Crash course in BMX
Wet track creates havoc at state event
Slick, slippery — the BMX course was slickery.
A steady drizzle Sunday made for dangerous and difficult finals for the many classifications of racers. But undaunted, racers attacked the course in pursuit of a Colorado State Championship BMX title.
Grand Junction’s Steven Adams knew he had to be cautious in his expert 16-year-old race.
Race after race, riders were sent sprawling in turns one and two from the slick dirt. Some needed medical assistance after being helped from the course. But the stakes were too high to be too cautious. A tough dilemma faced the racers. Go too hard and crash. Go too easy and see the state title slip away.
“It was really slippery in the gate,” Adams said.
As the gate dropped, racers burst onto the track. In BMX racing, the rider that stays upright and emerges from turn one in first place has the inside track to victory.
Adams got off to a slow start.
“It put me in the back, right from the start,” he said, adding the sloppy start line forced him into a one-footed takeoff.
Cole Braxton got the hole-shot and zipped through turn one in first place, and everyone else chased the Cortez rider to the finish line.
“It’s great, I’m a state champ again,” Braxton exclaimed. This was a second-straight state victory for Braxton.
The rain-slickened course made for a nerve-wracking finals in the class division.
“Corners were way slick, and it was pretty crazy out there,” Braxton said. “I was very tentative, just tried to stay upright for the most part. I tried to take the corners wide and hold everyone off.”
For Adams, a third-place finish was disappointing, but he found solace in the 16-year-old cruiser class state title that he won earlier in the day.
“It’s really nice to wrap up my state title again this year,” he said. “I won it last year and really wanted to do it again this year.”
The cruiser division is for bicycles with 24-inch wheels, and the class division is for 20-inch wheels.
Adams was hoping to win both titles in his age division because he probably won’t be racing for a while.
“It was really good for me (to win the cruiser title) because I leave in three days to go to Germany for a year, so this is the last race for me before I leave,” he said.
As a Rotary exchange student, Adams is going to Cologne, in western Germany.
“I probably won’t take my bikes with me, but I’ll see about getting a bike while I’m there and doing some racing,” he said with a smile. “I don’t want to give it up for a whole year.”
For Ron Cook, defending his cruiser division state title in the 36-40 age group was just as exciting as it was last year. The speed and danger of the sport appeals to the 40-year-old Colorado Springs racer.
“I love the adrenalin, the power,” he said. “Coming out of the gate is like a defensive lineman coming off the line in football. You just have to attack and go as hard as you can to get to the first turn first.”
After doing some road cycling racing in Europe, Cook returned to BMX racing.
“A lot of guys my age raced in the ‘80s when BMX was in its heyday, so now a lot of us are coming back,” he said. “With it being in the Olympics now, the sport is coming back to the limelight.”
Cole “Shutdown” Schield was another defending champ back in the state finals in Grand Junction. She secured wins in the class and cruiser divisions in the 13-year-old category Sunday.
Since taking up racing four years ago, the Highlands Ranch girl rarely loses. This is the third straight year she’s won state titles in both divisions.
“It’s really cool (to win again),” she said, smiling.
She said the appeal of BMX racing is it’s an individual sport.
“It’s not a team sport, so I don’t have to depend on anyone else to do good,” she said.
In a sport where girls are still in the minority, Schield said she races against boys sometimes.
“There’s not a lot of girls that do it, and when you beat the boys they’re kind of upset, and it’s fun to see,” she said smiling, adding she defeats the boys quite often.
Adams agrees the individualized aspect of BMX has great appeal.
“It’s really good to have an individual sport where the only thing you can count on is yourself. It really built up my confidence in everything else, knowing I can do all of this and it’s all me, and I have to rely on myself to do well,” he said.
Other local racers to win state titles Sunday included:
■ “Lightspeed” Reid Austin, 12, who last month won a cruiser world title in New Zealand.
■ Fallon Ward in the 17-to-20-year-old girls cruiser race.
■ Aaron Blee in the 10-year-old cruiser race.
■ Corb Burtard in the 9-year-old cruiser division.
■ Mikayla Standridge in the 11-year-old novice division.
■ Steven Motter in the 12-year-old novice race.
■ Mitch Crider in the 10-year-old expert race.
■ Isabelle Burtard in the 7-year-old girls race.
■ Reese Skinner in the 8-year-old intermediate race.
■ Kaston Kail in the 6-year-old novice race.
■ Bill Welfelt in the 56-and-over cruiser division.