By David O. Williams
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- Masters Gallery and Artist Carrie Fell team up to teach Vail preschoolers to paint outside the lines
- Vail Rec District offers pre-schoolers everything from story hour to ice skating
- Youth figure skating, Ice Hockey program registration available for second fall sessions
- Vail Oktoberfest Fun Run offers 10K, 5K and 1K for runners of all ages
- Registration under way for slew of Vail Rec District skating programs at Dobson
- Vail Rec District launches registration for popular KidZone after-school program
- Vail Rec District Youth Sports Camps rev back up in August
- Vail Recreation District fall youth soccer registration under way until Aug. 8
- Raptor Education Foundation soars into Vail's Lionshead area every Friday in July
- All Real Kids Articles
June 1, 2008 — My ignominious career as a mountain bike racer ended with a whimper more than a decade ago when I came to the stark realization that full suspension was not in my near future.
A tennis-shoe racer who never quite graduated to clip-ins, I just couldn’t justify paying more for my bike than my car. But guys I was burying on the climbs in the local race series were giving me dust facials on the descents.
It was either upgrade or go home. So I ditched my old Nishiki Cascade at a garage sale and got on with the business of getting married and having kids – activities I realize do not exclude mountain biking racing but certainly curtail it as even a recreational option.
For more information on where to ride in the Vail Valley, go to our complete resort guide on mountain biking at www.realvail.com/ResortGuides.
I never graduated from Beginner to Sport class, nor do I consider that an especially glaring gap in my athletic resume.
My summers started filling up with more kid-friendly pursuits like running (jogger strollers are comparatively cheap), hiking (baby backpacks are the bomb) and water sports (teaching kids comfort in a liquid environment is tough but mandatory in the mountains).
As my mountain biking days faded into the rearview of life, the sport itself seemed to lose its luster. The glory days of 20,000 spectators watching the cross-country race at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Vail in 1994 gave way to the gradual fragmentation of the sport into a variety of different disciplines and circuits.
But it’s funny how life comes full circle. In March of 2007 while taking my then 6-year-old son Nick out for a spin on skate skis at the Vail Nordic Center, I ran into the co-owner and manager, Mia Stockdale, who I’d covered during her professional mountain biking days when I was a cub sports reporter for the Vail Daily.
She told me about her summer gig running the Vail Mountain Bike Camps, which has a kid’s program starting at age 7. Nick is a darn good alpine skier, fearless but with a proper amount of respect for the twin bugaboos of speed and gravity.
The same could be said of his prowess at the time – or lack thereof – in wheeled sports (Heelys, skateboarding, cycling). I told Mia we’d see how the cycling season progressed and get back to her come summertime.
Spring morphed into summer and Nick finally did cast off the training wheels on his little fixed-gear stunt jumper, but he was far from a confident biker when the first camp kicked off June 12 of last year. So we held off.
Then a friend of Nick’s held his seventh birthday party at the new Eagle Bike Skills Park in Eagle, designed by former pro rider John Bailey, who also designed the mountain bike course for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Nick struggled mightily and valiantly on his substandard ride, winning “Most Spirited Rider” honors, but it was apparent he needed to upgrade or go home. His interest in the sport now keenly kindled by seeing his well-equipped buddies in action, Nick’s clearly gear-negligent parents needed to pick up the pace.
So he got a new ride and registered in one of Stockdale’s kid’s camps – staffed by Vail sports luminaries such as current pro rider Jay Henry and mountain bike racer and mountaineer Ellen Miller, the only North American woman to climb Mount Everest from both sides.
Why not start at the top in terms of instruction? And who knows, with our move back into Vail last summer from the suburbs of Edwards, maybe my wife and I will get the mountain-bike bug again.
Nick is signed up for his second Vail Mountain Bike Camps session this June, after having the time of his life last summer, and Kristin and I have been eyeing new bikes and a trailer to haul around our youngest son, Rennick. Even 4-year-old Max has a new bike.
Now it’s time to quit talking and just get out there.
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