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Hagerstown BMX racers love the jumps and don't really mind the crashes

Hagerstown BMX racers love the jumps and don't really mind the crashes

June 21, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

The ka-klank of the gate dropping is like a starter's pistol.

There is little point in looking back for the competition because the action is in front.

Dirt hill after dirt hill, then an asphalt-covered turn whipping into another series of dirt hills.

Each dirt hill equals air time - perhaps as high as 4 or 5 feet.

"I like that you can actually feel like you're flying," said Ryan Hullinger, 14, owner of a new BMX bike with custom rims.

Ryan broke his collarbone twice within four weeks last year - both times rolling on his front wheel and flipping over.


"I didn't mind the pain," said Ryan, of Hagerstown.

Ryan was one of about 20 teens to race BMX bikes Sunday, June 12, at Fairgrounds Park in

Hagerstown. The track hosts races on occasional Sundays from May through October with racers ranging in age from 6 to 45, according to and track volunteer Diane Fulk.

Dressed in racing colors mixing black with brights, competitors stand on their pedals, pumping furiously up a myriad of dirt hills and around the smooth turns as they weave around the track trying to stay on their bikes and win races that might last about 30 seconds.

On June 12 Ryan won a novice race, just beating out his friend Josh "Apple Cider" Appenzellar.

"Everybody gets a nickname after a while," said Josh, 13, of Fairplay.

Exhausted at the end, racers drink fluids, chat about the race with anyone who will listen and wait for their next race to start.

Philip Schukraft got into BMX racing about five years ago after he went into a bike shop to check the equipment and learned about the track and races.

Schukraft, 15, of Hagerstown, loves the big adrenaline rush he gets racing.

"I just like to race," said Storm Mozingo, 14, of Clear Spring.

Matthew "Hazmat" Everhart, 17, of Waynesboro, Pa., likes "the winning," but doesn't experience much of that anymore.

"I wreck too much nowadays," Matthew said.

Matthew says he's never broken a bone, his falls have left scars, such as the slash on his back from falling in a hole at a construction site when he was "ramping" or trail riding.

Ryan's injuries are atypical for riders at the local track, said Fulk, his mother.

"It is a sport just like any other sport. You can get hurt," Fulk said.

"It's his passion. We've done all the different sports and this was one - the first time he went out, this was it," she said.

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