Racers nervously wait at the starting line. Get set. The gate drops and riders pedal furiously, hit the first hill and grab some air time making their way around the track. I'm covering the BMX national race held at Memorial Park in Pottstown. Photographs are a dime a dozen as the young kids whip around corners and jockey for the lead.
These are enjoyable assignments, with me smiling as I watch the youngsters put their bikes through the paces. Kids take it seriously when they race, but most are still having fun interacting with their buddies. Many turn this into a family tradition. Mom, dad and the kids hop into an RV or pickup truck pulling a trailer and cruise to tracks around the United States.
I think it would have been fun to have the opportunity to run a track like that as a kid, but the best we could do was ride on a bumpy field with a small hill to jump. Our bikes weren't sturdy enough to take the punishment either. But the one thing we had back when I was a little shaver was the chance to ride my bike on roads, sidewalks and open ground across the area.
The land wasn't as built up and traffic was much less intense. My friends and I would make plans to ride to a destination with at least one long hill to coast down at break neck speed. And I'm serious about the break neck! Some days I would head back home with road rash on knees and elbows after a spill.
The objective of our riding would lead us to Mauger's Mill Rd. which was one of the longest and highest hills we could pedal. Once there, we would line up and look down from the N. Hanover St. intersection to make sure there wasn't a car in site. Then it was Ready, Set, Go! We would speed all the way with our eyes watering to see who would get to the bottom first. I don't think kids today can do this type of riding as cars seem to be everywhere on roads these days.
There are some guys my age in their 50s riding the BMX bikes, but I have limited my riding to a steady pace aboard a mountain bike on area trails these days.
Photographing these young girls, boys, teens and adults zipping by is a good way to spend an afternoon. Kids like to get airborne, some having a natural knack and are fearless on the way to the finish line.
Others end up with cuts, bruises and band aids from a fall on the course. Most get up, brush themselves off and pedal to the end of the track and head back in line for another race.
So even if kids may not have the freedom to travel the wide open spaces that hardly exist anymore, they can make up for it on the BMX fast track to fun.