Grand Junction's Reid Austin wins BMX World title
It was a huge starting hill, three stories high.
Mom was terrified. Her 12-year-old son, Reid Austin, was excited.
“My heart just sank,” Lori Austin said when she saw the towering hill. “I thought, my son is not going down that.”
Reid said he’s been riding for half his life, so a steep starting hill was just another fun thing to ride.
The big hill was in Auckland, New Zealand, and the competition was the BMX World Championships on July 27-28.
Reid flew down the big hill, around the tight first turn and zipped to victory.
He’s now a world champ.
“It was great because it’s, like, the Worlds!” Reid said excitedly. “And I won it. I was almost speechless.”
His title didn’t come easy and not without disappointment and pain.
The daring Grand Junction rider, who has given himself the nickname “Lightspeed” Reid Austin competed in two competitions in Auckland.
The first was on the Saturday of the Worlds in the 20-inch-wheel Challenge Class event. The second was Sunday in the Cruiser Class, for 24-inch-wheel bikes.
“I actually like the 20-inch better because I can jump better,” Reid said.
The most important part of BMX racing is the start. It’s a race to the first turn.
“It’s quite important to get first (in qualifying) because you get a better gate,” Reid explained.
An outside gate is bad, and the inside gate gives a rider the inside track heading into the first turn.
Bolting out of Gate 4 in the finals of the 20-inch event, Reid didn’t make it down the hill and to the first turn in first. A huge pileup crashed Reid, and that meant his race for the title was over.
“Almost every single racer who will win is first out of the first turn,” he said.
The crash sent him flying over the handlebars. Then he looked at his left hand. One of his middle two fingers was twisted, the other bent. He finished the race, placing eighth, then went to the medical tent. They needed to get his dislocated fingers straightened out.
He let out a yelp when they yanked the fingers.
But the medial team pulled a sneaky trick on Reid.
“They said ‘OK, on three, then crack!’ “
They went on “one.”
Reid had placed well in all of his qualifying heats and had a good shot at the title, but the crash ruined his day.
“I wasn’t mad. I knew I did my best,” Reid said.
He also knew he had a shot at redemption and the world championship in the 24-inch event Sunday.
This time he had Gate 1, and he knew he had to get to the turn first.
“You can’t ever think about your wrecks when you’re in the (starting) gate. You just have to put it out of your mind and just do it,” he said.
“Lightspeed” Reid Austin did it.
He sailed down the hill, zoomed around the first turn in first place, then pedaled and jumped his way to the BMX world title.
“It was so amazing to cross that finish line in first. It was awesome, but it took a minute to sink in,” he said.
Reid, who trains by riding, cross training and running two miles on many mornings, got a cool trophy for his victory.
“It’s really neat because it’s not like any of the other ones he’s won before,” Lori Reid said.
The world championship trophy isn’t huge, but it’s made of glass and is fittingly shaped like a kiwi, a bird native to New Zealand.
Reid said it’s now displayed prominently by his other trophies on the fireplace mantle.
What is next for “Lightspeed” Reid?
A trip to a dental specialist in Texas to get a tooth fixed.
In a race earlier this year, he crashed, and the handlebar went through the opening in his helmet and knocked out one of his front teeth.
Right now, he has a false tooth glued in the opening. That’s BMX racing. Sometimes you crash, sometimes you win.
For Lightspeed Reid Austin, he wins a lot more than he crashes.