“I like to beat the boys,” Camille said, stopping to ask her dad, Chris Bowers, how she did in her first race Saturday. “Even though they’re stronger, girls are smarter.”
Camille, her six-year-old sister Cassidy, and their dad were three of dozens of racers who showed up to compete in Bicycle Motocross, or BMX. The smooth dirt track with peaks, dips and hairpin turns is in Weaver, and Saturday racers competed to qualify for the state championship.
“Like everything else, it has cycles,” event organizer Richard Bunt said of the popularity of BMX. “It’s growing.”
BMX is a competitive youth sports activity that has been around since the 1970s, Bunt said. BMX racers wear brightly colored jerseys with long sleeves and pants. Their helmets have built-in face masks and their bikes are specially built for the sport.
BMX competitors are separated by age and skill level. But unlike the traditional youth league sports, BMX racing allows people of all ages to compete and it doesn’t bar girls from battling boys on the track.
At Saturday’s race participants ranged in age from 4 to 55 and females raced against males in several races. The inclusive nature of the sport gives the Bowers family the ability to enjoy a team sport together.
“I didn’t want to be one of those parents who sit on the sidelines,” Chris Bowers, 42, said.
The girls’ mother, Lila Bowers, doesn’t compete on the BMX track, but she doesn’t stick to the sidelines either. While the rest of her family was cycling on the dirt track, Lila Bowers rode on the nearby Chief Ladiga Trail.
BMX racing isn’t a family sport for everyone. Bryce Yeager, 16, likes the BMX racing because it is something he can do on his own.
“It’s not a team sport, so I don’t have to depend on anyone else,” said Yeager, a Oak Mountain High School student.
The teen BMX racer is sponsored by Clayborn bikes and wants to compete nationally and internationally. He said the key to succeeding in the sport is believing in yourself.
“Skill will naturally come, but you can’t always build up confidence,” Yeager said.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.