As mentioned in a previous post, I vowed to get involved with the Washington High School Cycling League once it starting rolling. Well, I lived up to that promise and volunteered at the first ever event in Washington held this weekend. Race site being Fort Steilcoom Park near Tacoma, Washington. I officially signed on to be a Course Marshal for the inaugural event. At least I can say I was there for a bit of mountain bike history.
To refresh your memory, NICA, is a national based organization promoting high school mountain bike racing. A few states have been on board for awhile now, with hugely successful programs. Hundreds of kids racing for themselves and their respective high school teams. Things are just starting to get off the ground here, with an incredible amount of work being done since the Leadership Summit held in January. Kudos to Lisa Miller and other involved folks to get this deal flying in a short amount of time. From what I hear, there are 17 high school teams forming or in progress. That number soon to grow.
Official Washington High School Cycling League tent stocked with goodies for volunteers.
"MP 8", my official manning station for a few hours. World's biggest official orange vest keeping my 29er seat warm. Official Specialized course tape marks the route. I even had an official race radio. Yep, all of it pretty official. To the left, out of view; official fenced dog running park. A few dog walking types asked what was going on. All were supportive when I gave 'em the low down. Hey, who can get cranky with anything involving kids?
High school boys roll out for the start, following official adult volunteer type. Get ready to rumble.
Off they go! About a 4 mile lap, don't recall how many laps per age group. Racers ranged from kids on department store bikes with soccer jerseys, to experienced racers gunning it for their high school. Inexperienced types outnumbered the "pros" by far, which is great to see. The program is all about kids getting out there, no matter the skill or equipment level.
Rad Racing kid ripping it for his school. Having kids like this on your team provides some fantastic coaching and riding advice to the newbies.
Baggy shorts 'N' sneakers on a decent mountain bike would describe most of the racers. Nothing wrong with that. SRAM banners, finishing tent and race announcer, all provide a pro experience for the kids.
More experienced racer powering towards the finish; now his experience assisting his high school team. How cool is that?
I watched these two boys sprint towards the finish, then let up, crossing the line with joined raised salute. Awesome.
About 50 kids total raced today, most boys and a few girls. This entire high school racing shindig is prepared to take off. The seeds have been planted. By next season, you'll see hundreds of Washington State high schoolers duke it out on various courses. I guarantee that - mark my words. It's already happened in other states, it will also happen here.
Next race is scheduled for May 1st, location yet specified. I plan to be at that event assisting as well. This program is fantastic and well worth the volunteer donated time and effort. I can only imagine how this program will mature by the time my kids hit high school. Flat out awesome scene to get kids on bikes, taste some racing, and create some spill over interest to siblings and parents.
I feel honored to have a played a small part in it all.