On a fall Saturday morning in 2016, my Dad lifted my bike into the trunk of the family car and we drove to the Folsom Parking Garage for an introduction fun ride with a high school mountain bike club. I walked my bike with paperwork in hand up to the registration table dressed in a sweatshirt, Levi’s, Chuck Taylor’s, and a bike helmet with duct tape securing the visor. Someone hoisted my bike on a stand and pedaled through the gears and checked the brakes. Someone else rummaged through a clothes bin and gave me cycling jerseys and pants. And I was given bike shoes with cleats.
And so it began. There must have been 70 kids on bikes. I was placed in a group and off we rode for two hours. It was fun and I wanted to do it again.
Amie Ferry collected my paperwork and I think it was my current high school coach Janell Marton who gathered the bike gear for me. Later my Dad bought me clip-in pedals and gloves. And I would need a jacket and a night light when the real team practices started in December.
I was a freshman at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento. A few weeks earlier I learned about Cycling Development at Club Day from Keith Bowen and his daughter Madi, a sophomore at St. Francis High School and Cycling Development member. They gave me a number to text and I later received information about the introduction ride and downloaded the required forms. (cyclingdev.com)
The NICA NorCal League (norcalmtb.org) season runs from December to the state championships in May. Cycling Development has a set schedule with practice four times a week: Monday night rides for two hours; Wednesday night spin class; Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm; and Saturday 9 am to noon. There are six races during the season including state champs. Racing weekends are the cherry on the sundae. The atmosphere of the pit zone where all the teams set-up is exhilarating. And when your race starts it is just flat-out go.
Cycling Development fields four high school teams and three composite teams. I race for the Gladiators Composite Mountain Bike Team. It is the team practices that get you to start line. Riders are placed in groups. Group 1 is for the fastest riders and Group 5 for the beginners. My freshman year I began in Group 5. Winter to spring, ride and spin, week after week I began to get faster. I progressed into Group 4 and by the end of the season I reached Group 3. My Cycling Development coaches honored me with the Most Improved Rider trophy for 2017.
My sophomore year I started in Group 3. Everyone knows your group number, everyone wants to move up. With hard work and tremendous coaching and limitless encouragement, I progressed to Group 2. The NorCal League honored me with the Most Improved Rider 2018 award [North conference]. (https://www.norcalmtb.org/2018-norcal-league-awards/.)
This year is my Junior year. I started pre-season this year thinking could I make the jump to Group 1 this season? Was I fast enough? Ready, set, go: The first ten riders to finish a three and one-half mile sprint to Beals Point State Park from the Folsom Truss Bridge would be placed in Group 1. Race on, I finished 10th, I made Group 1. And this year I was lucky enough to make it on to this team, the Cycling Development Scott USA Team. I got a new bike, new kit and a new helmet.
This season has started off better than expected. After our first practice race in January my coaches and I made the decision to petition up to the Varsity Girls category. Our goals revised again. Goal #1 get on the podium. I continued to train hard knowing this would be a big jump. Race #1 I won. Race #2 I won. I have to admit I was not expecting that yet.
My coaches and I made a decision to go down to southern California and test my skills at the next level. The UCI XCO Cat 1 Junior event at Vail Lake in Temecula. (http://shoaircyclinggroup.com/index.php/us-cup-series/) This was the first time I raced in my new Cycling Development Scott USA kit. I started from the back of the grid filled with the fastest racers I have ever competed against. It was a tough race where I learned a lot. I finished 10th, just like my race to Group 1. I am driving down to Monterey right now to pre-ride today for NorCal’s Race #3 tomorrow. Ready to get at it again and see where this bicycle takes me. Enjoy the beautiful weekend and thanks for reading!