2016 Vail Lake Challenge: Determination, Fun, Deception

Determination. A broken rear derailleur could just as easily have resulted in a DNF (Did Not Finish), but not for the athlete from San Pasqual High School. I am not sure at what point during the race the mechanical mishap occurred, but I do recall the race announcer, from way over yonder, encouraging him through the start finish area. With, that means, a full lap still to go. Walking, pushing, maybe occasionally running. Why, you ask? For the points; remember high school mountain biking is not just about the individual. Every point for finishing counts in the team competition. If this were PE, that determination would earn him an A+. When I go to a High School mountain bike race and see the numbers of young athletes out there challenging themselves and one another, I see not just a promising future for the sport, but a great future for the communities in which these kids may very well become leaders.

Fun. Yeah, it is to be expected before and after, the down time, hanging out with teammates, friends. But what about during the race? In some ways it is just as obvious. Fun. It is written all over a hundred different faces, a glow in the eyes, a smile that says all you need to know. "She smiles the whole time, like she's having fun!" A group of athletes, finished with their own races, sat on a hillside across the trail. They were joking amongst themselves, cheering everyone who came racing past. Everyone. There could have been any number of racers they were talking about, but in this case the talk of smiling was in reference to the Varsity girls' Division I leader, from Ramona High School. I was curious and checked the photos. Sure enough, that smile seemed to always be there. I have been around racing long enough to know that a smile is not always a smile of fun. IN this case, however, I have absolutely not doubt. It is fun.

Deception. You know, the camera flattens out the landscape. This rise, this final climb of the course is not the gradual incline it appears to be on a computer screen. Very few make it look easy. It is steep, it is rocky, there is a rut running down the middle of the trail, with a steep drop on its narrow side - and yes, at least two riders toppled over and down today. It is the challenge of mountain biking.

These Damien High School races seem to have lunch well in hand.

One hundred twenty one photos have been selected for the Flickr album. Most of those are from the Sophomore races, JV, and Varsity girls. Remember that those photos are only a representative selection, and there are six times as many not in the album, so if you don't see who you were looking for, let me know and I will see what I can find.