Letter: My Son is Moving to Expert, May Quit if He Does Bad

June 26, 2017 by  

Main Event Qualifier Image
My son is a few wins away from moving up to expert. He doesn’t take losing well, and I am afraid he is going to quit once he moves up, because he will probably be at the back of the pack for quite a while. Any advice?

—JR, Pacific Northwest

Thanks for writing, JR. When your son moves up from Inter to Expert, you need to manage expectations (his and yours), to account for that period. And talk openly about why you’re here in the first place.

It isn’t easy to get creamed race after race when you move up, I get it. But this is really the golden opportunity for a life lesson, which BMX Racing serves up so well to its participants.

A rider in that situation has three choices (and I am mostly speaking to him now):

1). Work hard to improve. Start a training program, and set sights on getting closer to the qualifying spots (make the semi, then sixth in the semi, then fifth, then make a main, etc.).

With this mindset, you are racing your own race, improving your own skills, and not focusing on the experienced riders whom you have little chance of beating in the early days of your expert career. When you achieve one of those milestones, you have succeeded—regardless of who won the main.

2). Be content with where you end up “organically.” Setting-aside race results for a moment, BMX Racing is a lot of fun, and it isn’t just qualifying to the main that makes this so. The time you spend at the races is making lifetime memories for your family—whether you realize it today or not, trust me, it is. In 10, 20, 30 years, you will not remember what place you got at the Gold Cup Finals or any-given National (until, of course, your first podium finish, and your first big win).

What you WILL remember is that time you took home Connor Fields’ podium check, eating breakfast with Alise Post in the airport, getting a flat tire driving home from the Grands and being towed in to some podunk town at 2AM, or your bike getting stolen the day before a national, and a family in the next pit loaning you a bike. (the last-two are personal memories, by the way. We still talk about those experiences, 35 years later).

3). Quit racing.

Each of those outcomes has an impact on the person you will ultimately become as an adult. And THAT is really what BMX Racing is all about.

We don’t acknowledge it much, because we are so wrapped-up in the moment, but BMX Racing isn’t about trophies, or points or plastic plates. It’s about the life lesson that big rewards require big commitment, big sacrifice and big “heart—“ a willingness to be the worst until you can, little by little, become the best you can be. But, all the while, sticking with that sport, that impossibly-hard college course, that new job, that relationship, overcoming that major setback, until you prevail.

—Mike Carruth