YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Age doesn't stop local BMXers

December 03, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

Go to an Imperial Valley BMX race on any Saturday night in Seeley and among the children, teen-agers and 20-somethings, you'll find an older group.

In this group you'll find people who have children and grandchildren involved in the local BMX scene.

While there a number of parents and grandparents watching the races in the stands, what sets a certain group apart is that as soon as they're done watching and cheering the youngsters, they strap on their helmets, head up to the starting line and prepare for their own races.

Known among themselves as the "Geritol division," to these seasoned veterans age is only a number.

"It doesn't really matter how old you are or what your age is. Coming out here and racing is just about having fun," said 57-year-old Rick Webb. "I got into this just this year. Before that I would just go out and watch it."


While Webb recently got into BMX racing, he has been racing road bikes for more than 45 years. As a road racer, Webb's races are long-distance, marathon types on paved roads. He also commutes to and from work every day on his road bike from Mexicali to El Centro, where he works at the Finish Line BMX shop as a mechanic.

While Webb is a road racer at heart, BMX gives him another competitive outlet.

"I'm a very competitive person. I just love to race. Before I got into road racing I did some stock car racing," said Webb. "Also, when you get out there on the track, ready for a race, you can just let out some of your anxiety. You go out and race and just have a lot of fun doing it."

One of the "pioneers" to head onto the BMX track is 42-year-old Bennie Derrick. About five years ago the local BMX scene was dominated by a much younger group of riders.

As a big fan of BMX, when the track opened in Seeley, Derrick decided to take his stuff to the track.

"I used to compete in races out in Phoenix and other parts of Arizona, so when this track opened up I wanted to race," said Derrick. "I was the oldest one out there, but everyone was fine with it. For me this is just a good opportunity to compete. It doesn't matter how old you are."

Said I.V. BMX treasurer Shelly Smail of the older generation's involvement: "I think it's wonderful. It's great that they're out here doing this. I'd really like to have more out here. I think by them coming out here and racing, they're showing the younger kids that when you do get older, that doesn't mean you have to stop racing. So they're kind of like role models to the younger kids."

While the older riders are looked up to as a reminder of the everlasting life of BMX, they have had the opportunity to strengthen bonds with their children and grandchildren.

The oldest rider competing is 58-year-old Pat Roche. Roche got involved in BMX through his grandson, Tristan, 11. Roche attended Tristan's races every week and noticed how much fun Tristan was having. That's when Roche decided he wanted to get in on the fun.

Roche has raced in five events and has not only become a better racer but has developed a stronger bond with his grandson.

"I think coming out here and doing the same thing he's doing has developed a real strong bond between us. There's a lot of parents who just sit and watch and after races try and tell their kids to do something different," said Roche. "But it's different when you're actually out there. So being out there and racing has helped me understand more what he's going through.

"And of course I'm just out here having a good time with this, too," Roche said. "There's just something about this that's like a hook. At first it was kind of scary and a little intimidating, but after you do it once, you're hooked. No matter how old you are, you can come out here and enjoy yourself. And who knows? You might have a shining moment."

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles