After picking out our bikes and helmets, Lori and I rode one lap outside the track with Joe, and then it was time for business. We got some brief instructions about how the handle the bikes on the pump-track, and then we were off to the starting gate. (It's possible this is not the correct term, but I don't know all of the bmx lingo)
Our Team Kit
BMXing is pretty much the absolute opposite of what I usually do on a bike. I like to race for hours, and this sport involves an all-out effort for approximately 60 seconds. After lining up at the gate and attempting to balance with the front tire on the gate and both feet on the flat pedals, you take off down a ramp as soon as you can after the gate goes down. There are 7 spots at the gate, and I have to say I was a bit uneasy about "racing" 4 year olds. Although they were clearly more seasoned than me, they didn't know much about holding a line. After the initial little down-hill you hit a bunch of bumps where you have to pump your way forward to create momentum. There are 3 banked corners where you pedal like crazy to catch a little speed before going in to the next bump/pump section.
I fit right in with the kids!!!
I was in Moto 22 (for novices)
After riding around for about an hour, I sort of got the feel for what you have to do to pump your way around the track, but it was still difficult to keep the bike on the ground. Eric, who used to race BMX when he was 10, clearly picked this skill up much quicker than me. Even though he rode a rented "cruiser" with a 20 inch wheel (I had the REAL thing, with 16 inch wheel) I had to laugh when I saw him on a mini bike.
Eric lining up for his race in the Cruiser Class
After practice, there was a short break before the races started. I am not sure how they figured out which moto (heat) we were in, but it was all posted on a board outside "the office". It was crowded at the gate with small people who all looked like they knew what they were doing. The kids were all business in their snazzy kits, wearing chest, shoulder, elbow, and knee protection, while I was in jeans and the mandatory long sleeved shirt.
Luckily, there were only 2 other people (adults) in my moto, so I didn't have worry about anyone crashing in to me. As soon as the gate went down I was left in the dust by my competitors. HOLY SMOKES!! What was wrong with my legs??? Oh yeah, that's called lactic acid, and it sets in after about 30 seconds of all-out pumping and pedaling!! I shouldn't have stopped riding after practice!!! Instead of feeling rejuvenated from the little break, my legs felt like lead. And as if one lap wasn't enough, I was supposed to race 3 times!!! Lori Fabris being a few years older and much wiser than me, decided to limit her efforts to the practice. After 2 races I decided that hanging out with her and watching the races was much more enticing than racing myself. Joe, Jeff Townsend, and Eric didn't seem at all bothered by racing for 45 seconds followed by hanging out for 15 minutes. They all completed their races, and kicked some serious butt!! Eric got 2nd in his moto. The guy who beat him must have been a serious pro, because he was performing all kinds of tricks in the air, doing manuals (aka wheelies) and made it look so easy. Joe also placed 2nd in his moto, and Jeff 3rd.
I would highly recommend this activity to anyone who is not too proud to get their butt kicked by a bunch on 12 year olds!!