January 13, 2017 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
I know what you’re thinking. The thrill you’re feeling watching your 5-year old son on the track while your toddler picks cicada shells off the pine trees. You’ve never seen him so happy. Night falls and you have to pack him up into his little car seat. In summer time he throws up red gatorade into his helmet— repeatedly. He gets faster. And faster.
During his races you scream— like your life, and his, depends on it— “GOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Pedal!, Pedal!!, Pedal!!!” You feel a rush of triumph when he crosses the finish line.
Baby brother will start racing too.
They’ll start missing school on Fridays to travel— Travel! All the way to Alabama! Early on, you’ll book the cheapest hotel possible— It’s just a couple of nights, and we’re only sleeping there! It won’t take you long to give up on that and start spending the extra coin on a nice suite. Don’t feel guilty about it, either.
They’ll miss holidays with family, birthday parties, football games, camping trips, roller skating. BMX is life!
They’ll see the country— the entire country— through the car window. They’ll ride across England in a Jetta Wagon on the wrong side of the road.
They’ll win— a lot.
They’ll lose— a lot.
You’ll get on them when you think they aren’t trying their hardest. Honestly. Why would they race and not try? Back off on that. They’re just little kids, and they’re doing their best. Give them a hug and an ice cream cone.
You will make friends through the shared emotions and experiences that BMX Racing brings. They will become your confidants and shoulders to lean on. They’ll tell your kids what a great job they’re doing. They’ll take your kids places that you’ve never been, and clean up their nosebleeds too.
You will cry — a lot. You will cry when they win! You will cry when you see them take a quiet walk alone after coming in 5th in a semi. You will cry in the ambulance. You will cry in the hospital waiting room. You will cry by his bed. You will want a time machine.
Don’t let BMX define your boys. They are so much more. It’s easy to do when they spend day and night on their bikes. It might become a bit lonely for them in the long run though.
In 10 years, those sweaty little boys in the back seat of your Suburban will learn more about commitment, sportsmanship, gratitude, dedication, drive, determination, and overcoming adversity than most people learn in a lifetime. You’ll spend more time together as a family than you ever dreamed possible. Enjoy every second, because even that 20-hour drive home that never seems to end will soon be a distant memory.
When you look at your boys a decade from now, you’ll burst with pride at the young men they’ve become. And you will look back on the ups and downs and twists and turns, and not regret a thing.
December 6, 2016 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
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
October 25, 2016 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
Story by Heather Parker
It doesn’t get much better than October in South Florida. Cool mornings, and warm, sunny afternoons, at one of the most beautiful facilities in BMX, equated to an enjoyable race weekend for everyone. The near soundless Bensenk gate took a bit of getting used to Read more
July 6, 2016 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
The drive home from the track this time of year is almost unbearable. With temps in the high 90s, and humidity at a maximum, being trapped in the car with sweaty teenage boys and their sweat-soaked gear leaves me gasping for breath, and my eyes streaming.
Bless their hearts. It isn’t their fault. The harder they ride, the more they reek. I get it. What I don’t get is that God-awful smell infiltrating my home.
Here are my personal tips on how to keep your gear factory fresh:
Immediately throw jerseys, pants, gloves and pads (if applicable) into the wash.
Here’s the important part: Add one cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle. Detergent alone will not deodorize these hardcore smells, and at the first inkling of the next sweat, it’ll be full-on funk.
Let gloves and pads air dry thoroughly. The rest can go in the dryer.
After asking around, I discovered that there are several different methods people use to keep family helmets fresh. I did some experimentation, and found this to be a clear path to a clean and happy helmet:
Remove pads and liner. Hand wash in the kitchen sink with hot water and Dawn dish detergent. Why Dawn? Oil, my friends. Those cheek pads are full of it, and the sink will have a slick like the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill (the bird washers on that gig used Dawn, too, by the way!).
Just like a greasy head of hair: wash, rinse, repeat. On the final rinse, fill the sink with water, and add a cup of vinegar. Voila! Funk-free cheeks.
Dry in a well ventilated area— outside in the sun if possible.
Now for the shell. Make that sucker a bubble bath. Fill the tub with warm water and Dawn. This works great if you need to wash multiple helmets. Throw them all in there together. Let them bathe together just like your kids did when they were little. Rinse thoroughly, and air dry, bottoms-up, in the sun if possible.
On-The-Road Reek Control
The above is all fine and good when we’re at home. But what about a three-day national in the full-on heat and humidity of summer? That Sunday drive home can be pretty vile. Here’s how you can stop the stench:
Utilize the hotel laundry room. My kids don’t have three sets of gear, so I typically do a load of wash on Friday or Saturday night.
Air dry between motos. Never put your helmet back in the bag unless it’s completely dry.
Go to the liquor store. You heard me! Mix up a solution of 1 part vodka, 1 part water, and your favorite essential oil, then load into a spray bottle and spray away. IMPORTANT! Use “airline” bottles for your spray mix; you do not want to travel on the roads home with an open container of vodka (dump any remaining spray solution before you leave).
I experimented with this on a funky pair of unwashed gloves, and it killed the scent instantly…You’re welcome!
Exact recipe here (link will open in a new window)
Those are my favorite tips, but there are a few more that deserve honorable mention:
- Place helmet in the dishwasher. This definitely works, BUT, make sure you take it out before the dry cycle. Too much heat can compromise the helmet.
- Put your helmet in the freezer overnight. I haven’t tried this, but supposedly it kills the bacteria, and therefore, is likely to flatten the funk.
- Keep a fresh dryer sheet in your helmet bag.
I hope some of you find these tips helpful. May your next road trip return smell like roses (or some essential oil of your choosing)!
May 23, 2016 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker, with Dr. Jason Richardson
When BMX families drift out of the sport, it seems that parents are the ones who struggle with a feeling of loss when their kid calls it quits. Traveling to new places, the excitement of the race, and especially the friends that become like family Read more
March 18, 2016 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
It’s been six years since the big rig rolled into Dothan, or the entire state of Alabama for that matter. Back then, of course, it was the “ABA” rig. And as they did back then, the volunteers at Circle City BMX let up a collective “Whoop!” this week as the “Red Rig” pulled in to the Westgate Park complex.
Our family has watched, firsthand, this program grow from a dwindling few, to a throng of eager new riders who tend to stick around.
While the overall track, with its unique crossover design, has remained the same, many improvements have been made over the past year. The track surface has been coated with the increasingly-popular “slurry” topcoat, requiring minimal maintenance. A Strider track was added to encourage the littlest riders. And the City of Dothan partnered with Circle City BMX to build a cover over the gate and entire staging area.
But it’s not the cosmetic additions that keep riders coming back. It’s the friendly, welcoming environment that makes everyone from first timers to old hats feel as if they belong.
The excitement was in the air when we arrived at Circle City for practice this past Tuesday. Many riders there have never experienced a USA BMX national event, and are feeling “a very large sense of pride, along with jitters” according to track operator Travis Roettgen.
Travis, his wife Holly, and the other volunteers at CCBMX have worked hard the past few years with the hopes that USA BMX would sit up and take notice. “Our vision has been to make the facility we have, the best it can possibly be, and to promote the sport of BMX,” explains Travis. “We have been on every local TV station, in every newspaper and magazine, and held press conferences at the track. By doing this, we have been put back on the map, and are being recognized. Local media will also be covering the National this weekend.”
A drone video featuring CCBMX has recently circulated social media and drummed up even more interest, with over 40,000 views on Facebook.
“What’s happening this weekend is a major goal for us,” said Travis. “My biggest hope is that everyone making the trip enjoys our track and leaves with a big smile on their face. Now that we’ve achieved this goal, we’ll look to next year for an opportunity to host another Circle City National event.”
This facility has been race ready and waiting all year. I’m fixin’ to go pack my bags. See y’all there!
Great preview to #16circle, Heather! We all look forward to your coverage this weekend. I was at the 2010 race, then called the “ABA Wiregrass Nationals.” As I was looking back on the photo set from that race, I happened upon two photos of friends who have passed-on since the national tour was last at Circle City BMX.
John and Dennison will, without a doubt, be there this weekend, as they were in 2010.
January 26, 2016 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
In the sport of BMX, there’s nothing quite like the bond among friends who travel and race together. I kept my eye on the antics of three ladies who traveled to Tulsa this weekend, and had to find out a little more about their adventures. Jess Lau, Cynthia Pappas, and Dawn Robins Read more
November 6, 2015 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
Late in the spring, following a spree of racing, William asked for a break. He was tired and wasn’t having fun, he said. We vowed to take the summer off, with the only exception being Rockford in June. There, William got a break alright, just not the kind he wanted.
I look back now to spring, and have a clearer understanding. We had come to a point where William’s race weekends were only rewarding to him if there were wins involved. Anything less left him feeling unaccomplished and disappointed. How had that happened? Why were we always focused on what went wrong instead of what went right?
After four dizzying months, I find his perspective, our perspectives, entirely changed.
For four months, our yard sat empty as homemade dirt jumps melted away in the summer rains. Our neighbors, so accustomed to seeing the boys sprinting up and down the street, inquired after them. Wyatt sat idly by, waiting for his brother to come back and ride with him.
Slowly, slowly things began to happen. I began to notice new victories each day: I got in my chair without help! I stood up to brush my teeth! I took a shower, unassisted! I hopped across the house! No matter how small it seemed, it suddenly became worthy of celebration.
Last month the big day finally came. William was cleared. He took his first lap on the track during Friday practice at the Gator Nationals in Oldsmar. He mostly rolled and pumped, but it was easy to see the potential energy. He couldn’t wait to ride again.
The following Tuesday night we went to ride at our adopted home track in Dothan, AL. An eager new parent welcomed us to the track and asked, “Are your boys new?” It was very kind, and reminded me of many years ago when we really were new.
But everything did feel new. Where was the hesitation and doubt? I’m going to start with the jump into the last turn. I’m going to jump the double now. Did you see me manual that?!? Each new jump William cleared, made him feel victorious. I watched in awe and wonder, my son’s boyish enthusiasm; an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen in years. I finally dragged him and his tired brother off the track just-before our T.O. turned off the lights.
So much has changed in four months. So much has changed in one week! Fresh piles of dirt adorn our yard, and new trails cut through our once-pristine summer grass. Everyday brings a new victory, and a new love and appreciation for BMX. There’s something fresh and wonderful about starting over, with each accomplishment on the track inducing happiness and confidence. And now each day, without fail, William says what I’ve waited four months to hear, “C’mon Wyatt! Let’s go ride!”
Whether or not this experience will make William a better rider is yet to be seen. I do know that it’s already made him a happier rider, and that is the greatest victory of all.
July 20, 2015 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
One month ago, today, William crashed in Rockford, coming out of the last turn in the 13-14 open semi, following a rain delay on Saturday. He suffered compound fractures to his right collarbone and left femur, and a fracture to his shoulder. He spent six hours in two separate surgeries the next day. His femur was 9cm (3.5″) displaced, making swelling and muscle trauma extreme.
There was no interruption in the race because of his accident. He never cried out, or did anything to indicate the severity of his situation.
William: “When I wrecked, the first thing I noticed was my collarbone. I knew it was broken. I didn’t notice my leg until I tried to stand up. I was helped to my feet, and walked (hopped) to the medical tent. I’ve never seen anyone walk off with a broken leg. I don’t know how I did it. I remember sitting on the table with my legs dangling. I could feel then that my left femur (the same one I had broken once before) was broken again. I asked the medic to take my left shoe off and check my femoral artery. I wanted to make sure it was ok. I remember my dad saying, ‘Cut off his pants! Call the ambulance, NOW!’ The medic in the tent said, ‘Are you sure? Those pants look expensive.’ I thought that was funny. I felt OK until I had to move to the stretcher.”
For three days, William remained relatively pain-free, in a drug-induced fog. As the IV was removed, and narcotics were weaned, his pain and frustration intensified (above).
Tuesday, June 23
Heather: I won’t lie. I’ve broken down. Most recently just a minute ago, when Vann texted me the x-rays.
Yesterday, I walked into our shed where William works out. I closed my eyes and could hear the clink of the weights, and his feet landing on the plyo boxes. I looked down and saw a shirt he had discarded during his plyos a week ago. A week ago! I picked it up, held it to my face, and lost it. I caught my breath, dried my tears, and tossed it in the wash. Suck it up, Heather. Suck it up!
Knowing that William would be unable to fly due to risk of blood clots, infection, and swelling, I drove up to Rockford, from Tallahassee, so he would have an easy ride home (or, as “easy” as it could get at this point).
After five days in Rockford Memorial, and two more in a nearby hotel, William was cleared to travel. Doctors advised us to stop every 1-2 hours to force William onto one leg to help his blood circulate.
Although arriving home was a relief, we faced obstacles there as well. Our house was difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. Friends quickly built us a wheelchair ramp so we could get William in and out the front door. Friends and neighbors sent meals and cards.
Throughout the first week at home, during the darkest of times, William asked, “Why is this happening?” My only answer, that I believe with my whole heart, is that he has the strength to not only handle it, but to turn it into something positive.
The side effects of the pain medications were terrible and, two weeks post-accident, William wanted no more of it.
“I have an opportunity. I can start again. I can be stronger and faster, and say, ‘Look what I have overcome!’ I’m not afraid. I just want to ride my bike.”
- William Parker, July 6, 2015
William will make a full recovery. He fought through a femur break early in his BMX career, at age 6, giving him the nickname “Will Power.” William is now proficient at hopping around the house on his right leg, using a crutch under his left arm. He attacks physical therapy like a training workout, and is making tremendous progress. By the end of July, our hope is that he can begin partial weight-bearing therapy, and that his collarbone is healed enough for him to use two crutches. By the end of August, he hopes to be walking on his own.
We don’t know how long his recovery will take. We only know that each day is better than the one before.
Vann and I will be scared-stiff watching him race when the time comes. I can’t even speak of the pain we’ve witnessed our child in. At the same time, we realize he’s only 14 years old. He will heal. He has a whole lifetime in front of him. We have to support what he is so passionate about, no matter how much it frightens us. William is not afraid, and he teaches us to be brave too.
William has never spoken of racing as being his “dream.” The bike is simply his passion. His idols are Luke Segal and Jeremy Thompson, and he plans to race throughout his adulthood just like them.
“The thought of quitting BMX has never entered my mind. I just want to ride. I don’t know anything different than racing. It’s just what I love to do. I have every reason to ride again, so why wouldn’t I?”
— William Parker
Our heartfelt thanks to Greg Habib, Jeff Ketron and Gary Whittington for being on-scene for Vann and William. Special thanks to Ellen Habib and Michele Posey for simply listening and understanding. Thank you to the Dellert family for visiting William and making him smile in his darkest hour. Many thanks always to Greg and Richel Swingrover and Crupi for their continued support.
And many thanks to all the friends and family who sent cards, well wishes and love for William.
Top Photo: This is the most-recent photo of William’s progress. Some sidewalk wheelchair manuals, powered by brother Wyatt.
Editor’s Note: I left the track during the rain delay, and missed William’s wreck. I was shocked to hear the extent of his injuries and, needless to say, was deeply concerned.
Having just spent most of Friday night at Rockford Memorial with dR, after his third round wreck, I knew Rockford Memorial would take great care of William. When I visited him a few days later, it was clear he was in a lot of pain, and it was very difficult to move, given he had extreme injuries to both his leg and collarbone. He was gritting-it-out like a champ—which, I have to admit, was very inspiring. Seeing him in this article, one month later, brings a lot of relief, knowing he is solidly on the road to recovery, and has the usual smile back on his face.
So often, we only see the rider carried off by EMT, give him a round of applause, then never really see what happens next, til we see him again in several months. And sometimes, we never see him again. I am very grateful to Heather, Vann, William and Wyatt for giving us all a peek inside what happens after the medics clear the track, and the gate drops on the next rack. For both, the path back to staging is what awaits–it just takes longer for the guy in the ambulance. We will update this story as William gets closer to his return.
March 26, 2015 by BMXNEWS.COM Editors · Comments Off
By Heather Parker
“I’m FINE, Mom.” William rolled his eyes at me as I dragged him off to the medical tent during practice in Rock Hill last Saturday. He cased the jump into the second turn, leaving his weenus* on the asphalt. The wound was too big for me to sufficiently clean and wrap, so we took advantage of the excellent medical staff from Novant Health. As he sat there getting cleaned up, we both realized that it was the first time he had ever visited the medical tent at a national.
The crash was a bit nasty, and no doubt painful, and left William with a bit of hesitancy going into first round. He knew he needed to hit that jump, but felt uneasy. He sailed through cruiser without incident, but without attempting the jump. He geared himself up to hit it in his expert round.
I watched intently, as William, with a strong lead, hit the second straight. He looked clean as he took the first two jumps, but as he approached the third he faltered…
I have a dear friend whose young son is going blind. She explained to me that his vision is like a curtain slowly closing, his visual field becoming narrower. In that odd moment I thought of this. As the world closed around me, my visual field contained only my child, my son, flying through the air and landing on the side of his head.
We’ve seen our boys crash countless times. There have been broken bones and dislocations, but nothing ever looked quite like this. It seemed like an eternity before the medics were able to get him on his feet, and walk him, pale and disoriented, back to the tent where he had his elbow wrapped an hour earlier.
After thorough assessment it was determined that William had suffered a concussion. His Fly helmet was toast, but did its job well. William’s visible wounds were cleaned and dressed. We were given strict instructions: no electronics for 72 hours, and NO BIKE for six days. To his dad and me, that was a no brainer (no pun intended).
As we left the tent and slowly made our way back to the Crupi pit, William asked, “So, can I race tomorrow?” He wanted to. There was no doubt. Many people stopped to check on him, and asked the same question. Our answer? “Absolutely not.”
It made me realize the importance of riders and friends looking out for each other. Who stops the pros and older experts? Donny Robinson touched on this subject in his #WinningWednesdays article “Pull the Trigger, or Pull the Plug?” Donny stresses the importance of self-assessment after a crash, saying “…being aware of yourself as well as others. Adrenaline is what helps us reach that extra level of performance and after a big crash, it’s often not possible for us, as riders, to accurately diagnose our situation. Never take a rider’s adrenaline-rushed-answer of ‘I’m OK’ as gospel.”
William, disappointed, but also knowing that he was due to be back on the track in Desoto six days later, followed orders and started his period of rest. Our friend Karen had sound, simple advice: “Take it easy and take care of that head, you never know when you might need it…”
While out with our dog this morning, something caught my eye amidst the new spring grass. It’s only the second one I’ve ever seen. I placed it gently in my son’s suitcase, and put him on a plane to DFW.
Many thanks to everyone who extended their well wishes to William, and to the thorough and competent medics in the tent that day.
*Wyatt got in the car after school recently and proclaimed, “Mom! Your weenus is showing!” According to Urban Dictionary, “weenus” is defined as the skin on your elbows.
Download Donny Robinson’s #WinningWednesdays article “Pull The Trigger or Pull the Plug,” which is an excerpt from the Pedals 2 Medals back-issues e-book.
For more on concussions in BMX Racing, check out: