It's summer in the Valley.
How do I know this? Two ways, really.
One: The Government Peak Hill Climb race is this coming weekend. Mountain runners, badasses all, from around the state, nation, and world, will converge to run 3500 feet up a mountain in 2.75 miles in an effort to do it as quickly as possible. Last year the winner did it in 44:20.6.
Hill climb indeed.
Last year I was hobbled for a week after hiking up to the top ahead of the racers to do timing and making the mistake of trying to run down the mountain afterwards. Sometimes my enthusiasm outstrips my intelligence.
This year my son is running the race. Just last Sunday he did a training run up the mountain - his first time all the way to the top. He made it in, according to his timing, one hour and ten minutes. Not too shabby. I think he wants to beat an hour for the actual race day.
I will be at the top again this year, watching and taking pictures and, I suppose, timing as well.
Two: Sprockidz. Last night was the first night of the summer kids mountain bike skills coaching evening camp. The program runs for 8 weeks during the summer and gives kids a chance to learn mountain bike skills and the joy of riding the trails.
Last night was our first meeting of the year wherein we get the kids out and riding a brief course to test their speed and to start forming them into groups for coaching. The first night is always a bit fun in that we see whose bikes are not really up to par, what kids are not really there because they want to be, and what kids are out to show off a bit (My son? Yeah, that's him).
Just as we lined the kids up for the ride for speed the clouds to the west built up and thunder rumbled through the valley. The weather was a ways off, so no one was worried. We set the kids out on the trail and within a few hundred yards we had our first accident - a girl got her shoe lace wrapped around her peddle spindle.
Then another 500 yards down the trail our first mechanical - somehow the rider got her chain wrapped in a near double knot around the inside spindle of her crankset. Three burly men and a 10 minutes later I'd gotten the chain unbound and back on the chainring and she was back off, burning rubber up the trail and passing riders left and right.
I love coaching the kids. Mostly it ends up being just an excuse to ride bike a couple nights a week, but the kids start to learn some things - mostly that they are able to do a lot more on their bikes than they originally thought.
And, really, what is better than watching kids fall in love with bikes? What could be a more perfect expression of all that is right with the world?