Now in it’s eighth year, The Brownwood Bike Rally has been one of Team Eddie’s favorite family events since 2007 when Liam and Ethan participated for the first time. In fact it was at that year’s event that the current incarnation of Team Eddie was born. My dad, their Grandfather (Eddie), had just been diagnosed with cancer and had planned a trip to Atlanta to cheer the boy’s in thier first “big race”. He was not able to make it due to his health- so we made “Go Team Eddie Signs” that the boys held up for pictures at the race that we could e-mail him with afterword. What started out as good-natured humor has continued to blossom into a way for the boys (and me) to honor Grandpa Eddie. Click [here] for the full story behind Team Eddie.
Grandpa Eddie could not have been prouder of the boy’s performance today- their sportsmanship and encouragement of each other and other riders was really impressive; the fact that both boys were in the same age 8-11 year old age category also created some great in-house competition!
Earlier in the week, Liam and I were out for a ride and an impromptu training session developed when Liam asked why I always got ahead of him in turns- even though I may not be pedaling. A teachable moment! We discussed the concept of optimal lines in a turn- positioning the ahead approach and exit out of a turn in order to maintain speed instead of breaking to slow into a turn and then pedaling to regain speed. After a few demonstrations he got the concept and we did some practice; before long he was holding his line like a pro- conserving speed and shaving precious seconds with each turn.
At less than 1 mile in length, the Brownwood Bike Rally is essentially a controlled sprint between closely spaced turns. There are 6 left-hand turns, including the turn-out from the start and turn-in to the finish. This means that crucial seconds can be gained or lost with proper cornering technique on each turn.
With Ethan we worked on making and finding room at the start. Especially with unskilled riders, the start line can be a scary (and dangerous place). Instead of focusing all of his attention on getting off the line as fast as he could, we discussed making sure he was solidly positioned on the bike and pedals- the other kids would be just slightly ahead of him- bumping and jokeying for stability and position after a quick start. His job was to look for an opening on the inside of the first turn and ride there while the other riders were distracted with staying on their bikes. He did it perfectly,passing most of the riders at the first turn as they went wide like we discussed!
Liam came around the corner for the first heat finish (with a well-executed turn) with a substantial twenty second lead over the next finisher- he took first place! Ethan would finish this heat in 5th place- but he had taken a bad spill on one of the corners. He got back up and still beat the vast majority of the pack! Even though he said he was okay, we did a quick body and bike check. In the second heat, Liam had a repeat performance and shaved 6 seconds off his first heat time, once again taking 1st place and securing 1st for his age group! Ethan was able to up his finishing position to 4th.
Team Eddie would like to give a quick shout out to the East Atlanta Kid’s Club, organizers of the Brownwood Bike Rally- especially our personal friends Jennifer Undutch and Peter Bradfield. You guys are all awesome!
AUTHOR NOTE: While visiting Rochester, NY on trip home, I located the pictures from the 2007 Brownwood Bike Rally.