Retro racing rocks the Apple Isle
Friday the 10th, November, 2017 saw myself board a jetstar flight to take part in the Tasmanian BMX State Titles, this would be my first trip interstate to race and I was excited to be going. Early afternoon in my hotel car park I was putting my bike back together after being dismantled for the flight over. Once the bike was back together it was time to head on over to the track for a practice session. As soon I turn up the track I am greeted by my coach and competition for the retro racing, Luke Cristiano, I was tempted to put a nail in his tyres to slow him down, unfortunately even if I did I don’t think it would have helped me get past him on the track, Luke was flying all weekend.
Behind the start hill for the first time and I can’t help but notice that the first jump is about as high as the start hill and only about 1 meter wide, my heart instantly skipped a beat, knowing that at some stage I am going to be in the air whether I want to or not. The gate drops and I throw my body forward to build momentum and was fast reaching top speed before the first jump, I get half way up the jump and instantly brake check, thinking to hell with this at 112 kgs I am not built to fly. The rest of the track is somewhat straight forward, bar the brutal last straight, which has a flat 30 meter sprint to the finishing line, this is horrendous, when you think you have got nothing left to give, you need to pedal for your life to get over the finishing line. The final sprint to the line, would catch a lot of people out over the weekend with some very close finishes.
Interestingly I spotted an old TNT BMX at the track, it was running single bolt redline flight cranks and original hutch pedals, the rest of the bike was completely original, I spoke to the young kid that was riding it, assuming that he was racing retro, it turns out it was his Fathers race bike from back in the day and the young man was riding in 13 boys, I mentioned that he should have entered retro with such a cool old bike, after a short conversation, explaining what retro is all about, I think we will be seeing a new rider on the gate for next years competition.
Saturday, race day and I get to the track early and was ready in plenty of time for the 20 minute retro practice, with only 4 of us racing it was a lot of fun having the track to ourselves for 20 minutes, it is something that we never get here in Victoria. Finally it is time for racing and retro is the first on the gate, beside me in the other lanes is Luke Cristiano, 14-year-old and current retro 4A Harry Schofield and Tasmania’s own Cohan Smith, this 11-year-old kid is a natural talent and I think we will be hearing his name in the very near future. The gate drops and Luke and Harry get out in front of me, I am just in front of Cohan and for a moment I think I may have a chance to beat this kid, next thing I know he flying over the first jump, going past me in the process and by the first berm was about 3 bike lengths in front of me. I am no longer focusing on Luke or Harry and all my attention is on this young man who is just in front of me, we hit the 2nd straight and into the rhythm section and I feel as if I making a little ground on him, into the berm and I am pedaling as fast I can and then before I knew it, young Cohan starts to really put in and opens a 5 bike length lead on me, I try to chase him down but I just can’t catch him, into the last straight, my lungs are screaming and I force myself to sprint the last 30 meters, over the line and the young man has beat me by a good 4 or 5 seconds to finish in 3rd place and leave me at the back in fourth.
By now the Tasmanian sun is beating down, must have been in the high 20’s and with another 4 motos to go, I knew it was going to be a long day, the second moto came and went and was very much the same as the first moto, come the third moto I was about to keel over and with only 70 odd riders racing on the day over the various classes there was not much of a break in between motos, come the third moto I did the first straight and then turned off and rolled through the rest of the track to try to recover a little. Thankfully after the 3rd moto we had a break in the racing which I sorely needed.
Refreshed and rehydrated I lined up behind the start gate, determined to put in my best race and that is exactly what I did, I rode hard the whole way, not giving up at any stage, I finished the forth moto in the same position, but with me head held high, because I knew that I had done the best I could do and gave it my all. Come the 5th moto, I knew I was going to finish in last place for the day, so I rolled through the track and over the finishing line and just like that my racing at the Tasmanian State Titles was over, I shook the hands of my competitors one last time and gave them my congratulations.
I leave happy with how I went and determined to keep training and keep on improving, I’ll see you next year Tassie.
Photos, courtesy of Southern City Photography