The Lil Belgians at DCCX 2010



the lil' Belgians
an interesting sidebar at the cyclocross races

within my list of tasks in hosting DCMTB's DCCX it is my duty to design the lil' Belgian's course
and to act as the unofficial official for the lil' Belgian's race itself

it is funny... I take this pretty serious
when designing the course it is stressful trying to design a course that will be both challenging and fun for the children
even though the "lil belgian's is really a "toy" version of the cyclocross race
I still find it important that it is fun for the children
fun and challenging

this year we moved the lil' belgian's race course site on the Armed Forces Retirement Home grounds
although I appreciated that the new location was more centrally located
I was anxious if the course itself was going to work
the space that I was given seemed small
small without very many features
not many features other than a slight hill then some flat

working with a few other DCMTB members we designed what was a pretty basic oval
it was a bit lack luster... an oval?
it worried me that it was too small and too boring
it also worried me that the uphill section would zap the fun out of the course

as with years prior I opted to use the barriers for the up hill section
thinking that most of the kids would have to walk the climb
it made sense to force the dismount on the hill

sure... it bothers me to make 30 pound kids life 30 pound bikes
but... to simulate the cross experience we have mini barriers for the mini cross racers
it was set up... a small multi-lap course that involved barriers

well... after setting up the course and putting up some tape I decided to expand the course
there was a serious stake shortage
we were able to scavenge a few stakes and tack on a little out and back lollipop
that minor edit really brought the course to a more interesting level

this extended the downhill... added a technical 180 degree turn
extended the straight away
and made the course larger as a whole

A much needed improvement

sure... the lap would be short
there would be lapped racers
but multi-lap is the cyclocross way
passing is part of the game


no.... no pulling of lapped racers in the DCCX Lil Belgian race
even if I did witness a mishap where a parent helping his child over the barriers
at Ed Sanders stood in front of my son Grant as he tried to get over the barriers
slowing him and aiding Ofori to make the pass on the last and final lap

the day before the race I spoke with my children about the race and the next day as a whole

it was agreed that my older son Dean would bypass the lil' belgian experience and step it up and join in with the older kids and race as a nine year old in the Junior 10-14 event
he had done this at Ed Sanders and enjoyed the challenge... although he feared finishing last... he still wanted to try
while Grant told me that he would not race... not race?

Grant told me that I always make him r
ace... and that I could not make him race... this
is true... I do always make him race
having been through this before I did not try to rationalize him
okay... I gave a few textbook statements about how he always refuses to race... I make him race... then he thanks me for making him race

my effort to rationalize with him only made him more adamant about his stance
it became a waste of energy getting the last word
instead of arguing the day prior
I felt it would be best to wait until not just the day of... but at the race start

it made more sense to argue with Grant right before the race rather than days or hours before the race itself
he would be registered
he would get a number
and if he did not race... well... I would deal with that then
I was confident that he would race instead of caving into his kid version of pre-race anxiety

it was discussed with Lisa that she would bring the boys and I would bring the bikes and helmets for the boys

morning came and I was out of the house while the boys still slept and lisa sipped her coffee and read the paper

I arrived at the AFRH and focused on trying to get my head right to race in the Men's Master B
there had not been much thought of cross since the NCVC Ed Sander's Memorial event at Lily Pons
while other racers ramped up... my riding dropped off

suited up in my White and Red DCMTB Kit... I warmed up by drinking a can of Red Bull... raced finishing in a solid but somewhat frustrating 31st... then into civilian gear

in street clothes I gathered with my family and got the kids on their bikes

Dean was lack luster about the day... perhaps more interested in reading his Harry Potter book than the bike racing around him
Grant was interested in riding the course but made it clear that he had no intention of racing
this pre-race anxiety and race refusal is nothing new
as said I did not want to discuss things with Grant until the race line up
I had anticipated this race refusal

against Grant's wishes I pinned a number and told him that we could discuss things later
we argued as I put the number on his Family Bike Shop GEAR DOWN t-shirt
after pinning the number on I had to peel away from the argument
with camera in hand I took my attention back to the adults racing around the course

time passed and I split my attention between taking photos of racers from various categories and trying to inspire my family to enjoy the day

the boys fought over the skinny tire bike
with less wisdom than King Solomon I tried to get them to stop fighting by yelling for them to stop fighting
then seeing that there was time for Dean to take a lap on the course I separated them

along with all sorts of adults on cyclocross bikes my child took to the course on his entry level children's mountain bike from the 80's
with his knobby 24 inch tires Dean meandered the course
it made me anxious to have the overlap of adult racers and my nine year old son

I tried to coach Dean to switch gears... I gave Dean a demonstration on how to grab his bike low on the frame and lift with his legs
it was clear that this Junior 10-14 race was going to be a challenge for my nine year old son
lucky for me... Dean was up for the challenge

I tried to stay clear of the Lil Belgian's course
the parents were in a frenzy
there was a visible level of anxiety in the parents that things were not ready to go

with thirty minutes before the race start I saw that parents were trying to line their children up in pole position

trying not to rush things I focused on helping Lisa help Dean get fueled up and get to the line

back to the Lil Belgian's I checked the time
other DCMTB-DCCX volunteers gathered to assist

knowing that the parents were anxious we started a few minutes before the 1PM start time
with the large volume of kid racers there was a simple break down... pretty much grouped by age except for the first race

tricycles-push bikes-and training wheels would race first
all the bikes that are powered by over zealous parents would go first
yes... the race to see who can push their child the fastest was about to begin

in an effort to be funny I let the parents know that making their child cry would be immediate disqualification

from there it was 4... then five... then six... and so on
until there was only one nine year old... who raced with the 8 year olds

for me the main event in the lil belgians is the SIX YEAR OLD RACE CLASS
the group that would contain my younger son Grant

before the first race was released I could see my boy waiting on the bike... grouped with the other kids without the guidance of his parents

before I could ask him if he was going to race in a non verbal fashion Grant told me he was going to race

I tried to make it fun by toying with the kids before lining them up
the same jokes for each class
there was Q&A involving questions being answered by a raising of hands
jokes about how many laps... jokes about skipping their group... jokes about kids lying about their ages
the kids were almost as amuses as I was

I tried to meet the desires of the children
when the boys wanted more laps and the girls wanted fewer... I split the classes
usually trying to please the majority
while knowing it is not possible to please everyone

when we got to the six year olds it appeared that we had a pretty big group

I coached the kids not to bump their handlebars into the other kids butts
the use of the word "butt" got laughter from the kids and perhaps disapproval from the parents

at the words GO! there was the release
it may have been a four lap race

much like the lil Belgian race at Ed Sander's that involved my son
it would be a two man race... excuse me... a two boy race
fellow DCMTB team mates son Ofori would be racing against my son Grant
as good as Grant may be... Ofori is better

at the release of the word go the kids were off.... there was some bumping and there was som
e rubbing
no one got tangled so much that there was any crashing or crying

Grant got a good start and took the lead
not sure where it happened but it could have been on the first lap and Ofori made a pass putting Grant in the position of chase

the boys made fast fluid laps
each of them weaving through the clusters of less intense racers

lots of racers were being lapped... but it was no issue
as the official I tried to keep track of the laps of the lead racers
everyone else was on their own



these kids were really racing
hammering at a good pace
pushing their own personal limits

actually racing... not just riding the course

sure enough... at the line it was the Ofori First and Grant Second just as I had predicted
Grant was elated... coming across the line with one hand raised and his mouth wide open both cheering and trying to regain oxygen that he lost on his little race

after the race Ofori and Grant gathered like good little sportsman and posed for a photo with their medals
Grant later told me that he did not feel that all the kids should get medals

I felt some agreement that there could be a 1-2-3rd ribbon to go with the "everybody wins" medal
within this competition is the building of friendship

Grant also thanked me for "making" him race
as expected he had a good time
it appeared to be a rewarding experience

with the six year olds finished
I then moved onto the next two races
Grant disappeared looking for mom and more french fries... I had agreed that he could leave right after his race
while Ofori lined up with the seven year olds and crushed them

finally the 8 year olds
there were no tears and there were enough medals
the Lil Belgians DCCX race in 2010 was done!

all the while I lead the lil Belgian's my older son Dean was out on the main course
during this race a section of my brain was devoted to the activity of my older son
although I could not see him... I knew he was out there
wishing that I could be there to witness his effort
wishing that I could give him the words of encouragement that cross racers need t
o push their personal limits
wishing that I could carry his bike up the barriers and up the stairs for him
but no... Dean would have to do these things without me

there was some thanks and appreciation which is appreciated
so many parents are quick to complain

while other parents were complimentary that this was a good course design and that their children had more fun on this course with its challenges than some of the courses in weeks prior

with the little belgian's done i was back to the course with the camera
snapping shots of adult racers

Bike Swap I hosted at John Eaton

Laird Knight
of Granny Gear Productions liked to host kids races at his 24 hour mountain bike relay races

the standard mountain bike race does not normally lend itself to the family experience
the ultra endurance events that involve camping are more likely to offer something like this

some words on Ed Sanders on GWADZILLA


Unknown said...

nice job!


gwadzilla said...


so many of my efforts are thankless

not sure if I even got one "nice shot" with all the photos I took


that said
I posted more photos of the kids race on the GWADZILLA FACEBOOK page