Why is it that there are more than a few mums and dads on BMX race days giving long, wistful looks at their offspring tearing around the track? It’s not always because they are proud of a son or daughter moving up the field and coming out on top, that’s for sure; no, the reason the adults are so misty eyed is because they wish they were the ones out there getting down and dirty, and testing their cycling skills.
The good news is that there is no reason why parents can’t sample the same highs and occasional lows of the sport as their children because clubs cater for all ages of racer, and all standards, too, from beginner to serious competitor. It’s simply a case of investing in the right equipment and putting your neck on the line.
But even if nerves get the better of the adults and they can’t face the pressure, racing can still give them a big kick by involving them in race preparation, acting as pit crew to their young and aspiring BMX star.
The obvious starting point for sampling the sport is your local club. In the UK, contact information can be found at the British Cycling site. During British summer time, the lighter nights mean a number of clubs are able to hold evening, weekday meets, so pop along, take a good look at the facilities, seek out a club representative and ask them as many questions as you feel necessary. Annual membership fees can be as little as £5, so joining is not going to break the bank.
In terms of equipment, you are going to need a full-face helmet, long sleeved top, rubber-soled shoes and long lower-body clothing i.e. you are not allowed on the track in shorts. Gloves, knee and elbow pads are also recommended. Your BMX bike needs to be up to scratch, too (good tyre tread and brake capabilities).
Again, if you are unsure, check with the club representative. They will be able to advise, too, on subjects such as British Cycling membership, insurance as well as race licenses and plates.
Adrenalin Rush of the Races
Track meets are not just about the adrenalin rush of the races and testing your abilities against others. They also provide the opportunity to mix with fellow enthusiasts in a relaxed environment. For those new to the sport, making friends with existing members can be invaluable in gaining an inside track, whether in terms of technique or the latest equipment.
In the saddle, take things easy at the start; don’t push yourself too hard, or expect too much because patience will bring its own rewards as you learn to handle both yourself and your bike.
Remember, too, to compete in a good spirit, as fellow members never take kindly to those who do neither themselves or the sport justice in terms of behaviour. There’s nothing wrong with mum or dad enjoying something of a second childhood on two wheels. However, if over-competitiveness means they begin acting like a big kid, then perhaps it is advisable that they stick to playing a supporting role for junior.