Red Deer should be a hot spot for young mountain bike racers this weekend.
The Savy Mountian Riders Bike Club is set to host a youth cross-country race day on June 3 at the Red Deer Mountain Bike Park, that also serves as a qualifier for the Alberta Summer Games Zone 4 team.
Coined the Trailblazers Youth Racing Series, the event is designed to encourage kids from ages five to 16 to take up cross-country mountain biking.
Sunday’s race organizer Rod Rysavy, who owns Savy Cycle in Red Deer said the event will help those older riders prepare for the Summer Games while also introducing younger athletes (ages 5 and up) to the sport.
“I think the term race puts some people off. You just go ride your bike with some other people and give it your best shot,” Rysavy said.
“Whatever happens, it’s a cool event and once people do it, you realize it. Really, it’s about having fun.”
Rysavy works with youth riders on Monday nights during the spring and summer, mentoring them about the finer points of racing like bike handling and corners. Although some members are not old enough for the games, the interest at the younger age groups is encouraging.
“We have some coming up, they’re just not old enough yet,” he said.
“That’s what we’re working on and trying to develop that part of the sport. We actually have a pretty good infrastructure for mountain biking in the city.”
Red Deer last held the Alberta Summer Games zone 4 qualifiers in 2016 and Rysavy noted they had about 35 riders participate. He hopes to at least get to that number again this year.
There is one Zone 4 spot for female riders in three age groups– U13, U15, and U17, as well as two spots for males in each of the same age groups.
“The Summer Games is a really cool event, it’s like a mini-Olympics. We in our zone typically have very poor representation (in mountain biking). We’re working on that,” Rysavy said.
“Last time we went we had zero girls. A girl could come and all she has to do is ride her bike and she’d get the opportunity to go to the summer games. If you want a cool experience and enjoy your biking, you do have to complete the course.”
The 2018 games will take place in Grande Prairie from July 19-22.
Registration for the race is 9 a.m. on June 3, with races expected to start around 10 a.m.
For more event information check out www.albertabicycle.ab.ca/.