There were plenty of smiling faces on youth participating in the first-ever Angry Hawk Youth-Duro Mountain Bike Race of Bike Cochrane.
Held June 11, 80 youth, ages 4 to 16, took on a course that consisted of four timed downhill stages.
Fifteen-year-old Cochrane local Luc Ducelles had the top time of the day of four minutes, 15 seconds. There was also a short fun bike event for little riders not quite ready for pedals.
Race director Ryan Hopping took a show of hands and says it was the first-ever enduro mountain bike race for most people there.
"With the exception of a few, I'd say for almost all the parents and kids, it was their first time, and at the end, there were huge smiles all around. Everybody was pretty happy."
The most inspiring part of the day was when the older kids finished their race. After a quick break, they returned to the course to help the younger riders up the climbs. Kids as young as 10 years old borrowed tow straps from parents to help tow or push the younger kids back up the hill.
“It was an extremely heart-warming display of how caring the mountain bike community is," says Hopping. "It's grassroots events like these that can plant the seed for cycling in our youth and give them the foundations to grow into competitive racers as they grow up, or just give them a healthy recreational activity they can enjoy for the rest of their lives."
The race wasn't only popular with local youth. It also attracted participants from Canmore, Calgary, Okotoks, and Edmonton.
"It was kind of cool to have people come and experience all the hard work we've put into the trails over the last year and a half."
It takes a large crew to put on an event like this and over 30 people stepped forward to make it possible.
Enduro mountain bike races consist of multiple timed downhill stages with the fastest combined time at the end of the day being the winner. The time spent climbing to the top and between stages is not timed.
With the race behind them, Hopping says the focus will be on further trail development.
"We're going to keep working on building more trails and defining things that we have. Then we may have a few more events in the fall, or at least one more, but we have to get the trail ready for it. I think this event will be a once-annual thing. It was a lot of work to pull it off."
Hopping approached Bike Cochrane with the idea of hosting a kids camp and youth enduro race several years ago, and it became a reality after the nonprofit organization developed the Buffalo Bean trail network.