Ariana’s Coach/Dad gives his report about their stint in the 2014 Asian Mountain Bike Championships held over the weekend in Indonesia.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who had a hand in making Ariana’s stint in the Asian Championships possible. I can not express hard enough how much valuable it is for Ariana, and I as her coach, to experience firsthand the tough competition the Asian Championships is known for. As much as we would haved like to train more for this event, being advised only a little less than 4 weeks that Ariana was chosen by Philcycling to join this event, we took no time in accepting this challenge and privilege to represent the country, knowing Ariana will gain a lot from this experience. I know a lot of things needed to be ironed out for our stint to push through, but Congressman Abraham Tolentino, Philcycling’s Jojo Villa, and National Team Coach Christopher Allison made sure it would.
To get to the race site, which was in Lubuklinggau, Indonesia, we had to take 2 air flights of 6 hours total and a 5-hour car ride. This in itself was already very hard, but who are we to complain. We really wanted this and we accepted all the hardship it brings.
We got to the race venue 4 days before Ariana’s race and we immediately practiced the race track which was challenging indeed as per our standards. A 4 kilometer loop, 70 percent of which were rocky, twisting climbs, some having a gradient of more than 40 %. The downhill sections were also equally challenging, with two double arrow descents and numerous rock descents as well. It reminded me of the Danao race course, but much tougher. These are the kinds of tracks Ariana enjoys to ride on but unfortunately we were not able to train on this kind of tracks back home due to their unavailability due to the rains. In the future, we know what to expect.
We were able to scout most of her opponents because there was a relay event they joined in and I was able to record their lap times. The fastest we saw was 21 minutes per lap. Ariana, in her practice time trial, timed 18 minutes. So initially, we knew that with all things even, Ariana could defeat these ladies. The lone lady we were not able to scout was the girl from Thailand, the eventual Gold medal winner, because her team did not join the relay event as well.
Come race day, our game plan was for Ariana to start strong but ride with the group in the first 2 laps because we were pessimistic with her endurance on this kind of terrain, knowing that we had less time to train for this event and she was practically coming from an off-season and did not have a race for more than 2 months. We hoped that on the 3rd lap she can hammer it out and break away for the win. But that did not happen. Close to the end of the 2nd lap, Ariana crashed on one of the double arrow descents and misaligned her handle bar and wounded her thigh and shoulder. This did not surprise me because with this kind of tracks, and the intensity of the race, crashes are common. What followed was the lead two (Thailand and Japan) broke away from Ariana and the 4th lady (Chinese-Taipei) over took Ariana for 3rd place at the start of the 3rd and final lap. But with all the experience Ariana has with her many years in racing, she regained her composure, despite the pain of her injuries, and biked to the Feed Zone where I was in and I repaired her handle bar. She chased the Chinese-Taipei girl and managed to overtake her midway in the 3rd lap and maintain the lead up to the finish line and win the Bronze Medal.
Now, the question is, can Ariana defeat those two ladies who were ahead of her if she would not have crashed? My answer would be that if she would have been able to stay close to the two up to the last lap, she would have had a great chance in challenging for the win.
I am amazed at the level of competition at the Asian junior level, with Japan and Thailand showing that they are really serious in their mountain bike program, producing these really strong young riders. Simply put, for us to accomplish our goals, we should push harder in training and also develop tracks like they have here so that we can continuously hone the skills and endurance of our riders for these kinds of terrains and races.
I also believe that if we were told earlier of this Asian level event, with at least 2 months to prepare and train, there is no doubt in my mind Ariana could have done better and maybe even win the Gold. But nevertheless, we are very thankful for this experience because it gave us the knowledge on the level of competition Ariana will have to face, and the kind of race tracks where it will happen, for her to get a slot in the 2020 Olympics in Japan, which is our ultimate dream for her.
Now, with the help of the National Team in calendaring the races next year for Ariana, we can now train months in advance for the tough competition ahead.
To end this report, what this experience has done is that it made our planning for Ariana’s career a lot more clearer now, knowing the competition at hand and the equivalent training it needs. Thank you very much for reading my report.
-Donjie Dormitorio/ Ariana’s Coach and Father.