By Katie Riley
It’s one of several nights of racing at Chesapeake BMX’s track at Danza Park in Severn.
Two-year-old Isabella Holley is straddling her strider bike excitedly as she waits for the announcer to signal the start of her race at a BMX track in Severn.
When the race starts, she uses her feet to push off on her balance bike and glide over a series of small hills, sporting an enormous grin the entire time. The race lasts just 20 seconds, long enough for every one of the 12 toddlers to make it over the finish line. Bystanders and parents cheer wildly from the sidelines.
“Great job, Izzy!” shouts Isabella’s father, Lee Holley. He congratulates his beaming daughter as she takes her place among the other racers on the platform to receive awards. Next, Lee will cheer on Isabella’s 6-year-old brother Zachary before gearing up for his own race later in the night.
Races are held at the track on Donaldson Avenue several times a week for bikers ranging in age from toddler to adults.
BMX racing, or bicycle motocross, is one of the few sports where all family members can compete in sanctioned events. Riders of all ages can race against competitors in their own age and skill level at the same track on race night. In Maryland, there are more than 450 riders registered with USA BMX, and 325 of them are members of Chesapeake BMX, based in Severn.
The ability for the whole family to participate is what attracted the Holley family of Severn.
“The family atmosphere appealed to us,” Lee Holley says. “It’s not always ‘win, win’ at the track. Everyone is very encouraging and every kid gets equal time,” he says.
Indeed, the motto of USA BMX is “No one sits on the bench.” Since races are divided by age and skill level, it’s possible for every rider to compete fairly.
The Black family of Severn first visited Danza Park last year to watch friends compete, but not long after, both Black children — Zach, 6, and Lexie, 4 — were entering races.
“My son had tried a number of different sports before BMX, but nothing has given him confidence like BMX. It’s been great to see him shine,” says mom, Angie Black. “If you can ride a bike, you can be good at this.”