Isaac ‘Rocket’ Johnson (Debra Benning photos)

VIDEO: BMX riders of all ages kicked up dust in Langley

A national competition drew 3,000 people to Langley last weekend.

Isaac Johnson turned six just two weeks ago, moving him up to a new age class with Langley BMX. But still the little Langley City daredevil couldn’t be held back this weekend, as he participated in the BMX Canada’s nationals held in Brookswood.

Despite a wipeout on the track that derailed the intermediate rider’s time Saturday, Isaac still came back Sunday to place fourth in his new age class. Not bad for a kid who only started riding last year, said his father, Scott.

“My goal is trying to get first every single time, to beat the experts and intermediates,” said the youngster, who’s been nicknamed ‘Rocket’ by other parents in Langley BMX.

Isaac was just one of some 600-plus riders – of all ages – present for the three days of practice and competition at the local BMX track.

Traditionally, there are five national competitions held each year in B.C. This year’s activities started in Chilliwack. Other were held on Vancouver Island and in the B.C. Interior. The latest was held in Langley.

Langley BMX Association vice-president Bea Lindsay-Hawkins said this community hosted the largest ever BMX event in all of Canada back in 2015 – last time it hosted the nationals.

This year’s attendance, she said, was down slightly by comparison, but understandably so. A number of riders didn’t want to travel to this event, then turn around two weeks from now and head to the Worlds in Rockford, Ill.

Regardless, she said she was impressed by the turnout and the range of ages – the youngest rider, a 16-month-old showing off his power on balance bike, and oldest at 75.

Counting family and friends, it’s estimated the nationals brought more than 3,000 people to Langley this weekend, offering a nice boost to the local tourism economy. They had competitors from throughout B.C., Alberta, Washington State, and as far away as California, Arizona, and Florida.

There were some 250 different races this weekend, and “just about every class had a Langley rider in it,” Lindsay-Hawkins explained.

She added that there are more than 300 members in Langley BMX.

Won’t get off his bike

Like many other Langley youngsters on the BMX track, Isaac started riding almost before he could walk.

“He’s always been good on a bike,” said his father, noting Isaac would carve out tracks and trails in the bushes to ride his bike.

Last year, he pleaded with his dad to take him to the “track near Auntie’s place.”

Dad wasn’t too sure what Isaac meant, but he agreed and followed him to the Langley BMX track off 207th Street and 42nd Avenue. Memories flooded back. Scott, too, had ridden on those same tracks a few decades earlier, in his youth.

A few members of the Langley BMX club happen to be at the track that day, as part of a work party getting things ready for the upcoming season. Among them was Lindsay-Hawkins.

She approached Scott, and watching Isaac run the track, informed Dad that “he is an absolute natural.”

Encouraging Scott to bring him out to the first race – and since the club offers the free loan of a helmet and bike that first time – she asked him what he had to lose.

“He was hooked the first time,” Dad said.

Now, just over a year in, Scott realizes there’s not much to lose, and so much more to gain.

“We get to travel. It’s fun. It’s sometimes tiring and it’s definitely expensive,” but Dad said

But he’s overjoyed with how engrossed his son is in the sport.

Isaac can’t wait to race and ride.

Scott also appreciates the camaraderie and out and out support that is shared by the racers and their families, alike.

“Everyone is always there to lend a hand, offer help, or just hang out and cheer on the riders. It’s great,” Scott said.

It’s one of those kick-back moments that brought Isaac’s dad to near hysterics.

“One parent asked me if we feed Isaac Red Bull,” Scott added, comparing his son to the Energizer bunny on overload.

“I guess I understand. He doesn’t want to get off the bike. It’s all about the bike – on and off the track.”

While he plays baseball, and has dabbled at soccer, this youngster has told his mother and father alike that if either of the latter sports conflict with BMX, it’s BMX all the way.

“It’s by far his favourite sport,” Scott said.

While Scott doesn’t ride competitively, he loves that Langley BMX and the sport itself if very family-oriented. Many other parents ride with their kids, and Lindsay-Hawkins said she even has some grandparents who ride with their children and grandchildren.

Of the club’s 300+ members, the youngest is three, the oldest 58, and the majority are between the ages of five and eight, she explained.

In addition to provincial and national competitions – like the one this past weekend – there are local races every Wednesday and Saturday, weather permitting, at the Langley BMX track.

For more information, people can visit the club website.

The track has been in Brookswood for more than 40 years, and Lindsay-Hawkins noted that many locals still don’t know it’s there.

She encourages people to stop in and watch, or better yet, join in.

“It’s truly a family sport, and it’s free the first time. How can you top that,” she said. “When you see happy kids faces, it makes it all worth it.”


Isaac ‘Rocket’ Johnson (Debra Benning photos)

Isaac ‘Rocket’ Johnson (Debra Benning photos)