Wendy Irvin of Prattville introduced her son, Lucas, to the sport of BMX racing when he was 10 years old.
Now 16, Lucas has become one of the top riders in the nation for his age division and last year represented the country as part of Team USA during the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I tried a bunch of different sports, like baseball for instance, but I just sort of stood there and didn’t really get anything out of it,” Lucas said. “So she told me about the BMX track, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, we’ll try it.’ So we went over there and got on a bike and did one lap and I was like, ‘Can I keep going?’ It was just great.”
Two years ago, Wendy decided to give it a try herself.
“I kind of got an itch….I was like, ‘You know, maybe I can do that’ because there are a lot of adults that race,” Wendy said. “There are plenty even older than me. So at 46, I decided that was a good time to start BMXing.
“It was scary, but it was exciting to challenge myself at something so different. Each time I get out there and make a lap and do something a little bit better, or I’m not quite as tired when I cross the finish line, it feels great. I just finally feel like I’m accomplishing something. It’s really rewarding to me.”
The two now travel throughout the country and beyond for BMX competitions. They are among the more than 1,000 riders in Dothan this weekend for the Circle City Nationals.
“He’s a teenager, so it’s not always easy to spend a lot of time with your teenager,” Wendy said. “We’re going to do this as long as he wants to hang with mom and keep racing. We’re actually looking into moving into a camper this year and doing this full time.”
The three-day event at the Westgate Complex in Dothan continues through Sunday. The local BMX club last hosted a national here in 2016.
“Ever since the last national here, we’ve been dying to have another national in Alabama,” Wendy said. “We’ve got friends from South Dakota, California, Texas – from all over the country coming to race here this weekend.”
Being a part of BMX racing is almost like having an extended family as riders travel from city to city for the various competitions.
“Everybody out here is a teammate, basically,” Wendy said. “If my son’s wheel breaks, his toughest competitor would be the one to help fix it for him so he could race today. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done.”
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing on the track.
“I fell last year and broke my hand, but was still itching to get back out there,” Wendy said. “I hated to stand on the sidelines and watch everybody race and not be able to get out there and try it.”
Her husband, Matthew, hinted she might want to slow down a bit.
“He reminded me when I broke my hand that, ‘Honey, you’re not 10 years old anymore,’” Wendy said. “I said, ‘I know, this is proof.’ But he’s not going to try and hold me back. He knows this is exciting for us and we love doing this.
“He works on the road, so he’s gone a lot. So when he’s gone working on the road, we do this and stay on the road, as well.”
Lucas has avoided any major crashes during his six years in the sport.
“Basically it’s all about bike control and speed,” Lucas said of the key to success. “That’s about it – fast as possible without crashing.”
The Dothan track is one of the most challenging in the country and among the few with a crossover.
“When you go down the first straight, it loops around and crosses back over the first straight, which is very unusual in this sport,” Wendy said. “If I’m not mistaken, it may be the only one in the country, so it’s the famous Dothan crossover.”
Both Wendy and Lucas aim to do well in their respective divisions this weekend.
“I’m definitely getting better and I have high hopes this weekend at shooting for some podium spots,” Wendy said.
No matter the outcome, they’re sure to have fun trying and being among friends who have the same interest.
“We all have at least one thing in common,” Lucas said. “We like riding our bikes.”