Thursday, May 31, 2012

England Swings Part Deux: Life is like a box of chocolates

"My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'"

During the World Championships, Vann met William between each qualifying round, talking through a fence that kept the riders quarantined. "Is he eating?" "Did you tell him to go to the bathroom?" "How are his nerves?" Vann nodded his head emphatically at each of my overbearing questions.

As it was, William remained cool as a cucumber throughout, which I can only attribute to the confidence that comes from 6 months of intense preparation. I, on the other hand, was nothing short of a basket case. Completely out of character, I'm ashamed to say I lost my marbles on one of the two ticket-takers at the NIA. I won't go into details, but the poor guy didn't deserve my wrath. He'll never see it, but I offer my public apology just the same.

Remember to breathe was the best advice I received, from a BMX mom who'd been there before. (Thanks Josette!) As motos went on, our group began to relax and have a good time. Our USA pits were directly behind the Japanese, who, without a lick of English, cheered enthusiastically each time the announcer uttered "Germany". The Germans didn't have a big crew there, so I'm sure they appreciated it.

We knew it would have to be more than skill to carry William through eighths, quarters and semis. Strong riders were falling out left and right. As William crossed the line in a qualifying position in his semi, I finally felt at ease. He would have a world plate!

Partly due to fate, and mostly because William always cranks to the line, William was able to choose an inside gate for the main. When he came out of the gate, no one could argue that he deserved to be there. He quickly fell into a third place position entering the first turn. Attempting to move into second, his pedal struck the ground, jamming his knee, and moving him into the fourth spot. He was lucky to hold on, but was unable to gain back a medal position, and finished fourth. We were unbelievably proud and excited!

After awards, photos and hugs, when "Let's party all night!" turned into "Let's grab a quick bite at the hotel and go to bed", we finally had an opportunity to discuss the race with William. 

"WELL?" I said. That was all he needed. His tired, but happy face turned to us as he began his tale. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. He said his favorite line from "Forrest Gump", and I wondered. Did he not think he would do so well? Did he expect more?

He told us of the friends he made, and we laughed as he described how he communicated with his new Japanese friend (3rd place finisher Yuichi Masuda) through head shakes and sign language. The kids from Great Britain were shocked to learn that policeman in the U.S. carry guns, and William proudly described to them his own personal arsenal, which really had them in awe. Surprisingly, they asked about one another's governments, and compared the differences. We learned too, that we're not just the spawn of England or France, but our own unique culture-- wild, crazy Americans!

When he finished, I understood what William meant. Take advantage of what's in front of you. Live life now. You never know what you're gonna get.

Watch this awesome Video of Factory Felt riders at Worlds by Phillip Habib

The very next day, William turned eleven. We celebrated with our friends the Habibs, in proper Medieval fashion. It's not everyday an 11-yr-old boy gets to visit a castle, chop off his brother's head, and see a Shakespeare play on his birthday. It was a great time with great friends!

Sunday morning we made our leave, sad to miss our friends racing cruiser, but happy to be on our way. We headed to Paris on a 24-hour lay over. Not wanting to waste one minute, we hit the cobblestones running. Notre Dame was crowded, but amazing just the same. We had dinner with my cousin Jill and her family, while the boys played soccer with their Parisian cousin Jude in the gardens of the Louvre.

By 10 pm we were all worn out, and contemplating the long flight ahead, when Wyatt pulled the Puss in Boots face. "Oh pleez can we go to the Eiffel Tower?"

With rubber legs and tired faces, we rode to the top at midnight. Too tired to walk to the hotel, Vann hailed a cab. Wyatt was asleep within the minute.

Go to England. Ride your race. Skip and hold hands. See a Shakespeare play. Be crazy. See the Eiffel Tower at midnight. Go to New Zealand.



"My momma always said, 'life was like a box of chocolates.
You never know what you're gonna get.'"

Many thanks for all the love, support, well-wishes, and congratulations sent out to William. Your presence was felt!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

England Swings: Part I of the 2012 BMX World Championships

"England swings like a pendulum dooooo..."*

Here I sit alone in the small foyer of our adjoining rooms, the only wi-fi hot spot in our home of 8 days. Luckily I have my warm (no ice or fridge) sauvignon blanc that Vann so lovingly procured. Snores surround me.

J.R.R. Tolkien honeymooned here in 1916!

We're staying at THE Plough and Harrow, and I do mean THE. This was THE place!--  Back in the 1800s that is. Today we figured out the plumbing.

HA HA! Actually, this was in fact the posh potty in the gruesome Tower of London.
The plumbing is quite tricky here though.
But now for the real deal... Why are we here?

We're here because I have a son who deserves it.
We're here because he's earned it.
We're here because he's willing to give it his all.

William Parker and Coleman Habib:
 representing Felt Bikes and the USA!

Today was first practice. I won't lie. The track is tough, and the first straight has William worried. He's not the only one though. There were multiple wrecks coming off the first jump. William did wreck in practice today, but his only injury was a little blood and dirt on his coveted USA jersey. THAT's what mattered to him, but a little soap and scrubbing in the hotel sink had it good as new.

Tomorrow's practice promises good things. William knows how to dial in a track, and he has a plan. I can hardly wait for him to take on the World on Thursday. GO USA!!


*From "England Swings" by Roger Miller

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Wet Winning Weekend at the USA BMX Dixieland Nationals

The rain was falling Saturday morning as we huddled under the Felt tents.

Sam Brown dominated 16 girls
Photo credit: Mike Carruth
"What are you doing?" Sam (Samantha) Brown glared at William as he was gearing up for practice. "You're just going to slip on the gate... and fall... and hurt yourself... or get muddy!"

His dad and I had been giving him the same speech for 30 minutes, but it took a pretty team mate to talk some sense into him. He stayed safe and clean by warming up in the parking lot.

By race time, the rain had ceased, and the sun had come out to dry the track. First rounds went well, with nearly the whole Felt crew, plus Wyatt and Charlie "Chooch" Christopher, transferring out.

Semis were thankfully uneventful. Everyone under the Felt tent easily moved on to their respective mains.

Racing in Georgia comes with the added bonus of family. My Georgia cousins came to watch the races and cheer on the boys. With the boys transferring out first round, there was a lot of time to hang out and visit in the pits, and discuss all of the fishing, baseball, boogie boarding, etc. that's going to take place on our upcoming family beach vacation.

As we stood on the fence waiting for Wyatt's 9 intermediate main, a screaming parent startled my cousin Judy's 7-month old daughter who had been sleeping peacefully in her sling. Judy leaned in to me and asked, "Do you guys yell like that?" Vann laughed. "Heather used to!" I then explained that I am now well under control, and proved it by standing demurely at the fence as Wyatt finished 5th in his first main as a 9-year-old.

Not long after, William was on the hill for 10x. He shot out of gate 4, and never looked back.

I lost it.

Wyatt covered his ears and crept away. Vann, in between his own shouts of "Stay on the cranks!" and "Close the door!" urged me to calm down. There was no calming me. I was a BMX mom possessed.

I screamed my head off as William brought in his first USA BMX national win.

I quickly turned my attention to William's friends racing 11x. As Joey Leto took the lead, I continued to cheer. Joey crossed the line for a win just as William approached me at the fence. A smile lit his face like sunshine and warmed my heart.

I hugged him. "I won!" He said.

He rode off to congratulate Joey, whose smile was the size of William's. As the boys exchanged accolades, I heard William say, "that was just the confidence boost I needed".

Indeed it was. With Sunday's race cancelled due to weather, we left Atlanta on a high note.

I won, I heard William say to himself in the car. I WON.

Look out England, here we come!