Beyond World Championships, Manahawkin Teen Takes Aim at Big BMX Career

Jul 12, 2017
Photo by: Supplied photo

The secrets to success for local BMX racer Christopher Hobbie are simple to describe. Go all out, don’t think too much on the track and stay near the front of the pack, or out in front of the pack, at all times. But there’s another secret the 13-year-old from Manahawkin doesn’t often share.

“My coaches told me to think about weird things while I’m in the chute waiting to race,” said Hobbie, who in March qualified to be a part of Team USA in the 13-year-old Challenge Class competition of the UCI World Championships, slated for July 23-30 in Rock Hill, S.C. “So, I think about trees. And unicorns. And strawberry ice cream. Things like that. I think about those things to get my mind off the race, so I don’t overthink what I’m going to do.”

Well, apparently it works. Hobbie is the 10th-ranked racer nationally for his division. The family home in the Ocean Acres section of Stafford Township is filled with nearly 90 championship trophies, including many from some of the nation’s biggest BMX competitions. And he’s won so many races he’s lost count – the number is somewhere in the 400 to 500 range, according to his parents.

“I just love to be on my bike,” said Hobbie, who grew up going to Stafford Township schools but now is homeschooled because of the racing schedule he maintains and the amount of travel required to do so. “I just like being on two wheels and up in the air. If you video a jump, it’s like two seconds, but when you’re up there, it feels like an eternity. You just float up there. It’s just really cool and fun.”

After years of hopping and bouncing around in the streets near his home, Hobbie started with BMX, for fun, at 6 years old, when he first visited the Central Jersey BMX complex in Howell. Roughly a month later, he won his first competition, and he immediately changed gears.

“I won my first race, and everything escalated from there,” he said. “When I was 8 or 9, I won my first big competition, the Red Line Cup, in Raleigh, N.C., and I just went up the ranks from novice to intermediate to expert.”

Just seven years later, Hobbie is one of the best in his division and has begun thinking about going pro when he turns 16. Even the Olympics is not out of the realm of possibility at some point in his BMX career.

“I’ve thought about that a little bit,” he said. “I want to end up at the highest level. It’s going to be pretty difficult, but I think I can do it.”

But first, he’s got other things on his racing agenda, such as qualifying for the Grand National Championships in Tulsa, Okla., in November. And then there’s the World Championships, in which, unfortunately, he will not be able to race because he recently broke the lower portion of his right leg at the East Coast Nationals in Severn, Md.

“I landed and my leg snapped in a few places, down near my ankle,” said Hobbie, who will attend the World Championships with Team USA, mainly as a supportive teammate to the other 31 riders in the division. “I knew as soon as I looked at it that I wouldn’t be able to race, and that’s upsetting. But at least I can go and be supportive of the other riders. I’m part of the team, so I’m going for the heck of it, even if I can’t race.”

Besides that, Hobbie’s good enough and has won enough that he feels confident he can qualify again during the coming years.

“There’s always next year or the year after,” he said. “It will be a different experience for me this time, but hopefully next time I’ll get to race. For now, I’m just going to try to have the best time I can with the team and cheer on my friends.”

And beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Already sponsored by C-Yaa Frames, Stealth Hubs, ODI Grips and PowerBar among others, Hobbie, whose “home track” is at the Egg Harbor Township BMX complex, travels tens of thousands of miles per year and trains several times a week at Trident Performance and Fitness in West Creek to improve his agility and endurance. Translation: He’s serious about BMX racing and a potential career doing it.

“It’s fun to race, but it’s serious stuff,” he said. “To compete at the highest levels, you have to train and work really hard. It’s a big commitment. But I love it. It’s what I want to do for as long as I can.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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