High school mountain bikers are taking over Washougal Motocross Park Sunday.
The athletes, coaches and volunteers from the Camas, Columbia River and Woodland composite teams have spent weeks at the track plotting out a brand new course for the Washington High School Cycling League. It features four miles of trail and 500 feet of climbing. Several vantage points along the tree-lined track should give racers and spectators a majestic feel.
“After all of this hard work, all we need now is good weather,” said Ed Fischer, the owner of Camas Bike and Sport who has worked tirelessly to promote this first high school cycling race in Clark County.
“The coolest thing going forward is showing all those teams from Olympia to Seattle our area,” he said. “Most of these people have never seen Camas or Washougal before.”
Fischer continues to reach out to the local high schools for help. He hopes this nearby event gives people the opportunity to come out and cheer for their hometown athletes.
“I want to make an impression on our local schools and get them involved,” Fischer said. “Our program only exists because of a core group of adults who have stepped up and donated their time to help these kids. We need the support from our schools.”
One man who is listening is Ryan Huffman, the track manager at Washougal Motocross Park.
“We are always looking for opportunities to broaden our horizons, help the local schools and the community, and become more than just a motocross park,” Huffman said. “A lot of the credit goes to the guys at Camas Bikes. They have so much passion for this, and I’m glad they chose our Washougal track as the place to have this race.”
Camas riders Zach Vergillo and Billy Waring are looking forward to conquering the Washougal Motocross Park on a bicycle.
“I’ve been on that track on a motorcycle and a bike,” Vergillo said. “It’s much different on a bike. It’s quiet and slow, and it’s surreal. You really can’t believe how big that place is.”
“My favorite part of riding is the hills,” Waring said. “When I was kid growing up, all my friends would walk their bikes up the hill and I’d be the only riding up it. My dad always said, ‘bikes are made for riding, not walking.’”
Waring will have plenty elevation to tackle Sunday. Climbing 500 feet is going to be excruciating, but the view from the top is worth it.
“When you get to the top of the hill, you can look down and see the whole valley,” said Sussanah Hart of Washougal. “It makes me look forward to figuring out how I’m going to get back down.”
There are some jumps during the downhill portion of the track where riders can gain some hang time.
“It’s really cool,” said Sharon Hart of Washougal. “Everything just goes silent. Time freezes when you’re in the air.”
“You’re heart stops for a second,” added Brooke Brown of Vancouver. “You wonder, how am I going to land this thing?”
The short track section at the bottom of the hill features a variety of obstacles, including speed bumps, hairpin turns and switchback trails through some tunnels.
“It’s just neat to see all these kids come up here and work on this course for hours,” said coach Kevin Williamson. “When they finally get a chance to ride it, it’s like a big reward. These kids get to see the fruits of their labor.”