By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Inacia Arpin’s gnarliest BMX racing crash began with a bribe.
“It was at the State Fair this year, there was this backpack I really wanted and my dad told me he would buy it if I won the moto,” Arpin said. Races in the BMX world are tagged motos.
Arpin, racing against a group of boys, looked to be in prime position to claim the new bag as she went up the first hill of the Capitol City BMX track.
“As I went up over the hill, one of the boys jumped the hill and ended up in front of me. I went down and one rider ran over me and two others ran over my bike,” Arpin, 14, said.
Arpin is one of eight Keizer kids that are regulars at the track, and she is among the top riders in the area. There are too few girls competing for her to be officially labeled an expert rider, but she’s easily the equivalent.
In a sport where speed is essential, Keizer’s BMX riders each embody a spark of fearlessness and have become something like a family.
“I’m here right now and I’m not even riding,” said Nate Martin.
Martin recently crashed in his driveway while attempting a barspin and landed on the tip of his thumb breaking it in two places.
“It’ll be four weeks before I can ride again if I can’t get a cast. If I get a cast, I’m going to try riding with it,” Martin said.
Gubser Elementary School fifth grader Kory Pagels, 10, is one of the younger regulars at the track, but he hasn’t been immune to the bumps and bruises of competitive bike racing.
“There was one time I did too big a wheelie at the top of the of one of the hills and I fell over backward,” Pagels said. “I had to lay down in the back of the car for a bit on the way home. “
While things can go wrong in any sport, rider Justin Hurt said that most of the riders try to be mindful of their co-competitors.
“Most of the people are pretty good about it and there’s not a lot of cutting off,” Hurt said.
Even without the the threat of crashing, the sport can be intense, said Tom Hurt, Justin’s father.
“One day, I rode Justin’s bike out of the gate and I only got as far as the first tabletop before getting off the bike and walking it back,” he said.
Motos are divided somewhat along age lines, but more often according to talent. Whereas Arpin is considered an expert, Hurt and Martin are both competing at the intermediate level, before advancing to higher ranks, all three were novices.
“It takes takes eight wins to move to intermediate level and 25 wins to move to expert,” Hurt said.
Hurt advanced to the intermediate level while competing at the High Desert BMX national competition in Redmond earlier this year. Competing against a much larger field of riders made the moment extra rad. On a good day at the Capitol City track there might be enough riders for 15 motos, there were more than 200 motos in Redmond.
“It was a in a big stadium and a lot of fun,” Hurt said.
Pagels said the most difficult aspect of learning the sport was negotiating the rhythm section – an area with several hills of varying heights in a short distance – of the track, but for Martin, the mental game has proven to be the most challenging.
“If there’s someone in front of you, you’ve got to figure out another way to get in front of them if you can’t beat them on the flats,” Martin said.
The group of riders and their families often gather early for the races that take place on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons and take time to reconnect over shared meals, which isn’t to say there aren’t moments of conflict.
As with many girls her age, parents can be a source of frustration for Arpin, but she’s found a healthy outlet.
“When I’m mad, I take it out on the track,” she said. “There have been a few races I’ve won because I let out so much anger.”
For more information about BMX racing at the Capitol City BMX track, visit www.capitolcitybmx.com. Other Keizer riders include Zachary Slauson, Emmett Reeb, Tina Brubaker and Evan Kennedy