CAMP HALE — The story of Wednesday’s mountain bike race begins more than two decades ago, in South America.
Racing there on the Colombian pro road team was Vail Valley resident Chris Doyle and his best friend, Carlos Ravelo. Carlos’ wife, Alexandra, was pregnant with their first child. She liked her husband’s friend’s name, Chris, and decided to name their son Cristhian after the bike racer.
Flash forward to Wednesday at Camp Hale, 21-year-old Cristhian Ravelo defeats Chris Doyle, now in his 40s, to earn his first ever win as a pro mountain biker.
Actually, Doyle was one of the easier pros for Ravelo to take down en route to victory. Pro bikers Jay Henry, Jake Wells and Josiah Middaugh also stood in his way. It looked like a down-to-the-wire finish, with Ravelo passing Henry right at the end of the 23-mile race, but, said Henry of Ravelo, “He waited for me a couple of times so I didn’t have to ride the flats by myself ... I think he was just respecting his elders.”
The Ravelo clan — Carlos and Alexandra, along with their other son, 10-year-old Kevin — all gathered in the finish area to cheer on Cristhian.
“It was weird to see my son race for the first time with Chris Doyle,” said Alexandra Ravelo. “I’ve known Chris since before I was pregnant with Cristhian, and now they are racing together.”
For Doyle, it was his first Vail town series mountain bike race in 15 years.
“I just started riding again for health reasons, wanted to lose a little weight,” said Doyle. “I kept comparing myself to where I was when I was a pro, in my twenties, and I wasn’t really satisfied where I was. So, little by little I’ve been trying to get it back.”
Ravelo said he decided recently to focus on mountain biking more and make the jump into the pro division.
“This year, I decided to take cycling more seriously, so I stopped skiing and focused on cycling,” he said. “It’s working out so far.”
Doyle and Carlos Ravelo didn’t represent the only piece of history at the Camp Hale Hup, the third of seven races in the Vail Recreation District Mountain Bike Race Series.
Camp Hale itself provided a historical venue which brought out many first timers including Doyle.
“We had a great turnout,” said Beth Pappas with the Vail Recreation District. “A lot of people who hadn’t done any other races this season.”
Among those were the Hyde family — 9-year-old Whit and 12-year-old Beckett — participating in their first-ever town series mountain bike race, and the Sumans – 7-year-old Beau and 8-year-old Lily – also participating in their first Vail Rec District mountain bike race.
Eagle Valley High School student Isaac Yoder, 16, said the historical aspect to Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division Army “ski troopers” of World War II trained, was part of the reason he so enjoyed the race, which was also his first.
“I’m also on the Nordic team,” he said. “So I think about the soldiers training up here, skiing around and training. I think I would have liked that.”
The next race in the Vail Recreation District Mountain Bike Race Series will be the Vail Grind on July 9, departing out of the Lionshead area near the bottom of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. For more information, visit vail rec.com.