Sunday, February 27, 2011

Welcome to the Team

A few weeks back, while attending the Washington High School Cycling League meeting, I spoke to someone who recommended a cycling team for Ian to join. His kids were members and raced on their Junior team. I collected some email info and later inquired about it. One thing lead to another and now Ian is officially racing for JL Velo, the cycling team of Northwest Velo. He'll be part of the Junior team and focus on mountain bike and 'cross racing for the season. Pretty cool, eh?

We hit our first team meeting on Saturday. Probably 100+ folks in attendance. Don't quote me on the numbers, but around 100 adult racers and 30 or so Juniors racing for the club. Plus assorted parents and other folk to assist. Most of the people are road racers, with some track and cyclocross mixed in. I'm sure some mountain bike racing tossed in as well. The people running the Junior team are open to getting more of the kids racing mountain bike events.

Ian has next to no road experience and rides in the dirt 99% of the time. We have no plans to road race, but we'll hit some of the road training rides. I'll get him a 'cross bike soon, mount road tires and go with that. As mentioned, the focus for us is dirt related riding and racing.

During the meeting, some of the team sponsors attended and said a few words. The main sponsor is JL Velo, who design and manufacture cycling and other active clothes - right here in the good ol' USA. Other sponsors include REMAX, Raleigh, Redline, Clif Bar, Center Cycle, Recycled Cycles, Home Benefit IQ, FSA, Eastside Medicine, Vittoria, Nuun, Northwave, American Classic, Lill Monster Motion Pictures, Shannon Escrow Inc, and Jen Hersman LMP. Quite the list, hope I didn't leave anyone out and provided the correct links. It's great these folks put their time and money into promoting bike racing.

We met a lot of nice folks at the meeting, ate some pizza, and even won some freebies during the raffle. Ian also picked up his team jersey and to an 11 year old, a very big deal. Fun to watch. A team ride was announced for the next day, Juniors included, at Duthie - where Ian and I have ridden a few times and raced once. Oh yeah, sign us up. Ride time at 9:00 AM, so I loaded up the car Saturday night.

Sunday morning rolled around pretty quick. Ian waking me up at 7:00 AM, ready to roll. I know he's psyched for something when that happens. Spiffy new team jersey laid out for the first official wearing. Weather was so so, 34 degrees and light rain. With the recent snow, thought we were in for a push fest through the slush. Luckily, I was proved wrong. The rain held off and the conditions were a blast.

The gang meets at nearby elementary school lot, then rides a short distance to the mountain bike park. Duthie is a killer spot to take kids. All the short loops start and end the same place, plus the trails are one way only. Impossible to get lost. Oh yeah, plus it's incredibly fun with singletrack, constructed berms, and wooden stunt structures. Highly recommended. Click here for a previous tour.

Ian talks with a few new teammates during a break in the action. The other kids are wearing last years kit, with previous sponsor First Rate Mortgage. Totally fantastic to see Ian riding with some like minded kids his own age. I've attempted to round up some riding pals for Ian via his mainstream sports teams and school pals, with little to no luck. Many kids these days don't ride bikes at all. Very nice to expose Ian to a team deal that revolves around bikes for a change. For everyone else on the ride, just another team gig. For Ian and I, something more then that - it's all new and pretty cool. We've been to our share of races over the last few years, this team element should add yet another positive twist to the whole experience. I think so anyway.

Yup, pretty dang cool to witness.

We now interrupt this ride report for (insert circus music) - Unicycles! Yes, a gaggle of off-road unicycle types invaded Duthie during our visit. I don't quite get the attraction, but hey, who am I to judge. They're outside on trails, getting some air, exercise, thrills and spills - just like us - minus one wheel. Plus, no chain to clean. Maybe they're on to something. Then again, uh - maybe not.

Conditions today turned out to be blast. Totally reminded me of my East Coast roots. Super slick, but fun. Huge fun. I'm rusty on snow skills, but didn't fall once today. To compensate, I did score a flat however. The kid pictured, super friendly nice kid, powers through the slippery white fun. Man, we met so many people over the last two days, I'm still lost on names.

Blurry shot of Ian in action. This was his first full on snow ride and he did great, despite crashing multiple times. Later in the day, showed me all the bruises on his hips and thighs. Ouch.

This be Garth Billstin, the dude who runs the whole team. We chatted a bit, and from his speech at the meeting, appears to be a talented nice guy. The organization seems to be well regarded with some quality folks involved. I've offered to assist with the Junior team if needed, will ride with them for sure. Ian and I offered to show 'em our local woods and act as tour guides. Even though I race occasionally, Ian is on the team as the official racer. I'm there for support. I honestly really dig seeing kids get out there to ride and race.

One of the adult racers on the ride today. Riding the super old school.....

.....'80s Specialized Stumpjumper. Complete with super long stem, Biopace chainrings, chainstay mounted U-brake, and pink pump. Sweet! Old school me got a huge kick out of this. I talked with the guy for a bit; CAT 3 road and track dude, rarely rides dirt - hence the old iron.

All in all, a memorable weekend. Ian and I had a great time on the ride. Wound up being about three hours in the snow, Ian did well and enjoyed it. On the way home, we did our usual post Duthie burrito and taco chow down at Chipotle in Issaquah. Well deserved after the ride to replace some burned off calories (burp).

We'll see where this team deal takes us; hope to learn a few things, meet some folks, and have some fun. So far, so good.


  1. Good post Dan, love to see the young uns get into cycling, it's all good. Enjoyed the pics, really nice area, do you know Sunnyside, that's where I was born, but left before my eyes were open. Be sure and pass on my best to Ian.

  2. Sounds like a great time Dan. How fun for Ian to get the team experience for racing. Bike people are nice and fun and there's nothing like racing to make you a better rider in general.

  3. Dan, I am so impressed with Ian, and admire your being the dad you are. Some day I might get to watch Ian race, he is headed on a wonderful path.

  4. Thanks all for the flattering and nice responses. As the wife and I have discovered, being parents is awesome - and certainly not easy at times. Sharing the bike interest with Ian has been fantastic and will continue as long as his interest holds out. Being bike guy myself, extra special and lot more fun then standing on the sidelines of a field somewhere.

    Daughter Amy is 7 years old and not really interested yet, but occasionally rides. If she wishes to ramp that up, would be super cool. And if not, that's cool too. She has other interests as well.

    @Mrbill - I've never been to Sunnyside, WA. Will do some Google searching about it.

  5. Dan, I welcome you and Ian to the team! It was great seeing another Dad and Son so passionate about cycling! Ian is a great kid and I have a feeling you guys will fit right in on the team.
    Thanks for the pictures of my Son Jarrett! In fact he has asked if Ian Is going to race MTB this weekend? If so we'll see you at Black Diamond! Jeff

  6. @Jeff. Thanks - we had fun. We're looking forward to getting more involved. Your son Jarrett and the other kids helped Ian feel welcome. Great stuff.

    I just looked up the race info - it's a possibility. We have some basketball commitments this weekend, it's the end of Ian's basketball season, so we'll see.

    Otherwise, we'll be at future races and rides for sure.

  7. So this is random. My roommate just had her beloved bike stolen in downtown Seattle. I was searching for google images for a photo of it & it led me to your blog. She had the same pink & green 80s stumpjumper that you posted at the bottom. This is a long shot, but you don't happen to know where to get another one of those do you, or even if you're wanting to get rid of the one in the photo? Her birthday is coming up & it'd be a great surprise...I also saw you live in Issaquah, so if you know of any good used bike shops, maybe that's a start?

    thanks. here's to hoping.

  8. Sara - sorry to hear about the bike being stolen. The old Stumpjumper pictured in the post belongs to a teammate on the JL Velo team - not sure who - I'd just met those folks for the first time that day. Don't remember the name. I do remember it being a fairly large sized frame however. I may be able to track down the person and ask if they'd consider selling it.

    I don't live in Issaquah, but not that far away. Recycled Cycles in Seattle sells used bikes, not sure of any others at the moment. Most shops don't sell used bikes. There's always Craiglist - tons of bikes on there. You can also search eBay and maybe even come up with an old Stumpjumper.