When I was a young teenager, growing up in Middletown, NY, I used to wake up Sunday mornings and begin preparing for race day. That's right, race day! One of the fond memories I have of my childhood was the excitement and the nerves associated with Bicycle BMX Racing.

At some point in my youth, someone decided to start a Bicycle BMX Racing league, and my friends and I anxiously jumped at the chance to become racers! We were always building giant dirt ramps and risking our health by flying through the air with reckless abandon, so racing was the logical next step. We signed up immediately!

A lot of my friends from school had top-of-the-line bikes. I remember that the bike we all wanted was the "Mongoose" which was very popular at the time. I didn't have the money to get one of those, so I spent a lot of time tearing apart and rebuilding bicycles. We had a lot of fun doing that. I tore apart my "Huffy" right down to the frame and rebuilt it from there, little by little, with the lightest coolest parts that I could afford. It still wasn't a Mongoose, but by the time I was done with it, I was proud of what I had put together.

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The bike was only part of the fun. We got to dress for the part too. We had our motorcycle helmets, facemasks, and a variety of shoulder, elbow, and knee pads. Some of the kids really knew what they were doing and had all the best stuff. I did what I could with what I had, but it was good enough to race. So, I did!

I remember waking up on race day mornings. I was extremely nervous. I admit that I was kind of scared to some degree, not only scared of hurting myself but also of embarrassing myself in front of my friends. Despite all that, it was very fun and it kind of made me feel important in a way, especially if I made it to the finish line relatively close to the pack.

The race itself was quite a spectacle. The pack of bikes, I want to say 8 to 10 racers, would line up on top of a starting hill. I remember it looking pretty steep. I also remember my heart practically beating out of my chest as I prepared to push off and risk life and limb. The starting gun would fire and off we went. The first turn was always the scariest. Every once in a while pedals would tangle up and down a few of us went. Making past that first turn was the key. After that, it was a contest of will and strength. I spent a lot of time trying to catch up to the other racers.

I'm sad to say I never actually won a race, but there was this one day where I was headed for a third-place finish, and if I remember the day correctly, the kid that was in second place must have biffed, because before I knew it, I finished in second place. I was on top of the world that day. It would be my best finish.

So, my question to the residents of Pittsfield is this: Would you support organized Bicycle BMX racing in Pittsfield? Would your kids take part if someone stepped up and put it together? I loved that time in my life and I think it would be great for the kids of our fair city. What do you think?

 

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