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After a luxuriously restful night of sleep in the camper that Jaime loaned us for our time here in Dayton, we all watched morning TV in bed and caught up on what’s happening in the world. After lounging and resting until 10 am (10 AM?? Yes. Ohhh, it was so nice!), Frankenbutt warmed up some left over pizza and we had the breakfast of champions. I don’t think you ever outgrow liking pizza in the morning after a night of fun!
Just before 6 pm, Frankenbutt, the Beast and I, rode our bikes to the meet up spot for the BMX parade back to the track. About 20 local riders joined us, wearing their race jerseys and helmets. For the first time since starting our bike journey, we had a Police MOTORCYCLE escort, which was soooo cool! We had riders as young as 5 and I think I was the oldest rider at 47. Frankenbutt checked the overall mileage on his odometer just before we pulled out and it read 3499, meaning that we’d pass the 3500 mile mark during the parade. (In case you are wondering why his mileage is higher than the blog’s recorded overall mileage, it’s because Frankenbutt has clocked extra miles on his bike running out to buy supplies, etc. once we’ve set up camp over the last few months.)
At 6 pm, the police officer started the motor on his “bike” and we rolled down Monument Avenue towards the track, with additional police officers on hand to block traffic at intersections. I looked in my side view mirror, keeping an eye on the riders behind us and again felt so proud of our BMX kids. I was glad they got some time to shine in the public eye and showcase the sport they love. Their bright colored jerseys and helmets made quite the visual on the evening news as well.
We rode about a mile back to the track and found even more people had arrived for the evening’s event, including several members of the P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) Board. I had the honor of meeting Marcia, Cindy Verburg’s partner in the effort to bring BMX into the lives of local kids. I love the story of how the two of them picked up kids and bikes in a big van and brought them to the track if they didn’t have a means to get there for races and practices. I love that two strong, smart and giving women started the legacy that is now the Cindy Verburg BMX track in Dayton, Ohio … a track that truly gives back to the community and reinvests in the children and riders here.
Before the race started, the local NBC affiliate Channel 2, interviewed me about our ride and why we chose to visit Dayton. I’m always a little nervous in front of the camera but at the same time I was thrilled. We were getting publicity for the local track, which has been the goal for this crazy, long bike ride we are doing. When the interview wrapped up, we heard the announcer calling us to the first straight.
We walked between the second and final straights (it’s a cool track layout, in which the 2nd straight opens up into a long berm and then shoots out so that the 3rd straight wraps back around and the 4th berm sits almost “inside” of the 2nd berm … you gotta see it!). Track director Mike Taylor and his wife, Vicki, Angie, Matt Verburg, Sean and many other track volunteers joined us and surprised us with gifts. First, they gave the Beast an awesome Cindy Verburg BMX track t-shirt and then gave us a beautiful commemorative plaque that says “In Recognition of Outstanding Dreams” and commemorates our time here in Dayton. I love it and can’t wait to put it up in our living room when we return home. They didn’t forget about Coco either! She got some yummy chew treats that she couldn’t wait to try. We got lots of great hugs and I felt sooooo good in that moment.
As I hugged Cindy Verburg’s son, Matt, I noticed the kids on the starting gate, waiting to ride, and we quickly made our way off the track. The recognition was nice but tonight really belongs to the athletes on the hill … it’s a race night! Soon, the announcer was calling the first round of motos and the kids were rocketing out of the gate, over the jumps and around the track.
The Beast was racing two 13 year old challengers and a 17 year old expert, who I’m told will be turning pro next year. It was quite clear that the 17 ex was a tremendously skilled rider but I couldn’t take my eyes off my baby who was racing hard and held the second position all the way around the track. I found myself cheering so loudly for her that my voice is a bit raspy today. She looked so confident and strong out there … it was the icing on the cake of the evening’s activities.
Although the motos were all run, the locals all knew that the evening’s racing was not over. Sean’s dog, Blake, (the boxer) is a local celebrity here. He and Sean went up to the starting hill and the Beast went up to take over the announcing. As Sean steadied himself in the gate, another fellow held Blake back on the starting hill. When the cadence ran and the gate dropped, Sean and Blake raced down the first straight, both showing incredible athleticism. Blake stretched his legs out and flew over the doubles as Sean jumped them. The crowd applauded and cheered as they came out of the final berm and Blake led the way across the finish line. Ironically, Blake cut Sean off just before the finish line in what some might call “dirty racing” (I think I saw Blake look back) but in actuality, Blake noticed Coco and made a bee line to his new pal. Great fun!
Although the racing ended by 8:30 pm, families hung around and talked while kids either rode or played together all around the track. I met Angie’s son, Matt and his fiancé, Lindsay, who are planning their October wedding. They’ve all been through an emotionally wrenching time in the last few months when it was discovered that Matt had a heart problem. In July, Matt had open heart surgery and a very talented Dr. was able to repair a faulty valve, giving him the best possible outcome: a healthy heart without a lifetime regimen of pharmaceuticals to maintain a mechanical valve. That’s a lot for a young couple to endure just as they are starting a life together. But, I also think it’s a gift. They both expressed how important it is now to focus on living and not pressure themselves to find the right house.
I glanced at my watch and it was nearly 11pm. I invited Mike and his family and Sean to join us in the camper to see the news coverage of the ride in parade. We sat impatiently as the anchors covered the lead stories, including a bomb scare at a local hotel. Channel 7 had planned on covering our story but was called to cover that breaking story and apologized for not making it to the track. After about 15 minutes, our story started with terrific footage of our police escorted parade down Findlay Street. The photographer got a nice segment as we rounded the corner, which included one of the BMXers hopping up on the curbing in a trick move. The anchor gave a little background about our ride and then there was a short interview with me. I was glad that the track got recognition and I hope that we served them well. The same segment ran again the following morning, which is good.
After a round of laughter, peppered with yawning, the gang all headed out for home. We walked the dog, brushed our teeth and kissed the Beast good night. I looked again at the plaque we received just before going to bed. The phrase, “In Recognition of Outstanding Dreams” means a lot coming from the Cindy Verburg BMX track crew. In an age when cash is king, greed is rampant and doing the right thing has become a novelty in our society … there is an amazing group of people in the heartland of our country who still know that dreams are the most valuable thing you can have.
Their track is Dayton’s “Field of Dreams”. Kids from the entire Dayton Metro area can come and do what kids for generations have loved doing: ride their bikes. The simple childhood pleasure of sailing through the air over jumps and railing around turns is taken to a new level, a competitive and skill building atmosphere where kids from any walk of life can train to compete in an Olympic sport.
Here, friendships are forged in the most laid back of scenarios that feels a lot like hanging out in your best friend’s basement. I’m glad we have a few more days here before we head to Cleves.