Originally created 07/25/99

Rookie cyclist captures BMX bronze



Ben Lynn didn't have an expensive bike, a nice uniform or any BMX racing experience.

But that didn't stop the 11-year-old New Ellenton boy from placing third and winning a bronze medal in the rookie class at Saturday's Georgia Games BMX competition.

He and his Huffy, with its number plate fashioned from a paper plate duct-taped to the handlebars, managed to beat three other riders in the class, which had a total of six competitors.

"I thought I'd come in dead last," he said in surprise.

More than 75 competitors turned out for the event at the city's new BMX track, off Wood Street near Lake Olmstead Stadium and Westview Cemetery.

The National Bicycle League-sanctioned race had its share of seasoned riders, too, including Brunswick's Daniel Griffin and Stephen Owens, the Southeast's No. 1 and 4 riders in the 9-year-old novice class.

"He was riding a bike at age 3 with no training wheels," said Brenda Griffin, Daniel's mother.

As is true at most BMX races, the Georgia Games competition was a family affair. Parents, many of whom raced when they were youngsters, acted as pit crews and race strategists.

"The old-school tips still help out," said Fred Griffin, Daniel's father.

The Augusta BMX track, built with help from the city Parks and Recreation Department and local volunteers, saw its first race just three months ago.

Saturday's race was the largest turnout it has seen to date, race organizers said.

The oldest riders on the track were 59-year-old Harlan Moody of Rome and 65-year-old Phares Parsons of Dalton. Both men are well-known competitors on the national circuit in the age 50 and older cruiser class, which has 64 riders registered nationally.

Moody is nationally ranked No. 1 in the class. Parsons is 19.

"I've been trying to catch him, but I'm not getting any younger," said Parsons, who is the oldest of the NBL riders.

Moody and Parsons started racing after catching the BMX bug from their teen-age sons about 20 years ago.

Parsons, a retired insurance agent, has a grandson who competes in the 7-year-old expert class, making them the league's only grandfather-grandson duo.

Moody, a steelworker, said he races to stay fit.

"It helps keep me young," he said. "It gives me a great workout."

Damon Cline can be reached at (706) 823-3486.