For these DP mountain bikers, it’s the climb

By Julia DeRogatis

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Mountain Biking

 

By Julia DeRogatis | Editor

April 2, 2014

In mountain biking, there are three options: uphill, downhill, or falling. Dos Pueblos students Grace Lewin, Katie Lefley, and Amanda Blau have experience in all three.

For the last four years, Lewin, Lefley, and Blau have been involved in the Mountain Biking Club and a part of the Southern California League for high school bikers. They began as novices, especially Lefley who had never touched a mountain bike before, but have grown into experienced and dedicated riders who enjoy all the ups and downs of the sport.

“We practice three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” Lefley said, revealing the commitment required for mountain biking. “[The rides] are usually pretty hard. Our last practice we did twelve miles and we were going uphill. We just ride till basically it gets dark.”

Despite the long practices, Lefley always relishes these outings. “I like getting outside after school. . . and [biking] is a nice thing to work at. You don’t get bored because you are always pushing yourself, going down a scary hill, or falling off your bike.”

“My favorite part of mountain biking is the technical downhills because they require skill and I like to challenge myself,” said Lewin, explaining her commitment to the sport. “I enjoy trying new things and improving my skills.”

Often, mountain biking is a tough test of endurance. The girls share that there is no real way to avoid the pain, but that certain riding habits can make the uphill burning seem a little more manageable. 

“During my ride I always sing to myself,” said Blau, flashing an enthusiastic grin. “I have a song in my head and I am pedaling to the song or I have a chant in my head like, “I can do this!” or “pedal. Pedal!”

Lefley, on the other hand, has a more mind-over-matter approach: “You just learn to ignore it.”

Coupled with the exhilaration and rewards of mountain biking are the risks and dangers.

“One time I was riding up Tunnel road and a rattlesnake came out in front of me,” Lefley said. “I freaked out and fell off [my bike]. . . next to the rattlesnake.”

Blau has taken her own tumbles while riding. “Once Grace, Katie, and I were racing each other at a practice. . .We crashed into each other and we fell and my glasses broke in three pieces and my leg was all gross.”

“I have been fortunate so far as to not have had very many bad falls,” said Lewin, “but my worst fall would have to be when I was coming down Tunnel trail and my tires just slipped out as I came around a curve. I badly cut up my elbow and got a few scrapes on my knees.”

Despite the falls, these three always get back on their bikes and continue to train and improve.

In February, Lewin, Lefley, and Blau attended the first of five bike races put on by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the final of which is the Championships in May, where hundreds of bikers from Northern and Southern California compete. While exciting, these races can also be a strain on nerves and muscles.

“I try not to compare myself to some of the other girl riders as much because they practice every single day,” Lefley said. “I compete for myself, [to see] how well I can do.”

“I like [races] afterward because I am tired and I feel like I have accomplished something. But before it is always really scary,” said Blau.

Lefley, Lewin, and Blau are unsure if they will pursue mountain biking collegiately, however, they will continue to tackle Romero as many times as possible while still in Santa Barbara.

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