EAGLE – Rita Gutierrez, 16, has found her sport for life.
She was introduced to mountain biking through the Youth Foundation when she was in eighth grade and said being on the trails is her passion now.
“I’m hoping mountain biking takes me to college,” she said. “They have scholarships for it.”
She’ll be competing in the state championships in Eagle in October, but before she does, she’s looking forward to getting a competitive rehearsal on the course at Saturday’s Haymaker Colorado Youth Mountain Bike Race, put on by The Cycle Effect.
“It will be like a sneak preview of the state championships” she said. “I’m really excited.”
For Brett Donelson, of The Cycle Effect, seeing young female riders like Gutierrez on a bike and excited about riding in Eagle is an affirmation that the organization’s intentions are well placed.
“Our main goal is to get high school girls on a bike who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so,” said Donelson. “There’s a lot of reasons why kids can’t do it, and we’re trying to fight those barriers to get kids on bikes.”
The Cycle Effect recently changed its headquarters to Eagle as a result of Eagle’s efforts to see through their recently adopted Trails Master Plan.
With the Colorado High School Cycling League State Championships coming to Eagle the weekend of Oct. 19-20, the Haymaker race, which takes place on the same course this Saturday, will give the town of Eagle and race organizers a chance to experience what the course may feel like come race day, with the venue packed full of people.
For Saturday’s Haymaker race, high school girls and boys races are capped out at 100 people, but Donelson says one of his goals with the event is to have a category for all kids.
“I wanted to start a race that every kid who owns a bike can show up to and have a category for them,” Donelson said. “I think a lot of races always seem to exclude one category — the course is too easy, the course is too hard, the kids just ride on a dirt road because that’s all that’s available at the adult race, whatever. We wanted to flip that on its head and say, ‘Let’s make a kids’ race and if the adults get to race, great.’ ... We will have an adult race at night but that’s really the afterthought of a kid-only race.”
Despite the buzz surrounding the course for this year’s state championship, The Cycle Effect aims to make the Haymaker race an annual event.
“We want this to be a fall classic, festival-type atmosphere, so we’re going to have a band there (Turntable Review). We’ll have fire pits out there to do s’mores for the kids,” he said.
The Haymaker course, also known as the Haymeadow course, is on the eastern edge of Eagle, adjacent to the Town Ice Rink and Pool complex. Strider rides and races start at 1 p.m. with the youth beginner category. High school girls are scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m. and high school boys at 5 p.m. The adult night race is also capped at 100 people and is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and firstname.lastname@example.org