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Madras motocross bicyclists having fun

Littlefields and Williams excel at Smith Rock BMX Park

Sports Editor
   
   Travis Williams and Ryan Littlefield, two stepbrothers from Madras, raced their motocross bicycles to second- and third-place in their divisions on Friday at the Smith Rock BMX course on the east edge of Redmond. The course (BMX stands for "Bicycle Motocross") is near a softball complex off Negus Road in Redmond.
   Novice level riders can advance to the intermediate class by winning and upward. To go from novice to intermediate will require each of the step brothers to record 10 wins in events approved by a national motocross organization.
   Lexie Littlefield, Ryan's sister and Travis' stepsister, has competed in most the events too. But Lexie had to work Friday, noted Rebecca Williams, the BMX-riding trio's mom.
   Each of the three children from Madras ride up and down a series of steep hills and tight corners, including two hairpin turns, on the course laid out by Smith Rock BMX operator John Skelly. Further details on getting there are available at the course's web site.
   Starting with a straight section of close to 100 yards that include two hills to contend with, the course then makes a sharp left-hand turn requiring riders to race west down a shorter straightaway. At the end of that straight they hit a hairpin turn. At the end of the second short straight area, riders turn right to race down a 60-yard straightaway parallel to the opening stretch. The riders' strength and stamina get tested near the end of the course. They must make a hairpin turn, attack a 25- to 30-yard straight riddled with three "washboard" bumps then make one last left and dash 20 more yards to the finish.
   Finishing second twice in Friday's four quickly-completed motos (heat races), Littlefield thought he had the second. But Skelly explained the scoring system. The difference another rider made by getting around him for second in Friday's last race dropped Littlefield barely into third.
   Fridays and Saturdays of competition at Smith Rock BMX often last closer to two or three hours, but the June 6 motos required less than an hour to finish.
   Williams and Littlefield would like to move up, but expect to be novices for the rest of this year.
   "You need to win ten times to go up a class," Ryan noted.
   He and Travis, who turns 10 this week, will try to win their way to intermediate status but mainly want numbers lower than the 465 Ryan sports and the 244 on Travis's bike.
   Those June 13 finishes in the top three gave both a better sense of battling for the lead. Both the boys and Lexie had pointed out that they and everyone else races better some nights than others, when at a memorial event in late May.
   Friday's lack of competitors at the course was in no way related to it being Friday the 13th. The reason was more related to many riders who normally navigate the Redmond track being in the Willamette Valley racing in a state championship series worth more points. The four-stop series for the state championship will decide Oregon's top Novice, Intermediate and Expert class riders.
   Williams and the Littlefields said they want to ride in the bigger races in the future but are glad to race at Smith Rock BMX for now. Fields vary, from as few as three to as many as eight riders in each varied group they are sent off in.
   Friday's turnout was only a fraction of what had raced on May 30 and 31. A race for trophies and points that weekend drew a field of 219, Skelly said. Even more riders than had participated in the benefit ride over Memorial Day weekend showed up the week after, noted Skelly. Action at Smith Rock BMX Park alternates between Fridays and Saturdays.
   "You have to bring tools," Ryan Littlefield said. Spills can loosen chains, handlebars and other parts enough to require some tightening.
   Other tricks have been picked up by the Madras riders.
   "It's better to lean into the turns," Travis said of one of many discoveries he has made as a novice. Blending into the banks on the course by Skelly lets riders maintain speed.
   Annual fees are charged for joining the organization that oversees BMX racing nationally. All levels and ages pay the fee. Tracks charge riders to run at any of the courses they choose to race on. Fees differ. At Smith Rock BMX, Skelly noted, there are even different fees for trophy nights versus "fun" nights. If there are only ribbons going to the top places the fee is just $5 but it goes to $8 if winners are going for trophies.
   Lexie Littlefield rides in the "Cruiser" class, as there is no "novice" designation for girls and women as there is for boys and men.
   But, she, Ryan and Travis want others from Jefferson County to enter races with them, they said. Motocross bicycling is a healthy sport but needs more competitors to stay that way, noted Rebecca Williams.