EAGLE — The fastest 12-year old BMX racer in the world was among some of the country’s best who competed at a state qualifying race on Saturday in Eagle.
Reid Austin, fresh off his win at the world championships in New Zealand in July 24, said the Eagle course was in top condition for the 181 racers who turned out for an afternoon of BMX action Saturday.
“The course is in the best shape I’ve ever seen it,” said Austin. “They did a really great job.”
And Reid knows BMX courses. His home course in Grand Junction is ranked in the top-10 in the country, and the young athlete routinely travels to the other top-ranked courses with his team Redman Rockstar out of Murrieta, Calif.
Compared to his usual travel schedule, a trip from Grand Junction to Eagle is pretty simple. Reid’s father, Mark Austin, says the travel is grueling but it’s worth it to see his son so involved in the sport of BMX racing.
“It’s a great sport for kids, there’s a lot of camaraderie,” said Mark. “But the tough part about the sport is all the traveling. We were in Nashville to qualify for (world championships), they’re in Tucson next weekend, and just traveling all over the U.S. and the world. We just got back last Monday.”
Mark says the fact that BMX is now an Olympic sport has invigorated Reid.
“It gives him something to shoot for, which is great,” said Austin. “And now there’s colleges giving scholarships for BMX, so it’s been great for the sport.”
Reid’s goal in the sport is the same as many of the other kids who competed on Saturday, and track owner and operator Jay Lucas says you just might see some of those kids there.
“Some of these kids, like Reid, have a real shot,” said Lucas.
Eleven-year-old Morgan “The Monkey” Zimmerman, currently ranked No. 1 in Colorado and No. 8 in the U.S., didn’t blink when asked what her goal was.
“I want to be in the Olympics,” she said.
Her parents, Paula and Daryl Zimmerman, also from Grand Junction, said they’re doing everything they can to support her goal, but having a daughter competing at her level can be stressful.
“She’ll be in Canada in two weeks, it’s too expensive for all of us to go so it’s just her and mom,” said Daryl Zimmerman.
Paula Zimmerman said Morgan treats it like a job.
“She’s on her bike twice per week, and she’s with a trainer twice per week,” Paula Zimmerman said. “But she’s Olympic bound, so that’s why we’re putting so much into it.”
Mark Austin said the enthusiasm put into the sport by parents like the Zimmermans and Jay Lucas is what’s fueling the sport.
“It’s been so cool to see what Jay’s done out here at Eagle County BMX, just seeing the billboards when we came into town and seeing the community rally behind it, it’s really special,” he said.
Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 or firstname.lastname@example.org.