First Trip to China Camp

Lucas practicing cornering technique on one of the many switchbacks. 

Lucas practicing cornering technique on one of the many switchbacks. 

We took our first trip across the Richmond Bridge to ride the famous China Camp loop in San Rafael this past Sunday.  Nine miles of flowy singletrack, Bay and Redwood trees, sweeping views and a lot of good practice for our young riders. Here are the highlights. 

We warmed up for the ride by practicing switchbacks. William and Lucas were smooth like butter on these tough 180 degree turns uphill and down!


At the end of the ride is when looked back on where we'd been that day. Lucas and William had to figure out where we started and which trails we took by using the map. Lucas found the "You are here" arrow to help orient him to our location. Then we traced our way around China Camp on our first great loop as a team. What an accomplishment!


William spotted the first newt of the season on the side of the trail while taking a break. You never know what you're going to see when you slow down for a moment on trail. 


About halfway through the loop the trail opens up and you can see the Richmond Bridge in the background as well as the San Pablo Bay. This is a great spot for a photo. 


We got lucky and ran into the Albany High School MTB team who were out in force practicing some race loops and race starts. It was great to see some familiar (and friendly) faces and see a big team in action, all kitted up in their Albany High cycling gear, working hard for the season. We'll be there someday. We were humbled and inspired. 


William got a pair of cycling shoes at a recent MTB skills camp. Now all he needed were the SPD pedals to pair with them. After practice William learned how to change pedals using a pedal wrench and some grease. After practice he took his first real ride around his neighborhood to practice the sensation of clipping in and out of the pedals. William is the first Richmond Composite student to try clipless pedals. We're looking forward to getting more kids "clipped in" soon. Lead the way William! 

Beginner MTB Skills Camp

Thanks to a very generous Norcal league board member, three of our team member we were able to attend an overnight beginner MTB skills camp on a private ranch in Petaluma this January. 


The weekend consisted of meeting 30 other high school students new to mountain biking, learning new skills from a dozen coaches, riding a pro pump track, handbuilt singletrack, practicing a mock race, eating great food, camping, s’mores and of course a campfire filled with fun and plenty of stories. 


Highlights included a standing ovation and human tunnel for our team rider Jacob as he made his way to the top of a big climb complete with 360 views. 


Other highlights included team rider William absolutely lighting up the entire camp with laughter with his positive presence and lively antics at every turn and event. Also, William somehow found some riding glasses and all of a sudden turned into a pro racer before blazing through his first race out on the course.  


One of the other champions of the weekend was team rider Lucas who took a spill pushing his limits cornering through a tough switchback. Although he went down, he kept his spirits high and even rallied the next day to get back out and ride with his group. Thumbs up Lucas! 


Many games, fun stories, new friendships and memories later we were on our way home reflecting on all that had occurred in the past two days. What a gift! We can’t wait to see everyone at the races for more riding, hanging out and camping.  

Here are a couple more photos to show what a great weekend we had. 


What happens at a Fun Ride?


When you arrive to a Fun Ride you see bikes everywhere. They are leaned up against trees, on their sides in lines and likely being pedaled around a skills course made of orange cones. There are people too, the friendly kind, ready to say hello, extend a hand and welcome you to the group. 


We circle up and introduce ourselves to the group and get oriented to the bikes we’re about to ride—brakes, air, shifters, seat height and more. Then before you know it we’re all pushing the pedals, off to ride the skills course and practice some new mountain bike skills like “ready position” or switchbacks!

After we practice, we go explore. At our October 22nd Fun Ride we rode along the Richmond Greenway, a largely paved bike/pedestrian pathway that runs though the heart of Richmond. We stopped to play in the future site of “Dirt World” where someday (hopefully soon) Richmond will have a world class dirt pump track and skills park. In the meantime we’ll still enjoy the dirt rollers and mini pump track. 


At our second Fun Ride on Saturday November 4th we were riding at Miller Knox park along the shoreline near Point Richmond. We started on grass and did our best to avoid pavement as we snaked our way through picnic areas and BBQ pits toward the gravel and dirt trails out by the point. Whoops and hollers were heard as tires spit mud out in a rooster tail out the bike—signs that we were now indeed mountain biking. 

Once out at the point we took in the views. We could see the Golden Gate, Bay and Richmond/San Rafael bridges as well as seemingly every Island in the Bay. We took it all in, handed out some maps to help show where we’d be going next, snapped a few photos and jumped back on the bikes. 


We continued our ride out along the Bay Trail, a protected bike path that runs along much of the Richmond area shoreline. We stoped to share some Richmond history and see how our piers and shoreline is being used today. Oh, and of course we ride!


We reached our turning around point at the end of a leg of the Bay Trail and had to take a couple more pictures, tell a few more stories and point out where we’d be riding November 12th at Alvarado Park which could be seen as we traced the Wildcat Canyon ridgeline to it’s northern terminus.  


We turned around and jammed back the way we came, making sure to hit as much dirt, gravel and some fun singletrack on the way back, practicing our ready position and switchbacks with finess! When we returned high fives were given generously, favorite parts of the day were shared and a hearty “See you next week at Alvarado Park!” Was exclaimed. “Hands in. Richmond Composite on three. 1...2...3!”


Want to get involved? Join us for a remaining Fun Ride by clicking this link. All are welcome and we’ll even bring you a bike! We ride again: 

Sunday November 12th @ Alvarado Park - 10am-12:30pm

Sunday November 26th @ Point Pinole - 10am-12:30pm