Forever young: 47-year-old Kirsten Kurath not afraid to BMX with the best
Hundreds of BMX riders will compete for a No. 1 state plate today in Grand Junction, but not all of them are children.
Grand Valley BMX track operator Nick Adams expects 40 to 50 of the estimated 300 riders to be adults, many of them with children racing at the track, located at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.
“A majority of our participants are under the age of 13, but we have a lot of riders over 23,” Adams said. “We have a lot of moms and dads. Some of them race occasionally, some race seriously.”
One of those adults expected to compete is 47-year-old attorney Kirsten Kurath.
She started racing a little more than a year ago after watching her two sons, Clark Willis and Miles Willis, race for a few months.
“They started riding and I’m sitting in the stands, ‘Pedal, pedal, pedal!’ ” Kurath said. “I’m sort of the hyperactive mom out there. I keep asking my husband, ‘Can’t I borrow Clark’s bike and ride it around the track?’ He said, ‘No, you’re too big. You can’t ride Clark’s bike.’
“I think I asked that off and on. Then, on my 46th birthday I came home (from work) and was going to put my stuff away and there was a BMX bike waiting for me.”
She felt like a kid again, excited to race her new bike.
“I was excited and scared and thought, ‘Well, I’m 47. Can you really start racing when you’re 47?’ sort of thing,” Kurath said. “I was trying to get my kids to do it, so if I’m asking them to do it, I ought to be able to try. It was very exciting and scary, but I had a blast, so I kept in it.”
Kurath didn’t get a chance to practice — her first time on the course was in a race.
“The first race I did scared the heck out of me,” she said. “I said, ‘I know why they are not pedaling all the time.’ Since then, I don’t yell as much. I’ve gotten better, but it was an eye-opener for me.”
One year later, Kurath is still getting acclimated to BMX racing.
“I started racing gals with clip-in pedals and I was standing there with one foot on the ground,” she said. “It took me a long time to get comfortable enough to get clip-ins.
“I can’t really explain it, I get super nervous for each race. even though I’m just doing it for fun. It’s not how fast you can go, it’s knowing how to do it, which I’m still learning a lot about.”
Kurath competes against two other women from the Vail area in the girls age 41-older class.
Asked if the children cut her any slack on the track, she said “no,” without hesitation.
“I think I’ve had a guy or two cut me some slack when he wasn’t trying to get some (season) points.”