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We were surprisingly disciplined and got up when our alarm went off at 6:45 am Wednesday morning. We had enjoyed sleeping in many mornings during our relaxation visit at Oakdale Campground. The Beast and I climbed the hill to the shower house for the last time and got all spiffy clean before we finished packing bikes. Frankenbutt was eager to get on the road and we managed to start rolling up and out of the campground by 8 am. The ride out was a lot tougher than the ride in; our bike tires kept spinning out as we climbed the loose gravel covered wet road … but we managed.
We left the campground and got onto Route 235 South and the GPS displayed that the next turn was 30 miles from there. Woo Hoo! I love when I can just ride and take in everything around me without worrying about checking the GPS for turns. PLUS … it was only about 65 degrees out and breezy! What a great way to start riding again after 5 days off the bike.
We rode with the sun to the side of us, cool breezes and a gentle tail wind most of the morning. We stopped at a convenience store for Frankenbutt’s dose of coffee and later at a gas station for some Gatorade. As we got closer to Dayton, we checked the GPS for an upcoming store that might carry our camp fuel and found a Gander Mountain store in Huber Heights. It was a little off of our path but the riding had been so nice that we didn’t mind adding a few more miles. We found our camp fuel … on sale … got four cans! Yeah! We loaded them into the “kitchen” panniers on my bike and rode in the direction of the track.
We spotted a local grocery store within 2 miles of the track and decided to stop for some essentials. The store was in a lower income, somewhat industrial area and I noticed right away that their prices were substantially higher. Both Frankenbutt and I have noticed a pattern of overpriced local grocery stores in poorer neighborhoods where residents may not have the means to get to competitively priced stores. I understand that smaller independent stores do not always have access to the wholesale prices that larger franchises do. It’s just hard to justify that their higher costs could translate to pricing items at double or more what you would pay for the same item at a chain grocery store. I think it’s just another example of taking advantage of the disadvantaged.
With the groceries situated in my front basket, we pedaled the remaining way to the track and arrived around 4ish in the afternoon. We were greeted by a young guy on a lawn mower, Jaice, who is the track director’s son. He was friendly and told us that his dad and a bunch of other track workers would be there soon.
We parked our bikes under a pavilion and sat down at the picnic tables for a break. As we were checking phone messages, emails, etc., we saw a vehicle pull in with a wheel barrow mounted on the bike rack. Frankenbutt and I looked at each other and said: “BMXer!” We love the cool and inventive (and sometimes wacky) stuff BMXers do to get the job done!
With wheel barrow unloaded, Mike Taylor, the track director, came over and welcomed us to his track. He also introduced to us Angie, one of their best volunteers, and Matt Verburg, whose mother built a racing program in Dayton with its main focus on providing BMX racing to children in the community, especially if they couldn’t afford it. Her vision and dedication to that concept is what drives this track crew to do what it does.
As the sky grew darker, the BMX kids tried to get their last few runs in on their “empire of dirt”. Sean, a long time rider and devotee to the sport ordered some pizzas for the late nighters who continued to work as parents rounded up kids and headed home for bed. P.A.L.’s Jaime had another nice surprise for us; he and Frankenbutt left and picked up a 29’ camper from his home and brought it back to the track for us to stay in during our visit. Wow! It’s beautiful and roomy and wonderful! Thank you! Thank you! Track Director, Mike, hooked it up to the electric panel so that we would have lights and TV! We truly feel spoiled.
As the night closed in on 10 o’clock, Matt Verburg told us he’d see us tomorrow … he had to get home to his new 1 month old baby. Matt has 7 kids and had 4 of the 7 with him out at the track tonight. Mike and Sean joked with Matt saying, “If you had signed up all of your kids, they might have saved the NBL!” We all laughed but then found ourselves trying to make sense of what went wrong in the past few years that led to the last resort of USA BMX, the merger of the NBL and ABA. Although we all have mature outlooks and hope that it’s a positive for the sport and the kids, we wonder if a “for profit” organization will still support the tracks whose goals are to reach out to the potential riders who can’t afford BMX, but may well need it the most. Thank God for the Cindy Verburgs of the world!