Southern California Mountain Bike Racing – Elings Park

The pale gray sky reminded me of the east coast, not the beautiful horizon of Santa Barbara. Some local hikers trekked up the path and I asked what happened to the California weather. They reminded me it was June glum; the weather condition occurring mostly in June when the fog rolls into the California coastline to paint a dreary scenery.

Today, the beneficiaries of June glum were the Cat 3 riders at the Elings Park mountain bike race. The cool weather was sure to keep dehydration problems to a minimum. For the late Cat 1 starters, that was not the case as the sun pierced the morning fog by midday.

The Elings Park mountain bike event is one of the largest in the area and sure to remind people that Santa Barbara is one of the premier places in California to take a trip with the family. With its lush green hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it’s a good idea to bring a camera along for the memories.

Today, to capture some speed in motion, I brought the video camera. With a slew of single track trails and fire roads to keep the MTB riders busy on a multi-lap course, there would be plenty of opportunities to shoot some good footage.

The hills on this multi-lap course require a thorough warm-up from the mountain bike competitors. Within the first quarter mile of the start, you are going vertical. The race course climbs to the top of Elings Park and includes fire roads and single track trails. For the second lap, you are rerouted in a new direction for the climb up to the top with a winding trail full of U-Turns.

After capturing some video and still images, I found an excellent shooting position on the second lap ascent. The day was going as planned. So far, I had not fallen down any hills with my camera gear. Later in the day, I realized the day was still young.

The Cat 1 and 2 riders looked strong as the sun welcomed the riders with high 70 degree temperatures. My goal today was to capture these mountain bikers at close range so I climbed the hills surrounding the course to find the best angle and the heart beat of this race. After slipping down a few hills, I managed to create some serious ventilation in my clothing – an eight inch rip in my jeans from the crotch down the pant leg. Thankfully, anyone coming my way only cared about one thing going fast.

Once the mountain bike racers reached the top of the hill, they were given a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. However, the view was short lived due to the winding trails.

Deep in the bushes, I managed to find a good location to capture the MTB riders as they raced around me. I was in the zone, and focused.

After capturing a few riders and satisfied I got the footage necessary, I managed to checkout my surroundings. It was at that moment that I realized one of the disadvantages of being in the zone. There I stood with an eight inch tear down my pant leg surrounded by poison ivy! The Elings Park mountain bike race will always hold a special memory for me. It reminded me that I too have to watch the path in front of me.

If you are considering a Santa Barbara trip and looking for a great mountain bike race along the way, the Elings Park mountain bike race is an excellent choice. Organized by Team Big Bear, the MTB event is certain to test your mountain bike fitness.

Staying on the trail is highly recommended.

Keith Rejino is a personal trainer, MTB rider, and sports photographer for Dreamscape Images. Dreamscape Images provides Sports Stock Photography and event Professional Sports Photography to multi-sport race events.