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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

August 26, 2011 at 10:14 PM

Pros, newbies share this SeaTac runway

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Sketched Aug. 24
I thought SeaTac was just a maze of parking lots where we leave our cars before catching a plane. Boy, was I wrong!
On my latest exploration of Seattle area communities, I landed at a different kind of SeaTac runway: a top-of-the-line BMX track where homegrown national and Olympic medal winners train, and fans of the sport try to emulate them.

Lauren Bourke, 9, of Kent, was here with her dad, Steve, a two-time state champion. Sheri Bucy of North Bend had signed up Jagger, her tireless 5-year-old, for a three-day camp. And Tom Deslongchamp, 26, of Ballard, was here to “clear his mind.” BMX is like “surfing plus Tetris plus ballet,” he said.
Track manager Joe Stropko said the track is always open to the public except during races, which draw hundreds of fans and are held every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday through the end of October, weather permitting.
Info: seatacbmx.org
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Lauren Bourke said seeing all her dad’s trophies in their garage inspired her to start practicing bicycle motocross when she was 4. Another role model for her is Jill Kintner, who grew up racing on this track and won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
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For Kayli Williams, 11, the BMX gene also runs in the family. Her mom Crissy Williams, 38, used to ride as a kid. A couple of decades later, she likes to come here again for the family atmosphere.
Many people of Crissy Williams and Steve Bourke’s generation who got into BMX at the height of its popularity in the late 70s and 80s are now bringing their kids to the tracks. Bourke, 44, said that’s one of the reasons why the sport is making a comeback.
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Track operator Joe Stropko, 53, became interested in the sport after his kids begun riding at the track, which started a couple of blocks away back in the early 80s and was later moved to its current location. Stropko said the North SeaTac BMX club is currently raising money for a banner to be hung above the starting gate. Stropko and his wife, Yvonne Gooden, the current president of the club, coordinate all the track races and summer camps.
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Vector Campos, 15, of Burien, said sometimes he spends all day here. He likes the track better than a skatepark because it’s only for bicycles and you don’t have to deal with skateboarders.
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Campos friend Drake Simon, 14, came all the way from Bothell to join him. “I’d be here all the time if I lived closer,” he said.
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Tom Deslongchamp, 26, is reliving childhood memories of riding on this track. He grew up just about a mile away, he said, and now comes twice a week from Ballard. He likes that the track is really well mantained.
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Sheri Bucy said her son and other kid neighbors normally ride at a dirt track not far from where they live in North Bend. But the experience here was even better. Little Jagger seemed really pleased with his practice. “I just like to go fast,” he said.
I wish I could say the same as this fearless boy after my own ride through the 1,000-foot long course, which seemed to take me forever to complete. I can’t believe the pros can reach the finish line in less than 25 seconds.
On the bright side, at least I didn’t fall down!
What draws you in? I invite you to send me your suggestions of interesting places to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

Comments | More in Bicycles, Sports | Topics: SeaTac

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