IMBA will celebrate its eleventh-annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day (TKMBD) on Saturday, October 4, 2014. This is a great opportunity for you to share your passion for pedaling with kids!

What is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day?

TKMBD is an annual celebration held officially on the first Saturday of October. Events also happen on adjacent weekends. The event, developed and coordinated by IMBA, strives to encourage communities around the world to join together and ride mountain bikes with youth. Over the years we’ve had tens of thousands of kids participate from across the globe, including: Italy, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, and Mexico. Informal or formal, one child or 100 children, TKMBD celebrates the joy of riding in the dirt.

Besides being good, healthy fun, the goal is to develop a connection between kids and the natural world around them. Today’s children are tomorrow’s land managers and politicians — future decision-makers for important matters like recreation and access to public lands. How different might our current access landscape look today if previous generations of policy makers had grown up riding bikes on natural-surface trails?

San_Diego_Mountain_Skills_IMBA_Bike_Rodeo_Ride_Like_A_Ninja_11 San_Diego_Mountain_Skills_IMBA_Bike_Rodeo_Ride_Like_A_Ninja_34So whether you’re a dad, uncle, aunt, grandma, or grandpa, and especially if you’re a mom or a kid, we hope you’ll join our Ninja Skills Team for a free, fun “rodeo” in the park.

This ride will feature basic skills and advanced fun benefiting the Monarch School.

Our Ninja Skills Team is super excited and we’ve got a fun afternoon planned. We will set up skills stations where we can practice the basics in small groups before we head out to put them to the test on the trails.

Please note, this is a free event! All we ask is that you consider bringing a donation for the Monarch School of San Diego. They’re working to help kids impacted by homelessness develop the skills they need for a brighter future. We hope to raise funds to help bring the joys and benefits of cycling to their students.

The whole Ride Like a Ninja team is looking forward to seeing you and your family. We’ll have fun giveaways and prizes waiting, too.

Sign up today! ::

2014-08-15 10.57.31 amThe track stand is a relatively simple mountain biking skill. It’s very useful when tackling technical sections of a trail or for just showing off.


1. Put your bike saddle in a lower than normal position.

2. Roll up to a grassy, slightly uphill area in a standing position.

3. Come to a stop with both brakes. Your strong foot should be on the forward pedal while turning the front wheel on a forty five degree angle towards your front foot.

4. Balance by modulating your brakes and moving the front wheel slightly.  As with all balance techniques, focus on fixed point in front of you. If you follow something moving, you are going to move with it.

5. Stay relaxed, maintain a light grip on the bars — knees bent. Remember to breathe.

6. Roll out of the track stand by releasing the brakes and pedaling forward.

7. Practice until you can hold the track stand for a few seconds and be able to roll out of it. With time and practice, you’ll be able to hold your track stand for longer and longer.

Here’s a great video from one of our heros, Ryan Leech, demonstrating this skill …

That’s it, enjoy!

mountain_bike_roll_down_dropYou’re smoking down some sweet single track and right as you nail that last high-speed corner you see you friends seemingly float down a steep drop.  You choose the b-line and cruise around this wall of mystery and then have to hammer like mad to catch up with your friends … sound familiar?

Safely riding off a drop is a mountain-biking skill that will instantly open up new lines and allow you to have more fun than ever on your bike. With a bit of knowledge and some practice, you will be the one filling the new riders with envy as you gracefully and confidently ride off the drops.

1. Scout the drop. Take note of the condition of the drop, the mountain-bike-dropsteepness and roughness of the landing, and what the terrain would be like if you overshoot or undershoot the landing.

2. Roll up to the drop at a reasonably fast speed. If you are going too slow your front wheel will dive as soon as it rolls off the edge and toss you over the bars. Too fast and you might overshoot the landing.

3. Get into your attack position when two seconds away from the edge of the drop.
◦    Center your weight over your pedals and keep your hands light.
◦    Bend your knees slightly.
◦    Keep your arms bent and relaxed.
◦    Relax your grip on the handlebars.
◦    Get your chest low – you want you upper body to be almost horizontal.
◦    Look at the landing.

4. Unweight the front wheel as it reaches the edge by pushing your hips back and lightly lifting up on the handlebar. The slower you are going the further back you must have your weight to keep your front wheel from diving while the rear wheel is still on the ramp.

5. Keep your front wheel level with the take-off until the back wheel leaves the ramp.

6. Maintain your stance with your weight back over your rear wheel as you begin to fall.

7. Extend your legs and prepare to soften the impact as you near the landing.

8. Absorb the landing by using your legs as suspension.

9. Have fun by exploring new lines and finding things to drop from!

fireroad100_campNo matter how you define success—by race wins, accumulation of belt buckles, PRs, having fun, or consumption of celebratory beers—our Fire Road 100 Camp was just that. It was a success. In fact, we will even borrow the phrase from everyone’s favorite Kazakh journalist, Borat, and say it was a “great success!” Our group left the Fire Road 100 like a little kid leaving Chuck E. Cheese’s: weighed down with prizes, stuffed to the brim with pizza, and feeling thoroughly exhausted yet euphoric.

10347532_779319618756497_4907045941043983797_nOur first day of the camp was dominated by getting to know the first big climb which we fondly began referring to as “The Beast.” At just over 8 miles long and 3,400 ft of elevation gain, with an unrelenting grade between 5-20%, it lived up to its name. Knowing what it takes to get up that thing— in the heat, dust, and sun, at elevation, and early into a long, long race—was a major benefit to the campers. Also, climbing it so early in the week not only gave their legs a chance to rest before race day, but it also gave them a chance to run to the local bike shop or race sponsor to find an easier gear if they needed it. (Special shout-out here to both Cedar Cycle Bike Shop and the Orbea rep—they were able to help out riders that needed an easier gear not only with larger cassettes, but with totally sweet demo bikes!)

fireroad_downhillThe morning of our second day of camp focused on the last 15 miles of the course. Even though those finishing miles were nearly all descending, they were by far the most technical and mentally taxing. Particularly when fatigued at the end of this long race, a poorly chosen line, an untimely tap of the front brake, or sloppy cornering technique could lead to a gashed tire or an ugly crash. Practicing the final section is a must-do, so, we reviewed proper descending and cornering technique, shuttled our campers to the top of the technical section, and rode our way down, making sure to repeat some of the extra sketchy sections two or three times.

fireroad_course_detailfireroad_race_details2The afternoon of our second day was spent doing a super in-depth course talk and race strategy session. We reviewed where all the aid stations were, what would be available at each aid station, when it would be best to eat, when to hammer, when to recover, what average speed would be needed to finish under a certain time, and yes, even when to pee. Small elevation profiles were given to all the campers and they were encouraged to mark them up and tape them to their handlebars or top tube for race day. This is to eliminate the panic or confusion that seems to set in after the starting gun goes off and induces “Race-Day Amnesia”.

fireroad_shuttleAlthough our camp was initially slated to be only Tuesday and Wednesday, we extended it through the rest of the week. Everyone was having so much fun that we couldn’t think of a reason to cut the party, er, we mean camp, short. So, we spent the remainder of the week doing a few more shuttles up to the technical section, bike maintenance, personalized nutrition plans, stretching, hot-tubbing, eating, drinking, swimming at the Cedar City Community (Aquatic) Center, and sight-seeing (did you know that Zion National Park is only like 15 miles away from Cedar City???) We even got to enjoy a 4th of July town parade and fireworks show. Now, we may not have any scientific proof that all this non-bike related stuff helped our campers do better in the race, but we sure think it did!



Race day was everything we had hoped (and prepared) for and more. Thanks to a wonderfully organized and efficient packet pick-up the day before, we all already had our number plates and timing chips zip tied to our rigs and were able to focus on other pre-race preparations like eating breakfast and taking care of business in the bathroom (don’t pretend like you don’t know what we mean). Campers and fellow Ninjas warmed up together along Main street then moved in to prime real estate in the staging area. After a punctual start at 8:00am, everyone stayed together in a pack as we were motorpaced out for a neutral start. Once the flag was waved and the neutral zone ended, all the campers looked down at the cheat-sheets on their bikes and reminded themselves of their individual strategy as the real racing began. The unusually cool weather that day, along with an incredibly well marked course, helpful volunteers, well-stocked aid stations, and beautiful scenery made for a fantastic race. Once campers and Ninjas hammered through the finish line, we all congregated and celebrated at the post-race party with free pizza, beer, Twizzlers, and other delicious food that is only acceptable to eat after riding for hours.

fireroad100_plateAs the results became available, it became clear that our crew was going to come away from this race with much more than just great memories and full bellies.  All in all, we tallied up 7 belt buckles: 3 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze. And, if that wasn’t enough, 3 exceptionally speedy lads earned Leadville 100 spots! Whoop whoop!

aaron_fireroad100We can’t wait to come back and do it all again in 2015! Thank you to Paul and the Fire Road Cycling crew for putting on this great race and for helping to make our camp possible.

2014-07-08 03.29.10 pmYou know that feeling when you score a really good deal on something? The good ole I-bargained-that-price-down-to-half-its-MSRP?  Or the I-found-the-last-one-in-the-sale-bin feeling?  You get all giddy from the excitement because it feels like you won something. And who doesn’t like winning?  Well, get warmed up to do your best happy dance because we have a really good deal for you …

For a limited time, Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is offering a package deal for our coveted One-on-One sessions: when you buy 3, you get one free!  That’s a $150 savings!  To put that in perspective, that’s about 60 Double-Doubles at In-n-Out, 15 two-liter growlers at Stone Brewery, or 5 all-day passes to the bike park at Snow Summit. Woah.

limitedtimeoffer-greenIn addition to the cash money savings, this package deal will also give you the peace of mind knowing that you have 4 sessions on lockdown with one of our amazing instructors. This eliminates the anxiety of trying to cover everything in one session and allows for building skill level as appropriate rather than as time dictates. If you want more frequent and intensive instruction you can schedule them on consecutive days, or if you just want some tune-ups, you can schedule them once a week or even once a month.  You have 6 months to use your sessions, so how you schedule them is all up to you!

Click here to purchase your one-on-one session package — we’ll be in touch with you right after you purchase is complete to get you first session on the schedule …

2014-06-16 03.08.36 pmThe Kenda Cup Series final was held over Father’s Day weekend in Big Bear, CA under blue skies, and near-perfect racing conditions. Team Ninja began assembling at the team cabin on Wednesday, trying to get a head start on altitude acclimation, with the majority of racers arriving Friday night or Saturday morning.

A quick head count showed that the team needed every point and even then, it might not be possible to hold on to the narrow lead Team Ninja had established for its Cat 2/3 co-ed team. Under the added pressure, Team Ninja racers responded like true champions, taking home six podium finishes and countless PRs over the weekend, sealing its place on the top step for the Cat 2/3 co-ed team, third place for the Cat 1/pro co-ed team, and overall wins in men’s and women’s Super D.

“There is so much that goes into winning a big series like this,” said Team Ninja captain Richard La China. “That’s why I am enormously proud of our team for consistently showing up and stepping up on every level. Team Ninja has worked to be a force on the race course, but also an open-hearted group of friends who support one another and help one another — it’s been an amazing season so far.”

2014-06-16 03.09.41 pmTeam Ninja is a new face on the SoCal circuit, with racers coming from San Diego, L.A. and Phoenix — some for their first seasons ever. It has a welcoming, doors-open policy, with a focus on community involvement and the promotion of the sport along with a healthy dose of excellence for good measure. The team is deeply grateful to have the support of tremendous sponsors that include Rudy Project, Power Bar, Norco Bicycles, Sock Guy, Gaerne, Basic Link, Crank Cycling, Inner Strength Fitt Labs, Zumwalt’s Bike Shop, Casiano Law, and title sponsor, Ninja Mountain Bike Skills.

With its trademark enthusiasm, Team Ninja already has its sights set on the upcoming Rim Nordic Series as well as campaigns planned at Fire Road 100, Leadvillle Trail 100 and the B.C. Bike Race. Stay tuned for more exciting news to come, and check out the Kenda Cup results below. Congratulations Team Ninja!

| Join Team Ninja | Contact Team Ninja | Team Ninja on Facebook | Team Ninja on Strava

June 15, 2014 – Big Bear Shootout #2 – Series Final

XCO Results:

Cat 1 Women 30-39 Kris Gross – 1st

Cat 2 Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 4th

Cat 3 Women 30-39 Paula Evenson – 2nd

Cat 3 Women 50+ Anne-Catherine Roch-Levecque – 1st

Cat 3 Men 40-44 Abe Gonzalez – 7th

Cat 3 Men 50-59 Vinny Casiano – 5th

Cat 3 Men Clydesdales 35+ Todd Young – 2nd

Endurance Results

Men 40-49 Michael Whitehurst – 16th

Men 40-49 Richard La China – DNF (mechanical)

Super D Results

Open Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 1st

Open Men 40-49 Richard La China – 2nd

Kenda Cup Final Series Standings


Cat 2/3 Co-Ed Team – Overall Series CHAMPIONS

Cat 1/Pro Co-Ed Team– 3rd Place Overall


Cat 1 Women 30-39 Kris Gross – 1st

Cat 2 Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 7th

Cat 3 Women 30-39 Paula Evenson – 2nd

Cat 3 Women 30-39 Heidi Amundson – 5th

Cat 3 Women 40-49 Lisa Bielke – 4th

Cat 3 Women 50+ Anne-Catherine Roch-Levecque – 4th

Cat 1 Men 17-18 Evan Christenson – 11th

Cat 1 Men Singlespeed Richard La China – 8th

Cat 2 Men 19-24 Eric Fischer – 3rd

Cat 2 Men 25-29 Ray Snoke – 20th

Cat 2 Men 30-34 Ryan Brown – 3rd

Cat 2 Men 30-34 Kyle Wills – 8th

Cat 2 Men 35-39 Michael Henry – 12th

Cat 2 Men 35-39 Henry Heisler – 24th

Cat 2 Men 40-44 James Vo – 21st

Cat 2 Men 45-49 Tom Jones – 46th

Cat 3 Men 30-34 Advait Ogale – 6th

Cat 3 Men 35-30 Daniel Bergstrom – 18th

Cat 3 Men 35-30 Nelson Mozzini – 26th

Cat 3 Men 40-44 Abe Gonzalez – 5th

Cat 3 Men 40-44 Michael Whitehurst – 17th

Cat 3 Men 45-49 Jim Ritch – 18th

Cat 3 Men 45-49 Tom Jones – 22nd

Cat 3 Men 50-54 Darrell Styner – 8th

Cat 3 Men 50-54 Dan Golich – 20th

Cat 3 Men 55-50 Vinny Casiano – 10th

Cat 3 Clydesdales 35+ Todd Young – 2nd


Men 40-49 Michael Whitehurst – 21st

Men 40-49 Richard La China – 28th

Singlespeed Men Aaron Hauck – 10th

Super D

Open Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 1st

Open Men 30-39 Michael Henry – 27th

Open Men 40-49 Richard La China – 1st

Open Men 40-49 Michael Whitehurst – 28th

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahEndurance races seem to take on an almost mythical appeal. They become larger than life,  something people dream about doing and place on their bucket list.

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahFor triathletes, it’s Ironman events. For runners, it’s Ultras like Badwater. And for mountain bikers, its the Leadville Race Series with events like the Fire Road 100k in Cedar City, Utah.

These events are incredibly fun and rewarding, but they are grueling, and not even veterans takes them lightly: in addition to their regular training, they do an in-depth review of the course, make sure their nutrition is planned out, and make sure their bike set-up is dialed.

HomeSlider_4If you’re one of the endorphin junkies that’s signed up for Fire Road, but find yourself suddenly feeling like there is so much to do and so little time, fear not! This is where we come in….

Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is excited to announce that we’re going to Cedar City! The week of the event we are offering a 2-day camp that includes only the essentials you’ll need to conquer this race. Instead of finishing a traditional camp feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, you’ll leave this one excited, empowered, and still have your legs feeling fresh. We consider this camp to be “Fire Road: The ‘Cliff’s Notes’ Version”, and we’ll prepare you to rock that test, er,… we mean… race!

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahCoach Richard, a Cat 1 XC racer, IMBA Certified Skills Instructor, USAC Coach, AND a Gold Buckle winner from Fire Road 100 in 2013, is like Cliff—he has done all the hard work and research for you (by the way, did you know there really was a Cliff?). He’s taken all of the wisdom accumulated throughout his long racing career, as well as insights from his skills and coaching certifications, combined that with his knowledge of the course, organized it, condensed it, and voila! You have Fire Road: The Cliff’s Notes Version.

The camp includes a mini seminar with important topics like a course breakdown, hydration, nutrition, etc, followed by some skill work needed specifically for fire road racing, and will wrap up with targeted pre-rides of the most important sections of the course.  Don’t worry, SAG will be provided for us to get around so you can save your legs for the race.

Fire Road 100 Course Pre-view | Cedar City, UtahWith only about 4-5 hours of camp time per day, it leaves you with plenty of time to do whatever else you need to do on a race week/ race-cation. Elevate your legs. Take a dip in the hotel pool. Grab some grub with the fam. Watch a movie…. Cedar City is your oyster!

Camp Schedule and Details:
(Day 1) Tuesday, July 1st:
- 7:30am – Camp check in
- 8:00am- 9:30am – Mini seminar (Course breakdown, hydration, nutrition, bike set-up, what to expect with altitude and heat)
- 10:00am – 11:00am – Mini skill session (Ready position, bike-body separation, cornering)
- 11:00am – 1:00pm – Targeted pre-rides on first part of course

(Day 2) Wednesday, July 2nd:
- 7:30am – Regroup
- 8:00am – 12:30pm – Targeted pre-rides on rest of course

Payment Info / Cost: $399

Mini seminar
Skills training
SAG support
PowerBar nutrition and hydration during pre-rides

Secure your spot today here… REGISTER NOW!

While lodging is not included in the cost of the camp, the organizers of Fire Road have negotiated a pretty sweet deal with Best Western Town & Country, which happens to be within walking distance of the start/finish line, restaurants, and coffee. There is a discounted rate of $85 for Kings and $90 for Double Queens.  Contact the hotel directly and ask for their “Fire Road Rate.”  Toll free: (800) 493.0062

Mountain Biking in SandMountain Bike riding in sand can be challenging and even a little scary, which made it a frequently discussed topic at our team camp in Big Bear this past weekend. It seems like patches of this dreaded substance are never on a straight-away and always appear after a nice hard-packed section where you’ve managed to pick up a bit of speed. But like most mountain bike skills, getting through this safely and efficiently becomes much easier with a little practice.

Here are a few general tips that will help make riding in sand easier and, dare we say, enjoyable.

1. Select a gear that is relatively easy, high cadence — 85 to 95 rpm.  Keep spinning as you roll through the sand.

Mountain Bike Riding in Sand2. Keep your head up, look where you want to go — choose the smoothest possible trajectory, while allowing some margin of error. As long as you are generally going the direction you need to, you’re OK. If you come slightly off your line, don’t panic,  just ride it out.

3. Relax your arms and upper body while maintaining a firm grip on the handlebars.

4. Be especially careful when transitioning from a hard-packed trail to a sandy section.  Your bike will slow somewhat abruptly, so be ready with your weight back a bit as you enter the sand.  This will ensure you won’t go flying over the bars when your front tire hits the sand. With your center of mass slightly behind the center of gravity of your bike, your front wheel to ‘float’ over the sand rather than get bogged down.

5. Focus on maintaing speed. You will not be able to accelerate quickly, so be sure to keep your momentum. Ride through the sand at a fast, controllable pace, but not so fat that one sudden wrong move will pitch you over the bars and not so slow that you get sucked in the sand and stuck.

6. If you’re planning on riding in a particular sandy area, use a wider tire.  A 2.3 tire will handle much better in sand than a 2.0.

7.  Consider lowering your tires pressure a bit.  A lower tire pressure will increase (widen) the surface contact area of your tire allowing it to float over the sand rather than sink in.sand02

8. Avoid sharply turning the handlebars in the sand. This will cause the front tire to dig in pitching you forward (and potentially off your bike).

9. If the trail isn’t a straight-away, steer with your body by turning your shoulders and hips, not with your handle bars. Subtle shifts of your body weight will allow the bike to go where you want it to.   In corners, allow your weight to come forward a bit. Get your center of mass over the center of gravity of your bike (ie. in the ready position).  This will allow your front tire to stay in contact with the terrain and not slide out.

10. When you successfully navigate through a sandy patch, it is encouraged—and even advised,—to yell out an audible “BRRRAAP!”

Bike TestingThe Rock Dodge is a sharp, short turn used for avoiding a rock or other small obstacle you might encounter on the trail.    The idea is to avoid a small obstacle with your front and back tire while tackling varied technical terrain.  To accomplish this, allow your front wheel to pass the obstacle on one side, and then turn sharply so your rear wheel passes on the other side of the obstacle.

This is a low speed skill and is most often used while climbing single track.   This is a great skill to practice as it really gets you to hone in on precise movements and control of your bike.

The best place to practice this skills is on a flat, relatively open area.  Once you get proficient on flat ground, progress to an up-sloping area then eventually to a climbing, technical single track.

Official Skills Provider Set To Help Riders Of All Levels Reach Racing Goals    quickanddirty2014

Ninja Mountain Bike Skills (NMBS) has been named the official skills provider of local weeknight favorite, the Quick ‘n Dirty mountain bike race series where its experienced coaches will host pre-ride clinics to help racers take it to their next level.

“Whether you’ve been racing for years or you’ve picked the Quick n’ Dirty to be your first mountain bike event, we’ll show you how to up your game, taking advantage of the terrain, good strategy and confidence on the bike,” said NMBS head coach, Richard La China. “If we can help even one more person discover the fun, fitness and friendships that come from racing, then that’s a win for us.”

Congratulations Jen Koles on your podium finish at last night's Quick 'n Dirty MTB Race Series - you earned it!

Congratulations Jen Koles on your podium finish at last night’s Quick ‘n Dirty MTB Race Series – you earned it!

Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is local to San Diego but its coaches travel as far away as Phoenix, AZ teaching riders of all levels valuable skills ranging from fundamental to advanced. For the Quick n’ Dirty series, NMBS will be schedule session in the days leading up to each race of the eight series stops this summer — four at Lake Hodges and four at Black Mountain Ranch.  Topics covered will include race strategy including when to attack, nutrition and hydration, on-course skills review and a coached pre-ride. The pre-event clinic will last about 2 hours and costs $40.00.

“The Quick N’ Dirty series is absolutely fabulous and it’s supported by an amazing community of riders and racers, not to mention some top-notch sponsors – it’s the perfect place to grab a midweek workout, or get introduced to the racing side of mountain biking,” said NMBS’s Assistant Coach, Kris Gross. “For women especially, this is a really fun way to get out on your bike and meet other ladies who ride — racing has been such a positive force in my life, so I always look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with other women wondering what it’s all about, or who want to keep improving.”wp1791d244_05_06

To learn more about the Quick N’ Dirty series, including a complete list of dates and venues, please visit their website.

Our first scheduled session is May 19 at 5:45pm — click here to register :