Saturday, February 06, 2010

Learn to mountain bike or improve your riding with skills clinics - coed and women-only mountain bike camps

I'm always on a quest to become a better cyclist, especially when it comes to riding singletrack trails on my mountain bike! For the past two years, I have signed up for the women-only Dirt Series clinic, a two-day skills intensive which has come to my town of Santa Cruz, California. The Dirt Series rolls out again in 2010, with a new title sponsor of Trek Bicycles. The Santa Cruz clinic sold out all its spots within 24 hours, but fortunately, there are Trek Dirt Series camps offered around the U.S. and Canada that still have space. They offer women-only camps as well as co-ed options. I'll write more about my great experience with them in my next blog post.

Another way to get better on the bike is to sign up for a mountain bike camp with Alison Dunlap, two-time Olympian and former national and world champion in mountain biking.

I still haven't ridden in Moab, Utah! I must change that!

 I have taken afternoon clinics with Alison Dunlap and had the opportunity to interview her as a journalist at Sea Otter Classic and other major bicycling races.  She is a great teacher - fun, patient, encouraging and of course, a master at her craft. Here's the scoop on the Moab, Utah, camps with Alison.

Alison says:
"After running skills clinics for the past five years, we have decided to take a break, and instead focus our energy on expanding our Moab Camps."

April 27-May 1, 2010   Novice/Intermediate
We are introducing a new Beginner/Interm 5-day Moab Skills Camp

"For those of you that have come before, we have a new Intermediate/Adv Ride Camp."
May 11-15, 2010   Intermediate/Advanced
Sept 28-Oct 2, 2010   Intermediate/Advanced

$1985:  All inclusive
$1595:  Without lodging and massage

More about Alison
She's a  USA Cycling certified Level II coach, a United States Anti-Doping Association Athlete Ambassador, a member of the USA Cycling Olympic Selection Committee, and a certified Wilderness First Responder.
If you have taken one of Alison Dunlap's camps or had her coaching, please leave a comment here on this blog and let me know what you thought!

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

California State Park Weddings - Location Guide to Having a Budget Wedding, Green Wedding and Nature Wedding all in one!

I'm a big fan of supporting our state parks! While I'm not planning my own wedding (I'm still seeking the groom), here's the scoop on California State Parks wedding locations for those of you in the busy wedding planning phase. You can  host a green wedding and watch your wedding budget, too!

From historic adobes to stately mansions to ancient redwood forests to stretches of sandy beaches,  the California State Parks system offers a spectacular and unique setting for your wedding and reception. 

Here's a sample of California State Parks wedding sites, listed alphabetically, by region.  Fees and requirements vary from location to location.

Big Sur
Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, or Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Call Wedding Special Event Coordinator, (831) 667-2315.

Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park
Call Supervising State Park Ranger Michael Fehling, (530) 895-6144.


Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park features 2 beautiful historic churches and 3 shady picnic areas perfect for an outdoor ceremony or reception.
Call the Special Event Coordinator at (530) 622-3069.

Guerneville Group Picnic Area of Armstrong State Natural Reserve. The Department’s Russian River Sector office can help find the ideal location for your special occasion.
Call Elizabeth Beale (707) 865-2394 or email at

Laguna Beach
Crystal Cove State Park  has bluff-top wedding sites and allows beach weddings.
Call (949) 494-3539.

Lake Tahoe
Ed Z'berg - Sugar Pine Point State Park offers a beautiful lakeside location for ceremonies, with receptions taking place on the grounds of the elegant and historic Ehrman Mansion (with gazebo). 
Call the Special Events Coordinator at (530) 525-5060 or


La Purisima Mission State Historic Park features a rustic setting for an outdoor wedding. Guests are limited to 100 people, including the bride and groom.
Call the park’s supervising ranger, (805) 733-3713.

Malibu area state beaches and parks

Malibu Creek, Tapia, Leo Carrillo, El Matador, Thornhill Broome and Point Mugu
Call (310) 457-8144 or email:
Adamson House in Malibu
Call (310) 457-8144 or e-mail: 

Mendocino area
Call (707) 937-5804 for information and availability.

Garrapata State Park, Monterey State Beach, and Carmel River State Beach.
Call (831) 624-3704.
For weddings and special events at Monterey State Historic Park, including Custom House Plaza and Memory Garden,
Call (831) 649-7118 or email

Monterey Peninsula, Pacific Grove

Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds
Go to Click on “Meetings and Events.”
Patrick's Point State Park along the northcoast includes beautiful vistas over looking the ocean including wedding rock and others.
Call (707) 677-3110.

California Citrus State Historic Park offers a natural park setting among the citrus groves for weddings and/or receptions. 
Call (951) 509-4500 or email 

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park are available as wedding sites.
Call Cheryl Meyer, (916) 445-2560 or email and

San Clemente         
Calafia State Beach in San Clemente has bluff-top wedding sites.
Call (949) 366-8589.
San Clemente State Beach has an historic cottage with a patio and catering kitchen.
Call (949) 366-8589.

San Diego area
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park or Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Call Debbie Valdez at (619) 688-3385.

Sonoma Coast State Park offers vistas of the rugged northern coastline and majestic Pacific Ocean.

Sonoma State Historic Park Chapel and Courtyard (near downtown Sonoma) can accommodate 210 guests.
Call the special events office,  (707) 939-6188.

Santa Cruz County

San Buenaventura State Beach  features a sandy beach with a shady picnic area that can be used as a reception area.
Call (805) 648-4059.

This list is compiled from this page. For a complete list of parks, visit

You can also check out the online magazine, California Escapes, for more info about California State Parks.

From their website:
California State Parks contains the largest and most diverse natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation.  Our treasures are as diverse as California: from the last stands of primeval redwood forests to vast expanses of fragile desert; from the lofty Sierra Nevada to the broad sandy beaches of our southern coast; and from the opulence of Hearst Castle to the vestiges of colonial Russia.

State park units include over 280 fantastic miles of coastline, 625 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 3,000 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Our parks also have redwood and wildlife reserves, beautiful beaches, water recreation areas, wilderness areas, reservoirs, historic homes, Spanish adobe buildings, lighthouses, ghost towns, and off-highway vehicle areas.
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mountain Bikers Gear up for Cross Country Race Series in Central California

I write a weekly blog post for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. It's part of my being their sport bicycling columnist for Spin City - my monthly column, that appears in print and online! Here's my latest blog:
The cyclocross season has come to an end (UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships were held last weekend in Tabor, Czech Republic). That means it’s time for cyclists to focus on mountain bike racing. I have vowed this will be my comeback year, now that I have a new, super high-tech, full suspension bike from Specialized. I’m inspired to strive for faster cornering and downhills during my cross country racing. Watch out, sport class women! I hope you get inspired to come race, or at least come check out the competition at two race series starting up this month in Central California. Both start in February: one is hosted by Central Coast Cyclocross (CCCX) and other by new event producer South Valley, Out and About, Feb 2010

You should read the whole article.
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