My "racing today for the older guys" thread  RSS Feed

#1 2013-01-17 11:04am

John De Bruin
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My "racing today for the older guys" thread

I'd like to preface a long rambling thought, so bear with me here...

It's pretty safe to say we're all here because we like BMX of some sort or another. A large number of us older guys were racers BITD and got out of it at some point, for whatever reason or another. And a large number of us got back into BMX in the somewhat recent past through the hobby of BMX collecting/building/etc., and many have expressed the underlying reason why as a way to reconnect themselves to their youth (myself included in all that).

As for my perspective of this:

I thought I was "done" with BMX in 1987. Yup, "turned the page" of life is what I said when I was 17...don't look back...no regrets...etc, etc, etc. Took me a while to realize that wasn't such a good idea. Fortunately in 2004 I opened that book again, partly because of the accessibility of information and parts via the internet, eBay, and great sites like this and all the members involved. But as I've stated many times, I personally have never considered myself a "collector". That's fine if YOU are or have become that, but I have always wanted to be a "racer". One thing that bothered me profusely was when talking about BMX, I had to say I "was" a racer. I effing hated that with a passion. I want to "be" a racer.

One cool thing about us old guys is that most of us can say that we were a part of the greatest era in racing...the old-school era. And even now, I've come to realize that we might also be able to say that many of us are or were part of the greatest era of collecting BMX...IMHO the 2000-2008 era prior to recession and start of the deflation in buying/building/restoring. Regardless of your opinions of the subtle details along the way, these were the years that Rockford established itself as THE show of shows, and to be part of that was a lot of fun (along with a lot of other great things during that time).

I've seen it asked a few times already "where do we go from here?". For me, I look back at what I want to be...a racer. My first Rockford I raced a show-built XL24. Looked goofy at the time, but now we have a decent scene of vintage races throughout USA, Au, and UK. Shortly after that Rockford, I raced my Judge II and crashed at Elkhorn breaking a bunch of stuff. I was depressed for a long time thinking that I was forced to being done, and just at the point when I was starting to get back into it! But with a wife and kids and a job to do and pressure from the woman and pressure from that common-sense voice inside, I decided to live vicariously through it with the hobby scene of buying/selling/building/restoring like a lot of us did.

With all the talk of obesity rates in the US, it got me to thinking about all those guys I've seen or met at those Rockford events. It occurred to me that most of you guys (like myself) are in pretty decent shape yet. I asked myself again, why aren't I racing? So in 2012 I decided to push my worries aside and gate-up again. I also am wondering why a lot of you former racer guys aren't racing today. Maybe you guys aren't aware how good the scene is right now, so I'd like to offer a few words of encouragement:

1. I know most of you guys are in good enough shape to get back on a bike, so that is not your excuse not to race.

2. Got a wife, kids, job that they all depend on you to provide for? Guess what, so does every other guy on the gate today. Stop using that as a pussy excuse and man-up. Did you know that it's a running joke in the staging lanes at every race when people say "let's take it easy out there, we all have to work on Monday." F that. When the gate drops, every guy gives her hell.

3. Are you going to crash? Get hurt? Probably. Deal with it. Although we break easier when we get older, trust me, we heal in the same way as when we were younger. The potential for getting hurt is NOT an excuse not to race (unless you are a total pussy, then it is). EVERYONE has the same potential for injury. It isn't stopping the ones who are out there, so why is it stopping you?

4. Are you aware that we are currently in the midst of a huge revival in BMX racing? Forget the Olympics for a moment, because you and I aren't in it. But the sanctions merged, and there were 678 motos at this 35th Grands in 2012...absolutely blowing away the previous record of 603! Some of the very best racing action is coming from the youngest groups (your kids) and the older classes (where you would be had you signed up). IF YOU ARE A FORMER RACER AND YOU ARE NOT RACING TODAY, YOU ARE MISSING A RARE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF ONE OF THESE GREATEST ERA'S OF BMX.

5. Get over the fact that racing today isn't as great as 1984. This is one time when 2nd-best (era) beats sitting on the couch any day of the week. Saying it's not as great as you remember is a phony excuse tactic and you are lying to yourself by not allowing yourself to experience the fun of it today.

6. With all those bikes at the Grands, I saw 2 (two!) that were stand-out awesome. When I broached that subject with my buddies (who are not vintage collectors), one of them described one of those two bikes before I had a chance to. My point? BMX racing today still gives plenty of opportunity to apply your bike building skills into making a stand-out bike on the track today. Don't get confused by all the photos of Redline Flight complete's or Intense top tubes as being the norm. There are still infinite ways to build a "show" machine with unique brands' parts and color combinations. And finding some of these "boutique" new parts today is just as difficult as it's always been. In many cases, brands make a small batch-run of a particular color that never gets advertised. You need to develop a relationship with your fav brand, tell them what you want, and keep checking back to see if they've had the chance to make that for you. RARE OR UNIQUE ONE-OFF STUFF IS NEVER ADVERTISED.

7. As I've stated in the past, BMX racing (for me) is the closest thing to the fountain of youth that I know. Some day you will be too old to ride a bike, and trust me, you do not want to have the regret of saying to yourself "why didn't I do that when I still could have". If you are a former racer who is not currently racing, I am talking to YOU.

So let me nudge you with these tips:

1. Go to your local track with a bike and a helmet and ride a practice session. If that means you gotta plunk out the membership fees to do it, do it. It's a drop in the bucket when you look at the bigger picture. If you don't have a helmet, most tracks have one that you can borrow.

2. That little voice in your head is going to ramble off excuse after excuse after excuse why you should not be doing this. This is one of those times that you should do everything in your power to not listen to it, and remind yourself why you're there.

3. Swallow a humble pill. Tell yourself that this is your first time on a BMX bike and on a racetrack. Do not bring your old-school ego of winning races when you were 15 to the track today. You will get hurt just like I did. Learn everything from scratch again. Progress only when you feel you're ready for it.

4. Sign up as Novice. I am a Novice. If you haven't raced in 20 years, you are a Novice too. There is nothing wrong with being a Novice when you're our age. The racing action is still good. And if all those skills come back to you quickly, don't worry, you will either transfer-up or you can elect to transfer-up at any time you decide to.

5. Baby steps. It's not about winning the race. Use your local tracks for learning/training, but also do not be afraid of going to Nationals...in-fact, that IS your goal. Nationals are where it's at because of the full classes. Maybe at some busier tracks, all the classes are filled. If so, that's awesome. Thank your lucky stars that you have such a great scene at your local track. For me, I don't have that. So anything local is just training for the bigger races (double-points, state qualifiers, Nationals, Grands). As the sport grows, more tracks including mine may be able to provide that better racing scene. Until then, race that 27x if he's the one you got grouped with and be glad you're getting track time that will lead to improved skills for the big race.

Okay, okay, hippocrate's statement above. I hate being beat by a 27x at the local scene. So let your passion to improve your skills dictate and build a backyard test track. Trust me, at that point it's also a good test to see if you married a good woman, so you're killing two birds with one stone. lol

6. Give yourself permission to enjoy everything that you remember about racing as a kid, and also building show bikes or collecting survivor gems more recently, to propagate through to what you're doing at the track today. Build a show bike like no other, keep it sparkly clean, make everyone look at you at the track and want to ask questions...then do everything in your humanly-possible way to take that bike to the Main.

7. Play fair. Even a 7' Grands trophy is not worth knowing that your bad actions caused someone to get hurt. If you can't swoop a guy without crashing him, you suck anyways...regardless whether you got in front of him.

8. Tell people you are a BMX racer, not were. 

Last couple things:

I have not mentioned my favorite brand in this thread, so I respectfully ask that you keep it for what it is. I encourage everyone to build a bike with your favorite brand components and make a statement doing it...both on and off the track. Brand loyalty (regardless of which one) is a unique characteristic and is something us old-schooler's understand best. It is healthy for the sport and can fuel your passion to be on the track.

If you just can't bring yourself to racing today because of whatever reason or excuse that's preventing you, at least go to a National and watch your class. You'll see first-hand what I'm talking about and what you're missing. And if you still decide not to partake in the action that's going on right now, don't ever say I didn't tell you so. wink

Last edited by John De Bruin (2013-01-17 11:11am)

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#2 2013-01-17 11:15am

perront
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

Well-stated indeed!  Last Saturday at Ray's Milwaukee was my first time riding a bike on uneven surfaces in years, and I instantly started thinking, "Maaaan, I REALLY need to get back into racing."  This thread is fueling the fire -- thanks!


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#3 2013-01-17 11:19am

NewMidMike
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

cool


New Orleans via Steamboat Springs, CO via New Orleans

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#4 2013-01-17 11:33am

aaronl
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

good one mate, did gates last night for the first time since early Dec so have a buzz from that smile

I think in relation to point 5, now is the best time ever.  Our local club races hover around 100 riders, maxed out around 120 some weekends.  That's good numbers seeing there are 5 tracks all within an hours drive of each other.  But it's the best time now, because you are racing again not just because the numbers are up.  Out of the 100 riders, the mid 20's age is still low, but there are so many kids under 10 and dads over 35.

I was chatting with one of the best coaches out there, an Aussie who coached the US olympic team and a couple of the best riders in the world, he is the same age as me turning 40 this year.  I explained how this time around (3rd time around at racing) was the most fun, my kid was racing and the pressure was off.  He said that's they way it should be, 40 year olds having a lot of fun, def not too old, but then no one wants to hear about your racing over 40 cruiser class at the dinner table, it's all about your kids.  Have a lot of fun and don't get hurt. 

good posting op. smile

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#5 2013-01-17 11:39am

dwh19690
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

cool


"I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids"

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#6 2013-01-17 11:55am

hoger548
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

I hear ya john, my last race was in 87 as well and had to join the army....cause of my son who wanted to ride the track i got back on my bike about 6 years ago now and yeah i'm still racing....here in europe we don't have a 20 inch class for the 45 plus guys so i race cruiser and we have a lot of fun...

here's a vid from me for the guys that maybe want to start racin again...this is in the netherlands.....and we are old lollollollol

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#7 2013-01-17 12:36pm

BtGt
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

Preach on!!!! Lets race in Portland. I'll be there.

BtGt

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#8 2013-01-17 12:42pm

Coco
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

No track in my city and the plans to resurrect it last summer fell through. hmm

At least the remnants are still there.

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#9 2013-01-17 12:48pm

wds
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

Well said John!

8. Tell people you are a BMX racer, not were. 

This. I remember when the first X-Games hit, it dawned on me that I can't call myself a BMXer if I'm not actually riding. Sure I still had my bikes (in pieces) and picked up the occasional magazine, but I wan't riding. Put a bike back together & fixed that. Been riding since.
And for those of us that aren't competitive racer-types. That were on the freestyle side of things, just swap out "riding" for racing when reading John's post. Remember there are more skateparks than ever to ride.
Even then, it won't kill you to hit the track from time to time. It's all BMX to me & I enjoy it despite not having a competitive bone in my body. For me it's not so much me against the other seven guys, but me against the track. Beating other racers is just a gauge of how well I'm improving against the track.
-Bill


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#10 2013-01-17 12:53pm

Scraplord
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

BtGt wrote:

Preach on!!!! Lets race in Portland. I'll be there.

BtGt

Be where? We don`t have a track unfortunately.


Still searching for my missing bikes from BITD. 1979 Blue Max serial: CI9 221346 and 1977 Webco serial: 42667. Both were last seen at Spoke and Sport Bicycles in Spokane, WA around 1984. $600 reward if found!!

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#11 2013-01-17 1:32pm

thateffingguy
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

Scraplord wrote:

BtGt wrote:

Preach on!!!! Lets race in Portland. I'll be there.

BtGt

Be where? We don`t have a track unfortunately.

Pretty sure there is one in Molalla and one in Newberg if you are willing to make the drive. I live in Milwaukie, plan on getting back into it this coming summer riding (more than likely) cruiser.


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#12 2013-01-17 1:48pm

John De Bruin
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

wds wrote:

For me it's not so much me against the other seven guys, but me against the track. Beating other racers is just a gauge of how well I'm improving against the track.
-Bill

+1

which reminds me of a tip I forgot:

9. When you go to the track, especially for the first time after being away for a long time, DO NOT look at the jumps and say "I think I can do that". Trust me, you can not...and you will not. When you are on the track you're job is not trying to be on a stage to impress your wife/gf/kids...even if you once had the ability to clear that thing when everyone was watching you BITD. Nobody in 41N is jumping. You are not less of a man than anyone else by not jumping, so clear your thoughts of the subject and get back to practical basics like a 2-pedal gate balance and getting the front wheel up on the jumps.

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#13 2013-01-17 2:05pm

thateffingguy
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

John De Bruin wrote:

wds wrote:

For me it's not so much me against the other seven guys, but me against the track. Beating other racers is just a gauge of how well I'm improving against the track.
-Bill

+1

which reminds me of a tip I forgot:

9. When you go to the track, especially for the first time after being away for a long time, DO NOT look at the jumps and say "I think I can do that". Trust me, you can not...and you will not. When you are on the track you're job is not trying to be on a stage to impress your wife/gf/kids...even if you once had the ability to clear that thing when everyone was watching you BITD. Nobody in 41N is jumping. You are not less of a man than anyone else by not jumping, so clear your thoughts of the subject and get back to practical basics like a 2-pedal gate balance and getting the front wheel up on the jumps.

Great point and advice! Quite honestly, the idea of jumping was/is the only thing that freaks me out a little about getting back into it! Yeah, I expect to eat dirt, but the thought of broken bones is enough to give one pause for a moment! Ha!


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#14 2013-01-17 2:08pm

Scraplord
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

thateffingguy wrote:

Scraplord wrote:

BtGt wrote:

Preach on!!!! Lets race in Portland. I'll be there.

BtGt

Be where? We don`t have a track unfortunately.

Pretty sure there is one in Molalla and one in Newberg if you are willing to make the drive. I live in Milwaukie, plan on getting back into it this coming summer riding (more than likely) cruiser.

Yeah I know. I have raced at both but they are both a very long drive. I heard that they`re making a new track in Washougal next to the motocross track. Hope they get it done soon! I would race more often if the track was closer.


Still searching for my missing bikes from BITD. 1979 Blue Max serial: CI9 221346 and 1977 Webco serial: 42667. Both were last seen at Spoke and Sport Bicycles in Spokane, WA around 1984. $600 reward if found!!

    "This website is not a substitute for common sense" - Kurt_Rad

    "American dream turns to dust. So give us a god that does not rust" - Clutch
   
                            WANT TO BUY: BLACK RAD PAD FRAME PAD AND CHROME TUF NECK STAMPED STRAIGHT SEATPOST!

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#15 2013-01-17 2:30pm

CBR_TOY
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

Amazing post. I got another membership last year after being out for 16 years and I was classified as inter. lol

My plan is to hit a bunch of practice days and eventually get in the gate again.


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#16 2013-01-17 4:01pm

Gearjoneser
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Re: My "racing today for the older guys" thread

My story kind of mirrors the original post - same age too.   I was a So Cal kid growing up in Torrance, did a bit of racing, and mostly realized that I was a better guitarist than racer.   I certainly got more chicks standing on stages than riding a kids bike.  LOL 

As the 90's hit, mountain bikes were the big thing so I got really into fire trails and cruising....never raced.
Eventually, I got into road bikes as boring and gay as that fashion statement is!  haha
In reality, I've been a life long fan of riding bicycles for fitness.   I consider myself a cyclist, just because I'm a fan of lots of bikes.

I didn't realize how much I loved BMX culture until this "2nd wave" hit, due to the internet, this site, and resurgence of events here in southern California.   I was finally able to reconnect and meet some of my childhood heroes at the Subway Series rides, beach rides, OS Reunions (been to every single one of those).    I've ridden with Stu, Greg, David Clinton, Tommy Brackens, Dennis Dain, and even got Perry Kramer to sign my son's PK.  cool    Many of my childhood dreams came true for real.

Around 07, I started practicing and racing again, and learned something......I have speed and power from cycling in general, but I had to try to regain bike handling skills.   I hadn't jumped a bike in over a decade, and had to practice balancing at the gate.....I remembered it being easy.   I also learned that modern bikes are what most people use at BMX tracks, and that 24" cruisers feel better to me - being used to bigger bikes.

I never thought racing would be too dangerous if I didn't try to go beyond my skill level.   I also didn't have medical insurance, and it really freaked me out when I'd get hurt.   One time, I let my speed out-do my bike handling skills and hit a jump wrong.   I hit the ground chest first, cracking some ribs, and was in pain for 3 months.   I was lucky I didn't really hurt myself or get paralyzed or something.    That was a wake up call to take it easy.   I'm no pussy, but I've seen some guys our age rack up big medical bills and put themselves out of work, just trying to be a 15 year old again.   So yeah, I'll practice at the track occasionally, and enter a few races when I'm motivated, and continue riding my other bikes.   Gotta keep my back and guitar fingers healthy, first and foremost.

At this point, I'm just trying to enjoy myself.   I have no aspirations to take on Maris Strombergs.  lol


Sure I'll look like a bear at the circus, but I'll get a little fun out of it.

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