I step out of the car, adjust my jersey, inspect my cleats, fasten my helmet and pull on my Handup gloves. The temperature is perfect for sweating. Today is about power, with Garmin in hand and water bottle filled. I hop on my Litespeed Kitsuma and pedal to the trailhead; time to GO!
My name is Brady Lawson. I am a 13-year-old mountain bike racer living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I am currently training for the Tennessee State Mountain Bike Championship. Unlike other kids my age, my sport is cycling and I ride a LITESPEED.
During the summer, I get up around 6am a couple days a week to get in a ride with my parents, coach or friends. I pick up Tuesday night mountain bike rides and some Thursday road rides with Scott’s Bicycle Centre. I find cross-training in my garage and running in my neighborhood to build strength. This year, I increased my road race schedule with the help of Chad Melton and Southern Velo Cycling Team to build endurance for the mountain. Not exactly the average summer of hanging at the pool and playing Xbox. I enjoy the suffering and training. As my friends get ready for football season, I am facing my own challenges to push harder than the last ride and earn my place on the podium. Each day I push to see how strong I am or how fast I can complete a well-known loop. I see the faces of the adults who start with “Are you sure you can keep up?” change to “How long have you been waiting on me?”
Riding bikes came naturally to me. My parents tell me at age 3, I enjoyed sprinting up my street and jumping off the plastic ramps in my backyard; we still have those ramps. I enjoy team sports too, like soccer, but it doesn’t offer the thrill of speed, the independence of the trail or the chance to experience different places like cycling does. In cycling, there are no time outs, no half time, no subs, it is on me and me alone. If I go down, I have to get back up.
My parents both cycle. My mom races and she helps prepare me for the mental challenges of racing. My dad helps coach my NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) team and keeps my Litespeed rolling. He has taught me how to deal with the unexpected and to be prepared for anything.
Being competitive (maybe a little too competitive sometimes), I naturally wanted to see how fast I could ride. Through Cohutta Adventures summer camps and Tennessee Youth Mountain Bike Race (TYMBR) series, I experienced my first races and I was hooked. The Chattanooga area has a great group a youth racers. We ride and have fun together in group rides. We are members of the same NICA team and hang out during the down times. When we race, we race against each other; friends become competitors.
Last fall, I was given the chance to ride the Litespeed Kitsuma. As a youth racer, the agility and responsiveness of the Kitsuma has helped me excel and remain one of the leading racers in my age group. I have taken the bike to the podium in several races, spanning the Tennessee NICA Series, where I finished 4th in my category for the season, to Chainbusters to the notorious Snake Creek Gap Time Trial (17 miler). The Kitsuma always gets attention at races, especially when ridden by a 13 year-old boy. I trust my bike and my training. I really look forward to many more miles of dirt, sweat and victories from the cockpit of the Litespeed Kitsuma.
I hope you stay tuned on my progress for the Tennessee State Title in late August!