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Sorry for the delay in posting these two days’ blogs; we truly had technical difficulties with our netbook. All that aside, here’s what you missed:
On Friday morning, we awoke at South Park under overcast skies. It started raining and basically rained steadily all day. I felt sad for all the South Park crew who had to cancel and re-schedule both the Friday pre-race and the Ohio Dreams clinic. Both were moved to Saturday evening … which meant that, after working all day Saturday, the South Park crew and the NBL team had to continue to work well into the evening.
The Beast, Frankenbutt and I lounged and relaxed most of the day, enjoying a day off from pedaling. We met up with old friends as they arrived for the National and we saw so many of the new friends we’ve made during our epic bike ride. It’s hard to believe that we’ve now visited 19 BMX tracks, given 6 TV interviews, 9 newspaper interviews and 1 radio interview in just the last 2 and a half months. It is a journey that I will treasure for a very long time.
South Park had a few more surprises for us. On Saturday morning, Dee, the clerk and track director’s wife, gave us wrist bands to get us into the volunteers dining area. I walked in fully expecting the typical track food: burgers, hot dogs, chips. As Michelle Messing of Florida says, “that’s like breast milk for BMXers.” What I found instead were steak, YES, STEAK, burritos made and donated by the local Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chicken donated by the local Chick Fil-a, fresh lettuce, tomato, cucumber and shredded cheese salads made from the ingredients donated by a local grocer, Dilly Bars donated by Dairy Queen, all kinds of drinks, fresh sliced watermelon … WOW! Someone worked the phones!
That someone is Nicki, who came to Dee 3 years ago and asked if she could offer her services in securing donations for the track. Every track needs a ”Nicki” to step up and make those calls. Yes, it does take a certain personality to do this; someone who’s not afraid of rejection, someone who knows how to make a friend of the person at the other end of the phone. Nicki has a warm, pretty smile and you instantly like her. She’s not “salesy”, just warm, friendly and laid back. Find that person at your track and develop a donation program to keep your volunteers, the heart of BMX, taken care of. They certainly do that here at South Park. In fact, I’m told that the parents of every local rider, help at the track in some way or another.
Volunteering and riding at South Park is a family affair. They invited us to join them Saturday evening in their camping circle, complete with fire pit, and made all three of us feel like this was our home track. As we talked, it was obvious that we all had the same opinion of BMX: it’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle, that goes beyond the track. As parents, we know our kids are safe at track events because we all look out for one another’s kids in a “tag team parenting” kind of way. It’s much like the neighborhoods we grew up in where are friends’ parents were our parents. We also talked about the fact that kids of all ages hang out together and enjoy each other’s company even if there’s 5-6 years’ difference in their ages. None of us have experienced that outside of BMX.
As we talked well into the late hours, Michele, who also helps in Concessions, told us that although October is the end of their season, all of them find a way to get together until the next season starts. In fact, they often arrange their vacations together in the same beach town, following their national. Through the cold off season, they often meet up for lunch or evenings out, sharing memories of the past season and planning the spring re-opening. When a member of their track goes through hard times, they all rally together to support them not only with financial help but with the assurance that they’re all in it together with you. Michele, with tears in her eyes, told me how her BMX family helped her through a tough time last year. It’s obvious that the concern they have for one another here is genuine.
The Beast lit up on Saturday when she ran into her friend, Ceyanne, from VMP BMX, whom she met during one of our track stops in May. The two of them picked up right where they left off and were instantly chatting and laughing. When the racing wrapped up for the day, Ceyanne’s dad and a bunch of the Virginia track riders invited the Beast to dinner. She went and had a terrific time and said she couldn’t wait to see Ceyanne at Sunday’s race.