Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chainsmoker Race - Welcome to Wenatchee

Saturday, Ian and I headed to Wenatchee for the Chainsmoker mountain bike race. This event held at Squilchuck State Park, a bit of a haul from the house. We debated on heading over Friday night or getting up stupid early on Saturday for the 3 hour drive. Stupid early won, with a 4:00 AM wake up call and we're rolling before 5:00 AM. Raining as we left the Seattle area, but the sun broke though once we crossed over Stevens Pass on scenic Route 2.

Ian had a nice head cold all week, his second nasty cold in 3 weeks now. This race being a qualifying race for the National event scheduled for later this summer in Sun Valley, Idaho - he really wanted to go for it - so we did. Top 15 finishers in each division qualify for the National. I seriously doubted there'd be more the 15 kids in his 11-12 age division and I was proven correct. Only 5 kids in Ian's class, so just had to finish to qualify. We'll take it.

At this point, not 100% sure we'll head over to Idaho this summer, but at least we now have that option. I think that would be a pretty cool experience for an 11 year old - we'll see.

A few of Ian's JL Velo teammates also competed. I was hoping for an easy post sickness race for Ian; just cruise and qualify, have fun. Not really to be. Ian's one lap race was short, just under 5 miles, but included 1000 feet of climbing. The course was also at 3200 feet of elevation, complete with patches of snow remaining. This will not be an easy cruise.

On the start line, Ian eyes up the competition. Other junior racers of various ages await the start as well. Get ready to rumble.

And away we go. Pavement start that quickly became very steep before heading into the woods. A bit of climb for sure, complete with patches of snow covering areas of pavement.

Fellow JL Velo junior teammate - think this is Brandon - crosses the road mid-race, back into the woods for more dirt action.

Teammate Will, crossing at the same point. Besides JL Velo, Will also races for his new high school team.

Scott Funston, super fast 11 year old, won the 11-12 age division. We know Scott and his dad from previous mountain bike and 'cross races. Nice folk, as are most people related to bicycle racing. Why is that? Genetics, DNA, shared interest? You be the judge.

Matt, one of the adult JL Velo racers, enjoys the 3 seconds of smooth pavement before getting pounded by dirt yet again.

Will's dad, Matt, in his first ever mountain bike race. Great to see.

Mike, another JL Velo junior racer attacking the course. Go Mike go...

Finally, here's Ian on the course. He had a tough day, going off course and then backtracking to complete the race. The lower section was a bit confusing, as a few other racers made the same mistake. Instead of popping back into the woods for the last section of singletrack, they headed straight up the pavement climb towards the finish. As I waited by the finish line, watched Ian climb towards me and gave him the bad news. He was mad, mentioned wanting to quit - got over it - then spun around and flew back down the hill. I followed on my bike for a bit to make sure he caught the correct trail. He then completed the singletrack climb to officially finish. Ouch.

With the goof up, scored 4th out of 5 racers in his age group. I'm proud of him; racing a little sick, up at 4:00 AM, with warming up, racing and the additional mistaken climb - lots of climbing for the day. Plus, he got over the error, didn't quit and qualified for nationals. Not bad for 11 years old, if I may say so myself.

After loading up the official race rig - the sporty '94 Camry wagon - and a lunch stop in Wenatchee, headed back over Stevens Pass for the 3 hour slog home. A long day, yet not quite over. JL Velo team meeting scheduled for 7:00 PM at Center Cycle also on the agenda. After a short break at home, we're on the road again, headed towards Renton.

I've never been to Center Cycle, place is huge. Loads of inventory. Quite the shop. For the meeting; free pizza, sales specials for teammates, folks from Redline giving us the lowdown on the 2012 models. Some sweet new 29ers and carbon 'cross bikes available from Redline. Killer team deals, alas, not in my budget. Otherwise, I would have ordered a new 'cross bike for myself. It was painful not being able to score on the deal, especially with my current 'cross bike being down for the count.

Redline marketing dude was interesting to hear speak. He's also involved with the design of the 'cross line up. Even though the frames are manufactured off-shore, can hear the design details and passion that goes into each bike.

Yeah, they have a few bikes in stock. Ian is dwarfed by the huge selection.

Teammate mingling, pizza eating, talking bikes and looking at new stuff. Not a bad Saturday night.

Mega huge shop. A different universe from my shop days in the '80s.

Combine overload bike related festivities along with Mother's Day fun on Sunday, and you have yourself a pretty busy weekend. Documented once again with hastily written words and shoddy photography, all for your alleged enjoyment. Thanks for reading.


  1. Super job well done Ian. Learned a lot, and keeps improving, I'm impressed.

    I enjoy the detailed posts of Ian's journey into what I would do if I was 30. :-)

  2. Thanks for reading the racing posts, they all start to sound alike. They truly are pretty cool little adventures for Ian and I. I think he learns something from all this also. Mountain bike racing is fun, but it's also hard.

    With the mileage you put in, plus your passion for riding - Dude - you could easily do some mountain bike racing. There's age classes for all, give it a shot.