Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about participating in the Drake High MTB Team:
- What is the training like?
- The training starts out gradual in the late fall and increases in duration and intensity until around March or April when the duration steadies, but the intensity continues to increase.
- Are riders taught about bike safety and preparedness?
- Yes. Drake MTB has a team technician to assist in some mechanical issues and to provide some instruction. We also go over and enforce proper road use including lane positioning, signage, and group formation.
- Are riders supervised during the whole ride?
- No. The nature of mountain biking is such that it is impossible to keep your eyes on each rider all the time. Some will ride behind the coach, others in front. Also, some riders “turn back” early if they have other commitments that they need to keep. During those times, the rider is NOT under supervision. If this not an acceptable situation for your family, then Drake MTB is NOT for you.
- What are the races like?
- The courses are cross-country courses. Since Drake riders train on Mt Tam, they generally find the courses at races to be easier than what they train on. Frosh riders can expect to race about 7-10 miles, while Varsity boys can race up to 28 miles. Besides that, we all put on Pirate tattoos and have a ball.
- How good of a bike is needed?
- Almost any bike in good repair, with the proper components will do. Though, as you progress quickly in the early stages of riding, a beater-bike will soon become impractical.
- What is the practice schedule?
- By January, the practice schedule is Tue, Thu, Sun, with recommended recovery spins or yoga on alternating Mondays.
- Can I still play on another sports team at Drake?
- Yes. You will be tired, but since Mountain Biking is not an MCAL sport, you may still participate in another sport. Drake MTB recommends that you discuss this openly with your parents and coaches before attempting.
- Do I need any prior experience to have a good time?
- No. In fact, the less experience you’ve had with mountain biking, the more you’ll be blown away at how fun it is.
- How much might this cost me?
- While we have made great strides in reducing the cost of participation over the years, a rider should still expect to pay over $300 for the season when bike maintenance, uniform, meals, licensing and other items are factored in.
- When does the season start?
- The “season” is a bit different from other sports. We start easy “forming” rides in October, we do some light preparation for training in November, start riding more in December, and by January we are fully into training for the first race in early March.
- Are there unofficial training rides? When and where?
- There are no unofficial training rides sanctioned by Drake MTB. However, Drake riders are encouraged and expected to buddy up and ride with their peers informally when rides are not scheduled.
- Are there official training rides and workouts?
- Typically, by December we have started two workouts per week, one on a weekday after school, and one on Sunday morning at 10am (subject to change).
- If you want to ride on your own, can you recommend some routes?
- There are many routes to choose from. Drake MTB recommends getting a Marin County Bicycle Coalition map from Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax and familiarizing yourself with local routes emanating from Fairfax. Beginners may enjoy a loop around Lake Lagunitas, while more advanced riders will enjoy Camp Tamarancho (pass required, Drake MTB riders get theirs for free)
- What kind of a bike, components, equipment will a rider need?
- Bikes are personal items that can be very expensive, so there is no blanket recommendation that will fit the needs of every rider’s family. However, we can say this:
- Frames are generally the same on any bike, but fit is very important. Please consult a shop expert on fit. We recommend a “hardtail” frame. Front suspension is just shy of mandatory.
- Components: these can range from inexpensive and fragile to expensive and super light. We recommend some mid-range components (e.g. Shimano LX) as a minimum for withstanding a season of use, but understand that families must make their own decisions.
- For safety reasons, all riders MUST have helmet, gloves, eye-wear, padded shorts (baggies are fine!), bike shoes, and CLIPLESS pedals (there is a learning curve, but you’ll thank us later). A complement of non-cotton clothing is necessary, including layers for very cold winter rides. Each rider must also have a basic repair kit of pump, tire levers, patches and/or tube, and multi-use tool.
- Can riders of all different levels participate?
- Can someone ride and train with the team and then not race?
- No. All riders must make a minimum commitment to participate in races.
- Who are the coaches and how do I get in touch with them?
- See the “Coaches” link on the website.
- What bike shop do you deal with and do they give a team discount?
- Drake MTB is sponsored exclusively by Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax. They have been serving the Drake Community since 1971, and Drake MTB since it inception. Please let them know you appreciate their support by shopping there. Drake MTB racers receive 20% discount on labor and merchandise.
- What advice to you have for someone who is new to the sport or doesn’t know many people who ride?
- When the little voice in your head starts giving you reasons for not coming out to ride, ignore it, and meet us, or just push yourself out the door and get on that bike.
- Can you tell us at the beginning of the season where and when the races will be?
- The first of the season last year was early March. The race schedule will be posted on the NorCal website in the winter. See www.norcalmtb.org
- What about transportation and accommodations at the races?
- Riders and their families are entirely responsible for transportation to and from races. As a matter of policy, Drake MTB staff may not carry riders to or from races. The NorCal League usually publicizes accommodations near the races should you decide to stay the night. Many families look for places to camp.