Not too old to BMX race — maybe

A series of recent events had me rifling through my notebook of old columns that I had written over the past years. There it was: On Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, I had written about my son Matt’s first BMX race and how he had won it.

If you don’t know what BMX racing is, here’s a definition that may help: “BMX means Bicycle Motocross racing. It is bicycle racing on purpose-built off-road single-lap dirt race tracks with jumps and rollers on a serpentine course.”

When Matt began his BMX racing in the greater Warren area, I was in my mid-40s and he was about 11. At the time, the most rigorous exercise for me was helping Matt get his bike out of the trunk of my car. After all, I was over 40, and my involvement in sports was to be a good spectator.

Matt continued to race until he was 16 and all that stopped when he got a job working for a local bicycle shop. That was the end of his BMX racing. After all, I thought, this is a kid’s sport.

Meanwhile, Matt moved to California, got his education, married and had kids.

So, I was surprised to see a picture he sent me of a grown man, in his late 40s, all dressed up in a protective BMX racing uniform and official helmet, holding a couple of trophies. That man was Matt! He’s 47 now.

How did all this come about?

Earlier this year, Matt attempted to get my grandson into BMX bike racing to see if it would be something he would enjoy. My grandson wasn’t all that enthused, but he tried anyway.

At the track, Matt saw that there were many older people racing. There were competitive age groups in the 41 to 45, 46 to 50, and 51 and older categories. Matt decided to give it a try in his age group and started racing in February of this year.

Weatherwise, he most likely couldn’t have done this in Ohio, but I understand that there are indoor races still being held here during the cold months.

And race he did! He has run more than 110 races and earned 85 trophies, eight national trophies and one California State first place.

I had the privilege of being a spectator at Matt’s racing near Napa, Calif., when I recently spent about two weeks visiting him and his family. I sat in the bleachers at the top of a steeply-banked 180-degree curve. As he would go by, usually in the lead, he was in command of the situation to the extent that he could look up and holler, “Hi, Dad!” as he went by. He usually winning those heats.

Sure, the weather’s better in California, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I didn’t get involved in BMX racing when I was in my 40s. Maybe they didn’t have my age group back then…

When I got home from that vacation out there in the Golden State, I glanced up at my dust-covered 26-inch bike hanging from the ceiling of my garage. Yeah, I might be able to get it down from there with a little help. Maybe I could try riding it around the block — on the sidewalk, of course.

Then, I could slowly get back in shape. Was I ever in shape?

Then, after working myself into the sort of condition BMX racing requires, I could buy a BMX bike.

Oh, who am I kidding? They have a racing category for those 51 and older, but I doubt that they would have one for those 81 and older.

Let’s see, where is that TV Trib television directory?

Mumford,of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com

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