I recently spent a couple days at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, interviewing, shooting and — yes — riding the Bejing replica track. It was like BMX, only way bigger.
Lots of fun stuff:
Guys are hitting 40 mph+ on this track. At that speed, I’m told, it’s best to forget pedaling — just tuck and pump. (For scale, check out the guys in the first berm.)
But first you have to sprint full-out down the 8-meter ramp. Dudes — the ramp is so steep it’s hard to walk down. Vance Wiesendanger goes after it.
Steven Cisar, an athlete in residence at the OTC, boosts the double into the second turn. There is no rolling this one, folks.
Mike Day wins the Olympic trials
Mike Day busts out one of five gates in his race-simulation workout the Saturday before the trials.
The Olympic Trials were the Saturday after I visited, and everyone was getting nervous. Whoever wins that race gets the 2nd spot on the team.
Mike Day KILLED it. He won the time trial and two of three motos. He was so far ahead by points that they cancelled the main. Crazy.
Mike has been working with Coach Greg Romero, and Greg has had him on a strict two-week taper. While I was there Saturday and Sunday, the other riders were all play riding. On Saturday, Mike did five full laps, with 20 minutes rest, to simulate race day, then he rested the rest of the weekend. Mike performed when it mattered, and now he’s going to Bejing.
Jill Kintner also works with Coach G, and she’s going too.
Riding the track
That track is so big, and peaky, I didn’t jump a darn thing.
But I rode my Intense cruiser around the womens’ line several times. The pump was ridiculous, and the speed was instantaneous. I could feel how sweet this track is for the handful of riders who can truly rock it.
I’ve known Chris for several years, and he said I looked good out there. “You look smooth and confident,” he said. “Since I’ve known you, you’ve gone from an intermediate to a controlled expert.” That’s high praise from someone at his level!
It’s all about the gates
The start is by far the most important part of a BMX race. Whoever reaches the first turn in front gets to control the rest of the field.
Let’s not forget cornering
With BMX berms getting steeper and smoother, cornering is becoming a lost art. But excellent cornering form will let you rail faster and carve tighter than everyone else. Chris, Greg and I did some drills for the book.
The BMX book manuscript is mostly written, and now I’m processing the photos and video from this adventure. I hope to have the book available, at least for download, by The Games in August.