Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- In 1969, California motocross fans, too young to ride motorcycles or unable to afford them, founded a sport of their own. The innovators started racing their bicycles across the wavy dirt trails, imitating their idols, which later evolved into BMX racing.
At the age of seven, Brian Randolph discovered the sport while watching the movie that would forever influence his life. A 1986 film about a young boy who aspires to win a race across the toughest track against the best BMX racers in the world, made Randolph take his love of bike riding to another level.
“I started riding a bike at the age of three,” said Randolph. “But once I saw ‘Rad’, I knew what kind of bike riding I wanted to do.”
Randolph’s two biggest supporters, his parents, sought out a track in his hometown of Largo, Fla., so he could spread his wings, and ultimately take off.
From the age seven to 13, Randolph won various BMX racing titles in his home state including second place overall three times and third place three times, as well. He went on to compete in the President’s Cup, a national BMX racing tournament in Florida, where he took second place in his age category.
At the age of 13, Randolph decided to take a break from the sport for personal reasons. He still loved biking sports and kept up to speed with mountain biking, he said.
Now, 27-year old Randolph is a sergeant in the Marine Corps stationed at the Combat Center.
Since Randolph was still committed to biking, he hunted down an area bike shop soon after checking into the base. He frequently visits Mike’s Bike Shop in Twentynine Palms, where he met Mike Rourke, owner of the small bike outlet, who shares his love of BMX racing, he said.
Randolph decided to get back into BMX racing circuit with the encouragement of Rourke. He BMX raced for the first time in over 13 years in February of this year. The skills were still there, he said.
He started frequenting the tracks around Twentynine Palms and any track within 100 miles, Randolph said.
Since jumping back on his BMX bike, Randolph has competed and taken first place in several notable events, including: the California Cup, the Orange Show BMX State Championship Race, Horseman’s BMX State Championship Race, Palm Springs Race for Life, and Cutting Edge BMX Race for Life.
To be the best, training hard is top priority, said Randolph. Marine Corps physical training, weight lifting and bike riding on a regular basis keep the BMX racer in the lead. He mainly practices sprints on his bike to keep him up on speed, and mostly practices at a track in Yucca Valley, approximately fifty miles away.
“There are enough tracks within a 100-mile radius that I can race every night of the week,” he said.
Randolph now has three big fans at home, his wife, a daughter and a son, who enjoy accompanying him to the track to meet up with other families who like to watch the races. His two-year old daughter already rides a bike and might be taking her father on someday in the future, said Randolph jokingly.
Also, being a part of the Marine Corps family has influenced his BMX racing, said Randolph. The Marine Corps has taught him the importance of discipline. Keeping this in mind, Randolph steadily trains and pushes himself to keep improving.
He finds himself connecting with fellow BMX racers on the topic of being a Marine. He has even sparked the interests of some BMX racers on joining the Corps.
Since taking over the tracks of Southern California, Randolph’s competitive drive has made him seek bigger competitions. With the need for more sponsorship, he contacted Skip Best, athletics director of Marine Corps Community Services, for assistance in traveling to Phoenix, Ariz., to compete in the American Bicycle Association Fall Nationals Oct. 28 to 30.
“He showed me he was the California State Champion in his age class,” said Best. “MCCS supported him with a van and entry fee and will continue to do so.”
The ABA Fall Nationals was the first time Randolph has qualified to race in a national competition, and ultimately won the title in his age class.
“The trip to Arizona was one of my best moments in BMX racing,” said Randolph. “I came home after accomplishing more than I thought I would accomplish when I first started racing again in February.”
Randolph won first place in his age class on day one and day two of the competition.
Randolph has since returned to instructing young electronic equipment technician students at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School here, but as soon as the school day ends, Randolph starts devising a plan on his next trip to the track.
“It’s such a great sport to relieve stress,” said Randolph. “I forget about everything when I’m racing.”