Estrella Hedgehog - Her first podium

Antonio and Jason's start (Men Single Speed Experts).

JF's start (Rock crushers), in blue in the middle.

The Estrella course is the gnarliest of the MBAA race series. It's chunky, loose and steep.

Jason crushing it.

Antonio not far behind.

JF at the end of his first loop... just before he got a flat tire.

Riding among cacti.

That Finish face says it all. Pffeeww!

And she's started smiling and fast. She even took the lead on the third lap, and never looked back.

Only one of her 5 laps left! Papa is offering her some water, but she is still going strong... and still smiling.

Proud sisters cheering!

Ben at the end of his course. Both Liske brothers crashed, but Ben was able to continue. Charlie had a harder one (and further out on the course), so he did not finish.

Waiting for the medal ceremony.

Cat on a leash with gold medal.

The face of pride! Her first time on a podium and she got the gold! The lesson in racing is the same as in life... sometimes you win...

... and sometimes you lose.

The Estrella Hedgehog is known to be the toughest course of the MBAA race series. It was quite different from McDowell's mostly groomed and bermed course. This one was loose rocks with lots of climbing. Mara knew that this was at her advantage since she is technically strong and climbs like a mountain goat. When she realized she was second after the second lap (she still had 3 laps to go), she got even more pumped and kept riding with her big signature smile and legendary stamina. She pushed and passed a bunch of kids (mostly on the uphills!). Passing is something you don't really learn other than in a race situation and can be stressful and intimidating... There were faster boys and younger kids on the course at the same time as her, so the challenge was real. For instance, when she called "On your left" (which in race lingo means I'm passing you on your left) to a younger kid in front of her, the child moved left instead of right, thinking it meant the opposite... 

JF got a flat tire just at the beginning of his second loop, so he ran back to the Westy with his bike, quickly changed his tube and got back on the trail. Diedra wasn't as lucky... she sliced her tire open further out on the course and had to scratch. 

I didn't grow up doing competitive sports and this is a new experience for me to be part of this world through Mara and JF... I still struggle when I see kids in tears on the course, but I'm also seeing how competition can exist in a very positive environment and how, when a child is old enough for that, it can be invaluable in teaching him many life skills, like perseverance, planning, stress management, focus... and how to lose with grace. Diedra and JF were great examples for our kids today, they took the challenges that were presented to them in stride and both had great attitudes about it. As was the guy who walked through the Finish line with his chain in his hand!