Cycling toward the future

Washougal event raised funds for student leagues

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"You have kids who have been riding their whole lives, and kids who are just getting started, coexisting together and encouraging each other."

-- Riley Hooks

“You have kids who have been riding their whole lives, and kids who are just getting started, coexisting together and encouraging each other.”

— Riley Hooks

Brady Stotts pedaled around Washougal Motocross Park faster than any junior or novice mountain biker Sunday.

“I get more miles on my bicycle than my dirt bike,” said the 16-year-old, who lives about 10 minutes from the track. “The view from the top is cool. Once you start to go downhill, that’s when the fun really begins.”

Ed and Katina Fischer put this Race for the Future fundraising event together, with the help of Camas Bike & Sport members, to benefit student mountain biking leagues.

“I love seeing events like this in town,” Ed Fischer said.

Fischer thanked the Huffman family for allowing them to run this event at Washougal Motocross Park.

Stotts crossed the finish line in first place. He grabbed the lead directly out of the starting gate, which was set up just like the motocross riders. Mike Bell led the cyclers out on his motorcycle.

“Once I was on the line, I decided to just go for it and see what happens,” Stotts said. “It feels good to win this in my backyard.”

Riley Hooks turned 15 in style on the seat of his bike. He earned second place in the Junior Men 14- to 18-year-old division.

“It’s probably the best birthday I’ve ever had,” Hooks said. “I’m doing what I love.”

Hooks and Stotts push each other in practice runs and races. They enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences with teammates.

“You have kids who have been riding their whole lives, and kids who are just getting started, coexisting together and encouraging each other,” Hooks said.

Sascha Knight took first place in the Junior Women 10- to 13-year-old category.

“There were a lot of loose rocks, hills and climbing,” said the 11-year-old from Battle Ground. “The rush of avoiding trees and logs, and going over things, was really fun.”

Marie Kleemer said she just went out for a bike ride to support a student cause. The 38-year-old from Washougal was as surprised as anybody to win the Sport Women 19-to-39 group.

“I really believe in fostering our youth. They are the future of our sport and the protectors of our trails,” Kleemer said. “It’s great seeing kids taking on something that could be scary or defeating, and finishing with a sense of pride. They can go through a whole day without video games and television.”

After tackling all the twists and turns, hills and drops, Kleemer said the short gravel climb at the end of the course proved to be the most grueling obstacle.

“I really enjoyed the whole ride,” she said. “Even if I was last, I was going to finish it.”

Enjoying the camaraderie at the finish line made the journey worth it.

“Every single racer who finished was so proud of themselves,” Kleemer said. “You could see that sense of accomplishment on everybody’s faces. It’s not that you won, it’s that you did it. You finished. I hope the kids got that.”

Kleemer hopes to see more children and adults racing in the future.

“You don’t have to finish first,” she said. “Just come out for a bike ride.”

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