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HessSIG Team Ninja is growing. In fact, when racers planned their end-of-year party, they even outgrew the venue they selected and moved the celebrations to Mike Hess Brewery in North Park San Diego.

Nearly 100 team members and Ninja-curious potential members traveled from as far away as L.A. and Phoenix to hear about the notable feats and good deeds of the past year’s “Ninja Stars” learn about sponsorship for 2015 and do what Team Ninja does best: connect with each other. (Of course, since we were at the amazingly delicious Hess Brewery, we also got to imbibe some tasty brews and chow down on hearty food from the Not So Fast food truck.  Huge thank you to both of these businesses for accommodating our rather large group of Ninjas.)

IMG_5584Among the highlights covered for the 2015 team is a new grassroots sponsorship agreement with Specialized Bicycles.  Zumwalt’s Bicycle Center, our our local bike shop sponsor, brought in a number of brand new Specialized rigs for us to drool over including an S-works Epic, Stumpjumper, Tarmac, Enduro and Fatboy. Another 205 highlight is that Team Ninja athletes will be racing in a redesigned kit by Zoca Gear, who brought samples so everyone could be sure they got a great fit.

IMG_5580The team has also announced a new “Ambassador Program” where we offer a little extra to those Ninjas that are willing and able to consistently go above and beyond normal Ninja-ness.  The program features larger discounts from select sponsors, Team Ninja accessories at no charge, and race / event reimbursement.  More about the Ambassador program here.

And new for 2015, Team Ninja will support a number of “Special Teams” including XC, Super D, DH, Road, Triathlon, and Cyclocross. Each special team will have a liaison that will be responsible for coordinating events in each discipline with interested Team Ninja members. These positions are now open, and volunteers are welcome.  More about Special Teams here.

Team Ninja is a group of like-minded cyclists who train together, race together IMG_5581and also work to give back to the sport, and their communities. The team is welcoming new members for 2015  — registration is open now!  Renew or join today here

Kit orders must be made by Friday,  November 7, 2014 at 9pm.

2015 registration is open for Team Ninja!  Renew or join today here

Full list of sponsors, 2014 photo gallery, more information on the Ambassador Program and Special Teams have been updated on the site.

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 a 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.

“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.”

NinjaNightRace3Look 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

Kenda Cup Series Champions 2014

Kenda Cup Series Champions 2014

Do you like to ride your bike? Do you love to ride your bike? Do you like puppies?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then we should be teammates!

IRC Bike Fix Day

International Rescue Committee Bike Fix Day

Team Ninja is seeking more like-minded cyclists to share in the fun of riding on two wheels.

We’d love for you to come join us at our official Team Ninja End-of-the-2014-Season-and-Beginning-of-the-2015-Season

IMBA Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

IMBA Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

Party. We’ll be reliving the glory days of this past year (like our Kenda Cup and Rim Nordic team results, our community outreach projects, and successfully hosting the first USAC sanctioned night mountain bike race), having an awards ceremony to laud those Ninjas that went the extra mile—some of them quite literally—and talking about our plans for next year.

In addition to reviewing our member benefits such as free coached workouts, free attendance to skills clinics, free team mountain bike camp in Big Bear, support at races, great sponsor and grassroots deals, etc, we’ll also be revealing our cool new 2015 kit designs and our 2015 sponsors!

Now, a party wouldn’t be a party without a good venue, and we promise not to disappoint. We’ve rented out a totally rad little microbrewery down in North Park (San Diego) called Hess Brewing. First drink is on us! (You’re welcome.) Also, we will have a delicious and (mostly)nutritious food truck take care of the food. Don’t worry, there will be vegetarian and gluten free options for those with special dietary needs.

Team Camp 2014 - Big Bear, CA

Team Camp 2014 – Big Bear, CA

 So come on out and eat, drink, be merry, and talk about bikes with us. Bring your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/“special friend”/lover, kids, dog…. All are welcome. Seriously. Just make sure they’re on leashes (the dog, not the kids).

RSVP required here …

Don’t live in San Diego? No problem! We have team members from all over the north and southwest, like Bend, OR, Phoenix, AZ, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orange County. If you are from out of town and want to join the team, please send Coach Richard a message.

**You may have noticed, we updated the location and start time.  New location is Hess Brewery in North park at 6:30pm.   See ya there!

2014-10-17 08.27.41 am

10491097_10154541328870438_3521554436393636596_nIt was another successful day for Team Ninja at Big Bear for the California State Championships. There was a noticeable tension on the start line as all the racers stared down the chance to win a title, bragging rights, and the good-looking jersey that goes with all of it. With the day warming up, and some slight course changes, the ponies were all pawing at the dirt. Team Ninja proved once again they were up to the challenge, and when the dust settled, there were no less than five podium finishes to celebrate, including State Champ titles going to:

  • m_allenMichelle Allen, Cat 2 30-39
  • Heidi Amundson, Cat 3 30-39
  • Anne-Catherine Rocque-Levecque, Cat 3 50+

This adds to the National Champ titles collected by team members Regina Jeffries (Cat 3 Downhill) and Paula Evenson (Cat 3 XC) since wrapping up the Kenda Cup series.

Wow! Congratulations ladies!!

Team Ninja has had a fabulous first season with great results at every event — including the recent Fire Road 100 — and continues to race at events like the Rim Nordic Series, while preparing for “A” races such as Leadville Trail 100.

The team is grateful for the support of sponsors that include Rudy Project, Power Bar, Norco Bicycles, Sock Guy, Gaerne, Basic Link, Crank Cycling, Inner Strength Fitt Labs, Zumwalt’s Bike Shop, Casiano Law, Red Ace Organics and title sponsor, Ninja Mountain Bike Skills.

Here are the team’s full results from Sunday:


IMAG1884Cat 2 Women 30-39 – Michelle Allen – 1st

Cat 3 Clydesdale 35+ – Todd Young – 2nd

Cat 3 Women 30-39 – Heidi Amundson – 1st

Cat 3 Women 50+ – Anne-Catherine Rocque-Levecque – 1st


Open Men – Richard La China – 4th

Cat 2 Men 30-39 – Michael Henry – 3rd

Cat 2 Men 30-39 – Michael Whitehurst – 5th


2014-06-16 03.08.36 pmThe Kenda Cup Series final was held over Father’s Day weekend in Big Bear, CA under blue skies, and near-perfect racing conditions. Team Ninja began assembling at the team cabin on Wednesday, trying to get a head start on altitude acclimation, with the majority of racers arriving Friday night or Saturday morning.

A quick head count showed that the team needed every point and even then, it might not be possible to hold on to the narrow lead Team Ninja had established for its Cat 2/3 co-ed team. Under the added pressure, Team Ninja racers responded like true champions, taking home six podium finishes and countless PRs over the weekend, sealing its place on the top step for the Cat 2/3 co-ed team, third place for the Cat 1/pro co-ed team, and overall wins in men’s and women’s Super D.

“There is so much that goes into winning a big series like this,” said Team Ninja captain Richard La China. “That’s why I am enormously proud of our team for consistently showing up and stepping up on every level. Team Ninja has worked to be a force on the race course, but also an open-hearted group of friends who support one another and help one another — it’s been an amazing season so far.”

2014-06-16 03.09.41 pmTeam Ninja is a new face on the SoCal circuit, with racers coming from San Diego, L.A. and Phoenix — some for their first seasons ever. It has a welcoming, doors-open policy, with a focus on community involvement and the promotion of the sport along with a healthy dose of excellence for good measure. The team is deeply grateful to have the support of tremendous sponsors that include Rudy Project, Power Bar, Norco Bicycles, Sock Guy, Gaerne, Basic Link, Crank Cycling, Inner Strength Fitt Labs, Zumwalt’s Bike Shop, Casiano Law, and title sponsor, Ninja Mountain Bike Skills.

With its trademark enthusiasm, Team Ninja already has its sights set on the upcoming Rim Nordic Series as well as campaigns planned at Fire Road 100, Leadvillle Trail 100 and the B.C. Bike Race. Stay tuned for more exciting news to come, and check out the Kenda Cup results below. Congratulations Team Ninja!

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June 15, 2014 – Big Bear Shootout #2 – Series Final

XCO Results:

Cat 1 Women 30-39 Kris Gross – 1st

Cat 2 Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 4th

Cat 3 Women 30-39 Paula Evenson – 2nd

Cat 3 Women 50+ Anne-Catherine Roch-Levecque – 1st

Cat 3 Men 40-44 Abe Gonzalez – 7th

Cat 3 Men 50-59 Vinny Casiano – 5th

Cat 3 Men Clydesdales 35+ Todd Young – 2nd

Endurance Results

Men 40-49 Michael Whitehurst – 16th

Men 40-49 Richard La China – DNF (mechanical)

Super D Results

Open Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 1st

Open Men 40-49 Richard La China – 2nd


Kenda Cup Final Series Standings


Cat 2/3 Co-Ed Team – Overall Series CHAMPIONS

Cat 1/Pro Co-Ed Team– 3rd Place Overall


Cat 1 Women 30-39 Kris Gross – 1st

Cat 2 Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 7th

Cat 3 Women 30-39 Paula Evenson – 2nd

Cat 3 Women 30-39 Heidi Amundson – 5th

Cat 3 Women 40-49 Lisa Bielke – 4th

Cat 3 Women 50+ Anne-Catherine Roch-Levecque – 4th

Cat 1 Men 17-18 Evan Christenson – 11th

Cat 1 Men Singlespeed Richard La China – 8th

Cat 2 Men 19-24 Eric Fischer – 3rd

Cat 2 Men 25-29 Ray Snoke – 20th

Cat 2 Men 30-34 Ryan Brown – 3rd

Cat 2 Men 30-34 Kyle Wills – 8th

Cat 2 Men 35-39 Michael Henry – 12th

Cat 2 Men 35-39 Henry Heisler – 24th

Cat 2 Men 40-44 James Vo – 21st

Cat 2 Men 45-49 Tom Jones – 46th

Cat 3 Men 30-34 Advait Ogale – 6th

Cat 3 Men 35-30 Daniel Bergstrom – 18th

Cat 3 Men 35-30 Nelson Mozzini – 26th

Cat 3 Men 40-44 Abe Gonzalez – 5th

Cat 3 Men 40-44 Michael Whitehurst – 17th

Cat 3 Men 45-49 Jim Ritch – 18th

Cat 3 Men 45-49 Tom Jones – 22nd

Cat 3 Men 50-54 Darrell Styner – 8th

Cat 3 Men 50-54 Dan Golich – 20th

Cat 3 Men 55-50 Vinny Casiano – 10th

Cat 3 Clydesdales 35+ Todd Young – 2nd


Men 40-49 Michael Whitehurst – 21st

Men 40-49 Richard La China – 28th

Singlespeed Men Aaron Hauck – 10th

Super D

Open Women 30-39 Regina Jeffries – 1st

Open Men 30-39 Michael Henry – 27th

Open Men 40-49 Richard La China – 1st

Open Men 40-49 Michael Whitehurst – 28th

By: Kris Gross

My first “real” US Race is now under my belt, and it could not have been a more enjoyable day! First of all, my parents arrived just in time to be in attendance, and with Gerhard already agreeing to come along that meant it was a chance for “team training” leading up to BC Bike Race. Everyone was very attentive to pre-race procedures so I’m confident the support crew will be in tip top shape come June 28.

Pre-race procedures this time meant the song and dance I usually reserve for early-season Ontario races: will it rain, or won’t it? Mud tires, or no? Where’s the Pam cooking spray? What’s the latest forecast? The rains we had in Southern California recently are rare, but much-needed (though I read they still didn’t make a dent in the drought situation we find ourselves in). The course I pre-rode last week was completely different from the one I found on race day. Thank goodness. Gone were the hot, dry, choke-on-dust conditions I expected and in their place was cool, tacky, cloudy (but not raining!) perfection.

We joined up with the awesome people of Team Ninja under our team tent and tried to get as many racer stories as possible. Our team was looking sharp in our new kits and everyone was buzzing with that post-race glow. Love this team! I did my warm up on the trainer (a first for me, but not the last), then jumped on the mountain bike to make sure it was working as perfectly as I left it and then it was off to the start. There were five women in my new “Cat 1” category, but since we were divided by age group, I was really only racing one of them. Another light class for the ladies. Sigh. I’m told that later races will fill up a little more. Fingers crossed for that day, and big thank you to the Cat 1 ladies who came out for this one: Ema, Michelle, Shelly and Rhonda!

Our category started last in the 1:30 group so we had no one behind us chasing us down. So lovely. We agreed that since almost no one in our start gate was actually in a race, we’d all work like a pride of lionesses to chase down as many men as we could. Look out, boys! Fun game.

My perfectly-working mountain bike declared it was less-than-perfect right off the bat with a near-to-“Schlecked” chain that just never really sorted itself out. Team Ninja cheered me through the opening stretch as I wrestled to get into the big ring. Oh well. I was trying to climb and spin the adjusters at the same time for the first half of the lap and eventually did find a place where I could make use of my big ring (!!).

With the rain, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course, but bikes from the previous race were coming out fairly clean and Ninjas had mostly good things to say, so I was confident we were in for a treat. I was right. The climbs felt like we were riding elevators, my tires were like velcro in every corner (regular tires … not mud ones … thank goodness I didn’t succumb to that temptation) and with the dust pasted down, I could actually breathe. I hammered off the start line despite my beleaguered drive train, opened a gap and didn’t look back until the course wound back on itself after the first super fun drop.

Ema was leading the rest of the ladies and looked determined to close the gap. With three nine-mile laps on the menu, I picked a pace and stuck with it, trying to focus on men up ahead rather than Ema on my heels.

Halfway through the lap, she closed the gap. Ema was racing in the 15-19 category and I was super thrilled to have her back there. She was riding smooth and strong and if that’s the quality of racing coming up the ranks, then that’s great news for the women’s scene. I asked her if she wanted to come around, but she declined, so I said, “Okay, let’s go” and we rode together for a little while. I hope I helped her, because she helped me. I lost her amongst some passing/trail traffic and then I was back on my own until lap three.

The second lap I ate up some more men, and started to really settle into my pace and enjoy the course. Vail Lake isn’t everyone’s favourite race, or so I gathered. But without any others to compare it to, I was fully enjoying it. It winds back on itself a number of times, skirting ridges and going in and out of canyons with one climb in particular, “the switchbacks” standing out as “breathtaking.” And then the descents were just a blast. No brakes, lovely berms, some rocks and drops to play with and I was loving it. On one of the drops, I misjudged my line, carried in way too much speed and I don’t think my tires even touched the ground except to skitter over the tops of the rocks. Regained control just as I hit another well-formed berm and laughed out loud it was such a rush. There were so many “yee-haw” sections and I found the course had plenty of flow to offset the long steady climbs and punchy steeps.

Brought it around for the last lap, collected a fresh bottle (I fudged my feed on lap two carrying too much speed into the feed zone … regrettable … but there were plenty of shook-free bottles to choose from on the course!) and enjoyed seeing my team, my parents and my husband cheering me on for the final push. My shifting was once again slipping back out and I’d narrowly avoided tearing a side wall on one of my more daring descents so I was mainly focused on finishing up clean and safe.

And then of course, I look over my shoulder and there’s Ema again. I kicked it up, and brought it home to cheering friends and family. So awesome for the Cat 2/3 Ninjas to stick around for the few of us Cat 1 racers, I really appreciated it!!

Collected some neat hardware and then the best part, Team Dinner swapping war stories and filling our faces. All in all an awesome first US Cup/Kenda Cup experience. Looking forward to Bonelli!

I want to thank Team Ninja and all of our fabulous sponsors. In particular, PowerBar, thanks for those “real fruit” pouches. Delicious. Rudy Project, thanks for making a bright pink helmet that my mom can easily spot on the course! Thanks Champion Systems for our enviable kits — I have never had more people ask to have the shirt off my back. Thanks to Aaron Hauck and Inner Strength Fitt Labs for getting me so comfortable on the bike. Huge thanks to my coach, Richard La China for ALL THE THINGS. And a big thanks to all the Team Ninja racers for making all this suffering feel like FUN! Feeling pretty lucky to be part of our awesome team. Going to be a great season.

And I also want to thank my mom and dad for coming all the way from Canada for this race!! (okay okay, they just happened to be here anyway). Thanks dad for snapping all the pics in this blog, and Mom for trying to feed me (sorry I messed it up!). And my husband Gerhard who always makes me feel like I can go 20% faster just with his presence. I love having you guys at the race, and can’t wait for our “Team Kris” reunion at BC Bike Race.

The Start of Cat 1 Women
Coming through at the end of Lap 1 with Gerhard cheering me on

Crossing the Finish

When you start your race on the Velodrome on Thursday the 16th, you will be in the presence of a legend.  No, not Ron Burgundy.  Someone better. EddieB

(Yes, it is possible).

THIS man is single-handedly responsible for bringing American cycling to world prominence.

(See? Told you it was possible. Now you’re asking yourself who it could be!)

Ninja Night Race is proud to announce that Eddie Borysewicz, fondly known as Eddie B., will be joining us for this race’s historic send-off!

Under his direction, the US team won an unprecedented 9 medals at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984–the first time Americans had won medals in cycling since 1912!

Throughout his storied coaching career, he has developed and coached some of the world’s best riders, including Greg LeMond, the only American to officially win the Tour de France.

SteveHegg-EddieBAs if these accolades aren’t impressive enough, Eddie B. was inducted into the United States Bicycle Hall of Fame in 1996 AND was named the “Father of modern American cycling” at the 2004 Endurance Awards in San Diego.

Impressive, right?

But wait! There’s more!

ninja night raceNot only will Eddie B. be there, he will be sending off all riders by leading them in a parade lap around the velodrome on his motorpace bike.

Now THAT is rad.

Make sure you register in advance, attendance is limited.


The best way to ensure the future of our sport is to introduce it to the next generation. That’s why Team Ninja is proud to announce kids age 10 and up can join for kids-mountain-bike-race-vail-co-teva-mountain-gamesfree, and take advantage of race support, sponsorship deals and the camaraderie that comes with being part of a team.

Youth cycling is a chance to welcome new riders, and help them reach their full potential without injury or burning out. It doesn’t matter what discipline, on Team Ninja, we emphasize fun, focus on development and celebrate personal bests.

Best of all, with Team Ninja, they’ll also learn the importance of being part of their community, have the chance to volunteer for great causes and gain a source of positive energy that keeps them fit and active.

team_ninja_cycling_team_jerseyTo help our youth look the part, Team Ninja is making official kits available in kids’ sizes and kids’ prices ($150 total for jersey/bib shorts). We will be including a listing of youth races on our web page, so check back to see what events suit your young ninja’s race schedule.

If you’re interested in signing up your son or daughter to our growing youth roster, or if you have any questions, please contact Coach Richard.

Quick reminder :: Monday, December 2 – 2013 is the last day you can order your Official Team Ninja bib shorts.

If you haven’t orders yours yet, here’s the link… (also, get your orders placed for additional jerseys if you want them and socks).

Men’s ‘Team Ninja’ Bib Shorts on Square Market
Champion System bib shorts sizing chart in case you need it…