Fontana US CUP Round #3

After the Bonelli HC weekend Emily, Kerry Shields, and I headed north west about 45min from Ontario to Altadena (3 miles north of Pasadena). My friend Cody Phillips invited us to stay at his house with his pops, Pat who is a farrier. We arrived on Monday afternoon and were graciously settled in by Hannah, Pat’s daughter. We all quickly claimed rooms that were not the room with the pet snakes in them, leaving that one for Stephen Ettinger. Luckily, he didn’t have a problem with that because otherwise he was sleeping outside, which probably wouldn’t have been that bad because it was beautiful there.

After a quick spin on Monday night we congregated around some hot pumpkin, ginger, chicken curry.

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Tuesday we got up and were more than excited to explore this new area. It was really warm, sunny, and only 9am… Meanwhile, back in banner elk it was raining and 30º.

Pat told us to go up on top of Brown Mountain then come back down El Prieto, a pretty well known local route. Em, unfortunately, was still getting over a little bit of sickness so I went out and had to conquer brown solo! I made it up brown with no wrong turns and found a sick view.

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Then I descended down El Prieto, equally as easy to navigate, and had a blast. Sandy loose soil with some fun rock features and lots of edge of cliff exposure to keep you on your toes.

Tuesday afternoon was spent organizing the team trailer and teaching Em how to go off jumps. Then I capped off the afternoon by swinging around on the hammock and helping myself to Pat’s keggerator, which was fitted with Craftmans brewery Holiday brew (I only had one I swear).

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We all had another family dinner this time shrimp and veggie stir fry. Steve Messer, who stopped by when we were organizing the trailer, coincidentally stopped in just as dinner finished up and joined us. It was great having him around the table to talk about trails and other non bike related stuff. He is a pretty interesting guy who has done a lot for the mountain biking community in the Pasadena and surrounding areas. He works for IMBA in the CORBA region and helps build new trail, while also fighting to keep new ones open. Steve also literally wrote the book for the trails in the LA area, “Where to bike: Los Angeles Area”, so I asked him about where to ride before he jetted out.

Emily, Kerry, and I went out to climb up Echo mountain. The climb was pretty steep and really exposed on the edge of cliff. We ran into a few grumpy ass old people, who I had no problem annoying as they hiked past, some people think they are so entitled.

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Emily and Kerry turned around about 3/4 of the way up but I kept going and going. I crested Echo and kept going to Inspiration Point. Then, after being inspired, I descended upper merrills, to sunset ridge, and down into Millard Campground. What a ride! Top ten of my life! Started out on awesome bench cut trail in the forrest, popped out onto some ridge line chunky rock (I think they call it Monkey face, which actually had me scared), followed by an awesome switch backing single track dropping down into the canyon of Millard Campground.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon soaking in the excitement of that ride on the hammock. Reading a book and watching the sun set off over Pasadena.

Late afternoon we accompanied Pat to the Craftmans Brewery for an exclusive and very educational tour/ tasting around the brewery. It was awesome! I think I found my calling!

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We went out to dinner that night at a cool local hot spot called “El Patron”. It was Mexican food, as you may have guessed, and it was good! I had chicken mole for the first time (Say what?!. I know) and I really want to try and make it on my own.

Thursday morning we headed back to Ontario. Kerry and I dropped Em off at the hotel and then sped south to Northern San Diego for a visit at the new BMC headquarters. We went down there to pick up a bike but we were given a tour and a run down of operations and what is to come. I must say I am very excited and can’t wait for the potential that lies ahead. It’s worth mentioning that BMC is surrounded by some good company: Maserati, Ferrari, and Tesla…

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Sepp flew in on Thursday night so Friday morning we headed to the venue to set up and get in a few course laps. We got some new wind flags from KMC, which you should look for if you ever need to find us in the venue. They are quite tall!

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After some course laps the response around the venue from the riders was a synonymous excitement about the course. It was the first course of the year that had a world cup feel and a fun downhill to ride. Brady Kappius even showed me a sneaky line. We later decided it probably wouldn’t be ideal to do in the race, except under a very unique set of circumstances. However, it looked cool….

Fontana USCUP Rock Drop from BMC Project Dirt on Vimeo.

Friday night it was back to the hotel and Shayna joined us after getting done a final at 6pm. She drove down from UCLA and was officially on spring break.

Saturday the women started at 11:15am so we were at the venue to get things ready for them. Sepp and I mostly sat around while Kerry did the rest. Emily was feeling good and looking forward to the race. Shayna on the other hand was getting over last weeks Strep throat and also dealing with the weight of studying for finals over the last week.

Either way the women were off and Shayna was quickly stricken with bad luck. Her and a Luna rider locked bars in the first corner causing her to get spit out the back of the field from the gun. Emily made it through with a clean start and held her position in the low 30’s for most of the race. Shayna managed to claw her way back to the thirties and finish on the lead lap.

Sepp and I were ready to roll when 1:45 came around. The gun went off and my dear old friend Russell Finsterwald was getting loose on the start straight and locked bars with me. It wasn’t a big deal and he was in the same boat as me so we worked our way back up into the top twenty on the road climb. Throughout the race, I was having a hard time getting out of a one speed gear but about mid way through I managed to turn it on a made it up to a two man group for 15th. Spencer Paxson was there and put the wood to me causing me to fade on the last two laps. I thought I would just float in no mans land until the end but then Ben Sontag and Alexander grant came on strong and I suffered the sting of losing two more spots within the last 5 min of the finish on the last lap.

Sepp rode a good consistent race and finished up just out side of the top thirty after fighting hard from the back. His form seems to be coming around before his trip to Pacific American Championships down in Brazil.

We all cooled down and packed up. Then headed back to the hotel to prepare for STXC and grill some cajun chicken.

Shayna decided to opt out of the STXC and go home on Saturday night. She was feeling strain from the residual strep throat. It was a good idea in the grand scheme of things.

The next day the pros STXC got pushed back an hour so we had ample time to sit around the venue and become unmotivated for it. Fortunately, we got to hear the Blue Angels flying over head as the flag dropped across the street at the Fontana NASCAR race.

Emily took off at 3 and managed to have a decent race. She held on and finished on the lead lap at 16th and was battling her way through groups the entire race.

Sepp and I went at 3:45 and I decided to GoPro the race. I figured why not let the people at home see what a STXC is like from within the field. If only Colt could film the STXC. That would be a spectacle.

I managed to have a good start and make the front group. However, I was dangling off the back, like last week, and it eventually took its toll on me. I fell victim to the yo-yo effect and faded from the front group to a chase group and remained there with Mitch Hoke for the remainder of the race. Towards the end our only motivation was to not let Shoair riders catch us and we succeeded. I ended up 12th. I just need to commit earlier to establish some position with in the front group… My next opportunity is Sea Otter.

Check out my post race interview, courtesy of

Watch more videos on CyclingDirt

Sepp managed to finish on the lead lap, which was impressive considering the chaos in the loose gravel at the start.

Watch more videos on CyclingDirt

Stephen Ettinger, fellow BMC rider, took the W, which was cool to hear about. I was too far off the back to actually see it. Sorry I didn’t get it on video…

We packed up and dropped Sepp off at the airport. He was starting his journey back to Denver and then to Brazil for Pan Am Champs. Good luck Sepp!

As for Kerry, Emily, and I. We were off to the east coast for the next two weeks before Sea Otter. Time to get fit and have some fun in the mountains that I call home!

Check out the BMC Project Dirt Facebook page for some photo Albums of the race as well as updates and interviews that took place throughout the weekend.


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