Outgoing Teen: Teens Race BMX Bikes in Prince William County

| August 28, 2013 | 0 Comments | Outgoing Teen

Northern Virginia BMX Racing (NOVA BMX) held at 7 County Complex Court in Woodbridge is gaining popularity with Prince William teens as an option for an unconventional sport in the area.

BMX stands for bicycle motocross, a kind of off-road single lap bicycle race held on a dirt track with various jumps.

At NOVA BMX, races continue into autumn, and races are held twice a week on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, making them the perfect sport for teens since school is not a conflict.

However, according to Jennifer Helmick, President of NOVA BMX, the sport is not only limited to teenagers.

“Riders race as early as age three, and there is a rider who is currently 78. There are different proficiencies: novice, intermediate and expert. You can also become pro,” Helmick said.

Hemlick said that the Prince William’s Park Authority built the track in response to the growing interest in BMX Racing in 2000. Having the track brings in money for the county as well as USA BMX.

It also attracts racers from all over the Northern Virginia.

Fourteen-year-old Zephin Mann of Fairfax has been racing at NOVA BMX for two years. Mann not only races in Woodbridge, but nationally, traveling all over the U.S.

Mann is a talented racer who first heard about NOVA BMX through his mother’s friend a few years ago, and soon after, won his first race in May of 2012.

He won a “main” race again on Aug. 3 of this year, after winning his moto and getting to compete against other qualifiers in the main.

BMX bikers on the Woodbridge track.

Even though Mann has only been racing a few years, he has been able to establish himself as a strong competitor within a short period of time even without any formal lessons.

“You can take BMX lessons, but I didn’t. At first, it was challenging to learn the basics, but I caught on quickly. Anyone with a bike can do it,” he said. “Usually people race with 20-24 inch bike wheels.”

Mann’s neighbor, 13-year-old Hunter Griffin of Fairfax, just began his first full year racing at NOVA BMX.

“My dad used to BMX race when he was a kid, and he asked if I would like to try it,” said Griffin. “I liked it from then on.”

Griffin said his favorite part about BMX racing is learning new things and spending time with his friends.

“I used to ride bikes a lot up and down the street of my neighborhood,” said Griffin.

Once he started racing, he said he had some trouble with the gate, which releases once the BMX race begins, but has since got the hang of it.

Susan Guidry of Bristow, a regular volunteer at NOVA BMX, heard about the track in Woodbridge three years ago and has since then turned it into a family event.

“My son started riding a bike without training wheels when he was 2 years old! [My husband and I] thought we’d try it out [NOVA BMX] and see if he liked it,” Guidry said.

It turned out her son liked it, and for her part, she was happy to encourage a healthy family activity by volunteering.

Ten-year-old Rocco Guidry now says he loves the experience of racing.

“I really like to ride my bike. The atmosphere on the track is both competitive and friendly,” Rocco said.

While the Guidrys embraced bike racing, other parents may be more tentative.

However, according to Hemlick, NOVA BMX is no different than any other sport in terms of safety, and to assure participants stay accident-free, they must wear the proper attire: long pants, long-sleeved shirt, closed-toe shoes and a full-face helmet.

As for the bike requirements, pegs, kick stands and reflectors are not allowed while racing. Rules are also designed to prevent racers from crashing into each other.

Registration prices range from $5-$30, depending on the event. However, those who do not want to participate in the races may cheer on their family and friends free-of-charge.

Readers who would like to see the specific practice times and schedule for NOVA BMX can go to www.novabmx.org

 

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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