Parents, kids compete in annual race
Sweat trickled down their foreheads as they eyed the downward slope of the clay track. They gripped the handlebars, poised in the smoldering summer heat, and waited. Finally, the signal rang out and the motors of the holding gate hissed as it clanged down.
They were off.
The riders sped their bikes around the Cape Coral BMX track’s winding quarter-mile strip of clay hills and asphalt berms, set in a quiet neighborhood at the northeast corner of Trafalgar Parkway and Skyline Boulevard, and they crossed the finish line with that look in their eyes that said: There’s no other way I’d rather spend Father’s Day.
The Fourth Annual Father’s Day Race saw a pair of tires for 16 NBL-ranked fathers and 16 fresh faces, as well as those of their sons and daughters as young as three years old Saturday.
“It’s more of a family sport,” said Assistant Track Director Chuck Carroll. “Here you can get out there, race, ride and practice with your kid. In BMX you don’t ever have to sit on the bench. Everyone gets to participate, it doesn’t matter what your skill level is.”
Carroll expects at least four or five new riders will come of the Father’s Day event, and calls BMX a “lifestyle,” one that is a healthy way for younger riders to spend their free time.
“It keeps them off the street, because they always want to go ride,” he said. “It keeps them off the video games and off the computers. At least now when they ride bikes they want to be outside jumping and being active.”
As much as the track’s membership has grown and changed, the track itself has seen many changes throughout its life of more than 30 years.
The berms once dirt, much of the track previously littered with shells, the track’s modernization seems to reflect its growing popularity.
BMX even became an olympic sport in recent years, boasted father of three boys and BMX rider Chris Giuliano.
“It’s excellent,” Giuliano said of how BMX has allowed him to bond with sons Isaac, 7, and Tyler and CJ, both 13, who all ride and travel together to various races. “It’s very family oriented. We’re out here, mom’s out here, everybody’s out here. We’re all together and each one of them gets to race. It’s awesome.”
The Giulianos travel Florida to compete in the state-level BMX competitions, and will travel to Kentucky for the Grand Nationals for the first time this year.
After trying out various sports with the boys such as soccer, Giuliano feels his family has found the right formula with BMX.
“It’s not something you’re always winning at, it’s something competitive, teaches them discipline on how to lose and how to be a good sport, so it’s really good,” he said. “You meet a lot of people here. Everybody’s down to Earth, good people, good people to hang out with and good people to be around.”
Giuliano sees a greater gift than Father’s Day fun for the pedal-happy dads–perspective.
“A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is until the parent gets out on the track. You’ll hear parents screaming at their kids, ‘Pedal! Pedal! Pedal!’ You get out there and you don’t say that so much anymore. It’s just, ‘Go, Dad! Have fun!'”
But it isn’t just sons leaving tire trails on the Cape Coral BMX track’s clay.
Kyra Simone proves that daughters are every bit as competitive in the sport as their fellow male riders, barreling past the starting gate on her pink, 20-inch Answer Anarchy bike.
Simone said that the “racing styles and staging,” as well as the attitudes of boys and girls are different at the track, but that in every other way she’s considered an equal and has proven herself capable.
But it’s the people, not the fierce competition, she likes most about BMX.
“I enjoy making friends and helping other people out on the track,” Simone said. “Like if somebody doesn’t have a part you just walk up and say, ‘Hey man, you have this.’ It’s really friendly.”
Simone joined BMX with her father, Mark.
But the two planned to put their helmets on the shelf Sunday to indulge in the relaxing atmosphere of Southwest Florida boating, and spend the evening
having dinner with their family.
Their helmets would always be there, ready for next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, when the riders of Cape Coral would put on their clay-stained gear and wait for the gate to drop.