2016 NICA State Championships at Los Olivos

Sunday May 22, 2016

by Conner Kredo-Brown, Senior @ Terra Linda

The pit zone – and just a fraction of the sea of cars parked

The pit zone – and just a fraction of the sea of cars parked

Welcome to Los Olivos where the 2016 California State Mountain Biking Championships were held. Where is Los Olivos? Well it is in Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. Some of you know about States, but it may be new to others. So I’ll explain. State Championships are where all of California high school riders meet. There is SoCal and NorCal (both NorCal North conference and NorCal South conference) all competing against each other for the first time. The racing is very much the same as a season race with some exceptions. There are a lot more people racing, points don’t count to the regular season, and not everyone gets into states. So first the total number of people racing was crazy, just in my category sophomore D2 there were 85 riders. Not everyone qualifies to attend. All varsity members and all girls are automatically qualified to race. Everyone else must be part of a process. First, as a racer you must start at least 3 regular season races. Second you must finish one of your races in a specific percentage based on the amount of riders in your field. Third you have to register for states, if you qualify – before the spots fill. Well, let’s move on and talk about my race.

Just me – Conner riding in the middle of a spread out field

Just me – Conner riding in the middle of a spread out field

My race started with me being nervous about missing my call up in 40th. I had the very last call up position in a field of 85 riders. Thankfully I didn’t miss it and it made all the difference because I had to pass fewer riders and I got to stick with the front pack for a while. Well the first hill came and it was horrible. Riders couldn’t make it up certain sections of steep switchbacks and I got stuck behind someone who stopped mid course. I got off and ran to clear the jam. Yep I was running in a bike race but sometimes you have to do that. I hopped back on my bike and continued. When I reached the top it was time to rock and roll down. This downhill section is one of my favorites. I was flying downhill catching air-that’s for you Joey! -and catching up to riders. Then next sections boiled down to my thoughts which were something like; ‘Wait I’m catching people on the downhills? I usually catch them on uphill.”

Left to right: Conner in Blue; Otis Guy with the hat; and another racer

Left to right: Conner in Blue; Otis Guy with the hat; and another racer

As I came towards the finish line to complete my first lap, there were so many people cheering all the riders on. I knew I had one more lap until my official finish. During my second lap I was riding solo for a bit. I did pass some riders and at the same time encouraged a couple riders to keep up the good work. I got passed a few times, and then the finish came closer and closer. As I came out of the downhill single track and onto the fire road it was time to sprint. What was going through my head at that moment was the song Wild Frontier from Pelo and Alan yelling to go faster. There was a rider that had been lurking behind me and on that fire road he made his move. He was able to beat me to the finish line but I made him earn it. After we finished we both congratulated each other on a good race. Competition at every level is fierce but camaraderie is always there.

Sprinting to the finish

Sprinting to the finish

After some recovery time in the finish chutes, my parents and I found each other. We celebrated with shaved ice -thanks SoCal. Later my mom told me that I finished 30th, I was extremely happy about that because my goal was to move up a couple of spots from my call up. States this year was amazing and I had so much fun but it is my last SoCal states. The next two years States will be in NorCal.

I want to thank all the seniors on my team for teaching me so much about riding. I want to thank my friend Caroline Dezendorf for riding with me every week and mentoring me through the sport of mountain biking. I want to thank my parents for getting me to every race and supporting me as well. Last but not least I want to thank the Bicycle Brüstop team for supporting me in racing and riding. They have done so much, from having CO2 to fixing my brakes to encouraging words. I hope to see you all next year, have a great summer and keep riding.

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