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BMX: Built for speed
If you've ever watched the X Games -- the sports world's "wild child" Olympics -- you'll hear names like those of inline skater Fabiola de Silva, BMX rider Corey Nastazio, and skateboarder Tony Hawk.
Don't be surprised if while channel surfing some time soon you catch, "And Jordan Hacker from Oak Harbor, Washington, is about to take to the track and he's poised to take X Games BMX gold."
At 13, and having only been in the sport of BMX racing for about a year, Hacker has already proven he can ride with the big boys. He competes in the 12-13-year-old Novice class, and as of Tuesday afternoon was one point away from moving up to the 13-year-old intermediate class.
Racing earlier this month at McCollum Park BMX Track in Everett, Hacker rode in a single point race on a Friday, double point race the next day, and a double point state qualifying race that Sunday. The competition was fierce, with 350 riders in 62 classes going for wins and points in state qualifying races.
But by the end of the weekend, Hacker walked away with three first-place trophies and a state berth.
The Washington State BMX Championships will be held at the McCollum Park BMX track in Everett Sept. 20-22. This is a track choice Hacker likes. After all, it's one of his practice tracks.
While his son was whizzing around the Bakerview Park Track in Mount Vernon Tuesday evening, Ron Hacker said his son's practice schedule is a key to his success.
"We've been going to McCollum a lot so he can really get some practice there before state competition," Ron Hacker said. "It's a much bigger track than Bakerview, so it takes some adjusting in how you pedal."
Going into state, Jordan Hacker is unranked, as he only raced in two qualifying races when the state requires three. Being an underdog doesn't faze him -- despite being unranked, he is aiming to be in the top three in his class.
That is a bold statement, considering there is almost no way to plan for the competition. At state, racers can register just 30 minutes before race time, so wild cards as well as the top dogs will be on Hacker's tail as he rounds the corners at McCollum. So, he can only plan for his own race.
"Planning not to crash is the main thing, and that I have to get inside the next corner," he said.
Riding four or five days a week, Hacker practices and races the mantra printed on a sticker on his helmet: "Ride Hard or Go Home." He learned how to ride a bike at the age of 3 and since then has loved riding.
"We took his training wheels off and away he went," said Ron Hacker.
With those days long gone, Jordan Hacker is looking forward to moving up to the intermediate level, he said, because it means "faster, tougher competition." The Oak Harbor Middle School seventh-grader often practices against older and even adult riders.
He'll do whatever it takes to fuel his need for speed.
"I've always liked riding bikes and jumping, so BMX is an adrenaline rush, having to race and go fast," Jordan said.
His hard work and hard riding has already paid off, as his sponsor, Bike Works of Lake Stevens, signed Hacker this month to be on its BMX team. Sponsorship by a bike shop or product line is what many young riders hope for so they get deals on BMX equipment, entry and practice fees, and travel costs.
Hacker's racing number changes all the time, as they are assigned by how they are ranked in points by the American Bicycle Association. The lower the number, the higher the ranking -- Hacker's number keeps dropping race by race.
Hacker said he is in his sport for the long haul. He said he plans to ride with the most mature riders one day.
"They've got fifty-year-old age brackets after all," he said.