Growing Up at the Races: The Grand Junction Off-Road
Since little P was born (well since I was pregnant), I’ve only done a handful of mountain bike races. This has had to do with time, money, energy, fitness, etc. Now that he’s getting a little older and more independent, I’m getting to spend more time on the mountain bike again. Last weekend I even got to race!
For our five year wedding anniversary, we decided to do the Grand Junction Off-Road, hyped as “the most technical cross country race in the world.” The race is put on by Epic Rides, a really stellar race promoter out of Tucson. We did all the Epic Rides races when we lived in Arizona, and were excited to go to one of their races close-ish to us now. My parents came along to watch P while we rode.
One of the greatest parts of the weekend, other than getting to race my bike, was watching P get exposed to the world of mountain bike racing. He got to watch the pro races on Friday and Sunday, cheered on mom and dad in our race, and even got to participate in a kiddy race on Sunday morning!
We had been hyping up his “race” for weeks, and he was really excited to do it. The morning of he got to decorate his number plate and put it on his bike. He was riding around camp pumping himself up for a good half hour before we even left. It was really precious. When we got to the start line they had the bigger kids line up for the 4-mile race; and the little ones on balance bikes started after them for a short “race” thru the venue. Little P rode up to the start line, got confused, and tried to start the race ahead of time. One of the race organizers had to pick him up and put him back on the line. The look of confusion and embarrassment on his face broke my heart. He stood at the start line with his bottom lip trembling. When it was finally time to go, he was fighting back tears and was at the very back with his Papa. By the second half, he was moving faster and was no longer last and was pretty excited to get his post-ride medal and snacks. Even though it wasn’t entirely successful, I think it was a good experience for him nonetheless.
After his race, we headed out to the Lunch Loop trail system to watch the Pro race. At the trailhead, there’s a great pump track and P spent quite a bit of time riding it. (He also got to ride it on Friday when we did our pre-ride of the race course). There were other kids out there riding as well, which I loved seeing since often at home P is the only one.
We then hiked up the trail a ways until we got to an exciting technical section of trail where we could watch the Pros come thru. P ran his way up the singletrack, with a cowbell ringing in his hand. He rang his bell, clapped his hands, and cheered “Go buddy” for the racers. Afterward he told me: “Those guys were awesome!”
For anyone looking for a fun race, and who wants to bring their kids along, I would highly recommend the Grand Junction Off Road. There were lots of families—Pro winner Alex Grant even brought his new baby up on the podium with him. I think it’s a great environment for kids to grow up in. Here’s to hoping we get to more events in the near future!