Laura Carey is a financial services officer with the State Employees’ Credit Union and a busy mom who enjoys cooking and running. Earlier this year, she took on a new hobby: BMX. Since she’s the first woman I’ve known to do this, I was intrigued to learn more about how she got into this sport and what it is really all about.
How/why did you get into BMX biking and how long did it take before you felt like you knew what you were doing?
My son, James, started BMX last fall. He quickly got very involved to the point that we were traveling to Raleigh, Burlington and Clemmons most weekends for his races. This spring, my husband and I decided that we would like to start racing as well because we were bored sitting on the sidelines. There are a lot of adults racing, and it looked like a lot of fun and a great form of exercise.
How do people typically respond when they learn that you are a strong competitor in an extreme sport?
I keep one of my trophies in my office. As clients see it and comment, they are generally shocked that the trophy belongs to me and that I actually race. At work, I am typically wearing a dress and three inch heels. It opens the dialogue for me to tell them about the sport and how easy it is for someone with no experience whatsoever to quickly get involved. Most people initially think that BMX is motocross where riders ride motorcycles. The other misconception is that I am doing tricks and jumps on ramps at a park much like a skateboarder would. We ride bicycles on a mostly dirt track and race against other riders over obstacles and turns to a finish line.
How has taking on this sport helped you in other areas of life?
It has given me confidence that I can try things that I might consider out of reach. Although I would not say that I have come close to mastering this sport, I have definitely progressed a bit from the first time I stood at the top of the starting hill terrified. It has reminded me that hard work can pay off.
It has definitely given me perspective in relation to my son. It was easy to try to coach him and tell him to just pedal harder and try harder when he was racing. Once I gave it a try, I saw that it wasn’t as easy as it looked, and I completely changed how I talked with him about riding. At one of the first practices, another adult rider told me that it would help me to understand what my child is going through, and it really has. This made me think of other facets of my life where I could apply the cliché “walk a mile in their shoes” whether it’s at work or at home or in line at the coffee shop. Until you have actually seen life from someone’s perspective, you do not have a place to criticize.
Are there many women in BMX?
No. In the state of North Carolina, there are around 50 female riders registered as compared to 250 males. They range in age from 4 to 60. Of those riders, approximately 12 are above the age of 20. At this time, there are a growing number of girls who are riding. The women are a pretty tight knit group that are constantly encouraging and supporting each other.
What would you tell women who might want to give it a try but are apprehensive about it?
I would encourage them to come out to a practice to give it a try. I was nervous about making a fool of myself, but most of the riders are extremely friendly and willing to help you with pointers and advice.
Is there anything else you would like to share about this sport and your love for it?
This is the first sport that our family can participate in together as peers. We are all competing on race day in our own events and sometimes against each other. The BMX culture we have encountered has been very welcoming and accepting of new riders.
You’ve got to love a women who is bored sitting on the sidelines and who stares down that starting hill and goes for it! That’s exactly why we asked Laura to allow us to feature her in an Oh Momma Monday post. She suggests this new rider guide for anyone interested in learning more about BMX.
What’s next for Laura? This weekend she’ll be competing in The Tar Heel National in Raleigh, her largest race yet. Like many of the adult riders, she says her goals for this and every race are as follows: 1) make it to work on Monday (meaning, do not get hurt) 2) qualify for the main event and 3) have fun. Please join the Clairemont team in wishing her the best of luck!