Photos: USA BMX Bluegrass Nationals
It was an action-packed weekend of racing, as the third stop on the 2013 USA BMX National Tour touched down in the Derby City. It’s hard not to love Louisville: lots of great BMX memories here, easy to get in and out of town, hotels close to the venue, and solid, neighborhood-joint pizza, just a phone call away (Spinelli’s…bookmark it!).
The last time we were in town during the Winter months was for the 2009 NBL Christmas Classic. That race was shoe-horned into the “Broadbent Arena” at the Kentucky Exposition Center, and was generally not very pleasant. We were over-the-moon stoked to learn that NBL was bringing the Classic to Columbus–or anywhere other than the Broadbent Arena for 2010.
This year’s USA BMX Bluegrass Nationals would be in the said-to-be-larger Freedom Hall. Truth be told, it did not feel all that much larger than the Broadbent–though we’re sure someone could/will point to blueprints that say otherwise. The reality is that the KEC, as a whole, is an awkward setting for a BMX race. Parking was $36 for three days, which is their standard rate for all events, but we thought was testing the limits for a BMX crowd. Some had the option to ride the shuttle provided by some of the close-in hotels– a nice bonus that effectively shaved $12/nt off their room rate.
There was no team pit space, so the social factor of strolling around and seeing friends was pretty-much nonexistent, as everyone adjourned to the arena seats (or back to the room) after locking their bikes in the provided bike lockup area, out back.
This was the first year at the KEC for USA BMX, so we anticipate many of the creature discomforts will be addressed for next year. Louisville loves BMX, and we know they want what we want: the best possible BMX race.
For its part, the track was wedged in to the floor space available. It was a similar theme to all the other indoor stops on the tour, aside from the Grands. People are always going to complain about the indoor tracks–like death and taxes. Of course, the truth is everyone has to ride the same track. Once racing got underway, you saw passing on the straightaways as well as the turns, which is a good sign–on any track.
The last turn gave the most ominous first impression, with its tight radius and wall ride-esque facing. There was a heaping helping of drama there, especially in Sunday’s mains, where even the younger girls classes were riding the comp “high and over.”
Billy Allen and his crew did a great job of keeping the track in shape during the weekend. The dirt was not exactly awesome–mixed heavily with wood chips and some kind of moss-like protomatter that was neither dirt, nor wood. Like trying to make snowballs out of oatmeal and ice chips. Still, they held it together til the last main crossed the line.
The Bluegrass Nationals brought 286 motos on Saturday and 268 on Sunday. Lots of teams made the trip, looking for beefy rider counts. Donavon Long’s Haro/Promax team won the Factory honors on Saturday, George Costa made it out of Boston just ahead of the blizzard of 2013. His Answer/Rennen team rained on the parade of all the other Factory Teams on Sunday, turning in the top sheet.
Louisville was the last race before the Elite season starts up at the Winter Nationals in Phoenix. And we were impressed, as we were in Reno, with the level of stoke the crowd exhibited for the 23 A Pros who made the trip. This was Justin Posey’s Pro class debut, and he raced it like an ace. In fact, he WAS an ace, winning every lap both days–the first day for Dan’s Comp, and the second for his Collegiate team, Marian University. The USA Cycling Collegiate BMX Championships are being run alongside the Winter Nationals. You have to like JP’s chances at the title, if you saw him race this weekend.
We are going to have more on the Bluegrass Nationals Tuesday morning, including a Photo Trophy Dash. Leading up to that, give a gander to the photo galleries from the race.