Balboa Park Set To Host Final Two After-Dark MTB Races Nov 6 and Dec 112014-10-02 02.47.05 pm

SAN DIEGO, CA (October 1, 2014) — Ninja Night Race is proud to announce the final two events of 2014 will be presented by new title sponsor, Loaded Precision Components, and will take place on Thursday November 6 and Thursday December 11 at Balboa Park, starting at 7pm sharp.

“We’re headed back to Balboa Park for its central location, race-worthy trail system and best of all, the awesome feeling and spectacle of starting on the Velodrome,” said Race Director Richard La China. “We’re excited to be back, and thrilled to have Loaded Precision on board, as we welcome the earlier evenings with a little late-season racing.”

Ninja Night Race is the first USAC-sanctioned series of its kind, however Cat 2/3 athletes do not need a USAC license to participate. Pro/Cat 1 podium placers can look forward to up to $100 in prize money for both men and women. The event also includes an expo featuring event sponsors and local businesses, a free tamale for all racers and live music to add to the festive vibe.

2014-10-02 02.52.51 pm“It’s been a busy summer of racing for everyone, but now we get to enjoy some cooler temperatures, and a more laid-back atmosphere, all while still collecting those last-minute upgrade points,” said La China. “We hope that the Loaded Precision Ninja Night Race attracts riders who want to give racing a try, racers who want to give night-riding a try, and of course, the usual suspects in our tremendous community of mountain bikers.”

Look for details leading up to the event, including the course, who will be in the expo, and the famous Ninja Night Race door prizes at

About Ninja Night Race

Ninja Night Race began in late 2013 with a pilot event held at Lake Hodges. Thanks to its success, the series relocated to Balboa Park in downtown San Diego to allow more racers to join in the fun. Participants in the second event became the first mountain bikers in history to set tire on the famous San Diego Velodrome. Ninja Night Race is the first USAC-sanctioned series of its kind and takes place during the week in the fall/winter, adding an off-season option for racers who like to go fast in the dark, or riders interested in trying it for the first time. Ninja Night Race is proud to offer equal prize purses in the Cat 1/pro categories for men and women. More than a race, the event also brings a party atmosphere by including live music, delicious tamales, and an expo featuring sponsors and local businesses. For more information, please visit

landis_cyclery_arizona_mountain_bike_skillsWe’re heading back for another taste of the region’s distinct singletrack. Join us we partner with local shop Landis Cyclery to offer skills clinics at every level.

We’ll be riding at the famous Papago Park — home to beautiful sandstone buttes and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This venue has features that make it perfect for practicing skills, and you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities too.

Join us and learn to Ride Like a Ninja. You’ll soon conquer your fears on the drops and switchbacks, unlock free speed in the corners and boogie up any climb the trail throws at you. We’ll teach you how to brake effectively, how to perfect your footwork and demonstrate just how much your body position can affect your ride.

Following your clinic, you will see an immediate improvement in your riding and a boost in confidence. You’ll understand how changes in your body position, footwork and where you are looking affect the way your bike behaves. You’ll be able to tackle steeper terrain, corner with control and negotiate trail obstacles with ease. And Landis Cyclery will be ready to help with any mechanical support, accessories, parts or anything else you may need for your mountain bike.

A bike rider at Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona. (model released)Here’s what you need to know:

  • Clinics will be held on October 25-26
  • We’ll be meeting at
    • Papago Park
    • 625 Galvin Bikeway,
    • Phoenix, AZ 85008
  • Clinics range from $99 to $249 (depending on which class and how soon your register)
  • Registration is open now!

Click HERE to register for this or any other upcoming clinic, or to find out more. The crews at Landis Cyclery and Ninja Mountain Bike Skills can’t wait to see you there!

wp5bc5b5ee_05_06For those ninjas-in-training that want test their skills in a race environment–and have a blast doing it– we recommend participating in the Quick n’ Dirty Race Series. The course is fast, fun, beginner friendly, and spectator friendly due to its multiple loops.

To ride like a ninja you must have great skill; to race like a ninja you must have great insight. No, this does not mean that you have to read the Tao of Pooh, it just means that you must be aware of the course ahead of you. The best way to do this is with a purposeful pre-ride–learn where the best line is, practice the technical sections, know how much recovery you will have between climbs, and scope out the best passing sections.
To ensure that you have the best race experience, dominate your category, and race like a ninja, come and join a Ninja-led small group pre-ride, race strategy session at the Quick n’ Dirty course.

Your session will include basic mountain bike skills review, pre-race nutrition guidance, race strategy breakdown, ‘what to expect on race day’ tips, and, of course, the actual pre-ride.


Click here to register.

How to Ride Over a Log on your Mountain BikeWhether intentionally placed or the result of nature, logs are a common obstacle on trails.  Smaller logs are easy to ride over, but larger logs, or logs that are partially elevate off the ground can be an intimidating obstacle for the average rider.  The skill is relatively simple if you take the time to start small and progress your way up to larger objects.

For this skill, starting with a 2×4 and progressing to a 4×4 then a small log is a great way to work your way up to an actual log.   When you practicing on the small obstacles, works on precision — see if you can get over the object without touching it at all, or just skimming it.

Once you have it perfected, move on to the larger obstacle.

Set up
Assume the ready position and look ahead to the top of the log as you approach it at a jogging speed.  Stay relaxed.

Front wheel
Just as you approach the log, compress then explode the front wheel up onto the top of the log.

Rear wheel
Once your front tire is over the log, shift your weight towards the front of your bike allowing your rear tire to lift up and over the log.

Un-weight the handlebar as the front wheel rolls down back to the trail to minimize fork compression and allow a smooth front wheel roll-out — remember to keep looking forward.

That’s it — enjoy!

For more mountain bike skills, tips and tricks.. check here.

Mountain Bike Skills You Need to KnowWe’ve organized some of our favorite skills for you here — including a couple new skills and a bonus top 10 ways to go faster… Enjoy!

How to Ride Over a Log
How to Track Stand
How to Ride Off a Drop
How to Ride in Sand
How to Do a Rock Dodge
How to Ride in Wet Conditions
How and When to do a Seated Climb
How to Jump
How to Ride a Steep Descent
When to Ride Over or Around an Obstacle
How to Use Your Brakes Effectively

Bonus 10 Ways to Go Faster

Find these and many more skills here.


by: Coach Richard La China

Oh, the Leadville 100. The Race Across the Sky. The Race of All Races. The Ironman of Mountain Biking, If Ironman Was at 10,000ft. The Race Even Lance Armstrong Lost Once…All of the monikers for this race that emphasize its difficulty, the awe-inspiring terrain, and its exclusivity are not hyperbole, they’re facts. They provide accurate descriptions of a race that actually lives up to its hype. Because of this, Leadville sits firmly at the top of Bucket Lists of nearly all the elite and amateur racers across the world. I know it did for me.

I had tried to get in via the lottery for the past three years and was unsuccessful. So when my team, Team Ninja, was picked this year, I was ecstatic. Yet the sense excitement was tempered with something I didn’t normally feel before race: nervousness.

lt1004Yes, the race is 104 miles on and off road. Yes, the total elevation gain is about 12,800ft. Yes, even some of the most seasoned riders have DNF’d. All of that kind of stuff doesn’t make me nervous, it actually exhilarates me. I’m an endorphin junkie and some might even say, a masochist. I love to push myself to the limit.

What did make me nervous was the fact that my training had been lackluster due to residual pain from a knee injury sustained when I got “doored” by a car in December 2012. I tried to avoid surgery by doing the whole PT thing throughout most of the 2013 race season, and even managed some descent results in the typical 20-25 mile XC races. But the pain never went away and prohibited me from doing any kind of endurance riding. At my Doctor’s urging I finally opted for surgery in October 2013. The result of the surgery was “inconclusive”, the recovery was long, and I was impatient. I had a full 2014 race calendar, skills clinics to teach, and athletes to train! I had to ride my bike! So, essentially I tried to balance the intensity and length of my training rides with the amount of pain I could tolerate and the amount of time I had available to recover.

Normally, I would have gotten off the bike completely and just not raced. But I felt that there was too much riding on this particular event (pun intended). So, I set myself a goal time of 8.5 hrs, something I thought would be attainable even with my knee injury, and set out to make it happen.


Knowing that my sub-optimal fitness alone would not be enough to get me through Leadville by my goal time, I decided to do everything else in my power to better my odds: altitude acclimation, course pre-rides, nutrition and hydration strategizing, analyzing data of riders that finished around my goal time … [MORE]

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, developed and coordinated by IMBA, strives to encourage communities around the world to join together and ride mountain bikes with youth. Over the years IMBA has 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.

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!

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.