

From the start I lost a few positions because both people on either side were very close and we were touching bars.  Off the bat I wasn't feeling too good in my momentum and carrying my speed, but I held this position for a while before a few more people passed me. Then I was pretty much alone with Riley from Hayward Composite and didn't really lose or gain any positions until the final sprint.. My hand was hurting especially bad because I was going race pace and I was also nervous, so I had to shake it out a few times.  I was having fun with the little bits of downhill that there was, and trying to flow the course as much as possible, but the bumpiness of the trail on my hardtail was definitely not helping. I hit two right-handed corners harder than I should have and slid out and barely got my foot out on the ground and managed to not crash.

After the road crossing in the first lap, Andrew was cheering me on through all of the tight swtichbacks and up the hill, which made me feel good and push harder. After that hill I knew that most of the hard parts of that first lap were over, so I pushed pretty hard.  I ate one shotblock right before the feed zone because i knew there would be water to wash it down.  At this point I was feeling pretty hot and when Coach Scott asked if I wanted a bottle poured over my head I said YES hoarsely with my dry voice.  I messed up the feed zone a little bit because I didn't drop my empty water bottle before hand, so I ended up with a bottle in my cage and a bottle in my hand, so I couldn't keep the full bottle.  I ended up drinking about a quarter of it and then dropped it at the end of the feed zone.

Going into the 2nd lap I was feeling pretty strong and pushing it up all the hills possible.  I caught up with a big group of riders that was stuck behind some D1 kids in the technical steep hills, so that slowed me down a bit.  But that caught me up with the SF Composite kid that I stayed with until the end.  After what seemed to be 20 switchbacks in a row, I pushed really hard up that hill because I knew it was one of the last ones and I was almost done with the race.  From then on out I was right behind that SF Comp kid, but I never had an opportunity to pass.  So I waited until the first straight at the end to get close to him, and then right after the last corner I sprinted extremely hard and passed him at the last second.

Once I caught my breath and some water, Andrew and I cheered on the rest of the Freshman Oakland boys through the finish. I went and ate some cold rice and some chicken and some chips and some chocolate milk.

What went well:  I had enough energy at the finish to win the sprint.  I didn't fall, and I stayed positive.

What I could work on:  I need to start training with electrolytes so I can race with them.  I also need to improve my speed on short steep climbs starting with no speed.

Arlo Hadley, freshman boys, Oakland Tech, 13 / 29