By August Edwards
Taio Taylor will be making a name for herself and Albuquerque at the BMX World Championships, held in Belgium this month. At 10-years-old Taylor has a golden, athletic spirit.
Taylor said what inspired her to start this sport was seeing Caroline Buchanan race at 7 years old.
“The next day I had my bike ready and my helmet and I wanted my dad to take me to Alameda Park so we could practice. Then we went to the actual BMX track and that’s when we really got started,” she said.
Taylor is on the Duke City Development (DCD) team where she enjoys competing with friends and family. She stressed that racing with her family is an important part of her experience with BMX, and the competition is the most fun part of the sport.
Of her experience as a BMX rider, Taylor said qualifying for World Championships has been the one to stand out the most.
“It was super windy during that time, so me and this girl had to keep competing with our elbows. And we both made it to Worlds Championship, so I’ll probably see her there,” Taylor said.
Taylor expressed that though it feels amazing to have made it, she is a little scared of the potential of falling at the track she’ll have to face in Belgium.
“When they hit the ground it’s not nice, it’s rough, but for some reason, they just don’t give up. She has the scars to prove it,” Robel Taylor, Taylor’s father, said, vouching for her toughness.
“BMX is a contact sport, so they allow you to bump arms, elbows—all of those things. For example, once that gate goes down, the aggressive racers try to take that inside lane and also try not to let someone take their lane. So what happens is that people meet up going as fast as they can around these obstacles, and their elbows hit and then boom you have a big turn so then you have to negotiate that, and whoever gets that turn best is probably going to get the lead right there,” he said.
Taylor explained her practice routine with DCD begins with getting warmed up and then proceeding to do straights.
“Once we’re done with all of them, that’s when we’ll move on to the gates and that’s when we do races to the first turn, and usually, we’ll do pump laps with no pedals, where you’re pumping the bike,” she said.
Watching his daughter on the track is inspiring to Robel Taylor.
“The sport of BMX is teetering on athletic ability and courage. She mentioned being scared—everybody is scared, it’s a scary sport. Especially after you’ve taken a spill and you know that it sucks and it hurts, then it gets in your head. So, what I had to teach her is to have a short memory. Do you lose a race? Short memory—it’s all good, it’s over, let’s go have an awesome lunch. Or, you fell, I know it hurts right now, let’s just try to let that go and get through it,” he said.
Despite her nervousness, Taylor is excited to enter the World Championship.
“When you see the first red light that’s when you go because that’s when the gate folds down…It is scary because sometimes the gate doesn’t work exactly how they want it to. There was one time where it went dink! And I hit it too fast and I went over my handlebars. I felt like I was in slow motion,” Taylor said.
Taylor has the mindset of a disciplined athlete. She is a cheerleader and practices back handsprings wherever she can. She has purple roller skates that might be a permanent fixture when she’s not on her bike.
“What would you tell little girls if they were interested in this sport?” Taylor is asked by her father.
“That if you just keep doing it, it’s not as scary as you think it would be,” she responded instantly.
When her father asks her advice for little girls that are frightened of the sport Taylor is quick to supply an answer.
“I would help her get set up, like putting her bike on her gate, and maybe if she’s comfortable enough put both feet on her pedals for balancing, and I’ll tell her when the gate’s about to drop when she can go,” she said confidently.
These answers Taio gives with no hesitation, for it is not only the competition of the sport that she loves but the comradery that comes from it.
Photos Courtesy of stores.inksoft.com/taio/shop/home