The big race
Two young local racers are heading to the 2017 BMX World Championships
Every time 15-year-old Trevor Shields pushes the front wheel of his BMX bike against a hydraulic-powered starting gate to race, he takes a moment to visualize himself navigating every burm, bump, jump and curve on the track.
“I know that I can win, and I think about how I’m going to do that,” Trevor said during a break from warming up prior to last Thursday’s races at Chico’s Silver Dollar BMX track. “Like, I know some people might be faster than me on the first straight, so I picture myself riding behind them until the corner, then diving under them. Then I don’t think about anything at all, look up at the light and go.”
In addition to the athleticism and skills he’s developed in a decade of BMX racing—having started at the local track when he was just 5 years old—Trevor said he believes his mental game has helped to distinguish him in the sport. He’s currently ranked fifth in his age group on the national circuit, and spends much of his time traveling the United States and Canada to compete.
Trevor’s racing schedule has been even more hectic than usual lately as he hones his skills for the sport’s preeminent event, the 2017 BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, S.C. He’s already qualified for the race, and said he’s been trying to do two to three national events monthly. In the last few weeks, Trevor has traveled to the East Coast and Oregon to race, as well as hitting the local track as often as possible when he’s not on the road. He is sponsored by and rides for the Elite Vendetta BMX team (Factory Vendetta is a Sacramento-based bicycle manufacturer), and hopes to someday make the U.S. Olympic team.
“I never expected him to go as far as he has,” said Trevor’s biggest fan, his mother, Traci. “A neighbor of ours was the person who suggested he try it, because Trevor was always on his bike and he’s always been kind of a little daredevil. He and his brother both took first the first time we came out, and he’s been hooked ever since.”
So, too, have Traci and her husband, Tim, who—like other local BMX racing parents—can be found at the track as often as five nights a week. She doesn’t mind a bit, saying the collective dedication of riders, families and track staff has led to the formation of a tight-knit community.
“The thing I love about BMX is it’s a big family,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of friends and formed lasting relationships with people. We all miss each other when we don’t see each other and do whatever we can to help each other out.”
Trevor is one of many homegrown riders who’ve cut their teeth at Silver Dollar BMX and gone on to compete at higher levels. The track, which sits somewhat hidden off of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, is run by a nonprofit organization; board members, operators and workers are unpaid volunteers dedicated to promoting the sport of BMX. There are nominal fees to compete in regular races—held each Thursday night and Sunday morning—but spectators attend free.
Another young rider making his mark at Silver Dollar and beyond is 12-year-old Evan Enserro, who rides for Team Kuwahara. Evan, a student at Bidwell Junior High, wasn’t at last Thursday’s races because he was in Austin, Texas, for a big race called the Lonestar Nationals. He is currently ranked No. 8 in the country for his age group and has also already qualified for the World Championships in South Carolina.
“We’ve been a baseball family forever, but Evan isn’t much of a baseball player,” Evan’s father, Vince, said by phone Friday from Austin. “So when we went to the track for the first time four years ago, we had no idea if he’d like it. He got out and rode the track, and when he was done, he had the biggest smile on his face and said, ‘I want to come back.’”
The elder Enserro said his son’s racing habit has lead to a unique social life for the road-wise preteen: “One of the coolest things is that most of his friends are [riders] from other places, so he gets to see them every few months when they meet up somewhere. He keeps in touch and talks to them all the time on the Snapchat or whatever it is that they do.”
“[Traveling] is pretty fun because you get to go to new places and try a lot of new things,” Evan said. “Also, we get to skip school, even though we have to make the work up.”
Elder racer Trevor, a Pleasant Valley High student, also said he likes that particular perk.
“People at school are always like, ‘Ah, you’re so lucky, you’re always traveling and get to miss school.’ So I say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m very lucky.’”
Track manager Timmie Kennedy noted it’s not just young men who’ve fallen in love with BMX racing at Silver Dollar, noting that boys and girls as young as 2 years old take to the track on “Striders”—push-bikes designed to help toddlers and youngsters learn balance and coordination before they start pedaling. There also are adult riders—Kennedy himself races on the professional circuit and started his own team, TK Racing, of which his daughter Johanna is a member. He noted that Carl Profit—who serves as vice president of the Silver Dollar BMX organization—is over 50 and will also be competing in this year’s world championship.
All of the parents, riders and track staff interviewed touted BMX as a family-friendly, physical activity that helps teach discipline, confidence and a strong work ethic. But it was the young Trevor who best vocalized his love of the sport.
“It really just keeps my mind in a good place,” he said. “It’s like when I’m on a bike, nothing else can bother me.”