By Heather Parker
As the rain beats on our windshield during our 14-hour journey home, I have time to reflect on Grands 2016. Somehow, I was very calm this year— almost detached. It gave me a chance to really watch, instead of being absorbed in my own emotions. After so many years in the sport, maybe our family has reached some sort of BMX nirvana, giving uncontrollable circumstances up to the great beyond. Is that the blessing that comes from years of riding the waves of triumph and heartache?
Friday evening at our hotel, I got in the elevator with a young racer and his mom. Never one to keep quiet I asked, “How’d it go at the ROC today?”. “Not good,” he said as he looked down at his feet. His mom quietly said, “You did just fine,” as she laid her hand gently on his head. I gave the usual cheery, possibly annoying, “Tomorrow’s another day!” speech, and wished him luck as we stepped off the elevator on our floor.
The vibe at Grands for amateurs on Saturday is always one of happy excitement, with everyone knowing there’s another shot if things go awry, first round. It’s a time for visiting with friends, and making plans to watch the evening’s Pro Spectacular.
I saw emotions well up in my son William as we watched Donny Robinson take his final lap in the third round of AA. It tugged at our hearts, and we were in awe watching Donny compete in the top class for the last time. This is clearly not the end for Donny, but a new beginning, as he continues to be a great ambassador for our sport— especially for our youth.
After third round of pros, Alise Post was surprised with a BMX bridal shower under the Dan’s tent, in celebration of her upcoming nuptials to Sam Willoughby. It’s a special time for her, and all of the ladies wanted her to feel loved.
Simultaneously at Dan’s, Justin Posey raised funds for the #Strengthfor91 fund by raffling off his bike and jersey in order to help out his friend Sam. JP raised $1100 for SW91. The Road2Recovery fund stands at $191,000 and change—96% to the $200,000 goal. All of these efforts on behalf of friends in the BMX Family have made a real difference in this cause.
When we returned to the hotel Saturday night, the same young boy and his mom were at the elevator again. I didn’t have to ask how his day went. He was wearing a hospital gown and a full arm cast. I wished him a speedy healing, and sent up a silent prayer for the safety of my own boys.
Looking around at different faces on Sunday, there were wide ranges of emotions. Anxiousness and determination, anguish and joy, and everything in between.
In the 13-14 girls cruiser main event, Mckenzie Gayheart crashed in the last turn, in an attempt to take the lead and win the national Girl Cruiser title. It wasn’t until the 14-girls main that I realized her bold move resulted in a fractured elbow. I felt sad watching her roll the gate, and ride with one arm strapped across her chest, knowing the disappointment she must be feeling. As she approached the finish, her dad Ricky was there to catch her and hug her, and it warmed my heart.
BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
In the 17-20 women’s main event, after gaining the lead on the third straight, Samantha Miller (Factory Powers Bike Shop) crashed just yards from the finish that would have earned her the title, along with Sophia Foresta and Kristen Long. Elida Beeman scooted around the wreck and took the win of the day, and the title for Answer/Rennen.
After watching Samantha succeed and stay focused all season, it was hard to watch her fall. I knew though that her team and her family, all so proud of her, would lift her up (pictured above in her semi).
Sometimes though, the stars align just-so, as they did for Jesse Welch (Haro/Promax) in 15x. Jesse led the race from start to finish, scored the National Amateur title, and accepted the plate from his teammate Kevin Pauls. Congratulations, Jesse!
Occasionally I dream of a traditional Thanksgiving weekend at home, with nothing but family, cooking and football. The truth is though, Grands weekend IS our traditional Thanksgiving. There will be joy, and there will be pain, but the beauty of it is, we’re all in it together.
Editor’s Note: Heather filed this story last Tuesday, after a long 14-hour drive back home. It came in just as my “Grands Flu” was hitting full effect, and it took several days before I had all the photo galleries ready to post. Thanks very much Heather! /MC
More Grands Coverage Coming This Week
- Podcast with Cruiser Champ, Drew Motley and National #1 Amateur, Jesse Welch
- Five big moments of the 2016 USA BMX Grands
Now, check out the BMX News Photo Galleries from the Grands