Local BMX racers pedal to the Worlds

Shylo Orchard and Nathan Martin qualified to attend the Worlds in Rock Hill.

BMX champions Shylo Orchard, 40, and Nathan Martin, 20, are headed to compete in the worlds.

The racers will fly off to South Carolina to pedal at the BMX World Championships from July 25-29 in Rock Hill at the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track.

From Falkland, Martin puts more than 30 hours per week into his training, whether it’s at the local track or the gym, and will be racing at the worlds on July 28.

“I’m just glad to be in it. I’ll be doing my best,” said Martin.

He first started racing a week after his father Doug told him about the local races at Ranger Park in Vernon and invited him to go and watch.

He started practicing the following week and loved meeting the new community of BMX riders.

“I started and never looked back again,” said Martin.

When he’s not competing or training, he’s working at an automotive shop in Armstrong or coaching the club’s newer members at the local track on Mondays and the older kids on Saturdays.

Orchard coached Martin when he first started at 12 and said he has shown nothing but dedication.

“Now, I’ll ask him questions and we help each other out,” said Orchard.

Martin hasn’t looked too far into the future of his BMX career, but he has a love for athleticism and has plans to go to UBC to study kinesiology.

His parents will be going to Rock Hill to support him in his shot at winning the worlds.

Martin and Orchard both earned their shot from competing in the Canadian Championships last year in Calgary where Martin scored first and Orchard came in second.

Orchard’s races are on July 25, but she’ll be flying out early to the championships on July 20 for the opening ceremonies.

Her goal is to make it to the final gate of eight and compete against the fastest women in the world and would be blown away if she made it into top-three.

She has prepared for the championships by having a near-perfect attendance of racing in Vernon and the surrounding area.

From all of the races she’s participated in, Orchard placed first in all but one where she came in second because of lack of pedaling on the final stretch.

“Pedaling is key,” said Orchard.

Orchard said 300 Canadian riders qualified to compete but knows of a few that have already pulled out of the race.

“This is the most Canadian response they’ve had,” said Orchard.

She first started riding the track in the 1980s when her grandfather Jim heard the Vernon BMX Club advertisement on the radio.

Although she loves competing, coaching the kids at the local track comes first to her.

“It’s such a confidence boost. That’s what the BMX does,” said Orchard.

Working at the alternative learning school, Orchard said support from her boss, school district, and students is crucial.

“I get the time off when needed. They are my best fans,” said Orchard.

She said one of her students who most people would label as “troubled”, joined and started to partake in everything the club has to offer, and she soon witnessed a different side to him.

The boy, Orchard explained, is actually very caring and drives to be helpful if there is anyone in need of direction or assistance.

“The aura and energy here helped him. He started caring and checking on the kids who had fallen,” said Orchard.

Club memberships are available to people of all ages on a yearly basis for $65. One of Orchard’s favourite parts of BMX is the diversity of people that partake in the sport.

Orchard said club member Jim Bridge, 72, races on Tuesdays with the best of them and competes with the younger group because of the lack in older numbers.

“We teach confidence, control, and speed. You feel like you’re on one big team,” said Orchard.

Her sons, Jared and Landon Fitt, shared her love for BMX when they were younger, but people can now find the two working their own hobbies of mountain and dirt biking.

Orchard is a part of the KRAPP Weasel team and is very grateful for her team’s sponsorships from Canwest Propane, Skyride Cycle, Silver Star Mountain Resort, and A&W.

The school created a GoFundMe page.

to support Orchard while she’s down in Rock Hill representing Vernon.

The club has a wide range of age groups, the youngest being two, and she loves to see the generations of the community come together because of BMX.

With the support of her common-law husband Gerald Fitt, it’s possible for Orchard to race and be involved in the club’s coaching, maintenance, and organization.

“He looks after the house and the kids when I need to venture off.”

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