The pros weren’t the only ones to experience the excitement of racing down Main Street in Breckenridge this week. While the USA Pro Challenge might feature more riders with more experience, the inaugural Grand Lodge on Peak 7 Strider Challenge featured more fresh faces.
Heats of 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds charged their Strider bikes for 100 yards down Main Street several hours before the Stage 2 Pro Challenge start in Breckenridge Wednesday.
Spectators stood along the street, cheering the young racers on, clapping and clanging their bright orange cowbells. Some kids started fast, while others gained grins and momentum as they felt the encouragement from the crowd.
As racers crossed the finish line, parents ran forward, armed with cameras, calling out congratulations and exchanging high-fives. Each little racer received a bagful of goodies.
Jack Shingles, from Breckenridge, won his division against other 3-year-olds. His face was jubilant as he crossed the finish line, coasting up to where his father was crouching.
“I winned, Daddy,” he shouted excitedly.
“It was amazing,” said his mother, Amanda, adding that it was a big day for the Shingles family, having dropped Jack’s older sister off at her first day of kindergarten earlier.
Owhen Wagner, who came in second, is an experienced Strider bike rider, said his mother, AuBree.
“He had this before he could walk,” she said. Now he rides it everywhere and even likes to do tricks.
Wagner, who is also the marketing manager at Grand Lodge on Peak 7, said the lodge was eager to put on the Strider Challenge along with its partners, Stork & Bear, Strider Sports International and The Axel Project.
“Grand Lodge is always excited to support the community in any way possible and this race seemed like a great way to support the little people of the community,” she said.
Helmets of all colors, with decorations from T-Rex to Hello Kitty, adorned the heads of the riders. The Strider bikes, too, were multicolored; some of them were brought from home by the racers — like 2-year-old Atlas Meyer’s, which his father Brent hand-carved — and others were donated by Strider Sports International.
Strider bikes have two wheels but no pedals, which the makes them appropriate for very young children, ages 18 months and up. Representing the company during the USA Pro Challenge is The Axel Project, a nonprofit organization based in Ridgway, Colo. The Axel Project was created in memory of 2-year-old Axel Charrette, who was murdered in February. To honor him, his family created the project, which donates Strider bikes to young needy children. The project donated five Strider bikes to Breckenridge.
“We’re super excited about everyone’s interest, it’s been great,” said Brian Scranton, a representative of The Axel Project. “If anyone would like us to donate Striders, let us know.” He also encouraged those who can afford to buy a Strider bike to do so through The Axel Project; that gives the project the ability to donate more bikes. More information can be found at www.axelproject.com.
Though this year was the first Strider Challenge, it likely won’t be the last, said Ginny Vietti, vice president of marketing at Grand Lodge on Peak 7. “We think it’s the coolest race and we’re excited to be a part of it. As long as there’s a race in Breckenridge, we’ll do it.”