If our description of the Coaster Brake Challenge here piqued your interest, have a look at our videos to see what it entails, and join us for the next round!
The first race stage was held the second Sunday in January and consisted of 15 laps around a pumptrack hidden somewhere in the hills of Chatsworth, just north of Los Angeles. This race was a lot of fun, but not being used to early morning rides left me somewhat handicapped (did I mention there’s a 7am meet, 8 am roll time). My bike felt a little like an overgrown bmx bike which made it well suited for the jumps and berms of the track.
The rather clandestine nature of this series was punctuated by an incident with a neighbor as we unloaded our bikes. Basically, this guy didn’t want us in the area. Somewhere during the race there was a helicopter that made several passes overhead, but not further incidents occurred. This race was a perfect introduction to the CBC, but still had a hefty short climb that started to hinder me by lap 12! I must say that I do not have much experience riding pump tracks and that I really hope Los Angeles gets some soon.
The second stage I unfortunately missed due to the flu. I do need to mention that the winter race series does add the challenge of weather and illness. The Coaster Brake Challenge goes on rain or shine by the way. I was told that this stage consisted of singletrack and rolling hills with 3 intersecting “laps” it was titled “3 of clubs”. I picture a kind of Enduro for coaster brakes. This stage was a little harder, but nothing compared to the grueling insanity about to come…
The third stage should have been titled “Grueling Insanity” as I mentioned. This stage involved climbing to the peak of the Verdugos, downhill to the other side, climbing back up to the peak and then down the other side. All this in the middle of one of the brutal storms we had this winter! Now this is the second time I found myself on the Verdugo mountains in the middle of a freezing rainstorm, so I was slightly more prepared for this experience than my competitors, but it was still brutal! The climb back up was the worst because by then we were soaked to the bone, freezing near the peak, and exhausted from grinding up the mountain a second time on one gear. Plus the “waterproof” gear I had didn’t work. Downhill was fun on the fire roads which is where coaster brake bikes shine. At the end of this race I was the coldest and wettest this native Angeleno bike commuter has ever been!
The fourth stage of the race is always part race, part hilarious challenge. This stage consisted of 10 laps around a mile long loop with a mild climb to a rolling mild downhill with a couple of fun jumps. After completion of each jump, competitors were required to hop with both feet in a trash bag around a cone some 20ft away and back! Stage 4 always has some sort of off-beat stunt like this. This race was my favorite since I didn’t feel like I was going to die and I loved the downhill portion with the little jumps at the end. I had passed some racers on the way to the finish line, but I didn’t know I was supposed to hop to the cone and back again! I had to hurry to get a bag, but I was beat out by two of the racers I passed. You never know with the Coaster Brake Challenge! After the race, the winner was announced and we were fed. Then came the raffle for some neat prizes such as a Jones handlebar and a bike frame!
I had a blast doing the Coaster Brake Challenge and I think you will too as long as you understand what you’re in for. Check out the Atomic Cycles website for the next Coaster brake challenge and other events. There’s vintage mountain bike, single speed, and even BMX side hack races and social rides. It’s just another great way that cycling brings people closer together.