August 30, 2009
From News and Observer

BMX racers sizzle at Lions Park track

Bad Girl outlasted Beanie Baby, Road Rash didn't allow Dynamite to blast him off the course, and Nugget prevailed in the face of a pounding by the Sledgehammer.

This was not the latest video game, but the latest round of action on one of the hottest tracks in town: Capital City BMX at Lions Park near downtown Raleigh. Many of the racers used colorful nicknames.

Capital City BMX played host to the East Coast Nationals, one of the largest American Bicycle Association BMX races in the country Aug. 14 through 16.

More than 600 riders, including 150 locals, and 1,500 spectators from 48 states and Canada came together in Raleigh for the competition.

No one was left out.

Kids of all ages, from 4 to 65, raced on little BMX bikes at lightning speeds along the quarter-mile banked track, which was loaded with jumps to keep things interesting.

Alan Fisk, 15, of Youngsville was hot all weekend.

Racing in the intermediate division, he finished in first place in his age group on the two main racing days.

"I've been racing four or five years," he said. "It's something I love and I just can't get away from it."

He's doing pretty well for a guy who fell into the sport by accident.

"One Christmas, my grandpa bought me a bike," Fisk said. "We found out it was a BMX bike, so I got out on a track and just loved it."

BMX, or bicycle motocross, is a cycling sport that involves extreme racing on tracks with an inline start and an obstacle course.

The sport takes many forms, including freestyle, in which cyclists perform stunts along the course, and racing, which is based on pure speed. Capital City BMX is devoted to racing.

The local track has been at Lions Park since 1981, according to track co-operator Allen Smith. It is a nonprofit operation run entirely by volunteers.

"People put a lot of time and heart into this," he said. "Raleigh Parks and Recreation has been invaluable helping us build and maintain the track."

BMX started in California in the 1970s when kids began racing their bikes on dirt tracks mimicking the motocross sports they enjoyed watching. Back in those days, the classic Schwinn Sting-Ray bike was the vehicle of choice, and perfect for the sport, because the bike was lightweight and handled well.

Today's BMX bikes haven't changed much, and appear undersized, especially when an adult male is perched on the saddle.

"BMX bikes are small because they are more maneuverable around the track," Fisk said.

Dave and Edward Huffstetler fit their bikes perfectly, and on the second day of the event, they were raring to go.

Dave, 12, had finished fourth in the pre-race events, and Edward, 10, had finished fifth. Both boys started racing a couple of years ago.

"I love all of it," said Edward, a student at Lacy Elementary School. "I especially like doing tricks."

Dave, who goes to Daniels Middle School and runs cross-country, admitted falling off his bike a lot at first. But once he learned to adjust his weight and maintain balance, he never looked back.

Their father, David, isn't tempted to go head-to-head with his boys in a father-son challenge.

"There's too much downside for me," he said. "The track hosted a Father's Day race this summer and two of the dads broke their collarbones; they were so competitive and wanted to win at any cost. I prefer spectating."