Category: bekah rottenberg

Rockville Skills Clinic

Bekah and I hosted a skills clinic this last Saturday at Rockville hills Regional Park near Fairfield, CA. Living in Davis, can be great for cycling. It has been voted one of the most bike friendly communities in the country, and has a large, competitive contingent of road racers. Unfortunately, being in the middle of the central valley, with a 45 minute drive from the hills, means that few people in town get introduced to riding on dirt. In trying to introduce more people to the sport, Bekah and I decided to host a skills clinic for the cycling team at UC Davis, which, like the rest of the community, is predominantly focused on road riding.

Rockville is almost like it was made to hold skills clinics. The small park has tons of trails crisscrossing each other, so any given section is never far off. Additionally, there is a large diversity of terrain allowing for riders of all skill levels to have a good time. You can find everything there from fireroad, to mellow singletrack, to hecktic tight singletrack, to rockgardens, and big drops. It’s a great little park.

We had a good showing for the clinic drawing 9 riders evenly split in gender of various skill levels, to the three instructors: Bekah, our friend Andy, and I. All of the riders had done some mountain bike riding before, but those who considered themselves mountain bikers were very much in the minority. After a quick survey of what the riders were interested in learning, we decided to go for a more intermediate/advanced lesson and really focus on honing a few techniques.

We first spent a while going over cornering. We had them work on some drills to hit home the idea of how to lean and weight the bike in the corner. After everyone got a good sense of that, and some practice taking some flat corners, we headed up the hill to practice on a fun, windy, singletrack descent. The drills seemed to help, as everyone was able to start to get the proper technique down fairly quickly.

Next up, we headed over to Rockville’s famous rockgarden to practice riding up and over obstacles. We went over the technique of how to lift and shift your weight to get up and over a rock step-up. The lower rockgarden is a great place to practice this as the step-ups become progressively larger. Some had a little more trouble with this than the cornering, and were not quite able to link together the timing. Trying to think about so many things can be overwhelming, so we decided to finish up the lesson portion, and just go for a fun ride for the rest of the time where the skills could be applied. By the end of the fun ride, and with the lesson environment pressure removed, the riders previously having trouble we able to go through the motions to get up and over step-ups.

In all I think it was a pretty successful skills ride. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I hope that it puts them one step closer to considering themselves mountain bikers


Sea Otter 2012!

After weeks of planning and anticipation Sea Otter weekend had finally arrived. We packed the car to capacity and headed south from Ashland with four pasty Oregonians hungry for sun. On our trip down we made a detour to stretch our legs and enjoy the birthplace of mountain biking, Mount Tamalpias. After we got a good taste of the local trails we scarfed some burritos and continued south to Aptos where our driver Austin’s mother so kindly let us stay for the night.

Where’s Matt?

The next morning we were up bright and early so we could get to the venue, get signed in and settled at our campsite, and relax until the Cat 1 start at 1:30 in the afternoon. Just as we had expected, it was hot, insane hot for us Oregonians. Bekah and Danny were right behind me at registration, signing up to race that afternoon as well. After Matt got done registering for Saturday’s pro race he disappeared in to the land of Sea Otter while Austin, our trusty Rastafarian water boy and cat2 crusher Shane, and I found shade under the only tree in the venue right by the pond. We kept cool just as long as we could until it was time to get a little spin on and make it to the start line. 1:45 ticked around and we were off with just barely over twenty riders in our 19-24 cat1 age group.


For most of the first lap I went back and forth with Austin, doing my best to not boil over in the extreme heat. I was doing fine until about halfway through the lap I charged one of the blind rutted descents and ejected a bottle. It was my only full bottle left so I stopped real quick to pick it up only to have Austin and another rider fly by and the bottle eject for good about thirty feet down the trail. I was frustrated to say the least but I knew the aid station wasn’t too far ahead so I conserved made due with the water I had until the aid station where I had to stop and fill my bottle and again watch Austin and a few riders re-pass me. We had caught up to group of riders from our category and stayed with them until the final climb where Austin was starting to lead them away when I had to stop yet again to relieve myself of the Redbull I had consumed before my race.

Frustrated and thirsty I finished up the lap and to my surprise Shane and Matt were waiting at the lap with two fresh bottles of water for me and news that Austin was about 2 minutes ahead of me. With new water, the first lap behind me, and Austin just ahead of me I felt my second wind. The second lap seemed to be a lot cooler with a slight breeze, full bottles, and faster descents without brake-riding-line-blocking roadies to follow. I managed to keep the rubber side down and get a fresh bottle at the aid station giving me enough water to squeeze down the 500 or so Gu’s I went through and finish the 40 mile course in 3:16, 9th in my age group.

I had survived the heat and had improved on last year’s time. I later found out that Danny didn’t get quite as lucky, he had ejected a bottle early on leaving him parched and nauseas starting his second lap. He made it a few miles and decided to turn back when he started getting dizzy. Bekah had survived the heat and crushed her race, finishing 10th in her age group and just under 2 hours. Like a lot of rider’s she didn’t enjoy the percentage of road there was in the course, but said her new hardtail handled it very well. It was a hot day of racing but a great break from the cold Oregon weather we had been used to riding in. The next day Matt was off in the pro race but got hung up in a crash midway through, dislocating his finger. He used a co2 cartridge to splint his finger and was able to finish the race rubber side down. We spent much of saturday hiding under trees and applying sunscreen since it was another scorcher. That night we went out to dinner with Marin and some of the factory riders. We listened to stories of Steve “Gravy” Gravenites fighting for his right to ride his bike all night and had a great time with the Marin crew. Sunday came around faster than expected and before I knew it we were already packing up, saying our goodbyes in the venue and back on the road north to Ashland. It was another Sea Otter for the books, my first year on a Marin and it was a great to meet some of the faces behind the names, looking forward to the rest of the season! See you at the Ashland Spring Thaw!

Photos by Shane Stiles

Till next time!