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  1. #1
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    Why are there no NorCal high school MTB teams on the Peninsula or in the Valley?

    So, something struck me the other day on the ride back from the NorCal race at Laguna Seca: why are there no high school teams from the Peninsula or the Valley?

    Both areas are relatively prosperous (so people have the $$ to buy bikes), have lots of families (so there are kids to ride those bikes), and proximity to open space (so there are places to ride). And I know there's lots of riders, because sometimes it feels like 75% of the folks on this message board are from those areas (not that there's anything wrong with that)! And yet the region is a virtual no-man's land for high school MTB:

    http://www.norcalmtb.org/wp-content/...Growth-Map.pdf

    So what gives? I'm genuinely curious. Is it because there are few local races, so kids/parents don't have opportunities to see how truly fun and awesome the races are? Does everyone just play tennis or something? Is this a demographic thing?

    And finally, what can people like me do to help NorCal expand to the Peninsula and Silicon Valley?

    Would love to hear your thoughts.
    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Are you a whiny Marin liberal, or a hand-wringing Berkeley liberal?

  2. #2
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    Didn't LG/Saratoga have a composite team or something at one point?

  3. #3
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    I don't know. I only started volunteering with NorCal 2 years ago. Santa Cruz has a composite team that's growing and doing pretty well.
    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Are you a whiny Marin liberal, or a hand-wringing Berkeley liberal?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piranha426 View Post
    Santa Cruz has a composite team that's growing and doing pretty well.
    We have trails here. Easily accessible ones all over the place.

    Think about the topography of most of the area you're talking about. With a few exceptions, it's a 20-30 minute drive to find a place to ride.

  5. #5
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    I would be interested in helping out coaching a team if there are others in the area who also would like to get a team started. I have two boys aged 14

  6. #6
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    Hey dknoel, that's awesome. Can you PM me and we can discuss details offline? Also, see this:Start a Club/Team – NorCal
    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Are you a whiny Marin liberal, or a hand-wringing Berkeley liberal?

  7. #7
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    The offers to "help' are gold but what is wanted is leadership; someone to take the reins.

    In order for a team to form you need an interested child, a supportive parent, and a strong cycling contact at the school. The League can support from there helping to organize resources for a school, or a group of schools, to create a composite team but they have nothing to do with the daily kinds of things one must do to make things go. To succeed the group needs to perform for several years to accumulate momentum. The changeable nature of teen interests, challenges to free time, and the elusive nature of resources, both financial and skill-related, challenge success.

    As a Founder/Coach/Director/Sponsor of NorCal teams for 12 years my appreciation for the folks who want to help out is pretty well developed. However, those good folks are very different from the handful of people who can devote themselves to the day-to-day needs of a fluctuating group in a 7&8-month season, year after year. These are the people who make things happen and it takes a lot of work. Mid-week you can be all on your own with 20 riders. On Sundays you can have 8 adults and kids gone for the weekend.That, however, is the same no matter where you go.

    Our East Bay teams were born from a fairly small mtb community, compared to now, with an even smaller community of teen riders. My years of developing riders through middle schools and YMCA and the early years of NorCal revealed that kids did not ride a lot of bikes because the urban area homes were on steep paved hillsides; where does a little kid ride? Kids who lived in flatter areas ratted-around town on BMX Bikes or maybe a clunker to and from school. Some kids made jumps on the city-side of the hills in vacant lots. These were the seeds of our teams.

    Great adult individuals, skilled at sport, at mtb, and with teens, created mtb'ers, both adults and kids, and kept them safe. They didn't "help", they lead. Good athletes came from other sports, disenchanted with the old ball and stick, sitting on the bench model. Mtb was co-ed and no one sat on the bench and you got to race! The trick was to not get so involved with winning, and therefore losing, and be involved with the excellence and the value of each developing athlete. Parents bought in to a good thing. Now the kids ride up to the east and into the Wildcat Canyon, Tilden Park, and other EBRPD venues.

    We had to build a culture; the team, the parents, the awareness and relationship with the community. Now these teams are self-perpetuating. Interested adults see that it is up and running and can bring new energies, new life, and on it goes.

    Why it doesn't work on the Peninsula? Well...NorCal was a Berkeley creation born of what makes this area special. The Peninsula is Stanford territory....that's all I got.
    I don't rattle.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Think about the topography of most of the area you're talking about. With a few exceptions, it's a 20-30 minute drive to find a place to ride.
    That is enough time to warm-up.

    We used to ride the 4-5 miles form El Cerrito High or Albany High to Wildcat Canyon over city streets or the BART Trail. You learned the safe routes and how to train your kids to ride in these areas. It also was time to tease problems out of bikes, practice shifting and braking, attending to the riders around you. We bought lights in bulk. We stopped at the mouth of the Canyon going home, regrouped, ate and drank, shifted gears, turn on our lights, and got into road-mode.

    All doable. And what you ended up with were really good cyclists, not just mountain bikers.

    I was talking to one of my former girl racers who is up in Chico but doesn't ride much except to campus about 6 miles. She was late for a class and turned it on. Huge grin," coach, I was just blowing by people and I heard your voice; okay, shift now...bend your elbows...spin circle...focus.....head up; watch these other clowns..." They never forget.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Why are there no NorCal high school MTB teams on the Peninsula or in the Valley?-mtbrbay-trail.jpg  

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  9. #9
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    As always, thanks for the input, Mike, your perspective is very, very helpful here.

    As a Cal grad, I'll happily make fun of Leland Stanford Junior University if it will help motivate helpers and leaders come out of the woodwork...
    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Are you a whiny Marin liberal, or a hand-wringing Berkeley liberal?

  10. #10
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    Almost positive Los Gatos High has a mountain bike team. I saw them a lot last year on St. Joes and around town. Wish I had one when I was in high school...though bikes sucked back then and I was stoned most of the time.
    Peanut butter Tuesday, if you know what I mean!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    Wish I had one when I was in high school...though the weed sucked back then and I was still somehow stoned most of the time.
    Fixed.

  12. #12
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    A quick Google search indicates that they used to have a team, but it doesn't appear to be active anymore. They're not listed on the NorCal page: Teams – NorCal
    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Are you a whiny Marin liberal, or a hand-wringing Berkeley liberal?

  13. #13
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    It was a division 2 team (less than 12) in 2005-6, and a Div 1 team in 2007-9, when it finally folded. It was a pretty competitive team at its peak in 2008, finishing 4th over all. Very good.
    I don't rattle.

  14. #14
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    Did you also post this up in the NICA section?

    NICA - High School - Collegiate Racing
    Best racing series in the West!
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  15. #15
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    I think there could be a whole southbay composite team with SJ Unified as well as Union School districts and the private schools in LG and Saratoga.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJackSlade View Post
    Did you also post this up in the NICA section?

    NICA - High School - Collegiate Racing
    This forum gets much better traffic and we have the expertise.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Fixed.
    LOL.

    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    Almost positive Los Gatos High has a mountain bike team. I saw them a lot last year on St. Joes and around town. Wish I had one when I was in high school...though bikes sucked back then and I was stoned most of the time.
    Me too. I quit "normal" sports because they got too political and/or boring. But I took up the more "extreme" sports and still do most of them. It sucks that funding is split so thin that you can't do these things. Not that my parents or I could have afforded anything but hobbling together a franken-bike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    I think there could be a whole southbay composite team with SJ Unified as well as Union School districts and the private schools in LG and Saratoga.
    There are private schools in LG and Saratoga?! Los Gatos and Saratoga High might feel like they are with all the cheating scandals and german cars in the parking lots, but they're public.

    Having grown up in the west valley, the kids and parents of ahem certain ethnicities (mine for instance) in this side of the valley are much more obsessed with academics and college admissions than sports. If high school sports are allowed, they are as an after thought, and only if they will enhance the all important ivy app. I'm not sure that parents would put in the kind of effort BerkeleyMike states is needed to make this work, especially if the admissions committee members at Harvard or MIT are scratching their heads. Quarterback, varsity tennis, field hockey, even water polo they get. Mountain biking? Not sure. Just my personal thoughts on the matter, might be totally off base or out of touch.

  19. #19
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    Why are there no NorCal high school MTB teams on the Peninsula or in the Valley?

    Los Gatos High School had a "club team" team last year and as far back as 2005.
    I see them a lot on Jones during the season.

    http://www.lghs.net/ourpages/auto/20...Club_Goals.pdf

    They're not on the list yet for this year.

    http://www.norcalmtb.org/teams/

  20. #20
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    They don't show up on any NorCal race results so far.
    I don't rattle.

  21. #21
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    Los Gatos team

    Is the Los Gatos team listed as "Wildcat Racing"? They may not be able to directly identify as a school team since it is a club (different jurisdictions). Their website seems to be pretty current.
    Let the good times roll.
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    Its harder than it looks to keep a team up and running. The level of support from parents is much different, both financially and time wise. Where as a coach and an assistant can keep a little league team staffed, and a couple hundred bucks can equip a soccer player, and parents can pretty easily carpool kids back and forth to games, the logistics of MTB racing demand a coach, and assistant, a couple of ride leaders, and 3 or 4 dependable parents to run the pit, a couple of thousand to equip and keep a racer running, and pretty much every parent has to get their own kid back and forth to races due to the logistics of the bikes, equipment and housing. Basically if you dont have some (3-4 for a small team, 6-8 for a large team) dedicated RIDER parents its difficult to keep running.

  23. #23
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    So are we just waiting for francois' kids to get older?
    Quote Originally Posted by jbt56
    Are you a whiny Marin liberal, or a hand-wringing Berkeley liberal?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheapWhine View Post
    Is the Los Gatos team listed as "Wildcat Racing"? They may not be able to directly identify as a school team since it is a club (different jurisdictions). Their website seems to be pretty current.
    Good info!
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphic View Post
    Its harder than it looks to keep a team up and running. The level of support from parents is much different, both financially and time wise. Where as a coach and an assistant can keep a little league team staffed, and a couple hundred bucks can equip a soccer player, and parents can pretty easily carpool kids back and forth to games, the logistics of MTB racing demand a coach, and assistant, a couple of ride leaders, and 3 or 4 dependable parents to run the pit, a couple of thousand to equip and keep a racer running, and pretty much every parent has to get their own kid back and forth to races due to the logistics of the bikes, equipment and housing. Basically if you dont have some (3-4 for a small team, 6-8 for a large team) dedicated RIDER parents its difficult to keep running.
    "Its harder than it looks to keep a team up and running." People have no idea what it takes and what must be sustained over years.

    Excellent metrics.
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