Among those watching the 2013 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships May 18 at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center was 11-year-old Josiah Schenk.
The Salt Creek Elementary School student sat on his own BMX bike, helmet at his side, as all five members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team competed alongside some of the country’s best BMX riders on the venue’s 2008 Beijing Olympic Games replica course.
Schenk was enthralled by the action as some of the world’s top riders vied for honors of earning Stars-and-Stripes jerseys. With hard work, Schenk could one day be competing on the Olympic course.
“I love it — it’s my favorite sport,” he said.
Schenk is the younger brother of Eastlake High School water polo player Noah Schenk and EHS soccer player Sara Schenk. Both older siblings won league championships with their respective teams this past school year — Sara’s team won the San Diego Section Division I championship and advanced to the state playoffs.
So being active and competitive appears to be a family trait.
Josiah has been competing in BMX races for three years. “My cousins started doing it and got me into it,” he said.
Schenk is among many local riders who have gotten their jump-start in the sport through Chula Vista BMX, the CV-OTC’s youth development program.
While the Olympians were competing on the Beijing replica course, Schenk was getting ready to compete in a state-qualifying race in his intermediate 11-year-old boys class on the youth development track later that same day across the OTC grounds.
“It’s fun,” Schenk said. “You get to meet new friends. I get to do it with my cousins.”
The youth development track underwent a full rebuild in late March and early April to make it one of the top tracks in the country.
“It’s a national caliber track with something for every rider,” Chula Vista BMX program director Tyler Brown said. “We do our best to make sure the track is safe enough for the first-time 5-and-under rider, all the way up to the top level pros.”
The track, which is located adjacent to the visitors center (and nearby BMX Hall of Fame), recently hosted the U.S. Open as part of a UCI Supercross weekend of racing.
The track is open to the public on a weekly basis, with practices scheduled on Tuesday, clinics on Thursday and racing on Saturday.
Tuesday: pro practice is from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., followed by open practice from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Thursday: clinics include those for beginners (5 to 6 p.m.) and advanced riders (6 to 7 p.m.).
Saturday: sign-ups are from 2:30 to 4 p.m., with racing to start as soon as possible afterward.
“This is a great track where the world’s best riders come out to train and end up riding with the brand-new beginner kids,” Brown said.
Upcoming events at the Chula Vista track include an Olympic Day single on June 29 and the Race for Life on July 20. Registration is 2:30 to 4 p.m. for both events.
Individuals of all ages can try out the sport for free on Olympic Day. Participants must wear long pants and a long sleeve T-shirt. They can bring their own bike and helmet or they can borrow a track bike and helmet, if needed. USA BMX riders will receive district points.
Chula Vista BMX will host a summer camp July 16 to 20. Sessions include either all-day or afternoon time slots.
For more information, visit http://chulabmx.com.