We dream of the days when our girls mountain bike with us! John and I both have daughters, John 2, me 3. They are all under 3 years (no twins). So we dream ourselves forward to days out of diapers and into family activities, because though Sea World is cool, mountain bike rides take the cake.
The 2009 inaugural Over the Hump season brought out the families, not just the individual tried and true racers.
For some it was about the kids…You may have read the story about the Dulacs (a vision for the future for both John and I).. Samantha (12), Makayla (11), and Danielle (9) all raced in the September 15th race, with their parents Dan and Diane and were covered in David Whiting’s column OC Outdoors on September 21.
Whiting quoted mom, Diane, “After the first time around, I was ready to call it a day. But we still had another lap and Danielle just kept going.” Diane’s husband Dan, said, “My only goal was to watch my daughter and complete the race”. And all 5 Dulacs completed the race…together.
For some it was about the parents…A rider posted on STR (socaltrailriders.org) “My wife and kids also came out. My 5-year-old girl had a total blast…just spectating… she was so wound up by the energy of the race she took forever going to sleep (not so much for the two-year-old and one-year-old who were ready to crash at the race…). Although I was one of the slower riders in my class,(S2) it was awesome to hear my 5-year-old yelling for me each time I passed.”
Experienced riders/racers enjoyed the mix of race and family, too. Ross Bennett, a dad who has ridden several of the Warrior’s Society’s Vision Quest and Counting Coupe races, rode with his son, Ben. For them it was a perfect blend of competition and father son camaraderie.
“I enjoyed riding OTH with Ben because it was the first time I followed his lead, yet helped him navigate the obstacles and other racers,” commented Ross.
Ben enjoyed the mid-week, close to home venue, which made it more fun to race. “I liked riding with my dad because he could coach and encourage me.”
Unlike other races, OTH beginning racers share the course with Professional riders on the 4 mile short course. Ben “loved watching the pros blow by…” Ben, among many other racers have found the pros and experts participation really encouraged and inspired them to ride harder.
One dad, a first time racer, saddled up with his son, while mom and other kids came out to cheer.. Matt Morse, a coach and operations director Southern California Seahorses Soccer and director of a soccer club in Orange County, brought his family out to the race. Matt and his son, Josh (14), were among many father/son or daughter teams that strapped on a number plate.
Racing the first OTH race on his birthday, August 26 Matt tells his story, “I am 37 years old and I have wanted to do a MTB race since I was about 16 years old. I have always been involved in mountain biking but my soccer “career” – playing and coaching – has always taken precedence over racing…it’s just been too far out of reach, either too much travel, too much money, or too nervous to take that step.”
“ Arriving in the parking lot at about 4:15pm I got nervous. There were a lot of expensive bikes and people working on their bikes…guys who knew each other in the parking lot. I was sure I would be out of place, not have the right equipment, etc. A friend helped a lot with my nerves, he was able to encourage me and put me at ease. It also helped a lot to have my son, Josh, there with me to share in the experience. I was able to take it all in, enjoy the people, check out their bikes and get ready for race time. Josh and I, along with my other son, Ben-11, pre-rode the course. I am so glad we did, it really prepared me for what to expect. It was a lot longer than I thought at first ride, but by the time I finished the loop I felt really good about doing it two more times in the beginner’s bracket.
“The second time through I actually went over the handlebars trying to avoid a person in front of me on the last single track section with the short downhill. I am so glad I crashed because I shook off all the jitters and I didn’t have to worry any more about crashing. “
“It was humbling to be coming down the first section…having the expert guys already lapping me! I started towards the back of the beginner group because I didn’t know what to expect. I realized that not too many beginners passed me, but a lot of the sport and experts did. Having them on the same course was definitely encouraging me to ride harder and give more of myself.
“(Josh) was excited about the race and probably as nervous as I was. He had a great time and I was so proud of him and his endurance to finish strong. Biking is something we have been able to do together and I am sure that since this race we will be doing it more often together.
Matt and Josh’s family are their greatest fans. They had their cow bell out and cheered. Josh says he will be back, “this was my first (mountain bike race) so it made me want to do more, especially when I heard that I got fourth in my level!”
Even if two wheels and pedals isn’t your ideal day around Irvine Lake, mom, Di Morse is a big fan of the whole family coming out to see the action, “It was awesome to see so many riders. We had no idea what to expect … there was a feeling of excitement and anticipation being part of something like this. Watching the race from under the trees was perfect-we had a great view of the start and could see the riders go through the various parts of the course. We brought our chairs, snacks, and our dog, and made ourselves comfortable.
“We kept our eyes on the pros, watching them set the pace and seeing how fast they went by-that was fun. The length of the race was perfect-not too long and not too short, so we watched Matt or Josh go by every few minutes…it was really exciting.”
With another season approaching, we are excited that Over the Hump brings families together, and gives all levels of racers a new and great experience.