Thursday, July 29, 2010

2009: The Title Year

With the end of the 2010 season fast approaching, I wanted to take the time to do one final flashback post covering 2009.

William and Wyatt at the 2008 Fall Classic
By the end of the 2008 season, William had recovered fully from his accident, and regained his confidence.  At the 2008 Fall Classic, he rode away with the 2008 SE regional title, and won his first nationals of the 2009 season. Wyatt began racing in 2008, and was making a mark of his own as a 5 rookie. This is also when they were both signed on to their team-- Schanewolf Cycle Sport.

Their opportunity to earn additional national points came the following January at regionals in St. Pete. (you recall the bathroom blog?) Even though the facilities were less than desirable, William made a good show coming away with two perfects. It was after this event that we began to ponder the possibility of a national title.

William battling for the win in High Springs.
Two months later at Spring Nationals in Morristown, TN, William had another perfect weekend, taking him to the top of the 8 novice ranks. With five perfects  under his belt, he only needed one more to complete his season, cap his points, and head to the grands on top. This day came a month later at the Gator Nationals in High Springs, FL, where William stayed on his A-game, stuck out his elbows, and took the perfect.

Although his points were capped, he continued to race for as long as his move-ups would allow. July nationals in Nashville proved to be a struggle. At the top of his class, William was the kid to beat, and he felt like a target. He cut his losses, and got it together to take a win in Peachtree City the following month.
He was ready for the Grands.

THE GRANDS (BMX National Championships)

We headed for Louisville, KY, on the Tuesday before Labor Day, with high hopes and great expectations. Both boys worked hard on the track Wednesday and Thursday before the race, allowing us to take a day off on Friday to explore Louisville with visiting family (see BMX: It's a Family Affair). Racing began Saturday morning, and both William and Wyatt easily made it through their first motos and quarter finals. William's nerves took a turn for the worst, however, when semi finals rolled around. To qualify for the main, riders had to place in the top four. A slip of the pedal, a wreck, coming unclipped... all these things were on William's mind. He has a way of over-thinking, and can sometimes work himself into a stress-frenzy. We sent him up to the gate with excessive encouragement and waited anxiously.

William in gate 8

Let me just say that we have revisited this video 100 or more times, and it still puts my stomach in knots. I asked William what he was feeling in that last turn, and he said, "I don't have a feeling when I'm racing. If you have a feeling, it's harder to do it."  Wow. I think that's pretty real, and I think my kid is pretty darn awesome. Wyatt was also "on the bubble" in his semi-- the outside of the bubble. Wyatt, after working hard all season, narrowly missed his main. He did what he always does in these situations: accepted a hug, immediately blew $8 on bungee jumping, and prepared to cheer on his brother.

After his shaky semi, William grew even more anxious for his main. We did all we could to calm him. We knew he'd be fine as soon as the gate dropped, but the several hours of waiting was wearing on him. I found myself pleading-- not with God, but with someone I know much better in heaven-- my mom. Please please ride with William. Give him strength and courage.
And she did.

William takes an early lead from gate 5...

Wyatt (#5) and William (#1)
William knows the error he made in turn one. He should've won, and nearly did at the end. Regardless, the story has a happy ending. William's second place grands finish, combined with his cumulative points for the season, still gave him what he was after-- the national title he shed blood, sweat and tears for.

For his grand finish, William rewarded himself with a new bow and arrow, that he had said he would only get if he took the number one plate. He bought it with his own money-- a little bargain with himself.

This year, the pressure isn't quite so great. While both boys are comfortably in the top 5 in their respective classes, a title shot is not something on our minds. One thing I do expect from them is to ...



Monday, July 12, 2010

Let the training begin...

or at least try to anyway.

Any bmxer in Florida knows how difficult it is to train during the summer months. Between the 100º temperatures and relentless rain, it's a wonder that many of the top riders hail from the Sunshine State. I've often wondered why the NBL chose Labor Day weekend to host national championships, forcing Florida riders to train their hardest during the most miserable months of the year. One of William's top competitors lives in California, where the tracks stay dry, and the temperatures rarely exceed a balmy 79º.

National championships, or Grands in bmx speak, are now less than two months away. Our local track is a joke, and has been for quite some time, despite a promise of assistance from our parks and rec department. This, of course, is the primary training obstacle.

Saturday night we took the 90 minute jaunt to Circle City BMX in Dothan, AL to get in some serious ride time, and a local race. This facility has had their share of problems -- specifically the hush hush problem that all of you NBLers know about anyway. Well, I'm here to tell you, since their switch to the ABA, they have gotten their act together. This is in part to the support they receive from the city of Dothan. You see, unlike Tallahassee, Dothan parks and rec cares not only about baseball, but BMX too! Wow! So, just like the numerous baseball fields across the city of Tallahassee remain LOCKED when not in use by various sanctioned leagues, the ABA sanctioned BMX track in Dothan remains covered, with the gates LOCKED except during specific practice and race times. Then, and only then, are riders with American Bicycle Association memberships permitted to ride. In addition to this, the city of Dothan offered up $1000 to the BMX organization who brought the most riders to the Wiregrass Nationals held there this past May. (Photo: Wyatt with his trophy at the Wiregrass Nats. Video: Wyatt winning his main at the Wiregrass Nats in Dothan.) Every time we're there I think this is how BMX in Tallahassee should be.

Bmx is unusual in that coaches are not readily available to provide a training plan and proper motivation. For the most part, this has to come from the parents. When a rider turns expert however, this becomes sort of like trying to help someone with their trigonometry homework when you've been out of school for 25 years. Last summer we were fortunate enough to arrange for William to work with former pro Bill Madden in Fort Walton. This year, the boys are getting a whiz bang week of training at Ohio Dreams Action Sports Camp. They leave in three weeks, and can hardly wait. Here at home their dad takes them sprinting 2-3 days a week. Aside from that, they jump on the trampoline, climb trees, play chase with our dog, and sweat until the sun goes down.

Michael Phelps had it easy. He had a pool.