“The economy has everyone in kind of a crunch,” said Gene Boice, president of the Parents Association at CNY-BMX. “We’ll definitely draw from the Northeast, like Pennsylvania and Ohio. But we’re hoping a large number of riders from the more Western states will come out thinking not many riders will show up, and that they can score some easy points to move up in the national standings.”
The NBL is the governing body of BMX racing across the country. They mandate specific track guidelines, provide insurance to tracks and riders, issue competition licenses, and keep record of points to determine state and national rankings. This is the 24th nationals event of the 2008 NBL season. Previous races have taken place in locales from Lexington, S.C., to Whittier Narrows, Calif. After the races in Bridgewater, there are only three more nationals before the NBL championship start Aug. 29 in Louisville, Ky.
BMX is an acronym for “bicycle motocross,” a sport conceived in California in the early 1970s by a group of teenagers who began imitating motorcycle motocross with their bikes. The format is exactly the same as motocross, but on a much smaller scale. The tracks for competitive NBL racing are usually about 1,000 feet long, and feature a predominantly sidewinding dirt terrain with paved areas on some of the banked turns. Typically, four to eight racers line up behind an electric gate, which then opens on the starting cue and the race is on; whoever peddles and maneuvers the quickest to the other side first, wins, a task that typically lasts 45 seconds.
“We’ve been working our tails off getting everything ready,” continued Boice. “We’ve been weed-eating, grooming the track and making sure everything is ready so people can just come in and get down to business.”
At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, registration and bike inspection by NBL officials will make sure all competing BMX’ers bikes are riding on a level playing field. To compete in the event, you must be a member of the NBL. Racing begins at 11 a.m.
The racers are divided into brackets depending on age and skill level. “There will be groups from ages 5 and under to 50 and over,” noted Boice. “Within the age groups, they’ll break it down even further by the rider’s proficiency, with beginner, novice and expert groups.”
After the first revolution of pedals in the inaugural race, the action will be continuous throughout the day. Sitting in the bleachers all day might make you a little antsy, so the solution would be to get up and check out some of the other entertainment on the grounds. The concession stand will be beefed up a little for the event, with items such as meatball subs and sausage sandwiches added to the usual hot dogs and burgers.
A deejay will spin tunes most of the day Saturday and will provide the backbeat for the “Bicycle Boogie” contest. Scheduled for Saturday night, time dependent on the action on the track, this freestyle-trick contest is open to anyone, so even if you suck, take a spill and thrill the crowd with laughter—because it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, then it’s just hilarious.
Riders who accumulate the necessary amount of points in Saturday’s races will move on to the finals on Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. By the end of the day, the national NBL standings will see changes atop the leader-boards, while people who may have witnessed the event for the first time will have seen the next big sport before it hits the national spotlight—which is just about to happen.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, slated for Aug. 8 to 24, BMX racing will see its debut as a competitive sport. When this was announced in 2003, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge stated that it was a “new, spectacular event that will definitely enhance the Olympic program.” The introduction of BMX is an attempt by the IOC to attract the interest of a younger generation, much like the addition of snowboarding in the 1998 winter Olympics did.
“This event will give people a hands-on look at what the actual deal is,” said Boice.
The CNY-BMX Track has been in operation for eight years. But don’t count on the sport going all diva once they break through, for when it comes down to it, it’s a family and friends affair. “There are a few kids out there that I can remember being in strollers that are now 12-year-old experts and are really phenomenal at it,” said Boice. “Their older siblings or even parents might have been competing when they were young and the thing is, once you get in there you’re hooked. Just the overall goodness of the sport and the fact that people of all ages can participate in it makes it a good time for everyone.”
There is no cost for spectators. For more information, call 822-5896 or visit www.cnybmx.org.