Wow… What an experience! The USABMX Grand Nationals are held in late November at Tulsa, Oklahoma each year. It is the final round of the USABMX national circuit, and is a double points round for the series, so is a huge event. The weekend saw over 3000 riders from 21 different countries, ran over a course of 3 days. The event was held at Tulsa Expo center, which is a huge arena around half a kilometer in length. It held a freshly built BMX track with a total of 5 straights, and a giant pit/team area which seemed to go on forever. I quickly learnt why the event was called “The Greatest Race on Earth”. The weekend included 1 day of practice, and 3 days of racing, all of which started between 7.00-7.30am, and did not finish until well past 9.00pm.
The USABMX circuit is known for it’s tough competition, especially in the pro class where the top riders from all around globe come to race. This event was no different, and I experienced one of the toughest competition I have ever experienced throughout my career.
We had around 35 riders in the AA pro class, which isn’t a lot compared to a World Cup round, but this meant that every race that we did had a stack of world class riders in them, making the qualification motos similar difficulty to a World Cup semi final.
I was feeling great. My preparation in San Diego had gone awesome, and I was feeling on point in practice as well. However, circumstances on the weekend just didn’t play in my favour. A crash in the third moto ended my day early on Friday’s Race of Champions, while a tough run in my second moto on Saturday’s Grand Nationals meant that my points were too high to qualify through to the quarter finals.
My riding was perfect. I was in top 3 into the first corner in almost every race. But I was not used to the intensity that the riders here attack every single race. Lines and mistakes that I would normally get away with in Australia were enough to take me from 3rd to 5th in one go.
Although I didn’t walk away with what I wanted result wise, I walked away with a huge amount of experience under my belt, and a massive confidence boost in my abilities. I’ve still got improvements to make, and I will improve, but results from the weekend did not correspond with how well I was riding. I’m right up there!
I can’t wait to get back into training for 2017!
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PEDAL FOR THE MEDAL: THE SAKAKIBARA SIBLINGS BID FOR OLYMPIC GLORY