Siblings race at states

Emily and David Keiss recently competed at mountain bike championships

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While all the fall sports teams at Moffat County High School compete to make it into the postseason, there already has been one state champion crowned from Craig.

Seventeen-year-old Emily Keiss won the 14-18 division of the Colorado High School State Mountain Bike Championships on Sept. 24 in Colorado Springs.

"It's was my third year to race in the championships," Keiss said. "This was my first to win."

David, Emily's 14-year-old brother, also raced for a title. He finished 23rd in the boys 14-18 division.

"The trails are a lot different than what we're used to racing," David said. "They're really sandy."

David and Emily, along with their siblings (Katherine, 11, Andrew 7) and parents (Chris and Mary Ann) race during the summer in Steamboat Springs Town Challenge races.

The trails around Steamboat tend to be on harder packed soil with longer and steeper climbs than the course at Black Forest Camp and Conference Center at the base of Pikes Peak.

They joined seven youths from the Routt County Riders Team at the championships.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cycling team director Tom Davis said getting the local riders to Colorado Springs was a cooperative effort between Routt County Riders and the Winter Sports Club's cycling program.

It was a sight that would have put a smile on the face of longtime mountain bike supporter Larry Johnson. A fund set up in memory of Johnson, who died February at age 60, helped pay the expenses of the nine area riders who took part in the sixth annual high school and middle school championships, an event Johnson encouraged young riders to attend.

The races are limited to high school and middle school athletes in Colorado. This year, the event drew more than 50 top riders from across the state.

At the state championships, the high school boys' and girls' courses are the same distance, and there is still a debate about who was the fastest.

"Dad timed us and said I finished 10 minutes faster," David said. "I finished a lot closer to you than that," Emily responded.

The siblings have plenty of time to be competitive. They are home-schooled, and they use their physical education time to train on the roads around their house by Elkhead Reservoir.

This summer, their training paid off, because they both helped make the Town Challenge entry fees for next year more affordable for the family by winning their divisions. The division winners get a free season the next summer, and David was the top points earner in the 13 to 15 boys division, as was Emily in the 19 to 29 women's sport division.

Both riders plan to return next year, and they will be moving up in the Town Challenge to greater competition, as well.

They also competed in several National Off Road Biking Association races during the summer and plan to continue those races.

"It's fun to travel because we make it a family campout," David said. "Next year, the entire family will be racing in the Town Challenge again."

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