Pedaling Toward the Future

by Anna Sangrey

The Slush Cup race had already started.

Because of a misunderstanding, Arianna S. arrived six minutes late to the starting line of the largest mountain bike race in the United States. The other young competitors were already out on the course.

Running her bike toward the woods, Arianna leapt on and tore down the trail. Winner or not, she was ready for the adventure, the challenge and the fun of the eight-mile race.

Just for the Fun of It

Ever since the summer of 2010, Arianna has enjoyed her new hobby—mountain biking. With her dad’s encouragement, Arianna joined the Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS) races. WORS took her family on the road frequently. Although she lives near Chicago, Illinois, she loved seeing different parts of Wisconsin as she traveled to races.

Arianna began mountain biking at age 8, pedaling in her backyard. The next year, after a summer of races, her parents gave her a new blue and green bike. Arianna moved her practices from the backyard to a nearby forest preserve.

The WORS races range between three to five miles, while other races can be longer. The Kettle race, a 14-mile course, is one of Arianna’s favorites.

“It is long and challenging with lots of fun stuff,” the 10-year-old says.

All the “fun stuff” in mountain biking is not always so fun. Crashes—sometimes two or three—can occur every race. At these times, Arianna depends on her faith to keep her going.

“If I scrape myself up because I fall, God helps me get back on again,” she says. “If I am hurt, I ask God to help me feel better. Whether the course is challenging or easy, I know He’ll always be there.”

Mountain biking often involves steep hills, rocks and logs, but cyclo-cross takes biking to a new level. Throughout these races, Arianna may have to dismount and hoist her bike onto her shoulder, using her arms and legs to plow through muddy terrain. Then she gets back on her bike and keeps racing.

Never Give Up

Forty minutes have passed at the Slush Cup race. As Arianna reaches the last half-mile, she’s already passed hundreds of competitors—one more remains. She digs deep to pedal into the lead and finishes in first place!

Today, Ari is the No. 1-ranked Girls Under-12 Cyclo-Cross and Mountain Bike racer in America. And it’s simple advice that drove her to the top.

“Always try your best, even if it’s challenging,” Arianna says. “God will be with you to help you through it. Just keep going.”

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This article first appeared in the July 2012 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family. Used by permission. Photo © Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr.com; used under Creative Commons license.