My trip to Reno, Nevada was full of of firsts for myself: first time going to a race in a different time zone, first time flying to a race, first time traveling to a race solo and most importantly, first time experiencing an American Bicycle Association event. It did not disappoint. After a 17-hour travel day on Friday, I was beyond exhausted. I left my room to go grab some breakfast on Saturday morning, but was stopped by a blackjack table. I walked away even, decidedly skipped breakfast and walked over to the Reno Live Stock Event Center to watch some races and see how the ABA ran things. I walked in to see a mad house: people everywhere, tons of factories and vendors. It was everything that you would (and should) think a BMX race is. So with my exhaustion, jet-setting, awesome flight mates, lack of sleep and a redeye back to NY, here is the ABA's season opener, the Silver Dollar Nationals.
The ABA is sanctioned by the UCI and do things a bit differently than the NBL. Rather than break it down into all of the ABA's amateur classes, I am going to stick with the way it was ran under the UCI/ABA flag together.
Kory Cook killed it. Although he ended up not making it into his main on Sunday (which just shows you how competitive this class is) he did manage to snag Saturday's main event win. He might have been better off sitting out the main on Sunday though, coming out of turn one Maris Gutmanis, who was leading, washed out taking half of the class with him in a ball of glory. Deak Duster(Fly/Supercamp) was in the right place at the right time and got around the mess to find himself at the top of the podium 20 seconds later.
There were a few people who which there was a mandatory bet to be placed. In Vet Pro, that man was Kenth Fallen. With a brand new #1 on the front of his bike, he seemed to want to keep his momentum going with a win on Saturday, followed by John Purse and Chad Street. Sunday was no different, with Fallen leading the pack from start to finish, Purse following for second and Jake Hensley rounding out the top three.
Junior Developmental Girls
Girls are stepping their games up fast. To see a girl jumping a rhythm section isn't much of a surprise anymore and it is awesome. Dani George was on the top spot of this all weekend. For the most part, the rest of the girls changed things up between Saturday and Sunday giving everyone something new and all eyes were on George who walked away with some 'Pocket Aces.'
Junior Developmental Boys
The future of BMX is in this class. These kids already know how to ride their bikes; they just need a little more age and the muscle/power that will come with it. Jesse Day led the class through the main event on Saturday, but as he was pinched up the first turn on Sunday, Nathan Paldilla would swoop in with his inside hole shot and drive the race the rest of the course, wanting to do just a little better than the second he went home with on Saturday.
Junior Elite Women
The only name that needs to be spoken is Dominique Daniels (Fly/Avent/Bomb Shell). Coming from the Elite class due to new age restrictions, Dominique was running the number plate that said "I already ran this, please keep me in Elite." I don't think there was a surprised person in the building when they saw her power down the first straight and keep her lead for the length of the track in every lap. Brooke Crain and Taylor Wolcott would follow her in for 2nd and 3rd respectively both days.
Junior Elite Men
Connor Fields (Free Agent) is another rider proving his ground right now. He's either going to finish in first, or die trying. On Saturday. he lead his class from start to finish through their main event, Sunday however was a different story. Following in second for much of the track behind Tory Nyhaug (who followed Fields around on Saturday), Fields had gained enough ground to go for a reasonable move in the last turn. The moved turned into a soft bump and sent both Fields and Nyhaug spinning to the ground. Fortunately, the rest of the riders avoided hitting either of the two leaving Corben Sharrah (Saturday's third place rider) to clean up the mess and take the win.
Typically, the Elite Women always mix things up, and it is anyone's game. This weekend however, things were eerily consistent. Redline's Alise Post kept herself on the top spot of the podium all weekend with a nice pair of aces. Along with her came Ashley Verhagen (Crupi) in for her pair of 2's and Amanda Geving (Redman/Rockstar) in for her pair of 3's. Unfortunately for Verhagen and Geving, BMX is scored like golf and not (those aces are mandatory 1s), so they weren't secretly winning in some back-handed way.
The Elite Men had a stacked gate all weekend long. There was never a time where you could turn around and say "Oh, that's the easy gate," they were all stacked with top notch talent as well as Olympians. In Saturday's main event, Arturs Matisons had the hole shot and looked solid into turn one, when disaster stuck. He washed out. With him went both Free Agent riders, Kyle Bennett ad Cristian Becerine, and out of that mess came Bubba Harris (Answer/Supercamp) who went on to win his first race back after an injury-riddled past couple of years. Following him across the line and up the podium stairs for day one were Australia/Yetis Jared Graves and Hyper's Donny Robinson respectively.
On Sunday in the main event however, things changed around quite a bit. There we no falls in which the whole class got balled up, just some damn good pedal bicycle riding. Kyle Bennett came out of the gate with an amazing hole shot, and settled the race by the end of the second straight, Jared Graves was the closest person behind him and sat safely in second. The fight now was for third. Bubba Harris seemed like he was sitting pretty until Donny Robinson made up some ground on the third straight and decided that he would rather finish in third than in fourth. So in the last turn, he made his move, pinched Bubba out, and finished out on the podium.