Tykes hit Rock Hill’s BMX track as Gold Cup finals start

There was plenty of excitement on Saturday at Rock Hill’s Novant Health BMX Supercross Track as the USA BMX Gold Cup East Championship Finals got underway.

But before the older kids and adults got their chance to cross the finish line, the tiniest racers took a crack at it first in the strider bike class – pedal-less bikes propelled by feet – with children as young as 2 years old racing on the last portion of the track.

For Michelle Miller, a mother of four from Kentucky, having the races for the little ones makes a BMX event one for the whole family, not just the people big enough to pedal on a standard bike. Her son, Hudson, was racing in the 2-year-old division.

“I love it because (Hudson) watches his siblings, and he wants to get out there,” she said. “He can’t talk, but he can race.”

The Millers, like many other BMX-centered families, traveled to participate in the weekend’s events. Chris McKay, a father of two from Peachtree City, Ga., who also races, said trips to BMX events like this one are how his family vacations.

Racing is an activity for the whole family, he said.

While his 9-year-old competes with a pedal bike, his 5-year-old daughter Caitlin does the strider racing.

“She’s tagging along, so she might as well do it,” McKay said. “Plus, she sees her big brother out there, and she wants to be like him.”

When asked if she liked racing, Caitlin, who was halfway through eating a pre-race hot dog, said, “Yeah,” very enthusiastically and then stuck out her tongue.

“Yeah, she likes to go fast,” McKay said.

The small strider bikes have stout, tough tires, and the pint-sized racers look just like their older counterparts with helmets, race numbers and many of them wearing BMX-style clothing. Others add their own flair to racing clothes, like 2-year-old Gabriela Roberts. She was wearing a mutlicolored tutu and a bright pink helmet with a cat wearing a crown.

“She loves tutus, so she might as well race in one,” said her mother, Lacie Roberts.

Both Gabriela’s brother and father race, Roberts said, so the strider racing “is awesome because it gives her something to do,” Roberts said.