BuDu series race # 3 throw down at Fort Steilcoom park, south of Tacoma, was on the schedule for today. Racer Boy Ian was a little on the fence about hitting this race, but having him waking me up at 6:00 AM proved his interest. Fort Steilcoom not being one of his favorite places to race, not enough singletrack for his riding style. We've hit these places a few times over the course of a few race series now, so he's getting a little picky...
We head out the door for the hour plus drive to the start line complete with 38 degree temps, wet ground, and wet snow falling. Could be a painful day. We agree if the weather continues to look this ugly, we retain the right to bag it all and head home. Halfway to Tacoma, the skies clear a bit. Not bad at all, though on the chilly side.
A bit of confusion while signing up at the registration tent - well - turned to confusion later. Girls at the tent mention 1 lap for Beginner class and 2 laps for Sport. About a 4+ mile lap. I ask Ian what he wants to ride, he says 2 laps. I sign him up for U-19 Sport class. That race doesn't start until 11:00 AM, now we have some time to kill. Ian takes off to pre-ride the course.
The 9:00 AM racers line up and I see a few of Ian's teammates ready to roll. I ask 'em what class they're doing, they mention Beginner class for 2 laps. Uh? A few minutes later, boom, off they go. I head back to the registration tent, now confused. I find out Sport class is actually 3 laps. That's a 12 mile race, plus warm up lap, for 16 miles or so. Add in racing against kids up to 19 years old. Middle of summer, Ian could handle this. Middle of March, with only two or so mountain bike rides under his belt since 'cross season ended in December - no way. He'd be hurting big time, no doubt.
Racer Boy Ian is in a bit of gray area, being 12 years old. His racing age is 13, since he turns 13 this year - those are the rules. That bumps him up into the 13-18 Beginner class for this series, or U-19 for Sport class. Different race venues run different number of laps depending on the course. For the 12 and under division, where Ian was last year, the 1 lap races felt short to him, 2 would be about right. So today, that would have been Beginner class.
Ian rolls in from his warm up lap and I give him the news. At one point, the race director tells me the Sport class may only do two laps, but later it remains at three. I elect to pull the plug on Ian's race day. I want to keep all this as positive and fun as possible, with reasonable challenges along the way. Ian agrees. The race folks are cool, we get a refund and change numbers back to Beginner class, where I'll keep him for the remaining races in the series. I always keep in mind we're talking about a 12 year old here, and would rather error on the easy side of things.
Getting up a 6:00 AM and driving 100 miles round trip for nothing is a bummer, but hey - stuff happens. The BuDu gang run a great series and even though my gut said no to the Sport class for Ian, thought the laps would be right. No big deal, many more races in the future, including the next BuDu race. We're not talking world peace or pro contracts here.
After the drive home and homework time spent on a science project, Ian and I hit the local trails for the late afternoon roll. Super muddy today, but felt great to get out. We did about 10 miles of woods rolling and Ian was pretty toasted at the end. I made the right call earlier in the day - for sure.
As long as his interest remains, plenty of rides and races remain in Ian's future. I plan to keep it as fun as possible, ramp it up as needed, and error on the low side of things if required. For us, the best approach to it all, and it's been working well.