Rider of the Month - November 2014

Rory Clark, November’s rider of the month started mountain biking at the age of 27 when a co-worker talked him into it.  He had ridden on some paved trails but was completely unprepared for the amount physical exertion would be required or how much fun he would have.  He worked so hard he thought he would puke but the smile never left his face.  His first mountain bike was a 26” Magna that he purchased at Target for about a hundred bucks.  He went through two of those bikes his first summer riding.  That’s when he learned that not all mountain bikes are created equally.

Rory started riding with SSFTA in May of this year.  He had moved back to Bakersfield and was looking to learn the local trails and meet some fellow riders.  He is currently riding a 29” Specialized Hardtail.  He enjoys the welcoming and friendly nature of the club and appreciates the ride leader’s knowledge of the local trails.  He is also happy with the weekly ride schedule because it allows more flexibility if his schedule gets busy.

There are too many great trails for him to choose a favorite and while he has no plans for special events or races in the upcoming year, he is looking forward to improving every time he gets on the bike and trying something new on every ride.

Congratulations Rory!  Keep enjoying the ride.


Rider of the Month - October 2014

Our Rider of the month for October is Merrick Rury.  Merrick first became interested in mountain biking at 18 (just about 1 year ago).  His first bike was his dad’s ’98 Raleigh.  He mainly started mountain biking to lose weight and he’s lost 40 pounds so far!!!  Way to go Merrick!  He sticks with it though because it is so much fun.  He started riding last October when his dad (Bryan-January 2014 Rider of the month) took him to the “SSFTA Bring a stranger to a mtb ride” event.  Merrick is currently riding a full rigid orange GT Karakoram (named Rocky).  They rebuilt Rocky after his sister (Megan-October 2013 Rider of the Month) got a new carbon fiber mountain bike.  What Merrick enjoys most about the SSFTA are the people he gets to meet, the friends he has made, and the events.  Mt. Pinos and the Foothills are his favorite places to ride.  He is especially fond of his recent crash site which intersects with the hill where Megan crashed a few years ago.  They now informally call that the “Rury Intersection.”  Merrick’s future plans include riding the Spooktacular this month and volunteering at some upcoming local races with his family.  His goal for the upcoming year is to not crash and he would like to thank the club for being so friendly and not killing him.


Rider of the Month - September 2014

Our rider of the month for September is Leon Welch.  I’m quoting him verbatim here mostly because his story is way too technical for this secretary to paraphrase.  So congratulations Leon!  And I’m sure I speak for everyone when I wish you a speedy recovery.

“Wow, the things you have to do to be rider of the month.  Who knew all it would take was a broken neck…

How did I get here?  A long, long time ago I was transitioning from riding/racing BMX to riding adult bikes.  Frustrated by a complete lack of dirt bikes for adults I built a 26” CW BMX cruiser.  I wanted gears but there were no cable guides, and no derailleur hanger.  Brakes were a similar challenge.  But when the bike was complete it was a head turner, Phil Wood sealed bearing hubs, Landing Gear forks, COMP III knobs-it was dirt worthy, but not quite a mountain bike.

That bike was replaced with a similar one after a collision with a car, but mountain bikes were still unavailable.  In 1984 I went to work at TA Cyclery.  Young Bob Meeker was our rep for Peugeot bicycles and brought a demo mountain bike for us to try out.  I was hooked.  A Peugeot Canyon Express with lugged Tange chromoly and Deore XT became my first mountain bike.   That bike was replaced by a series of Kleins and today I ride my first dual suspension and hydraulic disc equipped bike-a Specialized.

My mountain biking began when I met Dave Simpson, Harold Sprayberry, Dave Nafus, Steve Brink, and the rest of the Mountain Weenies.  Every group ride was epic, “3 hour tours” were the norm.  McGill, JO, Mill Creek, and Cannell were all new to me then.  Kern Canyon Trail, was known as Delonegha to us and wasn’t a trail at all but a disconnected series of double tracks, cow trails and miners claims until years later.  Rides would occasionally include a soak in the hot tub off the freeway.

I led night rides under the full moon (cause our lights were so weak we needed all the help we could get).  Things have really changed over the years.

Thanks for the memories, and the recognition.  I look forward to returning to riding soon.”




Rider of the Month - August 2014

Our  rider of the month for August is Brian Guiniling!  Brian first became interested in mountain biking at the age of ten when his parents took him to Mammoth to watch the UCI World Cup/NORBA National Mountain Bike Championships.  He was hooked after seeing that.  He says, “Who wouldn’t want to be John Tomac or Hans Rey?!?”   He received his first mountain bike shortly afterwards, a black GT with a hot pink fork, to this day, one of his favorite bikes.

Ernest invited him to a skills clinic in 2013 and that is when he started riding with the SSFTA.  He is currently riding a Giant Talon 29er.  What Brian likes most about the SSFTA is the people.  He has ridden in many clubs and he says the SSFTA is the nicest.  He has enjoyed every ride and social event he has attended.

Locally, his favorite trails are Sisters and Toads (when it isn’t too sandy).  He also enjoys Just Outstanding and Lower Rock Creek near Bishop.

 He is looking forward to improving his time at next year’s Foothill Classic.  He knows the promoters know how to make it tough but he is ready for it.  His goal for the year is to improve his skills and confidence.  He says he would also like to do an overnight or weekend bike packing trip.

Brian would also like to share that he appreciated all the cheers coming from the SSFTA tent when he was riding in this year’s Foothill Classic and he would like to thank all of the SSFTA members that have encouraged him and helped him improve.



Rider of the Month - July 2014

We are honoring two people for rider of the month for July:  Deanne Renting and James Pass.

James first became interested in mountain biking when he was 12.   He was doing orienteering in the bush but got bored so he started riding around on his Malvern Star Mongrel.  His first real mountain bike was a Giant ATX 760 fully rigid.  He started racing a few years later on a Mongoose Rockadile.  Deanne first became interested in mountain biking after she met James.  Her first mountain bike was his Mongoose Rockadile.  She was 23.  She remembers her first ride being about 10 miles on a bike path with James and it felt like an eternity.

James and Deanne started riding with the SSFTA in 2009 when they moved to Bakersfield.  James is currently riding an Intense Spider 2 and Deanne is riding a Santa Cruz Super Light.  They both enjoy the sociable friendly atmosphere of the club the most.

James says his favorite trail is whatever he happens to be riding at the moment, but he especially enjoys the upper portion of the Cannell Trail for its tough climbs and fast technical descents.  Deanne enjoys swooping through trees with no steep drop-offs.

James and Deanne are embarking on two new big adventures:  Moving to Bangkok and having their first child.  They feel that’s enough for them to focus on for the moment.  Although Deanne still looks forward to riding on a cruiser bike for now, then adding a trailer to it so they can take their new son with them on rides.   As they get more adventurous, they may head out to the Bangkok Bike Hash.

When asked if they had anything else to share, James told this story with I will relay to you in his own words.  James - I am only riding my 4th real mountain bike after 20 years.  Before that I destroyed two 'mountain' bikes that really should have stayed on the road.  All bikes were just as fun.      I once took a ride in the forest in The Netherlands.  While enjoying riding amongst the trees I was startled by a bunch of men.  Not camouflage covered deer hunters as you would get around Bako, but naked old men sunbathing by the lake.  Be thankful of the open space here.

Good Luck James and Deanne!





Rider of the Month - June 2014
Our June rider of the month is Kari F who says she was so excited to get her first bike at age 6; it was red and she is partial to red bikes to this day. She started mountain biking in 1995 when she and her husband Kevin lived in Vermont. She bought him some roller blades for his birthday but realized they weren’t a very good gift since there aren’t many paved roads or sidewalks in Vermont, so they traded them in for mountain bikes! Her first bike was a Jamis-Dakar. In preparation for a group biking vacation, she rode a whopping four miles on a dirt road, then a week later some friends took them on a 30 mile ride. She says she was “cooked, but hooked.” Kari moved back to Bakersfield in 2008 and fell in love with the SSFTA (who wouldn’t!). She appreciates the fun, supportive, and all-inclusive nature of the group. The Kern River Trail and Just Outstanding are a couple of her favorites, but she also enjoys the local foothills and loves our awesome ride leaders. She currently rides a Santa Cruz LTc and is exploring a 29er option. She thinks perhaps a Tallboy…when she can get one in red that is.

Rider of the Month - May 2014
Our self-described “lunatic -o- the month” for May is Michael Sarr.  When asked how he became interested in mountain biking, this is what he had to say: 
When I moved back to the central valley in my late 20s a good friend Chris was way into mountain biking so since I was riding some crappy bike with knobby tires I concluded I was a mountain biker too. He soon revealed my false assumptions and showed me the error in my logic. After riding an old diamond back of his for a while I was able to get a hold of a GT Zaskar and eventually put a suspension fork on it. I rode that thing around for a while and got talked in to all kinds of “it's not that bad” rides that left me feeling as though somehow I perhaps was born with only one lung and it had been overlooked until now. Even so just getting outside, ducking branches, split second decisions of which way looks less deadly, the addiction of going just a little faster than you should... I was totally hooked.
Michael started riding mountain bikes again last fall after a 10-year hiatus.  He met several SSFTA members while riding road bikes so he started showing up for the Sunday rides.  He is currently riding a 2013 Norco Fluid 29er that he really likes and a 2001 Klein Adept Comp.
This is what he had to say about what he enjoys most about the club:
I like the social aspect, most of us ride to get some exercise and to encourage general healthiness, it is much easier to stick to if it is fun. Riding with a group makes it much more enjoyable and generally safer (unless they are rousting you to try a crazy downhill)
Some of his favorite trails are the flume above Springville, the Nelson Trail and Lucifer’s Hammer (which he says is always a blast).  Although, he admits it has been a long time since he has ridden these.
When asked about racing, Michael says that racing is not a priority. Unless someone else has a technical problem; a wager that I finish last in my category is sound financial advice. Historically I have been pretty easy to persuade into registering for an event with no idea how much physical torture is involved, so don’t be surprised to see me with a number on my bike once or twice a year. 
His goals/plans for the year include taking his dog for a half century on his road bike.  In the mountain biking arena, he plans on working on his strength and coordination.  Since he has taken quite a few years off from riding in the dirt, he is trying to get up to speed.  He has put the lowest of the lowest gears on his bikes and is trying to focus on building leg strength for the climbs.
When asked if there was anything else he’d like to share, he wanted to impart this bit of wisdom: 
Pugs not Drugs

Rider of the Month - April 2014

Patrick Ahlborn is our rider of the month for April.  Patrick started riding in his teens.  While living in Kernville, he spent weekends one summer guiding trips down the Kern River for MBA, but instead of earning cash, he worked off two mountain bikes.  He went on to race BMX from 1996-2000.  He learned about the SSFTA while buying a mountain bike at a local bike shop and starting riding with the club in 2008.  He is currently riding a Giant Trance X 29er and Spot Brand Long Board Single Speed 29er.  Patrick says riding with the club is an adventure.  He has many favorite trails and loves riding in the foothills, but the one trail that stands out the most for him is the Plunge (the last 8 miles of Cannell).  Patrick has been working on a new section in the foothills just east of Hang Glider.  He says it is ridable, but still needs a little work.  Patrick’s goals for 2014 are to open up some more areas in the Foothills and to plan a trip to Fruita, Colorado in 2015.  He says it is FUN FUN FUN and if you’ve never been there you should look into it.  Patrick owns a few vintage bikes, one of them, a JC Higgins dating back to the early 50s comes with an interesting story.  When Patrick lived in Kernville, an older gentleman whose vacation home was next door gave it to him.  The man introduced himself as Jimmy Stewart.  While watching an old movie one day, Patrick realized that the actor was his sometimes neighbor, Jimmy.  That was very cool, to find out that Jimmy Stewart (the actor) was your next door neighbor.  Patrick is happy to be named rider of the month and thanks everyone with the SSFTA.

When you see Patrick out in the dirt, be sure to say hello and congratulate him on being April's rider of the month!.


Rider of the Month - March 2014

Our rider of the month for March is Rainier Altavas.  Rainier has been pedaling since he was tall enough to reach the pedals of a BMX as a toddler.  He has been with the club a couple of years and rides a Cannondale Scalpel 29er 2.  When asked about what he enjoys about the SSFTA, Rainier had this to say, “I enjoy a lot of things about the club. It promotes my passion for mountain biking. It's a great way to meet new people and explore local trails, as well as a fun way to stay healthy.  Also love the Sunday morning rides with the club, whenever I can get up early enough to ride, and enjoy going out of town to visit new places to ride and racing around Southern California events.”  His favorite trails are Cactus, McGill Trail in Frazier Park and Whiting Ranch in Orange County.  Rainier plans to ride the Sea Otter Gran Fondo and the Catalina Island Gran Fondo this year.  His goals for the year are to ride with the club more often and to ride his bike “ like he stole it.”

Be sure to say hi to Ranier out on the trails and congradulate him for being this month's rider of the month


Rider of the Month - February 2014

Jerry Mosley is the February rider of the month. When asked about his experiences mountain biking and what got him started, he had this to say:

 I was a roadie for years before I got my first MTN bike. Around 1991 I had the grand idea MTN biking would be safer than riding on the road, so I bought a used Trek 960 that weighed a ton and had no suspension. One of my first rides I crashed face first splitting my chin wide open. Even that didn't stop me from MTN biking. I was hooked on riding in the dirt. I started riding with the club about 10 years ago and I enjoy riding with all the friends I made. I enjoy visiting with everyone and learning new bike skills. I'm always trying to get better. My favorite trail has to be Just Outstanding, but we have a great playground in our local hills. I'm currently riding a Specialized Stump Jumper and it's the best MTN bike I've ever had. My goals for the year are to keep the wheels to the ground and not get injured. I want to keep riding for as long as I can.

If you see Jerry out in the dirt, be sure to say hello and congratulate him on being February’s rider of the month!.


Rider of the Month - January 2014

Bryan Rury is our rider of the month for January.  Bryan is a regular at all SSFTA events, a great guy, friendly to everyone, and always willing to help out where needed.  Bryan states that he has been riding bikes as long as he can remember, BMX as a kid, then when Specialized offered their first mountain bikes by mail order, he and his friends ordered them.  He says people didn’t think mountain biking would catch on.  He started riding with the club in 2006.  His current bikes include a Cannondale Rush and a Scott Scale 29er.  Bryan enjoys riding with large groups of riders, meeting new friends and just talking bikes.  His favorite trails are Camp Nelson and the local foothills.  He plans on competing in the Foothill classic race next month and also wants to compete in all-mountain at Keyesville.  He plans on introducing his son Merrick to Just Outstanding this year also.  Bryan feels that being in a club opens opportunities in all areas, not just biking and is a great way to make new friends.



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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