December 2013 Rider of the Month

Mark Bledsoe didn't start out as the canyon jumping, hill climbing, ride leading machine we all know and love. Mark was first introduced to mountain biking by his good friend Jerry Mossley in 2004. Mark picked up a Giant VT-3 and hit the trails! Mark’s Giant VT-3 has been long gone and his current replacement is a 2014 Giant Trance Advance 27.5 (his first carbon bike!).Mark first started riding with the club in 2007, after he and his wife moved back to Bakersfield from Texas. Mark was hesitant to ride with the club because he didn’t know if he could keep up with the other riders and felt intimidated. Luckily, Mark didn’t let his preconceived ideas of the club ride get in the way and ended up having a great time on his first ride out! When asked what Mark enjoys most about the club he replied “A couple of things come to mind.  First, bike riding is all about having fun, and what better way to do it other than with friends.  The second thing is that I really enjoy seeing other riders improve, and to accomplish things they may have never done before.”

Mark has blasted down several local trails, but the Unal Trail climb and JO descent combo is his favorite. Mark likes that you have to work your tail off to get to the top and be rewarded with miles of downhill single track bliss.

From the ages of 14 through 22, Mark raced motocross, which got a lot of racing out of his system, but he isn't done racing yet! Mark is looking forward to hitting a few of the local downhill races and has his eye on a few Enduro races in 2014. Along with the usual New Year’s resolutions, Mark is setting a goal to keep riding and stay in shape. He says that at the ripe old age of 54, his body isn't getting any younger. Mark has made a another resolution of organizing and leading a SSFTA out of town ride at least once each quarter. Mark is also looking forward to hosting ride clinics this upcoming year for riders of all levels to improve their technical skills.

 Be sure to say hello and congratulate this awesome SSFTA rider of the month.

From Mark “I want to publicly say Thank You to my awesome wife for supporting me.  I know it’s a time and resource sacrifice, and I don't take that for granted.  I also want to say Thank You to my friend Jerry for introducing me to this sport.  Also, thanks to the SSFTA for accepting me back in 2007 when I came to ride with y'all.  It’s been a blast, and I look forward to future rides.  Rubber side down! “


November 2013 Rider of the Month

Gary Bryant is November’s rider of the month! Gary has been riding knobby tires since he was 17. He started riding back and forth to school, he then realized that he needed those tires dirty; soon after, he started riding his bike in our local foothills. The trails that were available to him out here got him ready for his downhill racing career when he was 23. Gary blasted down mountains for two years as a DH racer at several events. 

Gary started riding with the club around 1988, about the time the club was formed.  Gary enjoys all of the mountain bike people in the club and is happy to get his exercise on a bike with his friends. Gary was first seen riding in the foothills over 25 years ago on his Kent. A year later he upgraded to a GT. Gary can now be seen riding his lime green and gold Intense Tracer 29.   Gary’s favorite trail is the Enchanted Forest in Wilder Ranch near Santa Cruz, CA. Gary looks forward to going to Sea Otter every year and giving his brother, Tommy Bryant, a hand at the Nite Rider booth.  He thinks it’s a great event and it also means that he gets to ride Wilder Ranch on the way home! Gary is hoping to get as much riding in as he can while the weather is still perfect. If you see Gary out in the dirt, be sure to say hello and congratulate him on being November’s rider of the month!.



October 2013 Rider of the Month

The SSFTA is pleased to announce Megan "Squirrel" Rury as our October Rider of the month! Megan began riding when she was 14. Megan's father, Bryan, would take her out to the bike path on his '98 Raleigh mountain bike. Bryan quickly noticed that Megan had learned very impressive handling skills and decided to take her on her first mountain bike ride at our 2011 hallaween barbecue.  Megan likes the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people in our club and all of the friendships that she has built with our riders. Megan has long since abandoned her dad's Raleigh and can be seen riding her full rigid orange GT Karakoram, affectionately nicknamed "Rocky". Megan loves adventure and has not ridden a single trail she didn't like.

Megan is looking forward to finishing SamBarn's Fall Foothill race series on October 16 and tackling All Action Racing Company's Toad's Downhill Race on January 11! Megan can often be seen riding with a GoPro mounted to her glossy white helmet, taking videos of all the rides she attends, be it in the foothills or at our out of town rides. Check out Megan's youtube channel to see her great work!

A part from riding with the club, Megan can be seen volunteering at many local events. Megan would like to encourage everyone to support their local races. Be sure to congratulate and say hello to our rider of the month when you see her riding around!


September 2013 Rider of the Month

September’s rider of the month is Steve Carskaddon. Steve has been riding since he got his first bike in 1988 and began riding with our club in 1996. Steve’s attributes his many years with the club to the great rides  and people who make up the club. You can see Steve on almost all of our club rides riding his Santa Cruz Tallboy or on his single speed. Steve’s favorite local trail is the Kern River Trail and he is looking forward to spending more time in his favorite out of town area of Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz. Currently, Steve does not have any plans on racing, but he would like to spend more time attending our out of town rides. If you see Steve on the trails, be sure to say hello to our rider of the month!


August 2013 Rider of the Month

The SSFTA is pleased to announce Melody Smith as August’s Rider of the Month! Melody began riding with club in November 2012, when a group of road riders joined our Sunday morning ride. Melody was challenged by a road bike friend to tag along on a SSFTA club. She tried to use the excuse of not having a mountain bike as a way to get out of it. Fortunately, friend’s husband offered his old mountain bike to use for the day, so she got on the dirt. Melody anticipated that she would not enjoy all the dirt had to offer and go running back to her road bike after the ride. Luckily, she enjoyed every bit of her first ride in the dirt with our group and continued going to the Sunday rides. After a month of riding her loaner bike, Melody’s husband picked up an orange and black Trek Superfly hardtail 29er, which you can see her on almost every weekend with the club.

Melody’s loves how our members are helpful and patient on rides. Her favorite part of our club is how much fun we have out on the trail and all the laughter that comes with it. These bits paired with our amazing local trails keep Melody coming back for more. She enjoys the hill that Donna Henderson has dubbed “Melody’s Hill.” Melody’s favorite accomplishment was her first race down Toads and riding the Sisters loop all the way through without stopping. With the help of Bob Sughrue, Melody was able to tackle one of the steepest loops in our foothills. Melody is looking forward to returning to Portuguese pass to enjoy the beautiful single track and take in all the views from the fire road climb.

Melody would like to share that mountain bike riding is way more fun than she had ever imagined and is grateful that her friend turned her on to it. If you see Melody and her smiling face on trails, be sure to say hello and congratulate her on being our Rider of the Month!


July 2013 Rider of the Month

July’s rider of the month is Malaika Bryant.  Malaika has been actively riding with the SSFTA for over three years and was introduced to mountain biking by her husband, Tommy Bryant several years ago. Malaika has always supported Tommy’s riding and saw the joys it brought him. Tommy always encouraged Malaika to get into mountain biking so they can both share the excitement of the dirt. Malaika was reluctant for a variety of reasons: she had not thought of herself as naturally athletic and she was quite intimidated by the sport. Through Tommy, she began hanging out with members of our club during non-ride events and began having a great time with them. After creating relationships with our members and Tommy getting her a custom 29er, she decided to join the fun! You can now see Malaika riding her blue and white GT Peace 29er and having a great time with everyone who shows up to ride.  Although Malaika has ridden her bike up and down most of the trails in our local foothills, she is still searching for her favorite trail and is open to any suggestions club members may have. At the moment Malaika is not preparing for any event  as she is still recovering from an accident that left her with a broken collarbone but she is still coming out to hang out with her good friends and when able, ride in the foothills.  Despite being injured, she stays very involved with the club; you can find her volunteering at the club booth at our local events or at the meetings serving on the advisory team. 

Malaika’s favorite part of the club is the people! Malaika enjoys the sense of community and how people take care of each-other on and off the bike. Malaika would like all of our members to be a part of club events such as our Christmas Party and Spring BBQ so they can experience our strong sense of community firsthand.  Malaika’s favorite story of her adventures in the dirt must be shared in her own words Once, riding up sand canyon on the full-suspension bike for the first time, I was pedaling hard, and flipped the bike (and myself since I clipped in) upside down and I landed on my back holding the bike up above my body (kind of like an upside down turtle…). The other riders had to help me by unclipping me out of the pedals and removing the bike. The joke for the rest of the day was- ‘Malaika has her priorities straight, she was all about saving that bike!’

Be sure to congratulate and say hello to Malaika when you see her!


June 2013 Rider of the Month

June’s Rider of the Month is Matt Gonzalez!  Matt became interested in mountain biking when he was eighteen years old and hit the trails on his first mountain bike, a Schwinn Mesa GSX. Matt and his brother Eddie would ride every chance they got; unfortunately, Matt had an eight year hiatus from mountain biking due to back problems. With the help of Eddie’s persistence, Matt got back on the saddle in 2011. Shortly after, Eddie and Matt took a trip up the canyon to ride the Cow Flat trail. A few miles into the trail the two ran into a very large bull that was parked in the middle of the trail. Eddie decided that if he and Matt both ran towards the bull together, they would be able to trick the bull into thinking they were much larger and force the bull to get out of the way. At the count of three Eddie charged at the bull while Matt stayed back to enjoy the show. The bull was not intimidated by Eddie’s charge and did not move an inch! Matt says he does not remember how they managed to get around it but they did so without incident.

Matt also began riding with the club in 2011 and has been coming back ever since due to the friendly atmosphere and all the great people he has met.  Matt can now be seen riding a black and red Specialized Camber Expert at most of our weekly club rides.  Matt’s goals for this year include gaining speed and increasing his technical skills, but he will be happy as long as he is faster than his brother Eddie. Matt is looking forward to racing in the Springville Fat Tire Classic in October and will take on any local race that may pop up before then.  If you see Matt out riding, be sure to say hello to this great rider!


May 2013 Rider of the Month


May is bike month and the SSFTA is pleased to announce that Cowboy Bob Sughrue is our rider of the month! Bob began mountain bike riding ten years ago and has been riding with the SSFTA for the last seven years. Bob has always loved the outdoors and mountain biking is his number one way of enjoying it. 
Bob prefers riding with friends over racing and is always looking for fun new trails in the Alta Sierras for the beginner group to ride and have a lot of fun on. Bob doesn't play favorites when it comes to choosing a favorite trail; he loves them all! You can see in him enjoying the trails on his Specialized Stumpjumper.
The Sunday beginner ride has been led by Bob for the past three years and has been increasing in popularity.  Bob’s welcoming approach to all riders and fun attitude keep people coming back for more and encourages them to invite their friends. Bob has hosted several beginner out of town rides to share our local trails and get more people into this great sport. Bob is planning several great beginner trips and events for the summer. Bob’s recent beginner skills clinic had over 20 attendees, most of which had never ridden with our club before. Bob’s favorite part of leading the Sunday ride is all the people he gets to meet. Bob has many goals for our beginner group including seeing more women come out and ride.
If you see  Cowboy Bob on any if his rides make sure and say hello to our rider of the month!

April 2013 Rider of the Month

April’s rider of the month is James Foster. James was first introduced to mountain biking at the age of 6. He distinctly remembers while out on a family four wheeling trip his father asking his mother, "Why don't we get the family mountain bikes?" James’s mind immediately began planning all the endless adventures he would have out riding. James's father ran with the idea and James was given his first mountain bike. Eventually he began racing local races back home in Lake Tahoe and couldn't get enough. James was homeschooled, so once he finished his school work he had plenty of free time to spend riding. Like many members in our club, James is fortunate enough to have a few bikes to choose from when it comes time to ride. Usually, you can see James riding along on his Specialized Rockhopper 29er or on his Giant Reign X. Once in a while he will bring out the single speed and mash up all the local hills.

James began riding with the club last September and the camaraderie and friendly bike talk kept him coming back for more. When not checking out one of our weekly rides, James can be found taking on his favorite trails: the Kern River Trail and Cannel Meadow. He is also looking forward to participating in a 50 mile ride in SoCal, if his busy schedule as a pilot allows.The ultimate goal is to ride 1000 miles by the end of this year. With the good influence of the club, James is predicting in exceeding that goal within a few months. James would like the club to know that if we ever want to plan an international ride and charter a jet, he’s the guy to fly us there.

Next time you see James out on the trail, make sure and say hello to our ride of the month!


March 2013 Rider of the Month
March is International Women’s month and the SSFTA is pleased to honor Rossy Robles as rider of the month. Rossy’s first mountain bike experience came when she was 35. Mountain biking was the sport of choice in the Robles house and Rossy, not wanting to let a great adventure pass her by, picked up her son Issac’s 2006 Epic and headed for the hills. Not only did Issac let his mother ride his bike, he also let her use his gloves and sunglasses so she could have a safe ride. In the summer of 2011 Rossy began attending the weekend group rides and says she owes Eddie Gonzalez a thousand thank yous for being so patient and kind to her when she first showed up and for continuing to be so welcoming.At the beginning of 2011 Rossy was diagnosed with several serious illnesses including stage one cancer. Even though Rossy was sick and extremely afraid of the snakes, bobcats, coyotes, and the big downhill sections in the foothills, she still continued to ride with her friends and family. Staying active with loved ones seemed like a much better option to her than staying home worrying about how sick she was. In less than two years of riding Rossy is happy to announce that all of her illnesses are disappearing and have been replaced with two fat tires and a big grin.

Rossy continues to show up on the group rides because of how much fun the group is and how caring each rider is for one another. Although Rossy loves the rides in the foothills, she is always ready to take a ride down her favorite trail in the canyon, Just Oustanding on her new carbon Specialized Fate 29. Rossy is looking forward to attending The Sea Otter Classic with her family and all the fun that comes with chasing her family around on bikes. Rossy’s goal is to continue to chase Mark, Jerry, Patrick, and Susan around on the rides as they have inspired her to believe that good riding comes from lots of experience.

Rossy would like to thank all of the members of the SSFTA for inspiring and encouraging her to keep going.


February 2013 Rider of the Month

February's rider of the month is Elyse Goin! Elyse was first introduced to cycling by her coworkers. Not being one to let a new adventure pass her by, Elyse went out a bought a full rigid, purple, Cannondale M300 comfort hybrid.  Her “tank of a bike” accompanied her on many rides, but the luster of the dirt inspired Elyse to swap out the factory slicks for a pair of knobby tires. Elyse can now be seen riding her orange Specialized Era with her matching orange seat bag. Elyse started riding with our club in September 2012 and the incredible ride leaders and supportive atmosphere has kept her coming back for more. Elyse has been using the club rides not only to meet incredible people, but to improve her technical and climbing skills. Elyse’s riding goal is to conquer the last hill climb out of Roller Coaster. Her enthusiastic approach to riding and eagerness to ride new trails has taken her to several out of town rides with the club and she is always looking forward to more rides in the Kern Canyon.  

Elyse’s favorite trails lay in the hills of Ventura County: Gas-Pipe in Chesebro Canyon, Guadelasca in Sycamore Canyon, and the Sisar Canyon-Gridley Loop in Ojai. Elyse is looking forward to participating in the year’s Keyesville Classic Mountain Bike Stage Race in March and after getting on the podium at last month’s Rio Brave Rumble and this month’s Foothill Classic, she is sure to do great.

Elyse would like to thank all club members for being so welcoming and encouraging during her transition from Ventura to Bakersfield. If you spot her on her orange bike, be sure to say hello to February’s rider of the month.




January 2013 Rider of the Month

Our first member to be honored as rider of the month for the new year is Dominic Zaninovich. Dominic was introduced to cycling by his older brother at the age of 13 and was encouraged to elevate from a bunny hoping bmx rider to all an mountain machine. Before he could get the title, he had to get the hardware, so he went out and picked up a Cannondale F4000 hardtail and hasn’t looked back since. The mountain was not enough for this towering member so he quickly took up road biking to build stamina and endurance. Dominic moved to Bakersfield to start his career which, unfortunately, sparked a five year hiatus from mountain biking.

In 2011 Dominic’s wife, Briana, motivated him to get back into the sport he was so passionate about and thus began his relationship with SSFTA. For the last year Dominic and his wife Briana have been riding with the club on the local trails and have also been joining the out of town rides. After joining the club, Dominic feels as though he will never have to ride alone as there will always be one of us itching to get some dirt on our tires.

Dominic appreciates how the welcoming the club was to his reintroduction to mountain biking and how helpful everyone was about sharing tips on the trail. Dominic’s trail of choice is the backside of Hanglider  Hill down to Celica, but is always ready to hit his favorite riding spot, Montana del Oro whenever the opportunity arises. The days of his Cannondale F400 hardtail are long gone, but he can be seen riding his black and yellow Specialized Camber with his signature golden rear hub. Dominic is looking forward to competing the this year’s Rio Bravo Rumble, Foothill Classic, and the Big Sandy races, and with the help of his focus on a more structured cross training routine, will be someone to look out for at all of these events.


Helmets are required on all rides because mountain biking can be a dangerous activity, even while just hangin’ around before or after a ride!

The SSFTA is a fun social group and our invitation to ride is not an assumption of any liability whatsoever on the Club’s, member’s, sponsor’s, or affiliate’s part. The terrain and group-ride dynamics can be extremely variable and can possibly exceed any rider’s ability at any time. The SSFTA is not responsible for accidents or ignorance on yours or anyone’s part.

Your decision to show up and ride with SSFTA or any of its members, affiliates, sponsors, et al., expressly waives your right to blame anyone else for your or others poor judgment, mishaps, equipment failures, dumb luck, or any other “lame-blame-game” or excuse you or others may harbor or concoct.

Speaking of equipment failures, if yours does, someone else might be able to fix it but you should be prepared to deal with it without counting on others. Wear proper clothing and by all means come prepared to hydrate and nourish yourself before and during the event. You should also consult with a physician before attempting any exercise (and you should consult with a psychiatrist if you have any other issues). Always carry clear identification and insurance cards.

“Remember, in man vs oak tree the oak tree wins” C.K.


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