Tales from a first-time racer

Since Day 1, REMBA has supported the NorCal High School Cycling League, from trail advocacy, to volunteering to coaching local high school teams. In spring 2017 REMBA launched the REMBA/NorCal Scholarship Program with the goal of benefitting two deserving local student-athletes a season.

This scholarship consisted of a season of race fees, a new mountain bike, helmet, Camelbak and shoes for two student athletes.

One of our inaugural scholarship recipients, Christopher Fischer, a Freshman on the Middletown High School MTB Team, filed these reports of his very first race season.

Race #1 Fun at the Fort

Feb. 25, 2017
My name is Christopher Fischer from the Middletown Mountain Bike Team and I got chosen for the Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance Scholarship. Before the start of this season I was new to mountain biking. I had only ridden trails about five times.

Occasionally, I would go for rides around my home, Berryessa Estates. I would push myself to make it up the steepest hills. Our team started practicing when the NorCal League allowed us to start practices. We practiced Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. When we couldn’t practice on those days, we would try to find a day when we could to make up that practice. In our area, we didn’t have a facility close enough to go to a spin class on rainy days. As we got closer to Race 1, we started pushing harder and getting used to the feeling of not be able to breathe because of the intensity.

When it came to race day our team was pumped!! I was feeling nervous and excited at the same time. I started on the outside of the fourth row. We started at a neutral start. When the pacer pulled off, it was race on! By the time I got to the trail I think I was in 8th place and was already out of breath, but the adrenaline made me want to go harder. I was in 11th place my first lap. I pushed as hard as I could on my second lap so I could leave the race knowing that I left everything on the course. I finished 10th! I was so stoked to find out my placing. My experience for the first race was awesome and I had so much fun. I give a huge thank you to my coaches, Chris and Debbie Bloomquist, for the support and knowledge, the NorCal league for putting on a amazing event, and Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance for the scholarship.


Race #2 Central Coast Challenge
March 12, 2017
I completed my first race! Now I understand what racing is about. During the next practice, following Race #1, I decided to hit training hard. I practiced as hard as I could the first week following Race #1. Tuesday and Thursday were practice days and I pushed myself, but Sunday’s practice got cancelled due to rain. Week two of practices came and on Tuesday and for some reason I couldn’t push 100 percent, so I spun it out. Bam! Thursday arrived and we do our normal routine of taking it easy before a race and just getting the miles in.

Race day: nervous as usual and ready to race. I get to the starting line and I’m determined. I hit the first hill and my legs were burning already and I thought it wasn’t a good sign. I kept pedaling through the downhill and my legs warmed up and then I was going. I was fighting for the 10th place position from about halfway through the first lap. I ended the race in 11th place, which is a little disappointing, but I’m gonna keep my head up and train even harder so I can improve for Race #3!

Race #3 More Fun at the Fort
March 26, 2017
Middletown’s practices for getting ready for Race #3 consisted of the introduction to interval training and some distance rides. The most exciting part of Race #3 was right before the race when I got my new gear and bike!!! Thank you so much REMBA and NorCal for the amazing scholarship!!! I was so excited and got on the bike for the race. It performed beautifully! The race results didn’t turn out very well, but I had a lot of fun on the new bike! Even though the race didn’t turn out very well I’m still extremely happy. I placed 19 which isn’t where I have been placing, but I’ll come back in two weeks, with my new bike dialed in and ready to shred the trail!

Race #4 Granite Bay Grinder
April 8, 2017
I was able to get my new bike dialed in for Race #4 and I got used to it. Our team started practicing on a road called Western Mine Road, which consists of 1600 feet of climbing up the Middletown side. We did most of our training on Western Mine that week.

I started off the race going over the handlebars – this happened in the first 1/8th mile. That didn’t stop me! One of my teammates that was behind me told me that in mid-air I was reaching for my bike. Two of my teammates passed me during this time and I was up in front of the pack, but this crash put me in the middle of the pack. I got about halfway through the first lap and it started raining. Shortly after we got pelted with hail, then it stopped raining and became more of a mist. For some reason, after the first lap, I started getting really cold. No matter what I did, like push harder or spin faster, my legs just didn’t want to work. I still had fun and finished the race in 21st.

Race #5 Six Sigma Slinger
April 29, 2017
In the weeks leading to Race #5, our team practiced at Six Sigma every chance we got. The week after Race #4, it was raining, but that didn’t stop us from riding at Six Sigma. We took advantage of the home track. That’s what we did for the three weeks leading up to the race, except for one practice when we did a 30-mile ride out Big Canyon Road. So during these weeks I was thinking a lot about how I was gonna get back into the top ten again. I decided on coming into the race with a different mindset. I went into the race with the mindset that it was just me and the track and it was just a practice. I got to the start line and I was just as nervous as I was my first race. Since I knew the course so well I was able determine how much to push myself and where. I just thought of the race as a practice and that it was just me and the trail just shredding away! The course treated me well and I crossed the finish line in 8th place!

State Championships
May 14, 2017
The week after Race #5 at Six Sigma I was unable to practice because I had State Finals for a agricultural mechanics team. Also during the Six Sigma, one of our coaches, Debbie Bloomquist, had to go to the hospital, and have surgery, from which she has now has started recovering. So that put me out of shape a little bit. I decided to practice everyday the week before the State Championships. That definitely helped free my legs up. Our team practices were 30 mile rides. We pre-rode the track as a team around 10:30am on the Saturday before race Sunday.

On race day, a couple of my teammates and I decided to go warm up before we did as a team, which I think gave us an advantage. For this race we had a hundred kids racing at the same time in my division. Right off the start, I got in a pile up and was in the back of the pack, but that didn’t stop me from catching up. This race was a close race because of how close our times were. I pushed 100 percent for the whole race and earned 33rd spot!

If you’d like to see more kids in REMBA-land get an opportunity to get involved in the NorCal Cycling League, donations to REMBA will help fund the 2018 scholarship program. Consider becoming a member or renewing here.