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Donny Does Nickelodeon Day of Play in NYC

September 20, 2017 by · Comments Off 

Donny and Tiffany Robinson at Nickelodeon Day of Play/NYC

By Donny Robinson
For over a decade, Nickelodeon has hosted targeted events all over the US, that help encourage kids and parents to turn off the TV and play, specifically, outdoors. By offering a slew of activities (such as bicycle riding, baseball, basketball, football & soccer, to name a few) Read more

Letter: What Does #AgeOfTheBeginner Mean?

May 21, 2017 by · Comments Off 

What is #AgeOfTheBeginner
For the past couple months, I have noticed you and Donny Robinson and a few others using the hashtag #AgeOfTheBeginner in your Facebook posts. What does that mean? Is it something to do with your BMX Beginner League?

JP, Florida

Thanks for writing JP. As you are aware, an “age” Read more

Podcast: BMX Racing League Update

May 12, 2017 by · Comments Off 

Podcast on the BMX Racing League

For the past eight months, BMX Racing League has been testing and proving-out the concept of a Beginners-only program for new families coming into BMX Racing, with great success. The League sets up a program where families pay a single entry fee, which includes five sessions of instruction, five races, a League jersey, number plate, season-end award and pizza party on the last day. All participants are USA BMX “trial” members, which sets-the-stage for them to eventually join the “Open Racing” program at the local track (AKA the regular local program).

In this, the 139th episode of the Announcers Tower Podcast, Donny Robinson fills-us-in on the details of the League, as well as his success at his own local track, North bay BMX in Napa, CA.

This episode is unique, among the other episodes, in that I, as host of the program, act as both host, and somewhat of a “co-guest,” since I also ran three “test seasons” of the League program at one of my local tracks, Steel Wheels BMX in Hobart, IN.

The reason we decided to do this show is because Track Operators, industry-folk, and many BMX families interested in growing the sport have sent-in questions—to BMX News, to Donny, and via the BMX Racing League Facebook Page (link below).

Donny answered as many of those questions, individually, as he could, but a central place to hear about the program, and its nuances, will help a broader-audience understand the scope of the program, and (hopefully) spur-on deeper discussion, as the program wends its way through to a larger rollout.

Listen now:

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http://bmxurl.com/at139

Bonus Clips

“BMX Goggles: Bike Sizing”

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“BMX Goggles: Transfer System”

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iOS users: paste this URL into your device’s browser:
http://bmxurl.com/at139b

It was a lot of fun doing this episode. There is SO much more to say, but both Donny and I really enjoyed sharing our experience with the League, and the details surrounding how it all works, and why.

If you are an interested Track Operator who knows that Beginner programming is needed, reach out to Donny (donny@donnyrobinson.com) to get on the list of tracks that will be among the first to be trained in running the BMX Racing League program–according to the “recipe.”

If you’re NOT a track operator, but know this program will be a game-changer for your local scene, contact Donny as well. The position of “League Coordinator” is open, and ready for you to fill.

—Mike Carruth

Links

BMX Racing League on Facebook




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Podcast on the BMX Racing League

Reader Letter: Pump or BMX Track?

October 18, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Pump Track vs BMX Track
Next Spring, I want to present something to my city that might be either a pump track or a BMX track. We are BMX racers, but I think a pump track might be easier to get approved due to cost. What should I present that has a better chance of growing the sport and getting approved?

-JS, Midwest

Thanks for writing, JS.

First, big props to you and your crew for working to get ANY “dirt cycling” program going in your town. We need more people like you out there!

Regarding which format to pitch to your city leaders, there are two questions you need to answer:

1). Do you want to get more kids on bikes?
2). Do you want to get more kids on BMX bikes to race BMX?

A pump track MIGHT be good for #1, but the problem, if your goal is to grow the sport of BMX Racing, is that the new riders at the pump track will be influenced by riders who may or may not be racers.

Most importantly, and as you know, BMX Racing is a FAMILY sport. It is not uncommon to see three generations of a given family at the track to cheer-on their racer. That is massively-appealing to city council members in almost-any municipality in America. This is not necessarily the case at a pump track.

Everyone wants more family time these days, and BMX Racing is a rare activity that provides that. At BMX News, we like to say “Fun, Fitness and Family” are the three points that make a BMX Racing track important to any community.

BMX Racing is the perfect sport for kids who are too young for other sports. And, of course, just as perfect for kids who are not interested in team sports (all stuff that you know, but we’re giving you ammo for the presentation).

The MUCH better way to go (for your presentation) is to use the same land you had in mind, to create a beginner-level BMX track. One track builder told us he can take a piece of unused municipal land and build a beginner-level BMX Track for about $15k (plus the gate).

Once you have that ready, you need a bunch of new families. Run the Donny Robinson “Beginner League” format on your new beginner-level track. The riders you enroll for your new program are directly-accretive to BMX Racing numbers. If your goal is “growing the sport,” this is how it happens!

Set your sights on six teams-of-10 for the first “season” (60 riders, or about 12 motos, all showing up every week for five weeks–that’s what the beginner league is all about).

The key is: Don’t over-think it! Take the “BMX Goggles” off and stop worrying about a perfectly-groomed facility with lights and “progression” features. Do not promote your new track to BMXers outside your town. You are here to build a local program from scratch. Tune out what existing BMXers say about your track and you, personally, and get local families involved!

Lean on USA BMX for help; they know exactly how to get this done.

I hope this helps answer your question, and we look forward to seeing your new track on the map in 2017.

—Mike Carruth

Top photo: rjp, via Flickr (News cropped and re-sized the original image).

Links

“BMX Beginner League” Format a Success in Napa

Podcast: Napa Beginner League Wraps Up

October 12, 2016 by · Comments Off 

BMX Racing Beginner League at North Bay BMX
Back on September 20, BMX News ran an article reporting on the success Donny Robinson and the volunteers of North Bay BMX in Napa, CA. Last Friday, that first league season finished up, with 39 of the 40 riders originally signed up still participating. News caught up with Donny and Ray Gomez, North Bay BMX Track Operator to hear what they learned in the pioneering five week league experiment, and what’s next for the riders who participated.

The basis of the Beginner League program is something called “Structured Participation,” which means that riders sign up for a full five-week “season” of racing, with practices and race days on specific days and times (Wednesdays and Fridays, in the case of the North Bay league). And most important, beginners only ride with beginners—the program is run at a time when other BMXers are not at the track.

The riders in the Beginner League are all USA BMX members (in the case of this first season, riding on a 7-day, plus a 30-day membership), and once a rider completes his/her second season in the league they are automatically moved up to the “open Racing” in the local program–with a full USA BMX membership as part of the deal.

In this podcast, Ray and Donny speak candidly about the program, and how it very-well may be the medicine for the local program our sport has been seeking for so long.

Click Here to Listen

BMX Racing Beginner League at North Bay BMX
Donny and Ray will be launching a second League season in early November, and we are anxious to see how their early success with this program carries forward into future seasons—ultimately adding more riders to the North Bay BMX “open racing” program (which is League-speak for the regular local program).

—Mike Carruth

A Big BMX News thanks to Steve Greco of JustCuz Racing for coming out to the track to capture these photos of the very-first BMX Beginner League season.

*Full Disclosure: Developing the Beginner League concept has been a personal passion of mine for the past seven years– since it was first discussed in a 2009 VintageBMX.com thread. Over the past 18 months, Donny’s feedback and input has been critical in taking the over-arching concept to the final stage so we could move into real-world trial of the concept. Though the framework of the Beginner League is something I am intimately familiar with, having developed much of the protocol, I am interviewing Donny and Ray to hear their unique story of actually running the program for the first time. /MC

Links

“BMX Beginner League” Format a Success in Napa





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“BMX Beginner League” Format a Success in Napa

September 20, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Napa BMX Beginner League
Donny Robinson and the volunteers at North Bay BMX are moving into week three of a five-week trial on a new format that may-just revolutionize local BMX Racing for new families coming into the sport.

North Bay, in Napa, CA is the first track to test out the “BMX Beginner League” format, which is structured like other traditional league sports—with a defined “season” and prescribed days and times to show up. This is the format that is most-familiar to parents, who can easily agree to “Wednesday and Friday from 4-6PM for five weeks,” but may have a more difficult time with “show up whenever you want on Thursday nights.” Life happens, you see.

But, once they have paid their seasonal entry fee, mom isn’t going to let their little rider miss one session. “Remember, we have BMX tonight!” is going to be the call from the front door as Junior is running to the bus on Friday morning. That doesn’t happen with “show up to sign up.”

Donny and the North Bay crew signed up 34 brand-new riders (40 total, with six having purchased a membership before the league started) for the first season of their Beginner League (so many in fact, we could not fit them all in the top photo. Click here to see the full group). The $100 entry fee included five practices, five races, a long-sleeve T-Shirt jersey with the league logo (by Bryce Betts), a season-end award (podium trophies for the top three in each age class and participation awards for the rest), and a USA BMX trial membership. This was an introductory price that will likely be a bit higher for future seasons.

Ask most track operators if bringing in 34 new riders in one wave is “good,” and they will give you an emphatic “Heck Yeah!” (or a cynical scoff, depending on your audience).

Aside from the “structured participation” of the fixed season and entry fee, the Beginner League departs from many of the long-standing BMX Racing operational practices at the local level. Here are a few examples:

Use of the term “Beginner.” BMX Racing calls day-one recruits “Novices,” but we also use the same term to define a rider who has 10 national scores under his belt this year, but not the requisite wins to move up. We put them on the gate together on day-one, as equals, and the new rider is on his way out from that point, discouraged and dejected.

The fact is: a beginner is not a novice. The League program recognizes this and adjusts accordingly, so beginners only ride with beginners, on a separate day and time from the normal racing program.

New BMX racers in the BMX Beginner leagueSay it again: Beginners Only Ride with Beginners. The League events occur on a separate day and time from the normal “Open Racing” program (current local program). The point of this is to bring new riders along in the sport slowly, and without influence from BMX people who want to fast-track them to the Nationals on day two of their involvement.

We have a hefty “bounce-off” problem in BMX Racing (where people come to the track, try it out and never come back). The BMX Racing League program helps fix this by bringing families along slowly, but asking them for a modest commitment to get acclimated to how BMX Racing works and what great things we have in store for their kids at the track.

New Family Orientation in the BMX Beginner league
”New Family,” not “New Rider” We don’t give BMX Racing enough credit for being an incredible FAMILY sport. And when a new rider comes out to the track for an orientation event, s/he is supported by their family in doing so—whether both parents, one parent, grandparent(s), etc. BMX Racing is “happening” to the whole family, and the League program brings them all in to the experience by holding an orientation for riders and parents-alike. Parents are taken on a walk-around of the various “stations” of the BMX track, and riders are treated to a “roll-around” with the track coach. Then, all come back together for a final presentation on the league program, dates and rates, and an opportunity to sign up right then and there.

“The Protocol,” as Donny calls the The Beginner League Blueprint, goes in to granular detail on these and many other points that make the program a purpose-built BMX “recruiting and retention machine,” as opposed to the more simplistic “get 40 riders, take their money up front and run them for five weeks.” Anyone can do a league like that, but you’re not going to get them to stick around.

New BMX Racer catches some ar at North bay BMX

By the third session (week two), beginning racers are finding their groove, getting comfortable enough to catch some air on one of the jumps at North Bay BMX in Napa, CA.

The Beginner League concept has been in development for the past seven years, having started on a Vintage BMX thread in June of 2009, and refined over that time,* until Donny joined the fun about 18 months ago. All of that refinement led up to this first test season at North Bay BMX, under the personal supervision of Donny and the crew. North Bay BMX already had an impressive fleet of loaner bikes, and Donny purchased an additional 10 Free Agent “Speedway” series bikes as loaners for the league. Those who are not using loaners have their own bikes (none are required to share a bike). Riderz Ready donated 40 custom number plates, and Tioga kicked in a generous donation to help defray some of the costs above what entry fees covered.

As of week three, one rider of the 40 has dropped out of the league, finding it “too basic.” He will continue on in the “open racing” program of the normal North Bay schedule, and all is well. That’s how it SHOULD work. Self-move-up when it’s too easy.

The track reports greatly-increased concession revenues on league days, and a whole-new crop of willing parent volunteers in the bargain.

Another trial of the Beginner League concept will be conducted this fall in the Midwest, and Donny says the full program should be available for tracks to train-up on sometime right after the first of the year.

—Mike Carruth

A Big BMX News thanks to Steve Greco of JustCuz Racing for coming out to the track to capture these photos of the very-first BMX Beginner League season.

*Full Disclosure: Developing this Beginner League concept has been a personal passion of mine for the past seven years– since that 2009 Vintage thread. Over the past 18 months, Donny’s feedback and input has been critical in taking the over-arching concept to the final stage so we could move into real-world trial of the concept. This is legitimate news that the BMX Racing community should have, but it is also a program that I helped develop, which is why I felt it necessary to disclose my involvement. /MC

Links

Tioga BMX Website

Free Agent BMX Website

Riderz Ready Website

Bryce Betts Designs Website





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Tangent Pro-Am Series Ends Big for Donny

August 30, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Tangent Pro-Am Finale
The final round of the Tangent Pro-Am Series ran last weekend in Roseville, CA, as part of the State Finals. The finale was the top-off to a six-race series which took place at tracks throughout Northern California.

Below, we have embeds of the two main event laps from Sunday’s series finale. Donny Robinson won the day, and the series overall and we’re stoked to give him a big BMX News high-five for the $2650 haul he took back to Napa (said to be as much as five grand for the whole series).

Let’s go to the tape:

Main Event #1

Main Event #2

Full results for all six races, with corresponding payouts are available on the Tangent Pro-Am website (link below).

The Overall Series Podium was
Donny Robinson – $1600
Jacob Abbe – $1200
Jake Peebles – $860

The total payout for the six-race series was $20,965. #sweet

On the weekend wins, Donny told News:

This win was extra special. I was fortunate to win the first-ever Tangent Pro-Am back in 2004 and now, on my final year of racing, not only being able to once again win the Tangent Pro-Am, but also the inaugural Tangent Pro-Am Series, makes for a great ending.

—Donny Robinson

Big props to Tangent and all the contributing sponsors who made the series happen. Significant race action in six races, and significant cash for the riders. Everyone wins on this one! Well done, Rich Pelton and TJ Johnson for putting it all together.

Links

Tangent Pro Am Series Website





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Bryce Betts Explores Strider Worlds With dR

August 1, 2016 by · Comments Off 

bmxnewsstriderLEAD

The Strider World Championships came to California for the first time last weekend. The event welcomed nearly 300 “striders” including over 40 international competitors. With the event located at Pier 35 in San Francisco, Donny Robinson and I decided to take the short trip to the event, and see what it was all about.

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I first met up with Donny and his wife, Tiffany, in Walnut Creek where we hopped on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), and rode into the city.

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We got off at the Embarcadero station, and it was a short 10ish minute walk to pier 35. The weather was picture-perfect in San Francisco, and the walk was a pleasure. Not-as-much for Donny, who was weighed down by 100 autograph posters posters, and an Olympic Medal in his duffle bag.

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We weren’t sure what we were going to encounter when walking-up on the scene, and from the outside the event seemed fairly small. But once we stepped inside, it was a Strider paradise that went back as far as the eye could see.

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From the moment we walked in, Donny was being stopped for photo ops. Here he is taking a photo with Levi “Crazy Legs” Voyer (Right) of Stockton, CA., who was the youngest competitor, at 18 months old. He’s been on his Strider Bike since he learned to walk, at 11 months.

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When the riders signed in, the line was so long it went into the street and the police had to help organize the crowd. It was all worth it in the end however, as the kids were hooked up with this sweet numberplate which opened the floodgates for hours of riding time on the course.

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After we walked past registration, we were immediately greeted by the “merch tent”, which was popular with the kids and parents.

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Beside the merch tent, a bunch of “demo” striders were on a mini bike rack. Non-Participants of the event could test out the striders on a small course, featuring a few wooden jumps and coned-off turns.

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And kids definitely loved the course!

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Along side the demo section, there was an activity zone. The coloring table was definitely popular, but so was the plastic BMX track equipped with mini bikes and kids imagining jumping some doubles.

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After walking past the Strider zone, we walked to the actual competition course. As kids waited in the “Chutes” it was interesting to see them interacting like all BMXers do in staging! Pictured is part of team Japan hanging out, just like their older BMX-brethren would do waiting for their moto.

bmxnewsstrider27

I just liked this picture of a Strider rider walking up the starting hill.

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During practice about as many riders as possible cram into the gate, and a “Strider Coach” gave the starting command before the riders meet the course. Everyone had different starting techniques, but since the Japanese Toddlers Swept the Strider Cup, it’s safe to say their technique was best.

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Even Donny threw a volunteer shirt on, and helped stage the kids.

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After the first straight, the track veered right, before heading outside of the building, making for a great photo spot. Boys and Girls race together. The Japanese female phenom, Miku Shiozawa (pictured above in the pink tutu), crossed the line first taking home the Strider Cup in the Two and under category.

bmxnewsstrider24

Once the track came back inside, there were a few more turns followed by some wooden ramps.

bmxnewsstrider25

The most interesting feature of the course, was definitely this fence on the ground. The super bumpy feature was intimidating for some, so there was a detour around it, but it definitely was slower than the “pro section.”

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After checking out the course, I headed to “the pits” to see some of the trick Striders. These custom wheels were cool, and the Schwalbe tires were really popular amongst the top Striders.

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Strider raffled off two custom rigs, equipped with chrome rims which look totally trick.

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There were groups of Striders from 13 countries, all brought together by the love for racing their Strider bikes. Pictured above is Team Ecuador.

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Donny brought his 2008 Olympic Bronze Medal, which created a very popular photo op for the younger racers as well as Special Needs racers.

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After some photo ops with Donny, emcee and friend-of-News, Al Roybal, brought everyone together for the opening ceremony.

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Strider Founder, Ryan McFarland, gave a great opening speech which outlined the growth of the Strider Cup over the past few years.

BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

bmxnewsStrider15

Donny followed up Ryan with some powerful, and to-the-point remarks. Donny’s shirt says “How Far Can Two Wheels Take You?,” which is the rallying-cry in the he has been doing this year. dR took this mantra and crafted a truly inspirational talk that captured the attention of the kids and adults alike.

bmxnewsstrider10

Flatland pro Pete Brandt gave a final show after Donny was off-stage, with some pretty spectacular tricks. My favorite part of this was after he finished; when a few striders went to the flatland, and did their interpretations of what they saw. It was cute seeing kids spin around with their bike, and stand on the seat, but it was also a good reminder about how impressionable kids are and the importance of positive influences like Strider had on stage at the event.

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Donny was quite the crowd favorite, especially after giving his inspiring speech. Here he is posing with the 2015 World Champion from Japan after signing a poster for him.

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Once it was all said and done, we were able to spend some more time with Strider president Ryan McFarland, as we shared some great stories of our favorite moments of the day. This is a truly-special event, and without Ryan (as well as his great team) it wouldn’t be possible.

bmxnewsstrider12

Overall the event was more than I could have expected. Obviously seeing two year olds putt around on a track with an ear to ear smile is something you can’t help but enjoy watching. But it wasn’t just that.

From seeing the different riders’ approaches to the course, to noticing similarities between two year olds in staging and myself, to just appreciating the families spending quality time together is really amazing. Ryan invented the Strider in 2007, and since then it has erupted into a worldwide company, and now a sport unto itself.

It is cool to watch the growth of the Strider movement, and also be able to see some of the Strider riders funnel into our passion of BMX racing. I look forward to continuing to watch the growth of Strider, and I expect the next World Championships to be even larger and include even more countries.

- Bryce

Links

Strider Website






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Five Reasons to Do the Pre-National Clinic

July 26, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Five Reasons to do the Pre-National Clinic
By Donny Robinson
BMX Racing clinics are widely used to help riders develop their on-track skills by incorporating highly specific exercises that will fast-track the learning process. The majority of our success at any race is determined by the amount of work we do in the weeks leading up to an event, but when a pre-national clinic is offered, on the actual track you’re going to be racing on that weekend, there are serious advantages to signing up.

In this Pro Gate Training and Coaching section article, I have laid out five important reasons why, if done properly, the teachers at a pre-race clinic can offer your rider the best investment you’d be able to make in ensuring they walk away with the results they’re striving for.

Track Time
With nationals becoming larger-scale events, riders are often limited to just a few laps during their small window of age group practice. The pre-national clinic is a great way to learn the intricacies of a new track–without the time constraints of the practice schedule. Parents are spending big to attend the race, anyway – this is an excellent way to help get the most out of your trip!

Everyone Likes Secrets
All tracks are different. From the gate, to the jumps and turns, all the way down to the prime passing lines, if you can get insider tips on every advantage that a seasoned racer knows about a particular facility, wouldn’t you want to hear that advice? Afterall, most of us teaching the pre-national clinics have been racing these tracks for a loooong time. Naturally, you could learn from trial-and-error on your own, but when the chance arises to learn the tricks-of-the-trade from a trusted advisor, jump on it, whether you’re a local to the track or coming in from another state.

It’s All Mental
The level of performance for national BMX Racing continues to rise; from Novice riders all the way through to the Professionals, racers are becoming more similar in their bike skills and overall physical fitness among their peers. So, then, why do some riders continue to perform far below their potential? It’s all mental, son – you should know that! Many of us train day-in and day-out, working on our bike handling and physical conditioning, but how much of our time is devoted to mental preparation? No amount of strength or speed will overcome a poor attitude or lack of confidence. It’s time to get your mind right. Nothing…and I mean NOTHING…is more important while at the race than your attitude and outlook! Find a place or a person that will help you achieve your full potential – on and off the track. The pre-national clinic has that going on in a big way.

*Parents, I know you can use a helping hand getting your riders to listen to the motivational words you’re likely already sharing with them.

BMX News Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate
BMX Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate

Beat The Nerves!
How many times have I lost the opportunity to qualify for a final simply because I could not get comfortable with my nerves or the race atmosphere before it was too late? Far too many. It’s the same at every level. Most of the time, we show up (likely to a new track), get a limited amount of practice, and are then expected to perform at the top of our ability in the first rounds of qualifying – sometimes it takes longer! The more laps we can get, the more we’re surrounded by other racers, the more we can get comfortable with all the surroundings, the more we can relax when race time comes and focus on the very specific list of tasks we need to complete to transfer through qualifiers and into the main event.

Make The Most Out Of Your Trip
Bottom line is, you need to make sure every box is checked before attending a national event. Are you ready to have fun? Have you dedicated yourself to your training? Well then, what else could you do to make sure all of the hard-earned money you’ve already spent, will not go to waste? Do pre-national clinics cost money? Yes. But in the grand scheme of funds being invested, it’s a drop in the bucket, compared to the difference a proper clinic will provide (and the awkward ride home on Sunday when you have nine hours to ponder the one that got away). We often look at things and ask, “Do we really need this?” My answer is, do what you feel is right, but don’t regret not doing everything you possibly can to help yourself achieve your goals.

Editor’s Note
I asked Donny to write this article after talking with some parents in Rockford last weekend, and getting a sense of how they greet a strange (to them) track, which has big-name national riders who know the track like the back of their hand. The same is true, of course, at any level. One dad said “we really should have done the Redline clinic.” The implication was that his rider could have used some extra track time, tips on the terrain, and a solid coaching-up experience before the big day.

Since dR is doing the pre-national clinic for the next race: the Steel City Nationals in South Park, I thought it would be a great opportunity to hear about his take on pre-national clinics, in general, and maybe get some insight into how he runs his show.

As a thanks to Donny for the above wisdom, please give a click to the link below for more info on his South Park clinic.

—Mike Carruth

Links

Pre-National Clinic: 2016 Steel City Nationals






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Schedule: LCQ, Trials and Hall of Fame Nats

June 8, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Schedule for 2016 US Olympic BMX Trials
People are starting to make their way from all points East and North to just-about as far South and West* as you can get in the USA: Chula Vista, CA for a FIVE event weekend that kicks off early Friday morning with the Last Chance Qualifier to the US Olympic Trials.

We wanted to brief you Read more

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