Throughout this blog you’ll get to know a lot about the 3 of us, referred to by our family nicknames: Butterball, Frankenbutt and the Beast. I’ll be writing most of the blogs and I’m the mom, known as Butterball. I know you’re thinking that my nickname must have something to do with my roundness or that I’m a ”turkey”. Not so. My husband gave me that nickname early on because of my constant adjustment of the thermostat, fan, etc.. He declared that like a Butterball turkey, the temperature has to be just right before I’m happy (and no, I don’t have a special button that pops out when I’m done!).
My husband scored the nickname, “Frankenbutt” after he had benign fatty tumors removed from his behind. (“I’m not fat! They’re just tumors!”) He must have had a surgeon that failed the “pretty” part of stitching up. Hence, he has two nasty "Frankenstein-esque” scars just below his belt line. No one in our family missed the opportunity to give the quiet, strong one a funky name to keep him humble.
Our 12 year old bmx’er had the nickname “the Beast” since shortly after conception. I know there are others in BMX and generally, the rest of the world, with the same nickname … but it’s been hers her whole life. Of my 3 pregnancies, she was the only one that kicked, stretched and tumbled so much that it strained the muscles in my lower pelvis and I had to wear a truss for the last 2 months of my pregnancy. She was also a very determined infant and would spend hours trying to roll over. At only 2 months old, she got it! And then rolled all over the place, collecting dust bunnies (oh, yeah. I'm not much of a housekeeper). At 2 years old, she demanded “I SKI!“ when we left her in daycare to ski with our older children. Her daycare instructor told us about a program at Killington that accepts 2 year olds after the Beast bugged her all day chanting “I SKI!”. She was fearless and at 3 years old sneaked into the terrain park during a group ski lesson that left the ski patrol in a total panic. At 4 years old, she announced she wanted to do BMX, even though she had never ridden a bike. The Beast knows what she wants.
About 8 years ago, the Beast awakened me very early on a Saturday morning, announcing that she wanted to do BMX. It was barely light out and I agreed to whatever she was asking in hopes of getting back to sleep. It didn’t work. She demanded that we get out of bed and buy her a bike … NOW. She kept babbling about how these riders jumped over big dirt hills; how amazing the X-Games were.
Finally giving into the reality that I was up for the day, I questioned her: “when did you see X-Games?” She said, “Hello? They come on in the middle of the night, right after “Girls Gone Wild”. Some of those girls are so wild, they have to keep them in cages.” NOW, I WAS AWAKE! I asked what she was doing up watching TV in the middle of the night. She said sometimes she wakes up, makes something to eat and then watches TV until she’s sleepy again. (All this time, I thought Frankenbutt was the nocturnal eater!)
Not sure of her commitment to her new fascination, we decided to get her a bike at the local Walmart. When we bought her first 12” bike, she pointed to the training wheels and said, “None of the X-games riders had those extra wheels. You better take those off.” Little did we know, the training wheels would be only one of many items to be stripped off this adorable pink, frilly bike.
In a few short days, she got it! She was riding up and down our driveway, sans training wheels, starting and stopping on her own and seldom falling. It was amazing to watch this tiny little girl pedal her heart out, with fringe flying from her grips and sparkles catching the sun on her chain guard. Frankenbutt especially liked watching her skid to a stop.
We found out there was a BMX track only 15 minutes from our home and that they would be racing the coming Sunday. We decided to check it out and the Beast insisted we bring her bike, even though we told her that we were just going to find out more info. We were greeted almost immediately by a track volunteer, named Ellie, that assured us we had just found the best sport for our little girl. The Beast and Ellie became friends instantly. It’s as if the Beast knew that Ellie would help her get what she wanted, in spite of her parents’ cautious wait and see approach. After meeting the clerk staff and the track director, the Beast emerged from the registration trailer wearing a loaner helmet that Ellie had found for her. The two of them explained that they needed to strip her bike down and make it safe for the track. I hesitated to remove anything from the charming little two wheeler but Frankenbutt and the Beast were fully committed. Together with tools from a few BMX dads, Frankenbutt removed the chain guard, reflectors and those adorable iridescent streamers from her bar ends.
With her newly stripped down bike, The Beast declared “I RIDE!”. Both of us were thrilled at her excitement but the look of the starting hill tempered our enthusiasm. After all, she’d only learned how to ride down a flat driveway less than a week before. The Beast insisted and a teenage girl BMXer offered to ride with her on the track. She rode with the Beast over some of the milder roller sections of the track. The Beast did so well in each of her practice rides that she convinced the teenage girl to take her up to the starting hill … just to have a look.
We went up, looked and were terrified. Allow me to clarify: Frankenbutt and I were terrified. The Beast was thrilled! Without asking, she just started pedaling down the starting hill and the teenage girl bolted after her. I froze in place as she barreled down the hill towards the first table top at the Mullica Hill track. Not surprisingly, she crashed. Frankenbutt and I ran up to find her crying and scraped up but nothing too serious. As a mom, my first instinct was to pull her off the track, clean her up and take her home. Luckily, neither Frankenbutt nor the Beast would stand for such lunacy.
After washing and patching her scrapes with band-aids from Ellie, the Beast declared “I RIDE!” and went right back up to the starting hill and promptly crashed again. Only this time, there was no crying; just a rush to get back on her bike and get riding again. In no time, she was hooked! And so were we.
Later that evening at home, we couldn’t stop talking about the fun we had at the track. Both Frankenbutt and I noted how the BMX families were helpful and not in that creepy overly friendly “sales-y” way. I remember one of the dads joking with us after the Beast’s first fall, saying “there goes your parents of the year award”. I liked that the kids and their parents were “real”; that there was a sense of equal ground regardless of what we drove, what we did for a living, etc. I found acceptance that I’d never felt as a gymnastics mom and even less as a soccer mom.
It was nice not to be assigned a volunteer position or given a mandatory practice schedule. And thank God there was no requirement to be the snack mom! The soccer moms never forgave me for misinterpreting the snack listed “orange slices” when I brought cellophane bags of the sugar coated jelly orange slices I loved as a kid. (For the record, the few players who scored the candy goodness before the big freak out, did run much faster in the second half!)
The track atmosphere was relaxed. They had race days and practice hours and you could attend or not attend as your schedule allowed. Riders wore long sleeve shirts and pants that were either their regular play clothes or specialty wear from gear shops. Some wore clip pedal shoes and some wore sneakers. They all seemed to blend together and socialize regardless of their gear, their equipment or their financial status.
Please don’t get me wrong: BMX is not a perfect community. Like every other slice of society, it has it’s share of “hot heads” and other less attractive personality types. It just seems like most of the bmx families are at the track to step out of their day to day stress and just be themselves … no pretenses.
It felt like home.
More later; Til then, Feel free to weigh in with your shock, support, doubts, wisdom and your own biking experiences. You can post a comment or email us, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miles ridden so far: 0