Sarah Ogden races for Redwood High School in the NorCal League. In her first complete race series, Sarah has seen tremendous success, culminating in a win at the California State Championships in the Junior Varsity Girls race.
We caught up with Sarah to talk about how she got into the sport and her plans for the future.
How did you get your introduction to the sport of mountain biking?
My teammate Josie Nordrum introduced me to mountain biking in February 2011. Last year, she was the only girl rider on the Redwood team. After some persistent recruiting during math class, I decided to try it. About a week later, with borrowed equipment, Josie took me on my first mountain bike ride and somehow got me to agree to racing at Granite Bay that weekend. That first ride was altogether comical and my first race was terrifying. Not long after, Josie took me on a ride in the pouring rain. I was drenched, cold, and covered in mud but smiling and I realized then that I loved mountain biking.
Your results this year, your second with the NorCal League have been nothing short of impressive. What did you do differently this year to prepare for racing?
Last year I was brand new to the sport. I had fun competing in the races and challenged myself to achieve a new personal best each race, but I was focused on swimming and didn’t get to ride more then once or twice a week. This year I decided to focus on biking, and trained 5 days a week with my high school team and the Whole Athlete team. My results this year were a product of more experience on the bike, learning some race strategy, working with some amazing coaches, following a training schedule, and spending time in the saddle.
What’s something you didn’t do differently this year compared to last year?
I’ve become a much better rider in the past year, but other then more intensive training my approach hasn’t really changed. I still absolutely LOVE mountain biking and have approached each race as an opportunity to compete with myself to improve and achieve a new personal best.
What’s it like being part of such a large team (the Redwood High School Team has 26 student-athletes competing in 2012)?
Being a part of the Redwood team has been an awesome experience. Joining the team late in the season last year was initially rather intimidating because there were so many talented riders. As it turns out, being on a large team has been a gift. We have many fantastic coaches and parents who are out there supporting each and every rider. Our team is really close and has a lot of heart. I have learned so much from both my coaches and my teammates, and everyone has inspired and encouraged me to become a better rider.
How does the mountain bike team compare to the swim team?
For starters, there isn’t any risk of getting poison oak in a swimming pool. Biking and swimming are similar because they are both individual sports with a team component and are physically challenging – although I’d argue that mountain biking is infinitely more interesting and exciting. For me the biggest difference between swimming and biking has been the community. Swimmers are all supportive of each other, but there really isn’t anything else quite like the mountain bike family.
Now that the State Championships have come and gone, where will you shift your focus? School? Other sports? More bike racing? What are your plans for the summer?
My focus doesn’t really shift just because the high school season is over. My first priority, even during the peak of the racing season, has always been school. I’m still going to bike frequently and train for more races over summer. My current plan is to continue playing water polo in the fall and I want to take advantage of the extra time over summer to do more open water swimming, volunteer work, and spend as much time outside.