Dean and Grant Race the JBOMB

Dean and Grant Race the JBOMB
another race hosted by Trails for Youth

this Tuesday past we took it easy all day and saved our energy for an afternoon of mountain bike filled adventure at Wakefield Regional Park in Northern Virginia

the organizers of Trails for Youth hosted the JBOMB...
a race for kids... juniors... and absolute beginners

a great option for racers without all the excitement that surrounds the Wednesday at Wakefield events

this race was also part of the mountain bike race series hosted by Trails for Youth... a series that my boys are scoring points in... a series where my older son is currently seated in 4th Place!

as great as W@W can be... the intensity of the various classes can cause some chaos on the course
it was nice for the less intense categories to have the course to themselves

as many of us know... passing at Wakefield can be a stressful experience for all parties involved
removing the expert from the absolute beginner is a smart option that is considerate to all involved

Dean was excited to race
Dean is always excited to race... or at least accepting of the option to race
while Grant... Grant can be more of a riddle

to my pleasure the proposal of racing was not met by objection by my six year old son Grant
instead... young Grant was planning on attacking with a vengeance
Grant told me that he planned to race to win
which presented a different obstacle... Grant is only six and is racing in the 10 and Under Category... a first place finish for him is unlikely

when I told bold Grant that he would be racing against ten year olds and it would be tough for him to win

Grant told me that he would race for second place
I like his attitude... but I did not enjoy setting him up for failure

much of Grant's hesitation to race is pre-race anxiety coupled with fear of failure

Dean who has a bit of a happy-g0-lucky attitude about life where most things are measured as "good" was looking at the race with a similar intent

a few weeks prior Dean had raced at the Cranky Monkey at Wakefield there Dean stood tall in first place on the podium... but that race was 9 and under
Dean was looking for a repeat of this finish in the 10 and Under group

the race has been held on the same course each time which offers a certain comfort factor
comfort for the racers comfort for the parents of the racers
there is some security in knowing that the course was not offering up any surprises

in the Cranky Monkey Race Dean discovered the merit in fighting for "the hole shot"

so often racers get stuck behind slower less competitive racers

or worse yet... racers get stuck behind a crash and are pulled out of contention

by his own design Dean decided to fight hard in the beginning and it paid off

Dean placed first in the kids's race at The Cranky Monkey
except... this race was a NINE AND UNDER rather than a TEN AND UNDER which scored him less series points then expected
this little glitch is starting to sound like the Sue Haywood saga that has been told in the Gripped Films mountain bike epic, Off Road to Athens


the day was mellow...
the boys played with friends on the block then when the afternoon came I loaded up the car with bicycles for the boys
along with bikes we packed a cooler full of food and drinks for a post race picnic

it was moderately comical
even with the full day to prepare we still managed to get out the door in a bit of a scramble

the route to Wakefield was filled with the usual traffic which brought about the requisite
instead of getting their crazy early... we would be getting their with just enough time for registration and racing

which would be fine...
these are kids
and these kids much like their father are not about warm up these kids are about racing

we arrived and parked our car on the gravel road and got ready for the race
Grant had fallen asleep on the drive up and I allowed him a few more minutes to recharge his batteries as I acted as team manager and registered the boys and put numbers on their bikes
to my surprise Grant woke up without issue
usually when brought out of hibernation Grant can be quite a bear

to my pleasure and all those around us... Grant woke inspired to race... still holding that notion that he was going to race to win

with plenty of time before the race the boys gathered with the other racers in the shade for a pre-race meeting

there was discussion about obstacles and changes in the course

the words fell on deaf ears

focus was not there and the description was mildly abstract

to the kid's credit... I seldom understand where on the course the race director is describing
that reroute around a fallen log or the enraged hornets nest
instead of getting confused I usually accept that I will deal with things when I approach them during the race

once the racers started lining up I gave the boys each some words of encouragement and offered up a final swig of water

Grant refused the water... I recommended swooshing some water around his mouth and then
spitting it out
reminding him that he will not have water on the course

both boys followed my instruction

then I was down the path and into the woods with the camera

as I rode the starting section of single track I was shocked how eroded things had become from the recent su
mmer rains so much dirt had drifted away that things were far more bumpy and technical then they had been the weeks prior during the Wednesday at Wakefield races
I worried about my boys and the challenges that the course would present them

in the woods I tried to decide what would be a good spot for a photograph and for some cheering
I was poised and ready
a stream of cyclists passed.... adult beginners... then juniors... and finally the 10 and Under Category
one diminutive body... then another

my older son Dean was the second 10 and Under to come through

I snapped a few shots as he blurred past

a short amount of time passed along with a number of riders then came through six year old Grant

he was rolling pretty good
I went to snap some photos and was hit in the head with the classic rookie photo mistake


oh my goodness

how could I grab a full CF Card when I have multiple empty ones?

I cheered for my young son then went to find another spot on the course to watch
at the creek crossing I waited

it was a good amount of time before any of the racers came through

as I waited for my boys I caught up with local speedy single speeder Jason Buckley

we talked about the Cranky Monkey race at Schaeffer Farms a few days prior

both of us being entirely impressed by 15 year old Dylan crushing the Single Speeders
standing tall on the podium in a category that was chock full of talent

finally the cyclists came filing through

a wide variety of racers passed... again... Beginners... Juniors... then 10 and Under

I cheered for everyone trying to help the push to the finish

when Dean came through I cheered and snapped some photos
after deleting some photos on the card
down the hill... then through the creek... only to somehow topple over off the bike into some pricker bushes

ah... that little trooper
back on the bike and finishing the race before trying to tend to his thorn crusted leg

then again... the passage of time

anxiety filled me as my mind played tricks on me
where was Grant? why is he so far behind?

oh yea... he is only six years old

just as I had waited anxiously for Dean hoping that he was having a good time on the bike and steering clear of danger I waited for Grant

the passage of time increased the anxiety

then I saw him
le lanturn rouge
six year old grant was rolling at his six year old pace
handling the bike quite well but not trying anything that he thought he could not make

at the creek crossing he dismounted and walked his bike up the little hill

a little hill for adults... an actual climb for someone standing three and a half feet tall

I gave Grant a push and cheered him on
letting him know that the finish was just ahead

at the finish I met up with my boys

there helmets were off and they were looking flush

flush and smiling... flush and smiling with some very kind race volunteers removing the thorns from Dean's calf
thanks Jo and Heather

there was a glow about my young boys that I fully understood

a look that read... that was great... we need to do that again some time soon

Grant came over and gave me a strong long hug
Dean came over and we exchanged high fives

Dean gave me a blog worth account of his race
telling me that he thought that he could have done better had it not been for a crash in front of him
that let the race leader slip away

Dean estimated that he got stuck behind a fallen racer for thirty seconds
the racer did not allow him to pass and was not able to pass him until later in the race

Grant had fewer words
which was fine

I was proud of my boys' efforts
it made me happy to see them so invigorated by their time on the bike

we went back to the car and got our cooler

as we waited for the results to be figured we ate ice cold water melon and drank ice cold lemonade

it felt like summer


after reviving ourselves with the flavors of summer Grant spoke out asking for a piece of that giant sub

so I pulled out the sandwich I brought along

it hit the spot

food tastes better when you are hungry
and my boys had built up a serious hunger

the young winners were called to the podium
Dean stood sheepishly on the number two spot and was awarded a medal for second place
there was no acknowledgment for the youngest racers in the group

Grant was excited to see the new medal that had some spinning action
on the drive home Grant played with Dean's medal
I instructed Grant not to break it as he swung it around and spun it fast
as we pulled into the alley behind the house to unload the bikes it happened
Grant broke Dean's medal
luckily for Grant Dean was more excited about earning the medal than the medal itself
my older brother Marc would have slugged me

each of the boys asked when the next race would be... I told them October 16th
I guess we will have to just go ride our bikes until then
and then maybe some lil' Belgians racing at some cyclocross events!

Trails for Youth (formerly... Trips for Kids)
article about the Trials for Youth program in Spokes magazine by Pat Childers

in this current issue

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