Catching air, landing hard and crashes are expected at the Vancouver Island BMX Nationals competition this weekend.
The Greater Victoria BMX Association will host the three-day event at West Shore Parks and Recreation July 5, 6 and 7.
More than 300 riders from across Canada and the U.S. are expected to compete. So far athletes from as far away as California are confirmed.
Colin Barwick, 14, started zipping around the BMX track at West Shore Parks and Recreation only a few months ago. Since it’s his first year, Barwick began in a novice category, but quickly moved up to the intermediate classification and finished first in national races held in Nanaimo and Qualicum in May.
“I was so surprised when I won my first race,” Barwick said.
Even showing some natural talent on the track Barwick practises twice a week to improve skills such as getting out of the gate quicker, maintaining his speed throughout the race and jumping.
Before hitting the dirt track, the Victoria rider was doing tricks at local skate parks for about five years.
“This is totally different from a skate park, it’s way faster,” Barwick said. “At first it can be pretty scary.”
While some kids have been peddling around the track since early childhood, Barwick his following his father’s footsteps, who also started riding BMX at age 14.
Metchosin sisters Eliza and Janel Church have raced on the track as long as they can remember.
It’s become second nature to twelve-year-old Eliza who started when she was five. In April she placed third against other girls her age during the national competition in Chilliwack.
“The hardest part is just trying to win,” she said. “I just like racing with my friends.”
Janel, 8, is currently ranked No. 2 in Canada for female racers and first in the country for her age group. No stranger to winning national events, in June she placed first in a national race in Kamloops.
After the local national competition this weekend, the sisters are heading to another in Las Vegas.
The Vancouver Island BMX Nationals will be held at the Greater Victoria BMX track at West Shore Parks and Recreation on the lower level beside the velodrome. Races are held July 5 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., July 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and July 7 from 9 a.m. to noon.