Training wheels to 21-speeds

August 17, 2005

Eager young bikers and parents delightfully in tow, gave the Hood River Valley High School grounds a good going-over Saturday morning during the second of two races in the Discover Kids’ Mountain Bike Series. A total of 52 riders, ages 3-11, turned out and tore up courses laid out on the high school’s south lawn and the Indian Creek trail system, finishing the first ever series with great enthusiasm and optimism for the future.

Racing started with the 3-4 year old training-wheel dragsters on short loop course in the grass. Race director Chad Sperry waved the go-flag and jumped out of the way just in time to avoid a mad-dash of fierce young pedalers gunning down the first straight-away. The 150-meter course was no match for their frantic young legs. With parents racing alongside and pushing from behind (as training wheels and grass tend to clash), the race was as much a comedy as a competition. Crash-free and humorously fierce, the race ended with Eva Jones, Maverick Geller and Jose VanTilberg finishing one-two-three.

To avoid chaos on the course, the massive 5-6 year old division was broken into two groups.

“We took one look at the large group of kid’s at the starting line all raring to go and decided it would be better to play it safe and divide into two smaller field sizes,” said event coordinator Lori Waters. “We were pleasantly surprised at how many kids showed up to race.”

Two laps around the course was a hop and a skip for the fearless young rippers on their one-speeds. With a pack of parents and young supporters cheering loud at the finish line, Davis Malkonian edged out Ella Mudry and Tay Carlson for the win.

The final group to take charge of the grass course was the six year olds. Three riders broke out early and dominate the front for the last lap and a half. During the final lap Casey Ward built a small lead to finish ahead of Steven Crouch in second and Kimberly Boquist in third.

Moving up in difficulty, the 7-9 year-old and 10-11 year-old courses were a combination of road, grass and a single track that started and finished by the football grandstands and wound their way around the same trails that high school cross-country runners will soon be hitting.

Micah Melkonian, of White Salmon, dominated the 7-9 year-old race from the start, finishing the first of two laps with the second place rider out of sight. Melkonian took a smooth victory, followed by a tight group kids battling for second place and beyond. Patrick Compton edged Marcus Crouch for second place.

The big kids— 10 and 11-year olds— turned up the heat in sync with the August sun. Melkonian, looking for a more challenging race, jumped in with the pack to put extra pressure on his elders. Ryan Colesar met the challenge, refusing to let a little whippersnapper show him up. Colesar finished the first of two laps with Isabelle Hodgkins and Melkonian breathing down his neck. Coming into the finish line, Colesar and Hodgkings held their ground for a one-two finish, followed by Melkonian.

Sperry commented after the race, “A huge thanks goes out to Hood River Valley High School for once again allowing us use of the there wonderful facilities. Thanks also too Discover Bicycles for their tremendous support, G. Willikers for their donation of prizes and the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic for funding the race series.”

The Discover Kids’ Club is a newly formed kid’s cycling club. Any young biker interested in future races, cycling clinics, newsletters and product discounts is encouraged to check out the Discover Kids’ Club. Inquire at Discover Bicycles.

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