Giant grins cover the faces of parents and kids alike as the announcer preps the group for the start of Teva Mountain Games X-Country Mountain Bike Kids Race. The race starts and the kids take-off, smiles morphing into furrowed brows as they grind up the first hill.
This year the Teva Mountain Games offered the Kids Race to those 12 years of age and under. Participants can choose to complete either one or two laps around the course, which started at the base of Golden Peak and went up the mountain, back across to the ski run to the east and followed a steep descent down to the finish line.
The group spreads out, as they make their way up the first hill and across the ski run. “There he is!” a proud parent shouts, squinting into the sunlight. His son seems to be in the lead, high up on the hill and rounding the corner into the descent of the first lap.
Around twenty minutes later the two-lap racers are nearing the finish line. While no results are officially recorded, and everyone is a winner in this event the first competitor zooms under the finish line looking triumphant. He is soon followed by the winning girl, Julia Heid, age 12.
Julia and her two sisters were recently featured in a rock climbing video from Vail Mountain. After talking to her I find out that she was competing in multiple Teva Games events this year including bouldering and the Mud Run, in addition to the X-Country kids race. When asked how she has time for so many sports, Julia shrugged and replied “I don’t know. They are all fun!”A “Strider Rider” talks about his sport pre-race.
The rest of the participants trickle in, finally followed by a few “strider riders”. Everyone looks happy and satisfied with their achievement. At the awards, every participant gets a medal and the chance to stand on the podium. A few of the girls who finished first gather. The announcer suddenly smiles as he looks across the fencing and points to a woman biker in all red, wearing the California Giant Cycling Team gear. “That’s pro rider Meredith Miller, girls,” he says. She leans over her bike to speak to one beaming girl, quietly enough so that no one else can hear what she says.
Perhaps someday, one of these young riders will be standing on a professional podium themselves, their racing careers having started at the Teva Mountain Games at Vail Mountain.