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

Anders Bjork - Six Sigma

Anders Bjork - Piedmont High, Varsity

Anders Bjork - Piedmont High, Varsity

The Piedmont team drove up during lunch on Saturday. I was pretty excited to camp and race at one of my favorite courses. I did two preride laps at a decent pace, getting a feel for the corners and where to push hard on race day. I felt confident that I would have a strong race based on my previous result of 15th place. This had been after my prom, and I had only gotten 4-5 hours of sleep and still earned my best result. That experienced convinced me of the importance of a positive attitude going into the race. I think the reason that I did well then was that I was in a stellar mood. I knew that camping with the team would have a similar effect and enable me to get more sleep, so I was optimistic about my chances.
      Camping was, as predicted, a blast. Although there was no option to swim because the creek was low, I managed to take a decent solar shower and avoid a chamois violation. We ate some delicious pasta and lots of chips and veggies with dinner. Then I led a bike-cleaning clinic, giving Robert and Ben some tips on proper bike cleaning and (finally) managing to clean our Trek Fuel Ex. Us kids wandered around and eventually settled at the campfire, where we roasted bare marshmallows (and got some smores later when the “fixin’s” appeared) I laughed until I cried multiple times and was giddy going to bed. In the tent next door, I eavesdropped on Nathan, Aaron, and Conor. They realized I was listening when I cracked up at a joke. We all couldn’t stop laughing for a while. Then Robert and I slept from around 11:00 to about 7:00 with some midnight bathroom trips (sorry Robert). I was urged from my bed by the rising heat of the tent and Coco’s wake up calls at about 7:15 in the morning.
      Knowing my usual tendency to skip breakfast when I am supposed to eat it, I chose to make myself a breakfast sandwich just before 8:00, complete with bacon, egg, and sausage on a bagel. I added some tasty yogurt and granola and lots of fruit to make it the real deal. I didn’t get too nervous and was able to enjoy it.
After helping the ladies get fully ready for their races (some OC stamping was instrumental) I headed to the Stanford Bike Fit tent to check about bringing Megan over to look at Coach Tom’s calf, which he worried he had sprained. Unfortunately, she had already been sent out on course so I relayed Tom’s request. I did the usual heckling for Ella and my other friends in the Ladies Races. It was a pretty typical morning except that it lacked the usual anxiety; I felt less nervous than ever before, allowing me to enjoy the pre-race festivities.
       My optimism continued as I warmed up on the trainer. Despite being a bit behind schedule, Jhonny and Tom helped us get an excellent warmup - I felt very strong at the start and not burnt out. I hydrated excessively, drinking more than 2 bottles with electrolyte tabs in them during the hour before my race. I gulped a GU 10 minutes before starting and soaked my jersey top in water to give me an initial cooldown in the heat. Because it was a hot day I took extra precautions to make all of my bottles electrolyte-laden and feed-ready.

      I arrived at the lineup just in time to grab the last spot in the first General Staging row. Usually, I am earlier, but this race was quite close. I got extra lucky when Ezra moved me up a row because of two missing call-ups. We didn’t dilly dally too much and when Coco said “GO” I put down a good strong effort. The two riders in front of me were particularly fast, and my little row surged ahead, placing me around 12th going under the tunnel. I passed a few more riders on the wider sections of the finishing area, eventually getting to around 8th place for the first climb. Liam of Albany couldn’t ride as fast as he initially started, and I never saw SF Liam. This meant that my Liam-Liam Tour was going well. Soon Emmet got in front of me and I decided to just hang behind him as much as I could. Although I didn’t initially expect it to be the whole race, I ended up sticking with him and hanging on. He was really fun to ride with and very encouraging. Furthermore, I was in about 8th place, making this already my strongest race of the year. Remembering last race, I continued my optimism and believed I could stay up there. The first lap was uneventful other than getting the wrong bottle feed; however, this was a blessing because I did not grab the correct one and they were awesome about getting me a backup. The pit zone was just too fast, chaotic, and confusing because everyone was taking a feed and we were getting water-doused as well as given bottles. I also saw that the PHS feed team was (pleasantly) surprised how early I got there. They were not alone in their excitement. Almost everyone who knew me and saw me racing with Emmet in 8th place got super excited and cheered wildly. This improved my morale and helped me stay in that position. It was an awesome feedback loop.
      We didn’t catch any JV riders until pretty late in lap #2. By then I had settled into my routine and was contentedly following Emmet, enjoying his company, his pacing, and his encouragements. Caleb had caught us up after dealing with some mechanicals and brought the El Cerrito rider Evan Garrison with him. We had a nice little pack of 4 Varsity boys. Unfortunately, we happened upon a wobbly JV rider on a dusty switchback, and he freaked out and fell down. I had to stop and ended up falling over in the process. I avoided him and Caleb and Evan pretty much let me hop back on in front of them, which was very sportsmanlike. I noticed that riding in a group of about 4 makes passing JV riders more intimidating, and we actually had a similar incident to this one later on too. This was disappointing because I always try to do very safe passes. I think these poor racers just became distracted when they heard us coming up hot on their heels.
      The race continued on pretty much as I have described, with Emmet leading me and Caleb and Evan. On one of the last climbs of lap three, Caleb passed me, which I was ok with because he has been doing much better. In retrospect, I wish I had tried to keep in front of him because he could have pushed me to stay with him and Emmet better. Anyways, I ended up right in front of Evan, who predictably passed me right before the last downhill of the last lap. I knew I should try to keep with him, but I just couldn’t get up the energy to catch back up. I was pretty exhausted and did not feel strong enough, so I let him go and chased him down the singletrack. My rear brake was barely working thanks to a busted brake spring, and the downhill was trickier then than it had ever felt. I guess I just felt so content with my race overall that I let him get away.

     I finished my last NorCal race smiling bigger than ever. I was too tired to hear Bill and excited to see my teammates who had also had great races. I got big hugs from Emmet, Nathan, my Dad, Ella, and Conor. It was a great feeling to have surprised everyone and gotten my best result. I was also happy to make Tom proud because he has been saying that I could get top 10 the whole season. This race I got 10th. It was more than I had dreamed of.
It seems as though all of my efforts to control my race performance culminated at this success. With a perfect warm-up, proper nutrition, past training, recent tapering, crazy hydration, and most importantly high spirits, I had equipped myself well for my race. It felt amazing to have such a crazy improvement since last race and the season as a whole. And I was enormously appreciative to my coaches and teammates for nominating me for the “Most Supportive Teammate” award. It is such an honor to be part of the incredible Oakland, Piedmont, and NorCal community. Wow.

went well: all the things just came together, and most importantly a positive attitude
Work on: beat Evan Garrison at States!

Thank you to all the people who made this weekend possible! And thanks if you read this far too :).

Anders Bjork, varsity boys, Piedmont HS, 10 / 20

Desmond Griffith, Six Sigma

Desmond Griffith - Oakland Tech, Junior Varsity

Desmond Griffith - Oakland Tech, Junior Varsity

Desmond's Scoop:
I.  Day Before: We set of on the very scenic drive up to Lake County, and set up our tent upon arriving at the course. I got in a lap for preride, but would have preferred to do another, to get more familiar with course conditions this year. I had dinner at the spot, with OC Fed, and tossed the disc with the boys. On the way back to the course, we got pulled over, and the Highway Patrol said it was because the car swerved across the median line 3 times. Luckily we got out of that one without a ticket or anything of that sort. I hung around the campfire and listened to Morgan's lovely singing, whilst downing some water. Then, lights out!

II.  Leading up to Race: I got a decent amount of sleep and waited a bit to have breakfast. I had peanut butter oatmeal, eggs, and 2 bananas, and 1 or 2 light snacks closer to the start. I lubricated my chain and got my bottle and food situation dialed. I hopped on the trainer and warmed up in the dry heat. I had a 13th place call-up at the line, and I was nervous but ready to go.

III.  The Race: GO!! Finn and I stuck close through the culvert section. I passed coming through the finish area, and got behind Conor. Branden from Clayton Valley got past here. I remained behind Conor for the 1st lap, where he encouraged me to stick with him. Going into lap 2, I was already very tired, and I sort of bailed on a feedzone bottle offer from Devin. I let Conor hammer through the course. My new shoes (at least the right one) came a little loose, so my annoyed and fatigued self had to stop for a hot (literally) second to tighten it back up. At this point, Finn caught back up, and we stuck together for the rest of the lap. I was struggling and didn't have the strongest morale; I sorta feel bullied by the course when I race on it, as all the bumps and crazy turns seem to taunt riders. Finn lead at the beginning of the 3rd lap, and I took the lead after. I was very ready to be done. Finn passed on one of the last climbs, and told me to finish strong. I fought my way through the finishing bumps and complained about the course a bit more. The thing is, I like riding the course MUCH more than I do racing on it, cause there's practically no recovery when racing a course like this.

IV.  Recap: I was glad when I finished, and satisfied that I still got a top 15 finish on a course that destroyed my morale! What went well: No falls, unlike last year, and still got top 15. What I need to work on: Technical and cornering skills, as well as strengthening my mind, so that the course doesn't get in my head. Send it!

Desmond Griffith, junior varsity boys, Oakland Tech, 13 / 35

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

Noah Hayes - 2018 Fontana City ProXCT HC - UCI Junior Series

The Friday morning before the race I woke up and got a mediocre hotel breakfast and went over to the course to pre-ride.  I did one lap at a moderate pace to see how my legs were feeling then did a nice slow lap after that in the heat.  The course was pretty long at about five miles with a solid amount of climbing. 


It started off with some loose fire roads that lead into a short climb with two main lines.  After this there was a short descent followed by a long, exposed paved climb that lead up to single track that rolled for a short period before pointing up again.  The single track climb was super rocky and loose so maintaining traction was bit tough.  After that climb we finally got to the first descent of the race.  This was composed of a few tight sections and some steep rock rolls.  After this we hit another steep single track climb that popped out on another pavement section before jumping into some flowy single track.  This was followed by a steep kick up to the final proper descent of the course.  There was a flat fire road.  Then there was one final loose rocky climb then we dropped to the start finish area.

The morning of the race I dragged myself out of bed at 4:40am, got in my moms car, and drove to Starbucks for a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.  After devouring my food I drove back to the hotel to prep my bike and bottles for the race.  I left for the course at 6:10am and put my bike on the trainer immediately after getting there.  I had around twenty minutes to chill before getting all kitted up for warmup.  I was sweating a lot on the trainer (felt like more than during the race) so I drank two bottles of water with some electrolyte mix during that one hour period.

After warmup I quickly got my bike of the trainer and got to staging where I was called up in the third row.  Given my low number of UCI points prior to this race I was a bit surprised I was that far up, but I wasn’t complaining.  They gave us a one minute, thirty seconds, and fifteen second warnings and then we were off for our three laps.

I had an alright start and didn’t lose any spots.  The group was charging on the fire roads leading to the first climb and it was fairly chaotic, staying that way up the pavement climb. Once we reached the single track I made more passes wherever I could until I got caught behind a slower rider.  I was stuck behind him for the remainder of the climb and watched the main group ride away.  I eventually was able to get around him when the trail opened up a little bit and started pushing the pace to get on to the next group ahead of me.  I caught on to it and sat on the back of it until sprinting to take the front for the descent.  I was passed by my teammate Ethan Moyer on the final fire road climb of the lap and he lead us through the start finish.

At the feed zone the order in the group was still the same and unfortunately my teammate ended up taking my feed unintentionally, meaning I had no water during the entire second lap.  This meant I couldn’t make any attacks on the climbs in order to prevent a bonk on the final lap.  I just held on to the group I was with and hoped nobody put in any big efforts and luckily I was able to follow everything fairly easily.

Coming around for the next lap I was able to get a bottle at the feed and pounded a gel but I started to feel the effects of not drinking for 25 minutes.  I could tell I was starting to fade when the group I was with dropped me on the first climb of the lap and my NorCal League competition Max McFadden and Nathan Davis caught up to me.  This gave me the motivation I needed to start pushing again.  I gradually pulled back towards the group that dropped me and sprinted my way up the final fire road climb within five feet of them.  Unfortunately, a lapped rider was occupying the space in those five feet and I was not able to get around her before the single track.  I watched the group I almost caught ride off while I struggled to get around the rider.  I looked back and still had a gap on Max and Nathan and continued to power up the last climb and down to the finish.  After the race I was randomly selected for doping control and had to spend two hours taking two samples, due to the first one being diluted somehow, instead of spinning out.  I ended up coming in 19th overall and was the 9th American. 

The next day was the Short Track.  I woke up at around 8:00am and went down for some hotel breakfast at 9:00.  After this I did a quick spin to loosen up my legs and headed over to the course.  Right when I got there I got in my kit and went to ride the course.  It was the same start as the XC and almost all fire road with one climb. 

I did two laps without incident and was feeling pretty good as I warmed up.  I went out for a third lap and about half way through my dropper suddenly went down without me pressing the lever.  When I stood out up it stayed down and the lever wasn’t doing anything.  I immediately rode over to the pit and told the mechanic, Julien, about what happened.  He replaced my post with a rigid one for the race and told me that the dropper post was toast.  I then hurried over the the short track and staged without any warmup.  They only called up the first row and the rest was a free for all with no organization.  I think there were around 12 people in my row and we were all overlapping bars.

They counted down and we were off.  I was able to get a pretty good start and was sitting in the lead group going into lap two.  Going into the third corner on the course someone right in front of me crashed and the field split.  I spent the rest of the race chasing as hard as I could but was never able to reconnect with that group.  I ended up coming in 12th place and was the 7th American.

There was some bad luck that definitely affected my race but given what happened I’m stoked on how I did.  I definitely learned that no matter what happens in a race you have to keep going.  When I missed my feed I thought my race would be completely over but by staying positive and riding smart I was able to salvage my race. I also learned to bring a spare for everything that could break on my bike because being caught out like I was really sucked.  Can’t wait to use what I learned this weekend at Bonelli next weekend!

Noah Hayes, Skyline High School