The Man in the Rear – Tandem Mt. SAC Race report

Two weeks ago, RL and I raced at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic on a tandem bike. What was interesting about this race is we were the only ones in our CAT with a tandem bike. Traditionally Mt SAC has had a class for tandems however since they are now aligning with the other races of the Triple Crown, they did away with the tandem class. Without knowing this, RL purchased a used tandem bike just a few weeks before the race. In total we had a whopping ONE ride to practice which was just a few days prior to the race.

Unsure if we were even allowed to race the tandem, RL and I fired off several emails to the powers that be at Mt SAC. Closer to the race day we received a response that we can however we’ll have to race in our age group. Being that RL registered us, we raced in this group which was Beginners 27-34… bunch of fast-er guys.

At the line-up we were greeted with cheers from both racers and spectators. Many of our friends from the racing circuit cheered us onto the starting line! Man, we were like mountain biking celebrities!!! :). Not wanting to impede the other racers in our CAT, we lined up in the back. Off the bat we knew what our chances were, we didn’t have high expectations on placing. Our goal was NOT to finish last!

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RL and I walking our bike towards the back of the pack.
Below is a video from the Stoker’s POV. You’ll see us doing really well in the first lap. As a matter of fact we passed or kept up with many racers on the flats. Up the first hill wasn’t bad, we made it up with out any problems. Approaching the switchback climbs we started encountering problems within the singletrack. We had a hard time maneuvering through this. On the other side of the switchbacks I got off the bike and ran to the bottom where it flattened. You’ll see me in the video (fast forwarded) running through the trail waiting for RL at the bottom. I’m glad we didn’t ride through here as there were at least three different people that went down. RL however managed to ride through here smoothly.

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Onto the third hill we grinded – Energy level was still good…. At the bottom on the other side, we were cheered on by our families and friends. Shortly after this descent we made our way towards probably the third toughest climb. Fortunately the switchbacks were fire-road wide. Mash, mash, mash – we made it up! All through out the Captain and the Stoker are in constant communication.

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Much of the same for the second lap however fatigue kicked in and we were a lot slower. Even walking up some of the hills were harder second time around :(. Somewhere in between the second lap, as we grinded through, we became more aware of our placement within the race. Our goal was not to be last however, we were seeing less and less racers… only a few passed us on the last climb by the stables. Could we have been that far behind??? Apparently not… RL and I continued to pedal, descended the big (last) downhill section with more confidence than the first lap.

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As we motored through the Finish Line we were greeted by the same cheers that were there at the Start. Shortly after, another racer in our CAT came in. We did it – we were not last!!!. Out of 25, we were the 24th 🙂

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What a great experience. It was my first ever tandem race and it was such a blast!!! I’m hoping they will open this Class next year in the Triple Crown series as we are looking forward to racing it again, with even more training!

RL is Super Cool…

Just ask Steve Peat and Nathan Rennie… they’ll tell ya

But seriously, I have to give props to RL Policar for all of his hard work these past two races.  As a Team Captain/Mgr role he has been more than supportive for the entire Team.  He’s provided everything for us from a tent (shelter from rain), food, energy supplements, tools, you name it we have it…

Memorable examples from this past weekend at Mt. SAC:  On my second lap approaching the Feed Zone (FZ), I see RL yelling trying to get my attention.  On one hand a fresh bottle of water with Motor Tabs and on the other a Heineken.  Tough choice!  To me this is comical as it breaks the monotony of the grind.  Off course I grabbed the water bottle.  RL did this for all the Team members, keeping us hydrated during our race. 

MTB_MT_SAC_3 by you.DSC_0473 by you.                                           RL at the Feed Zone for me and KIm.

On Priscilla’s race – as she approached the FZ, RL was going to give her Clif Shot Bloks.  At this time I was done with my race so now I was taking pictures however I was situated on higher level than the FZ.  I wish I would have captured the next events on camera…

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There was a fumble with the hand-off to Priscilla.  Apparently RL couldn’t get the Shot Bloks out of his pocket and at the same time trying to keep up with Priscilla as she is riding by.  He ended up tumbling up the hill… none the less great effort and I have to commend him for that!

Through out day he ran back and forth at different prime spots to capture the Team on video while lugging a heavy duty tripod for a heavy duty video camera. 

IMG9116 by you.                                                                                     RL moving from different areas of the race on his Xtracycle.

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To top it off there were two separate race times.  At the end of each race, not only was he there to meet us at the Finish Line,  but he went straight to the tent to start the grill so we can eat.  This was like a Four Star treatment – man what service!!!

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IMG9492 by you.                                                                              Grilling salmon and burgers…

So who else says RL is Super Cool – Team MtnBikeRiders.com says he is!  Thanks RL!

Priscilla’s Race Ride Report: MT SAC

To say that I was anxious about this race is an understatement. This past month since the Bonelli race has been spent trying to get over soar throats and runny noses. I have been sick for four weeks now which has left me with very little riding time and training. Lucky for me I paid for this race a month ago so as much as I wanted to back out of the race I just couldn’t stand the thought of throwing away 35 bucks!

When I woke up that Sunday morning to rain clouds and sore legs I wasn’t feeling too good about the race. Sore legs you ask? Yeah, sore legs. In an attempt to avoid burning out my legs the day before on the pre-ride, I opted to hike a bike up a few hills. Well, in an attempt to “save” my legs I made it worse because I used different muscles to hike up those hills. My legs were hurting that morning.

Anyways, we headed out early that Sunday morning because we wanted to make sure we were there to encourage Joe and Eric since they had an earlier start then the rest of us. It sure does make a difference to hear the encouragement out there during the race so we wanted to make sure the boys got some much deserved team love out there. And I was glad we were able to get there and set up. It gave me a chance to relax with the children and help with pictures.

I was also relieved when Kim shared some of her anti-lactic acid build up pills with me. Not sure what they were called but I am buying a case of them! They really helped with my legs. I also popped a couple of FRS chews. These were great. No nausea and I felt like I was able to keep up my energy during the whole race.

At some point that morning I surrendered to just having a good time out there. I didn’t feel too confident about making podium becuase of my cold but I really just wanted to have fun. I decided I would just pace myself and ride my ride.

And enjoy the ride I did! The race had a good number of participants. About 6 women in my category (34 and Under) and 7 in Kim’s category (35 and Up), amongst 100 other men. I felt like I had a strong start, the only drawback is probably our positioning in the crowd. I think starting with the head of the pack would have given us more of an advantage. There was a single track portion of the ride early in the race where everyone just bottlenecks and comes to a dead stop. So for those of us who got a later start it really cost us some time. There was a great climb though soon after that was able to give a few of us the opportunity to make up time up the hill. It was shortly after this climb that I was able to catch up the the 2nd place rider in my category and haul butt to get past her.

I really enjoyed this race. I had a good energy and a good vibe for most of the race. It was super encouraging to see the mtnbikerider crew spread out throughout the course. Sometimes I spotted Joe or Jon out there snappin away with their cameras and offering words of encouragement. RL really went out of his way to make sure we were takin care of too. He even tumbled up a hill for me to make sure I got my sugar blocks. 🙂


Kim gettin some team support from RL

I really felt like this was one of my strongest races. It felt great to catch up to one guy right after the other and pass him! Hehehe. I of course offered my words of encouragement as I rode on by. 🙂 I made sure to take advantage of every portion of the trail that I could hammer it and every opportunity to rest on the fun downhills. I was hootin and hollering all the way down the hillsides! I had such a great time out there and it really seemed to go by faster then I had expected. I also want to mention a couple of us were able to throw on our new Ergon grips! Love these. If you haven’t tried these out yet – DO IT! I don’t know how I ever got by without them! I also rode with my new
pack. Great stuff.

At the last hill I actually caught up with Nehr who was nursing some bad cramps. I offered some more words of encouragement after I pulled some souvenirs out of my derailleur hanger and rode on down the hillside as fast as I could to land me a 2nd place win.


Comin in for the finish!

I was really proud of the team. Kim put some hurt on those girls with holding strong during the race. And the boys did an awesome job. Eric and Joe – those guys are animals! I don’t know how they rode 3 laps!! Crazy!!! And so proud of Moe, Nehr and Val for finishing the race! Way to go guys. I think Nehr has a promising future as a racer!


The girlz rocked it!

It was just a lot of fun hanging with the crew and the kiddos too. Good eats, good ride, good “refreshments” (thanks Eric!), and good friends! Now on to Fontucky!!! Woo hoo!

And a special thanks again to KHS (for my frame), ERGON, EVOMO, HOSS, and BikeCommuters of course!

Mt. SAC 2008 – Joe’s Race Report

My day started at 5am.  Excited and couldn’t quite sleep, I tossed and turned in bed.  Around this time I received a text message from RL.  Apparently he couldn’t sleep either and was surprised when I returned his text message.  I started getting ready, getting my things together.  Approximately an hour and a half later, I received another text.  This time it was from Val and he says he’s outside my house waiting for me.  I was confused as I thought we were going to meet at 7:30am.  Then it dawned on me that Val forgot to turn his time back one hour… After clarifying the time, Val decided not to wait for me and he headed straight to Mt. SAC where we later met with everyone.  On our way to Mt. SAC it started raining.  Nothing heavy, but steady enough to wet the trails.

After I picked up my pre-registration packet I ran into a fellow clyde.  He informs me that we are now doing 3 LAPS instead of 2 (18 miles instead of 12) – Whaattt??? This was reminiscent to my race at Sea Otter earlier this year where there was a big confusion.

I was game for the 18 miles however I was a little worried that I may cramp up.  At the line up we were joined by other Sport classes and their respective age group.

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When we were given the GO, we sprinted on the asphalt for at least 100 yards towards the dirt, then through a narrow right-handed pathway.  At this point is where the bottleneck starts.  Racers from other Sport class tried to maneuver through this section.  As it turned into a straight away, the first climb was upon us.  I decided to stay in the inside lane.  Sprinting from the flats into the climb, I was in a high gear.  With much traffic upon me, I couldn’t switch into a low gear fast enough while trying to avoid running into other riders.  I got off my bike… Ughhh!  As the hill flattened a bit, I mounted my bike then tried to chase the pack.  I was disappointed as I rode through this section on our Pre-Ride.

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Reaching the first singletrack didn’t get any better.  Here the riders were lined up back-to-back and appeared like a centipede from a distance.  High-low, high-low (gears that is)… That’s how it felt like as we would stop and go.  The trail was slippery due to the rain earlier in the morning and light sprinkle was still upon us.  Some riders up ahead would either get stuck or hi-side the embankment.  If one person falters, the rest behind him/her will suffer.  My time in this section would seem like an eternity as I waited for riders to make it through. The rest of the race was a chase as I knew I was behind. 

Approximately 3 miles in on my 2nd lap, I see several Clydes up ahead.  I knew they were in my class as their legs were marked with #31.  I stayed behind them for several more miles then eventually passed them by the farm.  Completing my 2nd lap, I spotted another Clyde up ahead.  I would stay behind him until the climb after the Feed Zone.  Here I would pass him and never see him throughout the rest of the race.  Despite the slippery sections and the change of distance, I finished the race without any mishaps or cramps.  The course was exactly like last year’s, which helped tremendously.

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Sometime after I finished my race, I was at the Team Tent hanging out with family and friends.  I can hear on the loud speaker saying something about a protest.  Unbeknownst to me, it was for my class the Clydes.  Apparently there was confusion with the finishing times where some guys were listed higher than others on the results board.  After seeing for myself, the results had me listed at 11th place out of 12 racers.  Had I heard the announcement clearly, I would have protested.  As I stated above, on my 2nd lap I passed a group of Clydes, at least four in total.  Their legs were clearly marked with our # 31.  I was disappointed with my placement but even if I protested I doubt if I would have placed. 

I was contemplating whether I should make mention of this incident however this is the second time this has happened to me.  Big or small, these events have to be better organized and refrain from making impromptu decisions that alter what the racers have signed up for.  This causes confusion amongst the racers and takes the fun out of the event.  

This was the first time I was classified as a Sport.  I had to ride more miles, but I definitely had a lot of fun!

Onto Fontana for the last leg of the Triple Crown Challenge.

Mt. SAC Pre-Ride, Part II

Ner and I met RL, Priscilla and Eric at the Mt. SAC parking lot just a little after 7AM this morning.  As RL stated on the previous post, many parts of the course were not marked yet.  Prior to running into the Incycle guys, we took a stab at the course and rode approx 3 miles until we were diverted back towards the parking lot. 

From the parking lot we can see the Incycle guys marking the trail.  We fiddled with our bikes for a bit and installed our new gear from Ergon.  After giving the SC Velo guys some time, we headed back to the course.  This time around they opened up a singletrack with in the 1st three miles.  Ungroomed, it was very bumpy and a little difficult going through it.  

Making our way to the last cutoff (that diverted us back to the car) new signs were up towards another singletrack.  This led us towards the back section of “the farm” and Mt. SAC.  Reaching the tunnel towards the farm, the gate was closed so we just headed towards the end of the course via last hill, which appears to be the dreaded hill.  On the other side would be the final descent.  

Enjoy the video, it should capture majority of the course.

RL’s Mt. Sac Fat Tire Classic Race Report

As you’ve already read, Priscilla mentioned that the MtnBikeRiders crew raced yesterday’s Mt. Sac Fat Tire Classic. My daughter Breanna and I raced in the tandem category.

Here we are heading up to the starting line.

Did you notice our streamers…that’s to psych out the competition and if we needed to, we can take them off to whip the riders next to us so they don’t pass, you know a little Ben Hur action.

Here we are right when they said go. You can see Priscilla behind me all serious. She eventually passed us and a bunch of other riders.

Being in the tandem category, we had to ride 12 miles, basically 2 of the 6 mile loops. As much as Priscilla says it wasn’t a tough trail, I’m going to have to say that this was one of the most brutal courses out there…especially on a tandem. This trail had single track, steep climbs and descents, sand, ruts and cow patties…nasty!

We did race against another tandem couple. These two were riding an impressive Ventana with 8″ brake rotor, dual suspension…and basically a tandem made for mountain biking. Breanna and I were on our KHS Alite…it originally came with a rigid fork and we’re using v-brakes to stop us, plus its a hard tail.

This is our competition…

Before the race, Breanna and I talked about our goals for the event. For one thing we wanted to have tons of fun. Another goal was to finish the race. So for the fun factor, had had blast! We kept saying hi to people that we were riding next to, waving to the other tandem riders, and enjoying the scenery. As far as finishing the race…I have to tell you it was hard. At one point we stopped to rest and Breanna says to me, “Why am I doing this! It’s so hard!” But she knew that we agreed to finish the race so she never mentioned giving up.

There were a few times when I would ask her if she needed to rest, you know so she can let her legs feel better from all the climbing…she passed on the opportunity to rest and suggested we keep going.

The thing that trips me out the most is going down hills on our tandem. For one thing, this bike needed some disc brakes and a rear suspension. But as much as I wanted to worry, Breanna, on the other hand was having a blast. While we’re going down, she’s yell out…”weeeeee!”

On our second lap of the course, we thought we were the last ones. But we immediately felt better when we passed two other guys on the trail. The second time around we actually did way better. Just because we knew where to make up for lost time by mashing it, and where to rest on the down hills.

So after riding the course for 1 hour and 36 minutes, Breanna and I finished!


When the results were finally posted, the awards ceremony started. We waited patiently for them to call our names. Yup sure enough the announcer says, “Beginner’s Tandem, 2nd Place…RL and Breanna Policar!”

Here we are with our new trophy!

I’m very proud of Breanna for racing with me. She was such a trooper out there and refused to give up. Not only is she strong, but she’s got heart, so much so that she wouldn’t let her dad rest…Again I’m VERY proud of my girl Breanna!

Here’s our mantle with the two trophies that the Policar family got to take home. Priscilla’s is the one on the left and ours is on the right.

I do want to say thanks to KHS Bicycles for building an awesome tandem bike. For my boys Vince C. and Vince R. for hooking us up with KHS jerseys, I can’t forget about Khoa N. for his photographic skills and ofcourse my family for encouraging us through out the race. Thanks!

By the way, if you’re interested in more pictures from the event, check out our gallery HERE.