Nine year old Connor and six year old Owen Bartel are headed to Odessa, Washington this weekend to race the kids’ version of the world famous Desert 100.
Each year several thousand off-road dirt bikers gather for this annual event known as the Kenda Tire Desert 100. Saturday events include a Family Poker Run, Iron Man Poker Run, a Dual Sport Ride as well as a kids race. Sunday’s main event features a 100 mile race across a variety of desert terrain. The weekend events, all held on private property, draws competitors from all over the northwest, including Canada, to participate in this highly anticipated yearly event.
The Freeland boys said they are super excited to compete again this year. They both have updated bikes and have been practicing on the small tracks that their friends and family have on their properties. In last year’s race Connor placed 7th out of 50 riders in the Under 8 Year Old category; younger brother Owen came in 22nd. Both strong finishes for their first time.
The boys have already caught the attention of several local businesses who have come in with offers to sponsor them. AP Mechanical, Front Row Creative and Whidbey Ice Cream as well as off-island RVTown and Morning Wood Energy Drinks all have pledged their support for the young riders.
When asked about what’s most on their mind as the weekend approaches, the younger Owen said that he wants to get first and not crash. Connor’s goal is to do better than last year’s 7th place finish, setting his sights again on a top 10 finish.
“I’m really nervous,” Conner said.
Their father Zac, also rides and is a member of the Stumpjumper Motocycle Club, which organizes the Desert 100 each year. He also helped form Whidbey Off-Road Moto with Chad Formhales, TJ McNeil and Blake Deilke. Their group participates in various competitions and races and helped form the group as a way for the kids to eventually compete at a higher level.
“It is a lot of work, but worth it as we’re able to spend time together as a family,” said Zach. Even his wife, Alicia, is becoming more interested in riding; however, he said, time will tell if mom ends up getting her own bike.