Story & photos By David Quinn misterQuinn media
Morning breaks, the sun rises on a Sunday morning and little Noah Miguel rubs his sleepy eyes and rolls out to find his clips or specialized shoes with cleats that snap into place to offer a full pedal rotation to push and pull on his 20” bike. Center core to hips to quads and calves extend the centripetal force to crank an explosive burst of torque causing the rear rubber to bite into the grading on the Pro-gate and raise the front Maxxiss off the start, and the holeshot belongs to the Ninja. If any of this terminology sounds over-specialized, consider a special 10 year old that embodies its explanation.
Of course there’s always Pokemon, Minecraft, X-box and marvel comics, but for this 4th grader, sedentary activities happen on the way to out of state Nationals and in between any one the three local BMX tracks for practice and the occasional race.
In USABMX sanctioned racing, riders are divided into Novice, Intermediate and Expert class, and each of these are divided into appropriate age groups and gender. At age three, Toddlers sport Striders (balance bikes), 5 and under on pedal bikes are fit for micro-minis, then grow into minis, then juniors, then expert, then pro scale frames. With each frame size, frame style is also divided into wheel size. Riders can compete in Class or 20” wheel sets or Cruiser 24”. A family affair, sanctioned riders range from ages 3 to 93. Each local race earns district points and member dues cover a continuous tracking of race points across the USA and Canada. Any rider can earn points at any of the 370 sanctioned tracks and race against over 70,000 member.
Depending on the race, points are collected at the district, state, and at the national level. For those riders, like Noah, once you go national, you’re in a league all you own. The great thing about USBMX is there are no restrictions limiting riders and races. Any rider at any level can compete at any race. Most races consist of three rounds, two qualifying rounds and the mains or final race. For larger races, qualifiers can compete in multiple heats leading up to a final race and title.
How long have you been racing BMX?
I tried it out when I was little, my dad took me to watch my big brother Benjamin race at Dessert Downs BMX and then my big sister Matalin also raced with me.
Do Benjamin and Matie still race with you?
No, my brother is busy with band and high school stuff, but they do help me train. My sister likes to run with me or chase me doing road sprints, burpees and push ups.
Noah started racing at age 5. At age 6, he competed in his first National; he did NOT qualify. Noah’s Dad relayed how his crash and burn experience made a lasting impression. While his brother and sister transitioned to qualifiers, Noah was left in tears. BMX teaches riders how to win, but like healthy competition (as in real world experience), BMX teaches children how to lose. Elbow to elbow, single gear to gear and pedal to pedal, an occasional spill seams the inevitable. Life lesson 101, getting back up after laying it down endows these riders with the self-motivation to not only get back on their bike, but to finish every race possible. Spectators offer a long round of applause, cheering the fallen all the way to the finish line!
Taking a harder spill, Noah overcame a collar bone break at age 7. During which recovery, Noah met with his hour of doubt, and silently resolved to regain his focus on the next season’s Nationals.
Noah’s dad (Miguel) said “We didn’t really do BMX for 6 months, ….I guess he missed the trips out of town, and asked me if he can compete at the next National after a Gold Cup qualifier held at in Las Cruces Wild Chili BMX.”
The Gold Cup and Redline Cup are national ancillary races sanctioned by USABMX. Competing at these races require several qualifying races to compete and lead up to the title. These races also give top contenders ample opportunity to gauge other nationally recognized competitors.
“At the age of 8, he asked me if he could go to Spring National’s…….I think that was the beginning spark for (his) racing. …can’t say that he really had the passion at that point,” continued Miguel. “Noah’s passion has always been basketball and tennis. He’s been an honor roll student since 1st grade and belongs to a church club (like the boy scouts) called Pathfinders.” said Mr. Miguel.
How often does Noah race and where?
Miguel said “Noah doesn’t always race locally. We frequent all three local tracks open for practice before every (local) race.”
There are three tracks in the area, Dessert Downs BMX on Railroad Dr. race on Wednesdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 11am. Sun City BMX off of Mesa Hills hold practice on Friday’s at 6pm and race Sunday’s at 4pm. Wild Chile BMX on Walnut St. in Las Cruces, hold practice Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm and holds races on Saturdays at 3:30pm. It’s not uncommon that BMX4LIFE’ers (diehard BMX families) will routine all three tracks and even day trip to Duke City BMX in Albuquerque for double point races on occasion.
“We hit all tracks to train and practice when we can, twice a week I take Noah to McKelligan Canyon to run sprints,” said Miguel.
On a constant six degree incline, Noah will explode uphill for 100 yards and take a short cool down break at the top. His return run is incredibly fast downhill and is all about control.
“The real turning point for Noah had to be the 2014 Hall of Fame Nationals at Chula Vista (California).” Miguel continued. “This is the dedicated track and training facility used for the United States Olympic Team. “He won his first National Trophy for cruiser and won all his qualifiers for the main class, it was that event, that Noah beat hopefuls who were sponsored by major manufacturers,” said Miguel.
This little unknown kid from El Paso, Texas was schooling factory riders, and on his used Anarchy (frame brand), no less. Talking to both father and son, it’s clear that they share a very special bond revolving around BMX.
The year of 2014 was a world wind following Chula Vista. In addition to holding 1st place in District and in State, in BOTH cruiser and class, Noah received the national win in cruiser. His recognition racing Vegas and Northern California stirred the interest of Bloodline Racing out of the Bay area. Bloodline is a trophy team providing limited sponsorship to contribute towards a team title at all major races. The more wins on a team the more exposure for their sponsors and increase product sales. It’s not uncommon to have several trophy teams in any given region. Currently our local tracks host 3Corss Racing out of Las Cruces, Potter Racing based out of Georgia, and Hostile Enterprises based out of Houston. There is a sincere camaraderie between all teams and in support of each other, especially at larger races.
In 2015, Noah earned back to back 1st place titles scored in 2014, plus he came in 1st in the Race of Champion (invitation only, prerace for The GRANDS) The Grand Nationals takes place every year in Tulsa, Oklahoma; it is the largest USABMX sanctioned event, ultimately the season finale of all finals. Not only do the best qualifying armatures compete for a national season title, this event is home to the U.S. titles for Elite Men and Women Champions, Senior Pros and AA Pros. Almost every major country is represented, offering the annual opportunity to prospect and compete in preparation for the UCI World BMX Championships and Olympic hopefuls.
In August of 2015 NOAH was recruited and given full sponsorship with the number one factory team in the U.S.. J&R Bikes support a small army of riders from across the nation to carry their frames, fork and racing components across the finish line. In 2015 he “The Ninja” claimed 26 national wins.
Noah expressed his short term goals of lowering his national standing for the coming year. He was actually disqualified (by dispute for racing too aggressively) in 2015 and just missing the 1st place. He wants to the win the #1 N.A.G plate (National Age Group Champion) for 11 Expert, and go on to win the 2017 UCI World’s title for 12 year old Class and Cruiser. In the eventual long-term, Noah Miguel aspires to become a AA PRO and help lead the U.S. BMX Olympic Team to victory in 2024. GO NINJA GO! El Paso is proud of you!
Did you know that all of our local USABMX tracks have helmets and bike to borrow and your first experience is always free of charge and open to the public. Each track has novice to expert riders of all ages to show you and yours the rules and experience the starting hill and obstacles along the way. Look up Sun City BMX @ suncitybmx.com or find them on Facebook for more information. BMX is truly a sport centered around family fun, health and fitness and committed to bicycle safety.