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Berit Ramstad Skoyles: All cheering aside: Competition begins

In the last year or two, my brother and my dad have been adamant about riding bikes.

It seems as if they are always talking about either mountain biking or road biking. Their free time is spent out at Mountain View or Maplelag riding the trails.

This past weekend they put their practicing to the test in the annual Laddies Loppet at Maplelag Resort. The races included a kids race, a citizens race, and two expert races. Dylan and my dad both raced the citizens race. The race consisted of three three-mile laps.

We made our journey up to Maplelag at 8 a.m. for a 9:30 race. When we arrived my dad went to register the two of them while Dylan, my mom, and I lowered the bikes down from the top of the truck. When my dad returned he brought with him our old neighbor, Pete. I hadn’t seen Pete since I was a child so it was nice to see him again.

When the raced started, my mom and I procured our position for photo-taking. Our first stop was Suicide Hill. I love going down Suicide Hill on skis. Going up Suicide Hill is a whole different story. It isn’t even that steep, it’s just long. Skiing up Suicide Hill is easily my least favorite part of racing at Maplelag.

In this particular race, the racers had to ride their bikes up Suicide Hill three times. Some bikers made it only half way, walking their bikes up the second half of the hill, while others successfully trekked up the entire hill in determination.

When Dylan came into view at the bottom of the hill, my mother and I started our usual cheering routine.  With the insults from Mom and I coming out strong, Dylan powered up the hill. The insults didn’t come out as much when my dad came into view, but he didn’t need them to pedal his way to the top of the long hill.

At our next stop, we ventured into the deep forest to cheer at the bottom of the “Toot,” a steep downhill bisected by a narrow trail. While I was cheering on a biker I looked down to find that I was standing on a snake. I instantly kicked the snake from my foot and frantically jumped up and down. I absolutely hate snakes. After that I couldn’t help but search the ground for more snakes to avoid.

For the third lap, we headed over to an intersection where the bikers passed twice. We didn’t quite make it in time to cheer Dylan on the first time so we just screamed insults into the woods. After Dylan reemerged into the clearing where we were waiting, we insulted him into the home stretch.

Because we were screaming so loud, the biker behind him thought we were screaming at a bear.

My dad entered the clearing with a teenage girl right on his tail and gaining. We screamed at him to go faster so the girl wouldn’t pass him. He smiled. When the girl went by she told us that she wasn’t going to pass him anyways. I didn’t understand her logic, but she was still behind him when they reemerged from the woods and from then on she stayed behind my dad to the finish.  I wouldn’t be so nice.

After the race, Mom and I returned to the main lodge. We learned that Dylan finished in third place and Dad in eighth. We stayed for the awards ceremony; they each received medals.

The expert races took place in the afternoon. The course was lined with fans as they watched the bikers do the drops down into the lake. The trail didn’t actually go into the lake, but it might as well have. The drops were straight down the bank with a 90 degree turn about a foot from the lake.

Being a bit morbid, I was hoping to see someone fall forward over their handlebars into the lake, but unfortunately the racers were too skilled and the falls never came.

While watching the race was nice, it was strange to be the spectator. I’m so accustomed to being in the race that simply cheering for the race was quite foreign. The good thing is that I won’t have to simply cheer on the race much longer. At my first swim meet on Thursday, I’ll finally be able to race again.

Move over sidelines, Berit is back to race.

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.