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Camaraderie, tradition, draw mountain bike racers to Ascent Cycling Series

RESULTS: Where did you finish?
PHOTOS: Gallery 1 ** Gallery 2
VIDEO: Start of the Cat 2/3 race ** Start of the Pro/Cat 1 race ** Interview with Kelli Emmett

By Monica Smith
PikesPeakSports.us
Feelings of support and camaraderie have allured athletes of all abilities - whether first-timers or world champion riders - to the Ascent Cycling Series for 23 years. The first race of the 2013 season Wednesday at Bear Creek Terrace upheld that tradition.

“This is a great place to support everybody,” said Julie Glenn, a member of the Women’s Mountain Biking Association. “The camaraderie is awesome. It’s really easy access for the spectators, which makes it really fun because you have people pushing you and cheering you on all over.”

While Glenn loves the local support system, she isn’t the only one who embraces it. Front Rangers club coach, Stacy Gery is also grateful for the amount of support at the series, including support from Andy Bohlmann, race director of the Ascent Cycling Series.

“I personally like that it’s a more local event for the kids," Gery said. "And there is a lot of support when you’re at a local event. Also, Andy has been a phenomenal supporter of Front Rangers.”

Sharon Jenkins, mother of Front Rangers club racers Nolan and Nic Jenkins, also shows a deep appreciation for the Sand Creek Sports bike races.

“We love this series,” she said. “We come every year. It’s a great time to catch up with friends, and Andy just puts on such a great race. We love it.

“This is our third year doing this series,” Sharon Jenkins continued. “Two years ago we were at a camp in Boulder and drove all of the way back from Boulder because they wanted to do this race. So, after that we got hooked.”

Many of the racers, including Sharon Jenkins’ son, Nolan Jenkins, consider the series to be a great setup for future races. He can push his conditioning and sharpen his skills in the Ascent Cycling Series while he prepares for the USA Cycling Cross Country Mountain Bike National Championships in Pennsylvania in July. He was the fastest in the 14-and-under category on Wednesday.

“My goal was to try to win and push myself as hard as I could so my training can get even better for Nationals because that’s really my ‘A’ race,” Jenkins said. “We’ve done these races a lot and have had them in our list of races because we really like them.”

Mitchell Goates, a Front Rangers club racer, agrees: “The series is pretty low key,” he said. “They’re local and fun to race...It’s fun just to come out and compete with other competition and see where you’re at.”

Recognizing the diverse abilities, Bohlmann understands that riders mainly compete in the Ascent Cycling Series for the experience and promotes the event that way. It's common to see first-time racers mingling with national champions in Bohlmann's races.

“We’ve got the first-time rider all the way up to the very other end,” said Bohlmann. “That’s what the Ascent Cycling Series is all about: it’s laid back and fun for the riders and family.”

While many credit Bohlmann for the success of the event, Bohmann gives credits to the reliable sponsors, staff and volunteers that have supported the series for years.

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