NOVA BMX Rider Spotlight
This is where we get to introduce you to some of the athletes that make up the NOVA BMX family.
March 2019 ~ Rider of the Month ~ Shelly Zimmerman
As Thanksgiving approaches, you might expect to hear a relative say, “See you at Grandma’s.”
But BMX racer Timmy Zimmerman is more likely to say, “See you at Grands, Ma.”
That’s because his mother, Shelly Zimmerman, is a nationally ranked competitor in her own right. In her first full year of BMX racing, Shelly blazed a trail all the way to NAG 8 of the 56+ Women’s Cruiser Class. We at NOVA BMX are proud to honor her as our March 2019 Rider of the Month.
Everyone knows there’s no one better than Mom, and among mothers, there are none better than BMX moms. Most spend countless hours putting the needs of their racers before themselves, just for the satisfaction of seeing their kids have fun and pursue their dreams.
Shelly is no different and has spent 14 years shepherding three sons through their BMX racing careers, including Timmy and his two older brothers.
Most of this time was spent in Alice Springs, Australia, where Shelly said the local BMX track was a point of civic pride and a well-known gathering place for families in the community. Shelly and her sons were regulars at the track, and she served there in a variety of volunteer capacities. She rode in the occasional Mother’s Day race, but she was more involved in helping to run the track than in riding.
Nevertheless, being so close to the action all those years, Shelly began to develop a quiet determination to test her own mettle on a BMX bike. She was no stranger to athletic competition, having been a competitive swimmer since age 5 and having attended Virginia Commonwealth University on a swimming scholarship. After that she continued to stay fit with Masters swim meets.
But the logistics of getting three kids and their gear to the track demanded her full energy and attention. And while Australia has its share of racing BMX dads, racing BMX moms are few and far between in the Land Down Under. So Shelly bided her time, waiting for the right opportunity.
Eventually her older sons became adults and developed interests beyond BMX. With just Shelly and Timmy going to the track together, there was no longer any reason she couldn’t bring a bike of her own.
Meanwhile, she also came back to the U.S. for work, and when she arrived in Manassas, Va., she made sure to acquaint herself with the nearest BMX track. That just happened to be NOVA BMX.
Shelly and Timmy came to NOVA in late 2017, and on the threshold of a fresh start, Shelly acquired her own USA BMX racing license that November.
Her racing career began in earnest, however, in 2018. Along with racing and training at NOVA BMX with Timmy, Shelly also accompanied him to seven nationals that year.
It was at Trilogy Park BMX in Pottstown, Pa., that Shelly finally had the opportunity to race and bond with her peers in the 56+ Women’s Cruiser Class. The camaraderie and encouragement she found among her fellow racers motivated her to continue competing at the national level.
Besides the communal aspect of BMX, Shelly enjoys the exhilaration of competition and the satisfaction of getting a little better each time she takes to the track. She admitted there have been fear thresholds she’s had to overcome to progress in the sport, but that ultimately adds to the feeling of accomplishment.
Shelly even had the opportunity to race down Sarasota BMX’s Supercross hill in 2018, an intense experience for any rider. She acknowledged that she was content just to coast down the first time, prompting her son Timmy to yell from the sidelines, “Pedal, Mom! Pedal!”
Shelly has done just that, so much so that she managed a 6th place competing at her very first Grand Nationals in 2018, even as she arrived near the last minute and missed both the Race of Champions and the scheduled practice time on the track. It was also the first time in a race that Shelly has had to come out of a full gate.
Timmy, meanwhile, has been racking up wins as a 16 Intermediate and was prominently depicted in PULL Magazine for his own BMX racing exploits in 2018.
Shelly and Timmy plan to continue competing at the national level in 2019, including another run at the Grands, only this time allowing themselves the opportunity to get there ahead of time to take in the full multi-day experience.
Asked what she would say to a BMX mom (or dad) who wanted to make the jump from volunteer or pit crew to racer, Shelly answered, “Go for it! Whatever’s holding you back, reassess why it’s holding you back from doing it.”
Currently the only thing holding Shelly back is the dismal Capital area winter weather. But when the clouds finally part, expect to see her on the gate at NOVA BMX and on the podium at national events across the U.S.
Shelly Zimmerman provides a great example of the fun and excitement that await people of all ages who take the plunge into BMX racing. It’s never too early or too late to join the good times, and NOVA BMX is the ideal place to get started on your racing journey.
Congratulations to Shelly Zimmerman for being March 2019’s Rider of the Month. From rookie to a NAG ranking in less than one year, she keeps the “mom” in momentum!
This rider spotlight was written by our local racer and BMX dad, Christopher Zealand. Grands photo provided by Shelly; others credit to Nichole Marie Dowdy Photography.