The Best Part of the Day
The highlight of my race came at the base of the ascent of the Crystal climb at the end of the first lap of 2017 Peak to Peak Mountain Bike Challenge. After a dropped chain 3 miles in forced me to chase back to the front group, and then a split in the lead group saw me on the front again bridging up to the top 10. On my wheel were two of TC's brightest #YOUTHS, Ryan Miller and Garret Jenema.
Just before we reached the base of the climb, Garrett shot ahead to the front group, tacking onto the back of the lead group of our 16-34-year-olds class. I lumbered up to his wheel right before the climb began in earnest. With a quick turn behind to see me on his wheel, Garrett smiled and gave me a thumbs up, his youthful enthusiasm on full display.
Here I am, heart rate absolutely pinned. Legs are being filled with lactic acid to the point of bursting, and this kid is only getting more fired up at the prospect of hitting this Category 4 climb - the first of three difficult ascents on today's menu. I was so excited to see him, and then Ryan, positively floating up that climb, surrounded by some of the best riders in the Midwest.
The Kids are Alright
It really was a coming out party of sorts for lots of #YOUTHS on Saturday. Crowds lining the Crystal Climb for the morning races saw Kyan Olshove reaching the top of the formidable hill at nearly the twice the speed of his fellow competitors. Not far behind, the diminutive and orange-clad figure of Carter Schmidt put on an equal display of power and finesse. Hayden Fox of Kona/Central District Cyclery was busy putting on a show of his own on the descents, surely making his parents nervous in the process. Will Unger, of Norte fame, has gone from a kid who struggled on even shorter rides to coming home with a third place, a transformation over the course of just one year that made his parents so proud. And the rest of us very, very impressed.
Who Run the World? Girls. Specifically, These Ones
It's not all about the boys though. Maddy Frank from Freewheeler and Emma Schwab of Hagerty Cycling having been putting the Expert Women class on notice for some time now, and announced their presence with podium finishes behind a very strong Angela Webster. It won't be long until these girls are in the fight with Kaitlyn Patterson, Susan Vigland, Lauria Brockmiller and the rest of the top tier of Michigan cycling. The speed and stamina these kids have at such a young age is so impressive - just think what power these girls will have in their legs by the time they graduate from high school!
Thanks, Big People
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a kid. Here in Traverse City, we're so lucky to have Norte Youth Cycling, guided by Ty and Johanna Schmidt, an incredible Board of Directors, and a small army of volunteers to help plan and execute rides multiple times per week. People like Bill Unger, Pete Worden, Chad and Heather Jordan, Anne Schwartz, and so many others donate seemingly limitless amounts of time and energy to make sure these kids can get out to do what they love in a safe and positive environment.
Down in Grand Rapids, Danielle Musto's Dirt Dawgs is working equally as hard to get kids on bikes. Eric Wolting has been coaching kids all summer, sacrificing a lot of time in an already packed schedule to encourage and support the next generation of riders. It's so exciting to see these kids, smiles plastered on their faces, at group rides and races all summer long.
From the entire cycling community, thank you to the Big People who do so much for the #YOUTHS.
With 75 degree weather and sunshine, this Peak to Peak was something special. But it was the sight of so many happy, healthy, active kids on bikes that made the biggest impression on everyone in attendance. Look for more of the same at Iceman in just two weeks!
Wes Sovis is a Professional Magician and part-time Business Development Manager. He writes stuff and people pay him with food sometimes, too. Follow him on Instagram. Or don't. Doesn't matter.