Special K

Local family makes mountain bike racing their summer family time

David Pressgrove

On the average of once a week in the summer, the Keiss family packs up their truck for a family outing.

No picnic baskets, tents or fishing poles make the trip though, just six family members and six mountain bikes.

“Instead of separating and doing all of the different sports, it gives us a chance to compete together,” said Mary Ann Keiss. “It is our family time in the summer.”

The family of father, Chris, mother, Mary Ann, Emily, David, and Katharine make up the five-member team competing in the Steamboat Springs Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series. Next year, younger brother Andy may also join the team known as “Screaming K.”

“Really we came up with the name because it was what we were originally going to call our ranch,” Chris said. “With four kids, it gets a little loud sometimes.”

The Screaming K team is one of three competing for the group title in the series. With the Keiss crew in second, they have proven to be the other meaning of “Screaming K.”

“We also thought the name sounded fast,” Chris said.

Going into the final race of the season Friday, the family is 53 points back of Team Fairview. With 100 points possible for each race (five members with 20 points for first place), it is still possible for the family that lives near Elkhead Reservoir to win. But realistically, they’ve wrapped up second place in front of Chris’ old team, the Mo Phat Racers.

“We got the idea of having a team from my riding on Mo Phat,” he said. “We thought if we only needed five riders, we were one away last year.”

Katharine had raced in a couple of the competitions last year and once she joined the season full time this season, the family had its own team.

“I’ve gotten a lot of seconds,” Katharine said. “So that helps my team.”

Actually the children are carrying the team in the point standings. Emily leads the youth girls 13-15 division with six first-place finishes. David is holding on to a one-point lead in the kids 10-12 division and he has either finished first or second in each race. Katharine sits in second in the 9&U division with six finishes that earned double-digit points.

On the parent’s side, Mary Ann is in third place in the women’s novice 40+ division and Chris is in fifth in the men’s 40+ sport.

“There has been talk how dad is the anchor on the ship,” Chris said.

“Maybe if dad moved down a division we could win,” David said with a smile. “But (mom and dad) are in tougher divisions than us.”

To train for the races, David and Emily, who are home schooled, incorporate biking into their P.E. time.

“We’re pretty competitive when we ride,” Emily said. “Some hills he beats me to the top and I win on others.”

The family also keeps each other in check if they’ve been training.

“Dad holds us all accountable,” Mary Ann said. “There’s always a friendly reminder of ‘have you ridden this week?'”

The racecourse always is prepared Sunday for the following week and the family loads up their bikes and rides the course after church. Then the following race day they do the same.

“It’s fun to kill yourself on the race course and then get to go to the party afterward,” David said. “I also like the prizes.”

The suggestion card for next season had just arrived in the mail at the Keiss household Wednesday and they were trying to decide what to fill out.

“We’ve petitioned them for a family rate,” Keiss said. “It’s expensive for all of us to join maybe that’s what we should suggest.”

Regardless of a family rate deal or not, they’ll be back next season with a new member in Andy and the other three siblings moving up an age group.

“Emily will be racing the same courses as I do next year,” Mary Ann said. “Maybe it gives me a reason to retire.”

Dad was also leery of the younger generation catching up.

“Pretty soon, the kids will be beating me,” Chris said. “But I hope to do this until I’m 95.”

David again smiled and said, “then I’ll definitely be beating you.”

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