Posted by: Tom Boyd
The show just got a whole lot more exciting at the GoPro Mountain Games. Hold onto your full-face helmets, people, because BMX racing is coming.
For those unfamiliar with BMX racing, picture motocross without the engines or roller derby on two wheels with a bunch of jumps. Racers – usually clad in body armor and full-face helmets – line up side-by-side (up to eight wide) at the top of the track. When the gate drops, they fire off, pedaling furiously. They hit jumps, berms and banked turns, sometimes edging ahead of the pack, sometimes catching too much air and crashing, sometimes bumping handlebars and skidding out in a pile.
“Rubbing is racing,” says Jay Lucas, who operates the Eagle County BMX course in Eagle along with his wife, Sari Lucas, both of whom are incredibly excited to host the inaugural Mountain Games BMX events, a Double Points race and a Pro-Am Open on June 8.
“I think it’s a great addition to the Mountain Games,” Jay says. “Mountain biking and cycling are cool, but you see the racers take off at the start line, then they disappear into the mountains. With BMX, you see the whole thing … and it’s a huge show.”
BMX racing is not only for young super athletes with giant cojones. A lot of guys race well into their 50s and even 60s and there’s even a moms’ moto.
Sari Lucas, 49, got into BMX racing about 10 years ago when she realized that she was the only one in her family quite literally out of the loop. Jay, a lifelong BMX enthusiast who grew up racing, had helped the couple’s young boys develop a passion for the sport. Now it’s a family thing.
“We were at a state race one year and there were two ladies there who didn’t want to race the teenagers. They came up to me and asked if I’d register. I had pedaled around the track before, but that was the first time racing,” Sari says. “That’s how the moms get into it. They get tired of being behind the camera. It’s a good family event, an activity we can all do together.”
Admittedly, there’s a little more risk involved in BMX racing than … for example, mini-golf.
“There’s some good crashes,” Sari says. “You’re not allowed to intentionally make contact. But stuff happens. People cross over the course. Handlebars tangle.”
The age of BMX competitors ranges from about 5 to 65. Motos, or categories, are determined by age and ability level. Because there are fewer competitors in the female motos, adults in their 40s and 50s sometimes have to race younger women who have been dialing in their skills basically since the time they were on training wheels. By the time they’re teens, they are seasoned at techniques like launching out of the start on top, which, as in any cross-racing format, is considered the sport’s key move. An early lead can mean an entire race unencumbered by the pack and thus, victory. The young riders that started basically as babies are also more fearless when it comes to tight cornering and catching air.
“I generally don’t get air on purpose,” Sari says. “Some of the kids put on a great air show. Most of the female riders my age are moms. There are a lot of those teenage girls who were starting off as 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds, now they’re old enough that I have to race them. They definitely kick the moms’ butts. But it’s a lot of fun. Chasing the people who are better than you makes you faster.”
The Mountain Games’ races, both sanctioned BMX events, could become the largest caliber event the Eagle County BMX track has ever seen. The local course hosts the annual state BMX competition, which draws about 300 riders from around Colorado, and the Lucases are anticipating as many as that for the Mountain Games, including competitors from around the state eager to bolster their circuit with double points or pros and up-and-coming pros from around the country and even world competing for money in the Open race.
Registration for the Double Points Race, which takes place at 2 p.m. on June 8, is $25 per rider. Registration for the Pro-Am Open at 4 p.m. on June 8 is $75 per rider. The prize purse for the Pro-Am begins at $1,000 for the No. 1 male and female racer.
“The Double Points is a chance for our regular BMX riders to get more points on their record, which helps their state standing,” Sari says. “The Open race will attract pro riders, possibly from around the world. Those are your Olympic BMX riders and also the ones working up the ranks, the same way skiers go through the C, B and A levels to get to the World Cup. There’s no way to tell how big this is going to be. We’re excited.”
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