Today kicked off the 2011 Indie Series. A great series of races in the Pacific Northwest, with results combined for overall winners in various classes. It also forces you to hopscotch around Washington State to sample various courses and riding areas. Each event a mini adventure for us. Ian, just coming off the Budu Series, was looking forward to this.
The Indie Series has sentimental value to me. This series is what introduced Ian to racing back in 2008 at the age of 9. He completed the series and finished 3rd overall for kids 10 and under. A fantastic experience for both of us.
Ian, circa 2008, first Indie Series. He's rocking the 24" wheel Specialized. That's me following behind, as was the practice back then. Fun memories.
Repeat for 2009; another great experience and 2nd overall in the 10 and under class. Ian may not be the fastest racer at times, but he doesn't give up and once he starts a series, wants to complete the whole deal. He does well via consistency and watching his series points accumulate. And in the end, a valuable life lesson. True?
Ian, circa 2009, second Indie Series under his belt. He's holding his "Young Rider of The Year Award" given to him at the series final. It currently hangs in his room. Pretty cool, eh?
2010 rolls around and we're psyched for the new season, with new bike build up included. 2010 was also the year Ian wanted to try Little League baseball. Fair enough, let's give it a go. With multiple practices and games per week - all new to us - baseball wound up taking up most of our free time. The Indie Series was also in transition, with just a few races scheduled. So, not much mountain bike racing action last year. This year Ian elected to skip baseball and focus on racing his bike. Yabba Dabba Do.
Ian, circa 2010, at bat. We spent a lot more time around ball fields then woods that year. Not a bad experience, but not as much fun as riding bikes. Agree?
With that long winded intro, the 2011 Indie Series officially starts. Number of races down a bit from previous years, but with new events on the horizon. Kick off was at Dry Hill in Port Angeles, located on the Olympic Peninsula, a very scenic area of Washington. Rural, huge mountains and water views.
Race put on by the Olympic Dirt Society at Dry Hill. This area known for their downhill race series. What goes down must go up, so an XC race on this terrain required some climbing. Race description mentioned an 8 mile lap with 1200+ feet of elevation gain. Ian scheduled to do one lap for his class, Boys 11 - 14. I was scheduled to be head driver, mechanic, coach and main money source.
After another 4:00 AM wake up call, a three hour drive, unload and get him registered and warmed up, Ian is on the line ready to roll. At the last minute, I suit up and decide to ride behind Ian's class to get a taste of the course and some riding time myself - without actually racing. Lame I am. I considered racing 45+ Beginner or Sport - then came to my senses...
Off they go, with me casually filing behind about 15 seconds later. Course immediately starts climbing up a dirt road. No warm up, old me, instantly into semi-hurt mode, watching kids pull away. These little buggers are pretty fast. I see Ian hanging on to the end of the group, in his usual out of the saddle climbing style. After all our rides together, I'd recognize it from a mile away.
I catch up and fall behind though the first half of he race, enjoying my first row (yet painful) seat to the action. This is a tough course - much climbing - on dirt roads and singletrack. I'm amazed how strong some of these kids can ride, Ian included. We're a world away from following a 9 year old Ian during first race series, not all that long ago.
Eventually on one climb, Ian cracks and walks part of it, losing the remainder of his group. I catch up and he's pretty toasted - but will finish. We walk and ride various sections together. Ian losing me at times, especially on the short downhill sections. I'm not exactly moving at my (alleged) race speed, but certainly moving at a fast clip. Racer bike fan me is impressed. Parent me is proud and slightly nervous. As they grow, the faster they get and the risks go up.
Last climb of the course - dirt road - really steep. Walked by toasted Ian, and me for some company (and relief). From info at the start, we know the remaining 2.5 miles is a technical, singletrack downhill. I tell Ian to relax, get his thoughts together, give it a go. He's off a few seconds before me, I never saw him again until the finish.
The downhill was very technical - super steep, roots, loose rock, muddy, tight switchbacks - the real deal. Certainly one of the most technical downhills Ian has ever ridden. I worked my way down, arm pump and hurting hands included, hoping not to find Ian crumbled in a heap.
Not the case, he did extremely well; plus, maybe his 10th ride on clipless pedals. I was glad to see him waiting at the finish. We talked about the downhill for a few minutes - a shared experience for sure. Challenging and fun for both of us. I don't know any other way to get that post mountain bike ride buzzed feeling. If you know, and it's legal, pass it on...
Ian's speedo only clocked 7 miles or so. The course also felt like way more then the advertised 1200+ elevation gain. This was the full on old school hard core XC course. Tough climbs and tricky descent. Fun, but plenty hard. Taking this for several laps at (adult) race speeds would ratchet up the pain factor many notches. For an 11 year old, one lap was plenty.
So, final tally: 6th place out of six kids in his class. Technically last place. Still a hard won result in my book and series points included. I think he did great - but hey - I'm biased. As we were walking up a section of the course, I mentioned that he's basically doing these races with little to no training and still does okay. We'll try to work in some midweek rides, not easy at times with work, homework and the usual routine. Summer is almost here and no school requirement will help.
While we changed and loaded up for the drive home, he was asking when the next race was. Considering the effort put out and the resulting 6th place, pretty cool to hear. Ian obviously digs this whole scene. Following him for this race was huge fun, something I used to do when he was younger. No need to really follow him anymore, glad I squeezed this one in.
I left the camera in the car all day, so just grabbed this award winning shot of the parking lot as we left. Spectacular, I know. Feel free to download and frame as needed. Makes an excellent gift. Call now, operators are standing by.
The goofy ass '94 Camry wagon I picked up months ago has been working great. Boring to drive, but chock full of room for bike crap. Can even fit seven people with rear jump seat. Here it awaits the ferry ride home, much to envious looks of fellow motorists...
Ian passed out waiting for the ferry. Getting up at 4:00 AM, racing your bike, and driving for many hours will do that - to an 11 year old - and adults as well. He slept for hours on the return trip, including a half hour in the driveway. Yup, he was officially worn out.
That's all for now. Another race and report in the record books. More races, poor photography and related sappy stories to follow. Time for me to finally get some sleep...