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There was a mountain bike race out at Landahl this past Sunday; “Truman’s Big Love” which would have been the championship race out of the Heartland series if over half of the rest of the scheduled races this season hadn’t gotten rained out. As we have finally had a good stretch of dry weather and yesterday’s weather in particular was so ideal, there was a big turnout. Everyone seemed to be in pretty high spirits. I had a load of fun in the Beginner Women’s class. We’re all just out there for a good time, I think. I got my butt handed to me by a bunch of kids…the first and second place were taken by a pair of 17-year-olds and #3 is just shy of 13! She and another girl her age who was racing in the Juniors division were representing themselves darn well. I passed and was passed by both of them a few times. I had more out-and-out power and speed, but those kids were decidedly better technical riders than I am!

A funny thing happened during the Beginner Women’s race…the other rider who was near my age, a Wendy Davis from St. Louis was coming up behind me…I heard her coming and looked over my shoulder. She looked up at me (she was downhill from where I was). As our glances met, we simultaneously fell completely over. Just. Plain. Splat! It was absolutely the darndest thing. I couldn’t help laughing over the utter ridiculousness of it. Neither of us was hurt so of course it was funny.

The highlight of the day, though, was watching the kids’ race. Little kids are such a freakin’ hoot, especially the youngest group, the under-7s. There were two particular little girls in that group who were just too fun. They were both 5 and both had wrecked on the back section of their course and were very proud of themselves for not being babies about falling. The one girl held up her muddy and scraped arm and proudly announced, “I have damage!” The other girl had lost her footing while pushing her bike over something she couldn’t pedal over and had literally slid face first into the dirt. She was filthy from the chin to the ankles, with a considerable concentration of mud all along her left side. “It was like sliding on a snowboard on my belly, but in the mud,” she exclaimed. “It was pretty comfortable” she added. This same child had slid off the seat of her bike at the end of the race, dramatically wiped her forehead with her hand and said, “Whew! That was REALLY hard!”

The next group of kids took off: they were between 7 and 10. It was two little boys on 24″-wheeled geared mountain bikes and a little girl on a Disney Princess 20″ She was decidedly outclassed in the bike department, but she gamely put in her 4 laps. The two little girls who had been showing off their “damage” were loudly cheering on the older girl; sisterhood solidarity! One of them remarked on the older girl’s bike having only one gear, like their own. I commented that this meant they were singlespeeders, as was I. The muddy girl exclaimed, “I like being a singlespeeder!” I couldn’t help cracking up. I hope those kids can keep up the good attitude and a bit of that childish fearlessness. Riding mountain bikes is much harder if you’re a chicken like I am. I think kids like that who get an earlier start will probably have a lot more unfettered fun out on the trails.

The last group of the kids were 10-12; there were three of them, all of whom had ridden in the Beginners or Juniors’ division earlier. This time the balance was two girls to one boy and the girl who won came close to lapping the other two; she was the same girl who took third place in the Beginner’s Women’s category. Once again, the little girls were rooting for the older girls to kick butt.

When Audrey and I were kids, there was a woman who raced at the local stock car track. We’d always cheer for her at the races, and as she became a more confident racer (and built up a better car) she started winning fairly often. We were just thrilled to see another “girl” kicking butt. I think that’s what the little girls were getting out of cheering on the older girls out there.

There really does seem to be a pretty good camaraderie amongst the mountain bikers as a group and among the women in particular. So far the beginner groups have always been really fun, and the other women I know who are much better and more experienced riders are friendly. There are monthly all-women rides in the area parks, though via one thing and another, I have invariably missed out on those meet-ups. It does tend to be a shared experience and interest that creates a pleasant informal common bond.

2 Responses to “Big girls, little girls, and their mountain bikes”

  1. wendy says:

    Michelle, it was great to meet you and make your blog. But couldnt we have keep the incident between us???LOL Good luck riding this summer and I hope our paths cross again


  2. meetzorp says:

    Awww…c’mon! What’s the fun of doing dumb things if you can’t write ’em up and share your humiliation with the world?

    I reckon we’ll meet again…there’s lots of riding to be done in the region and I expect we’ll both be doing some of it.

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