Juniors: Vets Park CX

 All smiles before the race… before the hail came. (Credit: Julie de Jong)

All smiles before the race… before the hail came. (Credit: Julie de Jong)

Apocalyptic. There's a word that was expressly invented to describe the conditions during the afternoon's racing action of 2018 Vets Park CX. Rain. Wind. Hail. Lightning. You wouldn't send your dog out in weather like that. Yet, pedaling through that hell were seven of our AAVC juniors. Tough as nails. The seven riders of the apocalypse. Every one of them a hero. I am extremely proud of our little racers, as I am sure they are, and their parents are.

 A brief moment of companionship for Charlie, about to be lapped by Ansel. (Credit: Ellie Callison)

A brief moment of companionship for Charlie, about to be lapped by Ansel. (Credit: Ellie Callison)

 I have no idea why these guys are smiling! (Credit: Julie de Jong)

I have no idea why these guys are smiling! (Credit: Julie de Jong)

 Connell on his way to victory. (Credit: Ellie Callison)

Connell on his way to victory. (Credit: Ellie Callison)

Seven riders -- three of us could not start because of all the delays. If you do the math, you'll notice something: we came with 11 and we left with 12. We welcome our newest recruit, Dominic! Never raced before, shows up, and spins himself into third place as if it's easy. Well done and congratulations! First-time racer Charlie ended in fourth, second-time racer Joseph in fifth, and Gus abandoned in his second lap. They were all faster than me, though! Being out there is proof that they already are great!

 First four of the 9-14 junior boys: Connell, Ansel, Dominic, Charlie.  First-time racer Katie was a gold medal winner in the 9-14 junior girls category! (credit: Julie de Jong)

First four of the 9-14 junior boys: Connell, Ansel, Dominic, Charlie.

First-time racer Katie was a gold medal winner in the 9-14 junior girls category! (credit: Julie de Jong)

The older juniors suffered, too, although they had a relatively dry race until the very end. I'm lacking podium pictures, but here we have Michael and Alex demonstrating the perils of Saturday's course. They got second and third, respectively.

 Michael covered in mud, finishing second. (Credit: Fred Feng)

Michael covered in mud, finishing second. (Credit: Fred Feng)

 Cycling is suffering... (credit: Diane Talaski DeAngelis)

Cycling is suffering... (credit: Diane Talaski DeAngelis)

All told, Vets Park 2018 was epic and our juniors thoroughly enjoyed it. To prove a point, the very next day, seven riders showed up for practice. Because not even this weather is enough to scare the current crop of AAVC juniors away.

The juniors this year have really come together as a team. We started out small and as the season progressed, we picked up a few more riders. We learned to race as a team. We learned to travel together as a team. Good times were had on road trips to Kalamazoo and Waterloo. And we've learned how to be responsible citizens, too: you can always see the AAVC juniors at the end of a day of cyclocross, tearing down the course.

Our mission is to expose people aged eight to eighteen to bicycle racing in the safest, most fun and most positive manner possible. Besides teaching young riders the skills necessary to become successful bicycle racers, we also emphasize that we expect our racers to be responsible citizens. Homework, volunteering, and cycling must co-exist for AAVC Junior team members.

We practice on the road, at the velodrome, and cyclocross. Our juniors race according to interest and ability. If you have children eight or older, or know of children who are interested in cycling, contact the coach and we'll find a way to add you to the team!