NEWS

SoCal Race #4 Report, by Devin DeBruhl

I was super excited to race in Keysville being my favorite NICA event. It has amazing camping in an awesome location, unlike any other race. I had fun leading up to the race finding new lines around the camp on the trail bike and going in the Kern River. The course was a bunch of fun with long hard climbs and lots of line options on the downhills. In the pre ride I was just trying to find the less ridden lines that would be really fast and have them locked for the race.

Due to missing the last two races I was behind in points and had to start middle pack. But with a small Varsity field it wasn’t too hard to get up front. The first climb we were all together no one was taking off yet. Then by the first downhill we already broke into a group of five. Making a bigger and bigger gap on everyone else. It was too windy to go out and attack on my own so we needed to stay together to keep our speed up. Last lap I knew was the time to pick up the pace and start to get our group broken up. Up the first climb we started to pull away from Ethan Sanchez in 5th. Then later in the lap we got away from Tydeman Newman. That left me, Turner Conway, and Blake Wray to battle for the win. We set a really fast pace trying to get the most speed out of every bump on the downhill. The last main climb me and Turner had a little more left in the tank to get from Blake. Onto the last hump of the last main climb me and Turner sprinted to the downhill. We were both hitting every line full speed. Then Turner did a great move to get in front of me for the last part of the downhill. Then I passed when it got open into the last section of fast downhill. The rest of the course was a few up and downs then a small climb then a flat sandy head wind to the finish. On the up and downs we were still pinned on them. I was in front and I knew it was going to come down to a sprint there was no way to shake off Turner. So I slowed the pace way down into the last climb to get legs back for a sprint. Then Turner took off around me and I knew it was game time. It was a split lane and he had the better line up the climb but I powered on the other line and got in front of him. Now I was in front on a flat sandy head wind to the finish. In my head it was the worse position to be in. Turner was behind me ready to attack and get around me. I heard him click to one harder gear. Knowing that wasn’t it but it was going to be soon, I took off and sprinted to the finish. Was pretty happy to get out of that situation and finish in first. It was a fun battle the last lap and had a blast riding with such a fast downhill rider.

Couldn’t have done it without my parents, Stephen Ettinger, and Tony Gamberutti! Along with our High School Team SMVC and our sponsors! Also, Bear Development Team along with our sponsors for making this happen!

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Race Report, by Devin DeBruhl

I have always wanted to race the Dual Slalom at Sea Otter, and this year I had an opportunity to race. Everything about it I love, from the bowl corners, jumps, gate start, to the natural corners. I was so excited to ride the course. I got 5th in qualifying which was a great start but my runs didn’t feel too special. Into the head to head racing I felt super good. I had a lot more speed and energy in them. Felt super good throughout qualifying. It got down to the top 8 riders. My first run I got a small lead. Then second run I was back a second which made me not advance any further. I was half a second off making the top 4. Overall, I felt super good and was getting the hang of this style racing super fast. It was so much fun to combine everything I like about biking in one event! Can’t wait till next year!

Sea Otter is a great chance to meet some of our awesome sponsors! It was very cool to meet the Bike Flights crew and Josh Kolbo at Trek! So cool to have such great sponsors with the Bear Development team! Thank you to all the locals and friends coming up to watch the race! Also, thank you Julia and Stephen for supporting me this year and letting me get my tires off the ground this weekend!!

PanAmerican MTB Championships Race Report, by Riley Amos

I was beyond surprised and excited to get the chance to travel with team USA to Aguascalientes, Mexico to race the Pan American Championships. After a fairly smooth couple of flights, we landed in Aguascalientes just after 12pm local time. After everyone arrived, we went to pick up or rental vehicles and got our first surprise of the trip. Marc Gullickson, the USAC mountain bike programs director who was traveling with the team had previously booked 3 vans for our arrival, and 3 more for the arrival of the rest of the team the next day. The guy who worked for the Budget rental company that we were supposed to be getting our vehicles from thought that there was no way that someone would have booked 6 vans, and thought it was a mistake, and therefore we had 1 van waiting for us. When he saw the amount of people and gear that we had, he quickly realized that he was in fact the one who made the mistake. As a result, the team spent the next 2 hours basking in the Mexican sun outside while we waited for them to try and get ahold of enough vans for us.

Aguascalientes is a very unique place, with an elevation of 6200 feet, it was just like my home in Durango, but here we were in a desert with mid 80 degree temps in the beginning of April. Back home I was still waiting on trails to thaw, with snow still on the ground. With the vans finally arranged, we used some impressive packing skills to get all of our bikes, gear, and ourselves, into the vans and on our way. It was an hour drive into the city and on the way it was amazing to see the different life these people in Mexico live. Small one room shops lined the streets, with people everywhere out and about. At red lights there were people walking in the streets between stopped cars trying to sell everything from food to car parts. We finally arrived at our hotel, checked into our rooms, unpacked and headed downstairs to get some food in the restaurant. Everything on the menu was in Spanish, and all the waiters spoke Spanish, so it was a little bit of a fun challenge just to get something off the menu and onto a plate in front of us. We also had to be very careful, because we knew it was very easy to get a stomach bug and be miserable for the rest of trip. Drinking water only out of sealed bottles was a must, and making sure to eat only cooked veggies and other foods was the best way to minimize your chances of getting sick.

After food, we built up our bikes so we could squeeze in a quick pre ride that evening before lining up for the team relay the next day. The course was about an hour drive away from where we were staying, and by the time we got there, we had just enough light to get in a couple laps before dark. On the last lap, me, Luke V, and Chris Blevins were riding together. We finished the lap and just me and Luke were at the finish area.. We waited in the fading light, figuring that Chris stopped to check out a section or maybe even got a flat tire, but after a couple minutes we started to get a little worried. Finally Chris rolled up the the start finish area covered in dust in blood. In the fading light Chris had gone over the bars, cutting up his hand and it looked like a pretty large gash in his chin. Back at the vans, Chris’s dad Field who is a retired doctor ruled that the gash in Chris’s chin was very deep and he needed stitches. After getting back to the hotel to get some food and clean up a bit, Chris and Field headed out to find the hospital and get the medical attention he needed. Chris made it back to the hotel battered and tired at 2am on the night before the team relay.

The next day we headed out to race the relay in the afternoon. Having never done a relay before I was a little bit nervous, and I was going second, after Chris. The nerves soon faded though and I got in the zone. The elite men took off first lap, and I waited anxiously hanging onto the start fence. The first 3 riders came through and tagged their teammates, and I got a little bit of a sinking feeling wondering if Chris was ok. But then he came around the start bend and tagged me and we were off! I felt pretty good, and I went up the one big climb in the lap as hard as I could, which ended up being a mistake because I was so gassed coming off the climb into the rocky descent that I could barely see straight. I didn’t have the strength to decent smooth and I ended up coming into this squeeze between two rocks with too much speed, clipped a pedal, and launched over the bars. Luckily I was fine minus a couple cuts here and there, and I didn’t lose too much time. I ended up passing two riders of the other teams and got the team into second place. Erin, Haley, and Luke all rode smooth and fast after me, and we finished only 40 sec off of the Mexican team.

The next day was a nice rest day, with everyone sleeping in and moving slowly to start the day. We drove over to the course around noon to ride for about and hour and a half at an easy pace and analyze the course. I rode with Kate Courtney, Erin Huck, and Chloe Woodruff, and we had a good time testing and trying many different lines on the course. After that we headed back to the hotel to get some food and rest up. The next morning I was kinda on my own, as I didn’t race till 230, and the rest of the team went to pre ride in the morning while the course was open. I slept in, got some pancakes and a little bit of coffee, and began the race day game of trying to do nothing until it was time to race.

Finally it was time to move, all the bottles had been filled, bike had been checked, and it was go time.

At the venue I warmed up on the rollers in the pit, and it truly was amazing to watch the hundreds of people who had shown up to watch hustle up onto the course and over to the start area. Brad Copeland the mechanic did a good job of calming my nerves, with his hilarious jokes and easy going attitude. Finally we got staged under the hot sun. I was called up on the second row, which I was super stoked for, as it minimized the chances of getting caught in crashes, and made it easier to move up. The race started, and 2 pedal strokes in, a Brazilian rider slipped his pedal in front of me. I caught his rear wheel, and unclipped and waddled a few steps to avoid going over the bars. Luckily I didn’t hit the ground and got clipped backed in quickly. At that point I hit the first section of singletrack about 25 people back from the leaders. Cabrera and Gutierrez, the 2 Mexican riders were at the front of the pack and putting a huge chunk of time into the rest of the field. I worked hard to take advantage of the small amount of passing opportunities, as almost the entire course was singletrack. At the start of the second lap, I finally had put myself into second place, with Gutierez up over a minute and a half on me and the rest of the field. The rest of the race I rode smooth and clean but the gap between me and him never really came down.

My mom, dad, grandfather and grandma made the trip down to Mexico with us, and it was so amazing to hear their words of encouragement and support each lap. My whole family follows my racing every step of the way, and nobody is ever as excited as they are to see me cross the finish line. I was super stoked to finish second, as my goals going into that race were much lower than that. The support from USAC was absolutely amazing, and everything went as smooth as it could have. The next day the u23’s and pro’s raced, and I watched podium after podium filled with the stars and stripes. Chris started to feel a stomach bug the night before, and woke up not even sure if he was going to race in the morning. Nothing can stop him though, and he rode away to victory in his u23 race. Haley rode an unstoppable race, winning by over 3 minutes. That same morning Luke and Russell were not feeling good either, especially Russell, and he wasn’t able to start. Luke was feeling good enough to race, and him and Keegan rode amazing in a stacked field, Keegan ended up in 4th just off 3rd place. Everyone was exhausted from the sun, as it was approaching 90 degrees during their race.

Our final day of racing was a UCI C1 race on Sunday, and what a crazy race it was. The pro men and u23 men started together, and then us junior men 1 min behind them. After us, they started the pro and u23 women 1 min back, so we had everyone on course racing at once. I was super scared that because of that it was going to be dangerous race, but surprisingly I was happy with how they did it. The passing wasn’t too bad, before the race I made sure I memorized izquierda and derecha, which is left and right in spanish. It was much easier to get around people when they actually knew what direction you were coming from! It was cool because with all the people on course, there was constantly a wheel to chase, and I felt like I was able to push myself harder than I normally would. I had a much better start and was sitting 3rd wheel going into the singletrack. Gutierrez didn’t seem to have the same luck, and was a couple wheels further back. He was moving up quickly, and I decided to try and take advantage of the people on course to try and put a gap between us. I passed a few people at the top of the climb into the big decent, and opened it up trying to gain some time on him. Coming through the start I couldn’t see him coming and I rode the next lap solo chasing the wheels of u23 and pro riders. As I started out on my final lap I came through the feed zone and saw Gutierrez standing with his bike. He later told me that he had a crush, and decided to pull out of the race. Crossing that finish line in Mexico finally in the top spot was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.

That night me, Keegan, Chris, and Emma the team swanny went to check out the city. Aguascalientes comes alive to another level at night, with the streets filled with people playing music, cooking and eating food, and just enjoying themselves. We checked out cathedrals and enjoyed crepes under the street lights. It was the perfect way to end the trip. The next day, everyone was up and moving early to get everything packed and moving to the airport. I was sad to leave Mexico, but I learned so much about racing and traveling internationally with USA Cycling and took home some valuable UCI points. It was a trip I am going to remember for years to come!

Meet Bear Development Team Manager Soraya Karimiyanha

This week, meet…

SORAYA KARIMIYANHA

Racing Age: 28

Hometown: San Rafael, CA

Race Bike of Choice: I actually do not race bikes! I do enjoy taking my cruiser to the local farmer’s market though.

Favorite “Cruising” Song: Drifter – Hippie Sabotage

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: An avocado rose on a slice of homemade bread.

I grew up in Marin, where I was the only person with a name that my substitute teachers could never pronounce. As a child learning to spell, that was hard for me! But it probably made me more sensitive to others as I grew up. I’ve been to the Middle East with my family a few times, to Iran and Syria, but I haven’t been over recently. I teach people to pronounce my last name by acting it out: CARRY-ME-YAWN-HA!

As a teenager, I spent most of my weekends volunteering for local causes (shoutout to Meals of Marin & the Special Olympics!!) or hiking with my family. We have always been a close-knit unit and we all love the outdoors. Every summer, we would travel, see the sights in a new country, learn the history, eat the food, and see how people lived all around the globe. It was fascinating. After high school, I attended University of San Francisco, where I wrote my thesis on family communication and secret keeping! I loved school, but I just couldn’t see myself researching communication studies for the rest of my life. Shortly after I graduated in 2013, I began working for Julia Violich, the woman of many talents, and many companies! That’s where I feel like my career really began. Working with Julia is intense, fast-paced, and inspirational. I completed my MBA at Dominican University while working part-time in 2017, and wrote my thesis on strategies for international growth. I love continuing my education – it really assists with all aspects of my life! And when you work in a small office like mine, it’s so helpful to know how to do, well, everything! We don’t have a graphics department or a research department or a travel agent or an event planner. Everything falls on us, and we make it happen.

Soraya, her brother Kaveh, parents Hamid & Joan, and their lab, Ace, on one of their favorite hikes in Lucas Valley.

Now, I live in Petaluma with my boyfriend Alex, our 2 chocolate labs Goose & Maverick, and our 8 hens: Iceman, Hollywood, Whiskey, Scooter, Leroy Jenkins, Delilah, Jäger, and the Gray Lady. Living with so many animals has really brought out the country girl within me, and I’m hoping that we can all move to a place with more land in the next few years, so we can add to our farm. I’d love to rescue goats and alpacas in the future. And obviously, more chickens. They’re like potato chips – you can never have just one!

Soraya and the farm’s largest hen, Delilah. Delilah is a Barred Rock.

On the weekends, you can find me working on one of my many home projects. I have a longggg list going of everything I’d like to do to our little fixer-upper. Recently, Alex and I made 2 tables for our home. One table was made using a rusty frame from a scrap metal yard in Sonoma- we sanded it down for polish and added some wood shelves. It’s our new media stand!

The other table we made was with a single metal rod that we sliced into shorter pieces and welded together to make the frame. We put a stainless steel top that we got for $10 at the flea market on it, and now it’s our centerpiece in our “test kitchen”! It is so rewarding to make something useful for your home. One day I’d like to learn how to work with wood, to make more intricate furniture.

If I’m not working on a house project, I’m somewhere outside with Goose & Mav. Marin & Sonoma Counties have no shortage of open space, and it’s so fun to hike with them. The dogs LOVE exploring, and so do I, so it’s a win-win!

I love taking classes, still! I am always learning. I take cooking classes, art classes, farming classes… basically anything and everything I can get my hands on. I recently learned how to do calligraphy with a nib & ink, and now it’s my favorite way to decompress after a long day, a busy week, or a labor-intensive weekend of building a chicken coop!

One thing I’m trying to improve is the food I eat. More and more, pesticides and chemicals in the food we buy, freaks me out! It’s one of the reasons I’d like to live on more land — to grow & raise my own food would be ideal. It would greatly reduce my carbon footprint if I could shorten the crazy long supply chain that comes from the food I buy at the supermarket. In the meantime, I’ve taken to fishing, clamming, lobstering, and even hunting. It’s brought on a new meaning to food. We use every part of the animal that we can, and we are still learning a lot! It makes you think about your food, where it comes from, and what it’s been eating. Hunting also encourages you to be a good at what you do. No hunter wants to wound an animal, we all want a clean shot. These experiences have also given me the opportunity to harvest meat, which is insanely cool. I love seeing a project through from beginning to end.

TEAM EFFORT – Clamming at low tide in Tomales Bay. You’ll need to dig fast if you wanna catch these buggers!!

My other hobbies include yoga (ask me about my backbends!), golf (don’t ask me about my par..), flying small planes, fly-fishing, skeet-shooting, poetry, making floral arrangements, antiquing, taking photos of architecture (I’m a bit obsessed with old European doors, but then again, shouldn’t we all be?), and well, probably a lot more! Feel free to reach out to me if you ever want to geek out about chickens or anything else I’ve mentioned. Looking forward to a fun season with Bear Dev!!

Meet Junior Bear Athlete Finn Melton!

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team. This week, meet…

FINN MELTON

Racing Age: 16

Hometown: Fairfax, CA

Race Bike of Choice: Trek TopFuel 9.9

Favorite Training Song: Know Your Enemy – Green Day

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Almond Butter Toast & a Smoothie

My parents are super into the outdoors so naturally, they passed their love for being outside down to me and my twin brother, Kai. As long as I can remember, my parents have been taking me and my brother hiking and biking all over Marin, skiing in local mountains or on backpacking trips. Growing up in Fairfax, the birthplace of mountain biking, I have always been surrounded by a strong community of bikers who encouraged me to pick up the sport.

When I am not biking, I like to spend time with friends and family, surfing, reading and playing soccer. My mom is from Berlin, Germany so I spend part of every summer visiting family there and traveling to different parts of Europe. One of my favorite times of the year though is visiting my cousins and grandparents in San Diego. I love to spend time with them while surfing or having fun on the boardwalk.

I have played competitive soccer since fourth grade and continue to do so in the off-season. I was also very much into running track and cross country. I experimented with baseball but it wasn’t a great fit because I really enjoy the long distance exertion that you get from running or biking. I also make several trips into the mountains each winter to ski and started backcountry skiing this year. I really enjoy the solitude and climbing aspect in addition to skiing untracked snow.

I was introduced to biking at a young age by both my parents who are also cyclists. My first introduction to racing was competing in local triathlons with my brother. In sixth grade, I joined the mountain bike club with my brother and a few friends. Every Tuesday after school we rode local trails around Fairfax. Most of the time we ended up riding a local “flow trail” and would try to do more laps than we had the week before. That same year, a friend of mine heard about a “shorty” MTB race series that was happening nearby on Wednesdays after school. We decided to give it a shot and ended up having a blast! Those few races sparked my interest in racing mountain bikes and then freshman year of high school I joined the Drake MTB club and raced my first year of NICA. I had so much fun during the NICA season that by the end I decided that I was going to give my full effort into training and racing the following year!

I am delighted and honored to be apart of the Bear Development Team this year I look forward to the many memories and exciting experiences I will have this season!