Ramos ready to roll at Mount Snow
Amber Ramos, South Lake Tahoe’s 12-year-old mountain biking prodigy, is in prime position for the national finals. And she hasn’t even left the starting line.
Ramos left Tuesday for the finals of the National Off-Road Bicycling Association championship series in Mount Snow, Vt. Ramos races in the cross country event Friday with an eye on a win and the overall title, and said she’s ready.
“I’m as ready as I can be,” said Ramos, who is in fourth place in NORBA’s overall junior standings, behind two 18-year-old competitors and one 15-year-old. “I can’t get any more ready than I am right now. I’m going to go into it with the best attitude and get what I can out of it.”
Ramos wasn’t exactly sure where she stood in the points race for her experts 15-18 class, but likes her chances to win.
She thanked local doctor Randy Watson with helping make her trip to nationals possible, and Watson, in turn, likes Ramos’ possibilities.
“I think she’s got a really good shot at it,” said Watson, a longtime friend of the family who has been cycling with Amber since she was 6. “Her dad … says she’s got about as good a shot as any amatuer in the country right now.”
NORBA wins in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., July 15-19 and Deer Valley, Utah July 22-25, have helped put Ramos in contention for the title, despite the fact she has not raced on the East Coast this season. Ramos sees 15-year-old Magen Long, who leads the overall standings with 1,170 points, as her principal competition in Vermont. Ramos, though, beat Long in winning the Deer Valley race.
Mount Snow, the site of last year’s NORBA finals, is famous for being muddy, technical and filled with roots. Ramos, who anticipates a slight change in set-up from last year, described Mount Snow as more of a power course. She wasn’t sure which racer would benefit more from that.
“I can’t say who it suits better, because I changed my riding style for my race this year,” Ramos said. “I tried to ride a little more for power, not so much for endurance and going uphill.”
Many consider Mount Snow the mountain bike capital of the East: Last year, more than 2,500 riders and 21,000 spectators attended. The area also has played host to four International Cycling Union World Cups.
But, despite the course always seems hard, usually is muddy, and is famous for its roots, that didn’t prevent Ramos from describing it as a fun course.
“If it’s not muddy, that’s great; if it is, that’s great, too,” she said.
Nevertheless, the sites of Ramos’ two NORBA wins this year reacquired skills she can apply to this weekend’s course. Deer Valley’s course was so root-filled it reminded some riders of a course back east, and Mammoth’s course had some elements similar to what Ramos anticipates seeing in Mount Snow.
Ramos tweaked her training to focus more on power, and included more road rides in preparation. Ramos clearly believes she’s ready.
“I’ll be happy if I try my very best and I come out as good as I could be because I couldn’t do anything more to prepare for it,” Ramos said.
That’s not the end of the trail this year, and it’s certainly not the end for Ramos. The Ridgecrest Classic in October in Southern California will be her last big race of the season before she returns for another year of competition.
Even brighter possibilities loom on the world horizon: Either of Ramos’ NORBA wins would have qualified for the world championships if she was the same age – 16 – as many of the racers in her bracket. Ramos, though, is four years away: she turns 13 Sept. 5. She also is considering adding downhill to her NORBA repertoire next season.
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After more than 70 years of operating with a term deemed derogatory by many Native Americans, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has changed its name to Palisades Tahoe.