Yowza, the blog machine has slowed to a crawl due to other life distractions. The usual stuff - like working for living, raising a family, and goofing around on Facebook instead of blogging.
My junior high mountain bike team activities are winding down, cool program to be involved with. I'll spew out a few blog posts to get caught up, since my army of regular readers (ha!) are probably starved for entertainment by now...
As part of the program, we ran two practice rides per week, one on Wednesday and the second on Sunday - last one partnered with the high school team. We usually had a good turn out for all the rides, anywhere from 3 to 10 kids showing up.
We'd keep these rides pretty informal, no real "race training", besides the occasional practice race start - which the kids usually got a kick out of - along with slow races, last one across the line without dabbing wins. On some rides, we'd also session a log crossing or other feature for technical skills.
For the most part, we'd just ride for two hours and as the weeks progressed, would let various kids take turns being ride leader. Super cool to see a string of ten or so young mountain bikers in front of you during a ride. Most of the rides on our local Saint Edward - Big Finn Hill trails, long with a few road trips out to Duthie or Paradise to mix things up a bit.
A few pics I grabbed during one Wednesday ride on our local trails...
Dylan, downhill racer and bike handler whiz, playing XC rider.
Andy - who joined the program a few weeks in after hearing about it - gives the Gravity Pit a go. He's probably the most enthusiastic kid of the bunch. Since joining has attended every ride and race. At the races, did all the pre-rides, raced, and the rec ride afterwards. His dad says he rides everyday after school. Oh yeah, his dad also picked a up a new 29er and started riding a bit. Spill over effect in action - awesome.
Andy, Jack, Matt, and Gabe living large.
My own son, Ian, enjoying the singletrack. Ian's gung ho bike interest has tapered way off in the last year or so. Considering he's been riding and racing since age 8, maybe a break needed. I don't push any of this, is supposed to be fun. If not fun, give it a rest. As long as we continue to hit the occasional father/son fun ride, all good. Racing is just icing on the cake.
Scotty rounds a corner. New to mountain biking, picked it up quick, and even raced a few times.
Shawn, one of our adult volunteers, riding one of his own 650B frames. Makes 'em in the garage - very cool.
Caleb over the roots. Caleb's grandfather, Tom, also assists the team with rides and skill instruction. A family affair on two wheels.
Sean in action. Shy nice kid, his dad also rides. Seemed hesitant to race at first, then tried it and did well. Fantastic to see him cross the finish line and have a good time.
Zane on the go. One of the smaller, quieter kids on the team. Hides that fact he goes all out at races, gives it a real go with a sprint at the end. Fantastic.
Marne, local woman racer and assistant coach to the team. Also married to Shawn, total bike crazy couple. I couldn't have run the team without 'em. Thanks!
Zac, one of the high school team members, sharing a ride with the junior high kids.
Troy, the high school team coach and dad to Zane and Zac, hitting the singletrack. Troy also helped plenty with junior high team. Thanks!
So there you have it, a glimpse into a team practice ride. Not all teammates pictured, but you get the idea. Part of what I dig about this program is that most of these kids have no prior racing experience, though most have mountain biked before. Main intent was to just get 'em out there riding.
We've been riding and racing since March and all of 'em have gotten fitter and faster. Very cool to witness. They also forced me at times to squeeze riding into my stupid busy schedule - and for that I thank 'em.