At the end of July, Campbell Riverite Dane Kerluck got a taste of international competition at the UCI BMX World Championships in Nantes, France.
Kerluck was one point away from qualifying for the second round of competition, but says that the experience of competing at that level was something he’ll never forget.
“It was really stiff competition, but I’m pretty happy with how I did. There were 139 riders my age, and I was one point away from qualifying out of the qualifying rounds. I didn’t make it very far, but it was pretty fun,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, coming into the race. When we got there, it made me pretty nervous seeing the people from all around the world. I think I handled it pretty well.”
Kerluck is 15 years old, and this was his first time competing at the international level. He qualified for the competition three years ago, but had to wait to compete due to the pandemic. Over the last few years, he’s noticed that the more elite riders have stayed with the sport, but those who were either competing just for fun or dabbling in the sport have moved on to other things.
“Most of the slower riders all kind of quit because of COVID. I’m racing against the fastest riders right now,” he said. “The past few years, a lot of the racing has been smaller. A lot of people kinda quit during COVID. Everything feels kind of small right now.”
On his way back from France, Kerluck stopped in Warman, SK for a Canada Cup race. Competition there was a bit less than in France. Kerluck faced 23 riders, and came in fourth place both days of competition.
Typically, the BMX race season ramps up towards the fall, with the biggest weekends in September and October. To have an international competition in the middle of the year was a bit of a different experience for Kerluck, but it gave him the chance to prepare for some bigger races over the next few weeks.
“There are three big races, this weekend actually is the provincial final, which is not that big for Dane,” said Kerluck’s dad and coach Jason Kerluck. “August 27 is Canadian Nationals in Calgary, which is a big race. The very last race of the year is in October in Chilliwack, and that’s another national race, a cumulative national race.”
“Those national races, generally the kids that are there are good riders,” he added.
Though the goal of the France trip was the chance to compete, the Kerlucks didn’t miss out on seeing some of the sights.
“We had a couple of days off. There are four days of racing. I was the fourth day of racing, so the first three days of racing, I didn’t need to be there,” Dane said. “We went exploring the town. We explored some castles and stuff, then we went to Paris after the race was over, and went to Disneyland and visited the Eiffel Tower.”
The BMX racing season is far from over. Those interesting in trying it out can check out the Coal Hills BMX Track Facebook Group, or come out to the track.