SEATAC, Wash. — This Evening Field Trip outing filled at least a couple of our hosts with complete dread.
“At first I was really excited about this,” Angela Poe Russell said. “And then I saw the track.”
That track is the newly refurbished course at SeaTac BMX. It’s impressive. And impressively scary.
“I have a bit of a strange phobia about BMX biking,” Kim Holcomb said.
SeaTac BMX got started with pedal-powered racing about 40 years ago and has produced four world champions. The group recently raised more than 700,000 dollars from the community for the new upgrades.
“It’s one of the top tracks in the country,” Jim Dever pointed out.
“Anybody can do it," Board President Blue Montgomery said. "This is truly America’s greatest family sport.”
We’ll find out how the Evening hosts stack up and hope they don’t pile up in the process.
“Hands on the brakes,” Montgomery said. “Don’t go too fast, and take it easy.”
Our four BMX newbies begin with a very slow practice run.
“We have regular racers in their 70s,” Montgomery reassured the group.
Seatac BMX offers pedal-powered fun
“You know how they say, ‘It’s harder than it looks?’ With BMX that is definitely the truth,” Saint Bryan said. “It’s harder, it is steeper, and it is scarier.”
It’s also louder.
“We’re a little close to the airport here!” Kim shouted over the noise of an incoming jet.
“What?!” Saint replied.
“The jets kind of remind you to pick up the speed,” Angela joked.
Fittingly, the motto of the course is “It’s Time to Fly.”
The group gets a few minutes of instruction from one of SeaTac BMX’s world champs, 15 year old Sean “El Suave” Day.
“What do we need to do to be El Suave?” Kim asked.
“A lot of riding and practice,” Day replied.
“I was thinking I had this advantage because growing up I had a black and silver BMX bike,” Angela explained. “And then I remembered that the only trick I ever did was crashing into a parked car.”
And with that the four line up at the official starting gate to race each other.
“It’s gonna look so unimpressive,” Kim said.
She’s not wrong.
“Riders ready!” the announcer’s voice booms over the PA system.
“The scariest part is when you’re in the gate,” Kim said, recalling the moment of tension just before the start.
“That was a lot,” Angela agreed. “But then we were off.”
All four are taking the race at a painfully slow pace. Jim and Kim are out in front. Angela appears headed for a top-3 finish.
“I’m going into the final run,” she said. “I’m thinking at least I’m in third place. And then Saint comes from behind.”
The finishing order is Jim, Kim, Saint, then Angela.
“I really wanted to lap you but it’s only one lap,” Jim gloated.
“My problem is I didn’t know where the finish line was,” Saint said, inventing an excuse for his disappointing finish. “It’s not very well marked.”
The finish line is very well-marked.
He then begins a long-winded monologue, “Here’s an interesting question. What makes a winner? Is it…”
Thankfully, the sound of yet another passing jet drowns him out.
“So exhilarating, so thrilling, so never doing this again,” Kim said. “But definitely coming back to watch other people do it.”