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Dads on trikes

by Linda Hiller

Amid the squeals of “Go, Daddy, go!” more than two dozen fathers (and two grandfathers) rode their way to victory or defeat (depending on your definition of that word) in a Father’s Day tricycle “drag race” held at the Discovery Center.

“We call it a ‘drag race’ because the dads tend to drag their behinds when they ride,” said preschool director Cindy Webb. “The trikes are kind of low to the ground.”

Webb said the “Hugs and Kisses for Dads” celebration was to honor the fathers of the center’s preschoolers. Last month, the kids hosted their mothers at a similar ceremony, only without the tricycles.

“We’ve only been doing this for a few years, since we just recently extended the classes into June,” said Webb, who has been teaching at the Discovery Center under the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department, for more than a decade.

The races followed a chili dog lunch shared by the children and their hungry dads.

– The big event. Under a hot June sun, dads in groups of four mounted their machines to race for the honor, dignity and pride of their children. Well, pride, maybe.

Each dad raced toward their respective preschooler, dismounted and then turned the steel steed over to the kids, who rode the anchor leg of the race, hopefully undoing the damage done by their pathetic (only because of poor equipment) papas.

– The drag racers. Tim Sheets, a project supervisor at Bently Nevada, looked at the squat bikes before his heat and wondered if his knee – operated on only a week prior – would be able to take it.

“Looks like some bikes have an advantage,” he said thoughtfully. “I’ve got to do it, though. Can’t let my daughter down.”

As it went, his drag machine did lose a pedal in the first 14 inches of his ride, but he did recover and push daughter Bailey, 3, back to the finish line for what might have been second place.

“Had I know about the races, I would have trained,” he joked. “I would have brought my own modified Tim Taylor machine.”

Reid Varble, who works for the Nevada Division of Wildlife, rode for his daughter, Camry, 3, and had his older daughter Kaitlyn in the pit crew (checking the pedals).

“I’m excited,” he said before his heat. “I’ve stationed Kaitlyn in a choice spot and I’ve got thighs for peddlin.'”

He did finish.

Bud Zeller, who celebrated his 59th birthday the day before the races, came to race for his grandson Kelby Lind. A real estate instructor from Placerville, Zeller flew across the field on his trike, unhindered by his “grandfather” status.

“I think this is great that they do this for the kids,” he said. “Kelby’s dad, Fred, is on National Guard duty right now, so he asked if grampa could go and I was honored.”

“He did good,” Kolby said.

Rob Robinson, who incurred an inner-thigh injury from the handlebar of his terrible transporter trike when he rode to semi-victory for daughter Bobbi, 4, said he was impressed by the turnout. Robinson is a chef at the Topaz Lodge.

“I’m glad to see all these dads show up,” he said. “I wouldn’t have missed it.”

Davis Olsen, who works for Bert Manufacturing in Gardnerville, spun his wheels during the first part of his leg of the race. Daughter Jessica, 4, was impressed.

“Go fast, Dad!” she screamed.

“This is great. I try to make all these events,” Olsen said. “Family is the most important thing.”