“There are parents that let their kids climb trees and there are parents that don’t. You bet these parents let their kids climb trees. A broken arm is better than a broken spirit.” That is what the announcer of the U10 USA mountain bike national championship race said as the kids were lining up. I thought this was funny and 100% true.
The race was held in Sun Valley, Idaho this past weekend. It just happened that we planned a trip here on the same weekend as bike week and the championships. We knew Kalden would be excited to race so we signed him up. We had no idea how serious the U10 group would be and how hard the course was. On the pre-ride we were being passed by 9-12 year olds on adult carbon bikes, clip pedals and major skills! I saw what a big difference there is between 7 and 10 when it comes to athletes. Luckily Kalden did not soak any of that up. He was happy being in the zone practicing and learning from the other kids. At one point on the course there was a loose steep climb. It was unrideable and seemed even unwalkable for Kalden. He is a lefty so he pushes his bike from the right. The other kids were pushing from the left so there were natural steps and footing over there. On the right it was loose but on the 4th lap he finally made it up. After 4 laps he felt ready to call it a night and rest for this race.
His race was not until 4:30 so we had some waiting to do the next day. When it was time to line up I was more nervous than he was. The field was stacked with experienced racers (yes they were all under 10!) and the staging was intense. It was also starting to rain, which was good for that unwalkable climb. The kids were lined up for almost a 1/2 hour. In that time I saw a few kids crying and a few parents yelling. To be honest I wanted to pull him out, it just seemed like too much. But then I looked at him and he was smiling ear to ear and waving at us. Not a care in the world…just happy to be in his element racing his bike.
The rain did not seem to slow any of the racers down. When the ref said go these kids were off like bullets. Kalden, being his cautious self, brought up the rear as to not be caught in any mixing of handlebars. On the first climb up the ski slope he was at the back but made up some spots by riding most of it. Over the next 3 laps he slowly made up a few spots to finish 16th out of 23. We were elate! He rode strong and within himself, had fun and finished safely. He is already asking about the next race. I’m not sure what the future holds but I’m pretty happy to be riding with him on the weekdays instead of dropping him off at practice and pre-riding with him on a Saturday rather then sitting in a lawn chair watching him practice. Cycling is great!