Im 46 and just recently attended my first BMX race. I took a group of the local young riders and we went to the Gator Nats in Oldsmar Fl. Well we were very impressed with how fast and controlled the riders were, especially the pros of course. But at the same time I was dissappointed in a few things—first of all the way the track was set up the riders only jumped one jump. Not very exciting for us newbies. BMX should be about jumping too, otherwise it is just riding fast over obstacles. That does require a lot of skill but its not visually that interesting. I know other tracks are different but I only know what I saw. Second of all, and this is prob more important, as we walked past all the booths with our bikes no one acknowledged us except the bike shops that were selling stuff. We passed many pros sitting right next to us and I told the guys about who they were but none of them even looked at us, nor less acknowledged us. Pretty dissapointing. It wasnt because it was busy either, very few people were walking thru while we were there. We went thru about 4 times. Thirdly, some of the younger racers make smart remarks to our group, without any prompting from us. Yeah some of the guys have rag tag bikes that I have helped get for them but….I know kids can be cruel so it is somewhat normal. Just wanted to let you guys know so maybe if you print this some peoole may take notice and think about it. Thanks Mike Cole, Nobleton Fl.
Mike, you tug on a few different emotional strings with us here. One, we agree, the tracks are pretty dull to watch these days. Sure, we can all appreciate the speed, but when you go to see a national level event and riders don’t even leave the ground it is a bit of a bummer. In the riders defense, their job is to get through the track as quickly as possible, so they work with what they are given, but in the track builders defense, they have to build a track that is challenging for every rider, from the 5-under novices, on up to the Elite Men, so their hands are tied as well. To play devils advocate, there is a pro section at Oldsmar, so they jumped at least two jumps (in the pro classes), but when 12-year-olds can jump the same jumps, its not that impressive.
Now, for the pits. There aren’t too many other sports where you can walk right up to where the pros are hanging out and talk with them, but you have to remember that these are their pits and if they had to get up and address every person walking by, it wouldn’t be much of a recovery from their race. We would also note that in all our years, we have yet to see a pro rider turn away someone who approached the tent to meet them. In most cases they will leave with stickers and an autograph. BMXers are a modest bunch, but they appreciate their fans, so next time, don’t hesitate to approach them at an appropriate time.
As for the kids, they are like coyotes, they would attack themselves if they didn’t have anyone else to make fun of, but thats the same everywhere, even a playground where no specific sports are involved. What you will find more often then not, is that those same kids have a crazy bond with anything and anyone BMX related. It has nothing to do with the quality or brand of bike, its a pretty loose club, if you ride, your in. Walk down the street and see how two strangers react with each other when they are both on BMX bikes, its like they are magnetically drawn to each other.
So in a nut shell Mike, check out coverage of the recent UCI SX race in Manchester and see what Elite level racing and jumping is really about, introduce yourself to the pros when you meet them and don’t let kids get you down, go to a local track on a normal race night and see what the family atmosphere is really about. Hope to see you at the races, thanks for writing in.
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