Juniors show true reason for racing | VailDaily.com

Juniors show true reason for racing

Ryan Slabaugh

Others were left smiling.

One was 7-year-old Kelly Cassidy, who usually races her younger brother Jack instead of the large, mostly adult field. Cassidy, of Eagle, was the only junior girl to race – so she won before she started –but she finished with nothing but good things to say. They have the same bike, Cassidy said, and her favorite part?

“Going downhill,” she said, smiling still.

But age doesn’t change that rush of turning the corner on the top of the single-track at the Eagle Classic course. Afterward, a rider can fly down the steep course, collecting dust between their teeth and strands of hair. Dillon resident David Harnig raced in the adult beginner division, but his favorite part echoes Cassidy’s.

“Downhills are good, uphills suck,” Harnig said. “I did better than last year. It’s a lot easier.”

Whatever the age or division, it seemed the downhill near the finish was more than a sigh of relief. It boosted 11-year-old Griffin Turnipseed, who won the 12-and-under junior division in a dead sprint to the finish.

His favorite part, a reminder to those cussing after slipping out of their pedals, is simple.

“Riding is fun, but just hanging out with my friends after the race is my favorite part,” said Turnipseed, of Eagle.

And hang they did. The group of junior riders circled just long enough at the end of the race to tell war stories before parents crept in, offering rides to the baseball game that followed.

Christopher Brubeck, also an 11-year-old from Eagle, pitches and plays shortstop for the Cubs, his Little League team. It’s natural for him to ride a bike race and then take to the mound. He’d rather race, he said, and explains his reason like a wiley veteran.

“The joy of it, really,” Brubeck said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Apparently, youth doesn’t protect from nerves, either. Aaron Kerst, another 11-year-old, described what it’s like to wait moments away from the starting gun.

“Butterflies are in your stomach,” Kerst said. “You think it’s going to be hard and when you come out on top, you feel good.”

The positive vibrations could be felt all the way through the field. Women’s sport competitors Diana McSpadden of Red Cliff and Avon’s Hazel Hoff (she insists on being called “David” Hazel Hoff), never raced bikes when they were kids. It wasn’t ladylike, they said.

“That’s probably why I like to do it so much now,” McSpadden said. “It was never something we could do as girls.”

Tell that to Cassidy and the rest of the junior division. Win or not, they bragged about the dust clouds and sprint to the finish and congratulated, like true sportsmen, the winner.

But it was never about winning in the first place.

“I try harder because I want to win,” said Cody Coulter, one more 11-year-old. “But I’d much rather ride with my friends. It’s a little bit better.”

The series moves to the third event in West Vail June 19 for the Davos Dash. The race starts at 5:30 p.m.

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