A Conversation with Javier Colombo
By Alejandro Garcia / BMXmania.com
Photos By Alejandro Garcia & Jerry Landrum
Javier Colombo: No problem. Itís cool when you do a conversation. Just like that: record it and have a conversation. Then you get the best out of it.
BMX Mania: Exactly. OK, letís get started. When did you move from Argentina to the States?
Colombo: That was back in August 2000. I raced the UCI World Championships in Argentina that July. I placed fifth. Right after that was the NBL Grands in Kentucky. After that I said, ďOK, I gotta give it a shot.Ē
Colombo: I stayed until December 30, 2000. I raced the ABA Fall Nationals when they used to be down in San Diego. I raced the Christmas Classic. In between, I raced a lot of big ABA and NBL races. Then I went back home for the entire month of January. And then I came back February 2001 for the whole seasonóthe A Pro season.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: How long before you moved up to AA Pro?
Colombo: In 2001, I raced the full A Pro season. I won the NBL Championship. In 2002, I moved to AA Pro. That May, I raced Prunedale and broke my elbow. That put a little hole in my career. So I went back home for the rest of 2002. That was a big hit.
Colombo: I came back in 2003 to give it a shot in AA Pro. If I would have continued racing it would have been different. But taking that time off, being hurt all that time, and then coming back to try to race AAÖI wasnít ready mentally. And physically probably either. So anyway, I reclassified and raced one more year in A Pro.
Colombo: I got third in NBL. I didnít race ABA because if you race too much, you gotta move up.
BMX Mania: If you earn more than $3,000 in a year.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: Thatís a lot of racing.
BMX Mania: So youíre felling your age now?
Colombo: Yeah, Iíve been on the ground a few times. So, your body hurts here and there. You definitely feel it. Mentally, the hype is not the same as when I was 20. When I was 20 the only thing I wanted to do was ride my BMX bike every single day, all the time. I donít think I will ever go away from the scene. I will always be around because I love it. But yeah, I definitely feel my age.
BMX Mania: What are some of the things that take you away from BMX racing?
Colombo: Iím working with the Argentinean team. Itís not a national team. Private companies put up the money and I manage it. Weíre gonna go to the UCI Supercross races. Weíre actually gonna come to the States to race a few races here and there. We might race the ABA race in Chula Vista, California.
BMX Mania: The So. Cal. Nationals in April 2011?
Colombo: Yeah. Iím racing that. Itíll keep me fairly busy. Gonna race Vet Pro. Honestly, I donít want to race Elite any more. I was happy racing all the way until I was 32. If I really want to give it a shot in Elite I would. I just donít want it. If you feel you can make it in Elite, you just keep racing in Elite.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: Has your training changed in the last few years?
Colombo: I kind of switched it around a little bit in 2008, trying a few different things. But I gotta be honest with you, I never quite got my body. Sometimes I used to feel tired and go to the race and be pulling. Sometimes Iíd go through the week and feel real good but then race and be tired and flat. I switch around, but it always comes down to whatís in your head. Some people feel tired in the weekend and they can turn it around. And some people canít.
BMX Mania: Have you raced any of the guys that are now Vet Pro?
Colombo: Yeah, a lot of them. Actually, when I used to race A Pro, I used to race Jason Carnes a lot. Dale Holmes. Greg Romero. Kenth Fallen. John Purse. I raced a lot of the Vet Pros that were A Pro and AA Pro.
BMX Mania: Howíd you do against them?
Colombo: Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. They beat me and I beat them. Letís put it that way.
BMX Mania: So youíre looking forward to racing them again?
Colombo: Iím looking forward to having fun. Iím not looking for second; I want to win. But more than anything, I want to have fun. Itíll be fun to race against them again. It might get serious after a while. Those guys are pretty serious.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: A ton of Pros say one way to keep motivated is to keep having fun; otherwise, racing can turn into work real fast.
Colombo: Definitely. My hardest point in my career was the whole Olympic team process and all that stuff. That was a burnout for sure. I didnít end up doing good that year. I tried, but I didnít do good enough to make the team. I wasnít doing good in the scene over here either. After I got the news that I wasnít gonna make the team that year, I started to feel good in the States. That year was hard. That really was work. I didnít enjoy that so much. I enjoyed the travelling part. I was in nine different countries from January to May in 2008. Other than that it was a big hassle.
BMX Mania: So you actually like travelling?
Colombo: I do. I obviously like it more when I was younger, but yeah, I do enjoy it a lot. Iíd rather do that than go into an office, letís put it that way.
BMX Mania: It must have been tough not making the Olympic team.
Colombo: It was rough, Iím not gonna lie. Itís one of those things; you gotta move on. Like I said, I tried my best and it didnít work out. It wasnít up to me. Argentina didnít have criteria to qualify, so we didnít know what to do to make it on the team. We were just doing our best.
BMX Mania: So making the team wasnít based on points?
Colombo: No, it wasnít based on anything. Nothing at all.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: That doesnít make any sense.
Colombo: No, it didnít make any sense to anybody back then. For example, the Pan-Am games were in South America in 2007. I was still the World Champion, and I didnít get to go.
BMX Mania: Picking riders isnít always easy. Now that youíre managing an Argentinean team, do you already have the team picked out?
Colombo: Yeah, we already have a team of four guys that are gonna race UCI Supercross and another team of four that are gonna do tours in the USA. We got eight riders total. The B-team is gonna prepare for the 2012 season and the Supercross team is gonna race all the UCI Supercross races and World Championships.
BMX Mania: And youíre gonna travel to all those?
Colombo: Yeah, Iím excited about that! You know, going to the race with no pressureójust giving my two cents to the team, helping them out, and do what I know and hopefully do a good job of it.
BMX Mania: Do you have any girls on the team?
Colombo: Yeah, one. She actually went to the Olympics in 2008.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: Pretty sweet. Sounds like youíre gonna have a solid team.
BMX Mania: Tell me about winning the World Championships in 2006.
Colombo: It was in Sao Paolo, Brazil. It was crazy. I couldnít believe it. I remember flying over there. I was reading a magazine that had a Dale Holmes interview in it. I read he got a funny feeling the whole time before he won the World Championship. For some reason, I got that same funny feeling. I was doing really well the entire season. The race before we went to Sao Paolo I was feeling really good. I made all my mains and made top three. So I was pretty confident. I was on a mission. Obviously, anything can happen. Feeling really good at a race is always a plus. I donít know; I just got a feeling I could do it and totally pull it off. And I did it.
BMX Mania: Howíd it go down?
Colombo: I got second the first moto. I won the second one. Back then they just drew for lanes, so I chilled the third moto because I was already in. I won the eights, the quarters, and on the semi I got a bad gate, so I was dead last, chilling. They crashed in front of me, so I went through the mess and got fourth. In the main event, Randy Stumpfhauser got the lead coming out of the first corner. I was in second following him all the way. In the last corner, I got a better line. I came out a little faster than him and at the line just passed him by like half a tire. Maybe not even thanójust a knobby thread of a tire, that was it.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: He must have been pretty mad.
Colombo: Obviously he was frustrated. I remember I was celebrating and people were all around me. I saw this guy standing there with a smile on his face. It was Randy. He just came up to me and gave me a hug. That was pretty awesome too. He was one of the first riders that came up to me to give me a hug.
BMX Mania: So you took first, Randy secondÖ Colombo: and Mike Day took third. He was actually the one who helped me win the title. Heís the one who make the mess in the semi. When I was racing the main, I could here Mike was behind me. Everybody knows that he can pass people. So I was just thinking, ďDo not get passed by Mike.Ē So I was just charging the whole track. Thatís what got me close to Randy to pass him because I was thinking the whole time that Mike was gonna pass me.
BMX Mania: So you can actually hear the announcers when youíre racing?
Colombo: A little bit. You donít hear a whole lot, but that track was so long that we had a little time to hear. Plus, you can feel whoís behind you and whoís not. So yeah, I knew that Mike was behind me.
BMX Mania: When did you get over the nerves of racing?
Colombo: Never. When you feel good, you can chill a little more because you have it that day. You get more confident as you race those days. But the most nerve-wracking races are the semi-finals. You never get over those. Even if you feel good, you can always mess up and not make the main. And the main event, you obviously want to win it. So youíre always nervous on that one. Semis are the hardest ones mentally. You have to mentally prepare for the semis.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: Itís a tough mental sport too.
Colombo: If you have more semis, more mains, more years racing, itís obviously better. That should play a role in getting a little bit of an advantage for the younger racers. Experience.
BMX Mania: Anything else?
Colombo: If you start thinking about what the guy next to you is gonna do, itís gonna throw you off. Before we had random gates, guys used to do the slingshot and that would take the focus out of you for a little bit. But now the gates are the same for everybody. If you start thinking about what the guy next to you is gonna do you pretty much lose focus on yourself. On the gate, you just have to think about yourself. Donít worry about anybody else.
BMX Mania: Did you ever lose focus or get disqualified?
Colombo: Yeah, once. I passed John Purse for fourth in an AA Pro semi in Orlando, Florida. He protested, and I got DQ-ed. I think I got DQ-ed because it was John Purse. And I like him; we talk and we laugh. But he still denies it. He still says that I cut the track. There is no way that I cut the track. I couldnít do it because there was a big pile of dirt. So anyway, I tried so hard not to get DQ-ed and I ended up getting DQ-ed. That time we exchanged some words. I was really mad at him because of the thing he protested. I donít think he knew I didnít cut the track. But he still thinks I did. Iíll try to cut him off out of the gate once and weíll be even. I can try. Heís fast. That was the one time I got DQ-ed.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: How long have you been with SE Bicycles?
Colombo: Since 2006. Itís been five years. Theyíre my main sponsor along with Maxxis. THE helps me with parts too.
BMX Mania: The Pros seem to really like the Maxxis tires.
Colombo: Yeah, theyíre really good. They hold really awesome. They roll like crazy. And they pretty much donít weigh anything.
Alejandro Garcia/BMX Mania: Any final thoughts?
Colombo: Yeah, I just want to say that the elite career was a rollercoaster, a super fun rollercoaster. I donít regret anything. Everything I did was fun. Iím just so thankful I got the opportunity. I fought for it. I reached a dream I always wanted to do since I was little. I always wanted to race in America. Back in 2000 I decided to make the move. If I had to do it again now I probably wouldnít because I only had $2,500 in my pocket. I didnít know anybody. I didnít speak English. I didnít know where I was going. I was expecting to make it an entire year with only $2,500. How is that gonna happen? If you think about it, it was pretty gnarly. If I had to do it again at that age, yeah, Iíd do it. A lot of kids from Argentina ask me if I think they can make it in the States. I have to tell them the truth. I tell them itís super hard. But if itís youíre dream you have to do whatever it takes. Thatís what I did. I didnít have a car so Iíd ride my bike to the grocery store with the bags hanging off the handlebars. One time, the bags blew out of the bottom. I had to hide the groceries behind a tree. I went back home to get a bag to get the groceries again. And stuff like that. Everything was a fun ride. I look back and I just had a really good time. The way that I did it, I think was really special. I want to thank my wife. She supports me a lot. Sheís super cool. The fact that she supports the travel and me gone all the days out of the year is cool.
Alejandro Garcia - firstname.lastname@example.org