Youths on Wheels

Area youngsters are an active part of local racing series

Steamboat Springs -- Danny Martinson had heard the term "whoop-de-doo" from his dad, Steve Martinson of Craig, when he described mountain bike courses. On Wednesday at the Lamb Chop Cross Country race on Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, the younger Martinson learned first hand what a whoop-de-doo feels like.

"Today we had this part of the course that was a downhill, and then it went right back up," he said, showing the course with his hand. "The downhill was so fast you didn't have to pedal to get to the top. That was the biggest whoop-de-doo ever."

Martinson finished 11th in the kids 10 to 12 division.

Town Challenge race director Gretchen Sehler is happy to offer competitions with lots of whoop-de-doos for the younger racers from Steamboat Springs and outside the city limits. On Wednesday, 35 youth 15 or younger took part in the Lamb Chop, and perhaps the greatest form of sportsmanship was in the 10 to 12 division when Brett Gordon, 10, gave up his first-place finish because he didn't think he deserved to win.

Toward the end of the race, Sean Geisler, 11, was forced to come to a stop to avoid an adult on the course. Gordon then took the lead but told Sehler that Geisler would have won had he been allowed to finish cleanly.

Geisler, who finished in 4:30, thought Gordon's decision to take second was pretty cool. Gordon finished in 4:31. Tucker Olson, 9, wound up in third in 4:46 after he fell on a rock.

"It felt shorter," Gordon said of the 1.5-mile course. "We went through it so fast."

Not to be outdone, the riders in the 13 to 15 division scorched through their 4.33-mile course.

Competing for the Winter Sports Club team in green Moots tops and shorts, Wiley Thayer, 14, won in 20:54. Bryce Gordon, 13, was second in 20:55. Brett Denney, 14, was third in 21:38. Under coach Tom Davis, the Winter Sports Club team is getting mountain biking guidance and quality dry-land training this summer.

"We're riding about four days a week," Thayer, an alpine skier, said. "One day we have Pilates, yoga or a tuning clinic."

While the 13 to 15 race distance was increased for the Lamb Chop, Emily Keiss of Craig has adjusted all year to longer races. Keiss moved up to the 16 to 18 division this year, which races with the novice women. Keiss is the only racer in the 16 to 18 girls division, but she has competition by competing with the older riders. At the Lamb Chop, Emily and her mom, Mary Ann, were inches apart at the finish. The mother and daughter finished with the same time, but Mary Ann was credited with an inch lead at the finish.

Other Craig finishers were: Steve Martinson, third in men's expert 40+, Katherine Keiss, eighth in kids 10 to 12 and Chris Keiss was eighth in men's sport 40 to 49.

The next race in the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series is the Mount Werner Sunshine Loop on July 21.

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