Fort Meade BMX racer ranks top 10 among peers nationwide
August 18, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - In a sport that requires speed, agility and strength, Evan Boone is one of the top youth athletes in the country in his age group.
The 11-year-old son of Lt. Col. Thomas A. Boone, former commander of Headquarters Command Battalion at Fort Meade, ranks eighth in the nation in the American Bicycle Association's Bicycle Motocross, or BMX, category among athletes his age who ride the 24-inch cruiser class bicycle.
"I try to practice a lot," said Evan, a sixth-grader at Monarch Academy, a charter school in Glen Burnie. "It's a lot of hard work."
Having achieved the level of expert in his competitive category, Evan is ranked No. 1 in district points among all riders in Maryland on the 20-inch bicycle. So far, he has earned 6,500 district points this year.
On Friday, Evan will enter the three-day ABA BMX National Series Quaker State Competition in York, Pa., where he will defend his national ranking.
"I want to maintain my spot or move up," the Fort Meade resident said. "It's an opportunity for me to get better."
The National Series includes more than 30 competitions in the United States and Canada that lead up to the Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., in November. The amateur national champions among all riders and in specific age groups are decided at the event.
BMX racing is a type of off-road bicycle racing for boys and girls. The sprint races are held on off-road, single-lap dirt tracks. The course is usually flat and serpentine with various jumps and obstacles. The course also includes banked corners that help riders maintain speed.
A BMX bike is a strong, lightweight derivative of the standard 20-inch wheel, single-speed youth bicycle. Variations include the larger 24-inch wheel "cruiser" class originally designed for adults who could not fit on the 20-inch wheel bikes. Cruisers are now raced by all age groups.
The ABA BMX is one of two national sanctioning organizations for the sport. There are currently more than 60,000 ABA BMX members across the country ranging in age from under 5 to 60. BMX racing became a medal sport at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Boone and his wife, Stephanie, have supported Evan's efforts in BMX racing since he began participating in competitive events three years ago.
"He seemed to have a natural talent," said Stephanie Boone, who noticed her son's love for bicycle riding when he was 3 years old.
She researched the sport and took Evan to the Chesapeake BMX Super Track at Severn/Danza Park when the family moved to Fort Meade from Fort Hood, Texas, in July 2008. It is the only BMX track in central Maryland sanctioned by the ABA.
Since then, Evan has risen through the sport's ranks.
"He's shown a lot of perseverance," Boone said.
Evan practices at the 1,190-foot BMX track in Severn twice a week.
"I like going fast and I've made a lot of friends," he said.
Evan said he works on controlling the bicycle at high speeds, along with sharpening his coordination skills and improving his leg strength for jumps and speed.
The Boones were partly drawn to the sport because of its inclusion of families. Boone said it is common for parents to come to the track with picnic baskets and to see fathers helping their children change a tire or tighten bolts on a bicycle.
"It can be fairly inexpensive to get started," said Boone, noting that a beginner's helmet and BMX bike at Walmart can range from $75 to $100, respectively.
Costs for more experienced riders can range up to $500 for a helmet to several thousand dollars for a bicycle.
Evan said his father is proud of his achievements.
"He is sort of happy with it," the youngster said. "He always wants me to get better."
If Evan has his way, he will continue to compete in BMX races until he's an adult.
"I like doing it," he said. "I like the competition."