The rider nearly flew as he pedaled his BMX bike over the indoor course, becoming airborne several times. “Nice race,” said a race director, who gave the racer a high-five.
He had to lean over to congratulate the rider, because the BMX competitor is in kindergarten.
Preschool children through riders with more than 30 years of experience competed Sunday in the first of the state BMX Illinois State Qualifiers of the 2013 season at the QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Ave., Rock Island.
More than 150 riders from all over the Quad-Cities and surrounding areas, as well as Connecticut, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Canada competed in the racing that began Friday and ended Sunday.
The Rock Island Indoor BMX track is run by the volunteers at East Moline BMX Speedway, a nonprofit track with riders ranging from ages 5 to more than 50.
“This is the biggest one of these competitions we’ve had in here,” said Paul DePauw, owner of BMX Racing Zone and track director of East Moline BMX Speedway.
Chris DePoorter, of Coal Valley, Ill., helped out at registration while his daughter, Apryl DePoorter, 10, competed. “It’s fun,” April said. “It’s different from an outdoor track. We have to put the jumps together (on the indoor track). It’s not about winning or losing,” said Apryl, who started racing last year. “It’s just about having fun.”
“BMX is exciting,” DePauw said. “It’s an individual sport.”
It’s also a family sport. Dana Kipp, of Hampton, Ill., and his son Marcus Kipp, 12, have competed in races for 31/2 years.
Marcus began riding after he watched his friend enjoy the sport. “It looked interesting, so I tried it and I liked it,” he said. Marcus has earned awards and competed in many races — “too many to count.”
“In any sport, when you’re with your child, the bond is twice what it would be for a regular parent,” his dad said.
“I like spending time with (my dad),” Marcus said. “It’s fun to do it together because we can help each other out.”
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At the registration table, Travis Johnson, 22, of Marion, Iowa, helped racers and visitors. Johnson appreciates the camaraderie of the sport. “I’ve ridden in nationals, which is a lot of fun, and a great atmosphere with tons of people there,” he said.
Thomas Wagner, 37, of Hudson, Ohio, aka “Thrillbilly,” has been riding in BMX races for 22 years. “It kept me out of trouble,” he said. “I started at 16, and I never quit. I’ve been all the way through. I’ve raced the world competition in Holland in 2004 and was a national champion in 2003.”
Q-C to host 2013 USA BMX National
The Quad-Cities was chosen to host a 2013 USA BMX National July 19-21 at the East Moline BMX Speedway. This is the first time the Quad-Cities has hosted a USA BMX National that is part of the National series.
According to the Quad-Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Quad Cities was chosen out of 380 tracks across the country to host the July race. About 1,500 riders and around 5,000 spectators are expected to come to the Quad-Cities for the event, which will have an estimated $2.8 million impact on the area.
For more information, visit eastmolinebmx.net or its Facebook page.