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We awoke after a long, restless night in the tent. The campground was justifiably busy and its campers were having a good time due to the holiday weekend. We attempted to go to sleep around 8:30pm but found it hard to stay asleep since there was a country music performer playing until 11pm at the camp pavilion. Around midnight, the rain, thunder and lightning started. I think we all took turns sleeping in shifts.
In the morning, we were tired but determined to keep to our schedule and visit the Johnstown BMX track. We broke down our tent, packed up our sleeping bags and hopped on our bikes. We rode route 601 North out of Somerset and then picked up Route 985 North. We rode over a few challenging hills but lots of rolling countryside hills into the edge of Johnstown.
We stopped at a BP station and convenience store, got a Gatorade and called the track to confirm what time registration closed. I spoke to Jeff Layton, the assistant track director, who assured me they would hold registration open until we arrived. I told him we were only 6-7 miles away and still had 75 minutes until the 1pm cut off; I figured it would be a piece of cake. I was wrong, yet again.
As we left the BP, I noticed a slight incline as we entered the city of Johnstown. Then our GPS directed us to turn up Ohio Street. The incline increased and then turned torturous. We rode up the steep hill as long as we could and then dismounted and pushed our bikes the rest of the way up Ohio Street. When the GPS directed us to turn, I thought it might level out or go downhill. WRONG! The last few miles to the track were ALL UPHILL. Ugh! Even after 2500 miles, some hills are just more than my bike and me can handle.
I stopped at registration and offered to score but was told they only needed 2 volunteer positions filled: corner marshall or announcer. I turned to Jeff and offered to announce and he said he’d help me with the riders’ names, positions, etc. So, once motos were posted, Jeff and I headed to the high point of the pro section. On the way, Jeff introduced me to the track director, Jim Chilcot. He told us how they had a track build recently during some rainy weather. His track looked great and it still had the “waterfall” roller section it’s always been famous for.
Soon Motos were posted and riders were heading to the starting hill. I felt a tickle inside as the National Anthem started; it just felt good to be in the midst of so many BMX families, so much like our own. The racing started and I had a blast announcing while Jeff fed me the information I needed. I’m sure I got a few names wrong but the crowd seemed pretty forgiving.
During the break between motos and the mains, Jim and Jeff had a few surprises for us. First, Jim slipped me a piece of paper with a reservation confirmation number on it. He and the track arranged for us to stay at the local Sleep Inn for the night! Thanks, Jim and your entire crew at Johnstown! No doubt, SLEEP is what we really need. Jeff also told us that today’s 50/50 proceeds were being donated to our ride. He pulled the ticket and 13 year old Hunter Stiffler held up the winning ticket. He then took his winnings and headed toward us. I thought he needed us to verify the ticket number. He didn’t; he came to give us his winnings. I was so moved by the young man’s generosity, especially since every BMXer needs money for parts, race fees and more. Thank you, Hunter. You are not only an awesome rider to watch on the track, you are an asset to your track community. We look forward to watching your BMX career progress.
Right after the picture taking, Hunter’s mom emerged from Concessions with a bunch of hot dogs, chicken fingers, French fries, mozzarella sticks and drinks for the three of us. We sat down at the picnic table and enjoyed some good conversation with track director, Jim. He shared with us the volunteer incentive program at his track which rewards volunteers for hours worked by giving them a free day at their annual track get together; this year it was at a waterpark. Knowing the cost of waterpark tickets, that's a very nice reward for their track work. I’ve been a soccer mom and a swim mom, but never do I laugh as much as when I’m with fellow BMX moms and dads!
We thanked Jim again for the warm reception we got at his track, the free racing, the jersey, the lunch goodies, the 50/50 proceeds and also for the hotel room he booked for us. Jim and his family are headed out for a well-deserved vacation and we wish them all a really good time! Thank you also to Jeff Layton’s wife who took these pics and emailed them to me.