BMX riders might evoke thoughts of extreme daredevils, as seen in
the spectacular crashes of the X Games.
The competitors planning to race next week on a dirt track at the
Greater Columbus Convention Center are certainly daring, but many
also fall under a less extreme demographic: families.
"It's a sport the whole family can get involved with," said Jess
Moore, spokesman for the National Bicycle League of Gahanna, which
will conduct two events expected to draw 1,500 riders from
throughout the United States.
"It's pretty easy to tell once you get here," he said. "It's really
just families riding their bikes all over the place."
A case in point: The Takamasa family of Dublin - brothers Naoki, 14; Koh, 10; sisters Erika, 12; and Megumi, 7 - travels the
country for contests at least once a month.
Emi, the youngest child, could start racing next year at 5 - the age
at which each of her siblings began competing.
Intrigued by the sport during his childhood in Japan, the father,
Naoya, initially encouraged his older son to try it as a path to
Naoki found that he loved the pursuit - while his parents
appreciated the laid-back atmosphere of competitions, meeting other
families and sharing stories and barbecues.
Almost a decade later, the children all have top rankings in Ohio.
And they have earned about 300 trophies, more than their home could
At the national level, Erika is ranked third in her division, while
Naoki is 18th.
"It gives you a sense of accomplishment," Erika said. "You get to
choose your goals, and, when you do accomplish them, it builds your
Headed into their upcoming races, the Takamasas have a bit of a
disadvantage compared with their rivals from warm-weather states.
With the closest indoor venue in Dayton, for example, they haven't
practiced since Thanksgiving.
They'll hit the track Monday to represent Ohio in the President's
Cup, a state-vs.-state competition.
Then, the next two days, they'll compete in the Christmas Classic,
kicking off a new season of national races. With the children
jumping dirt hills, the sport poses dangers: Naoki broke both arms
at 8 while at a BMX camp.
"I went over the handlebars and put my hands out," he said, "and
they kind of snapped."
Before races, Naoya signals his children to use their heads.
Their mother, Maria, says a silent prayer - aware that the sport
"You have to be brave enough to try things, take some chances, or
you're not going to improve their skills," she said.
Although the mother isn't interested in competing, the father tried
two years ago - and retired after his first event.
"I was going to try and make a cool move," he said, "but I fell and
broke my wrist. "It still hurts to this day."
The NBL President's Cup &
Christmas Classic went well for the BMX Mania Factory riders.
Lots of action and
motos were up from last year. Holy moley, 12 hours plus.
The Family's home
state of Ohio took a close 2nd place in the State Vs. State battle,
with Florida in 1st. Just 5pts diff.
Naoki was perfect
until the main. He had to fight thru quarters and semis too. Getting
a bad gate, he worked the track and came back from 6th to take 3rd.
Erika took perfect all
weekend long. This was her 4peat in Prez cup.
Koh ended up getting
really sick before his semi finals at the President's Cup and didn't
race the rest of the races.
Meg’s debut was
awesome. She got 4th in Pres cup, and 8th and 5th in the Classic.