October 2019 ~ Rider of the Month ~ Liam Driscoll

At NOVA BMX, we believe BMX racers are made, not born.

But let’s face it, when your parents met repelling out of a Black Hawk helicopter, that’s at least a good start.

That’s one telling detail in the origin story of October’s Rider of the Month, 10 Intermediate Liam Driscoll. His dad, Sean, was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army. His mom, Tricia … well, Liam declined to say. But it may be that few of us have the clearance to know exactly how she spent her career as a soldier.

That aerial assault exercise was the beginning of a family. And now every member of that family – Sean, Tricia, Liam, and Liam’s sister, Caelyn – expresses their airborne tendencies at NOVA BMX.

But it’s not just good genes and parental nurturing that propelled Liam to Rider of the Month status. He impressed the selection committee with his positive attitude, his unwavering work ethic, his fearlessness on the track, and his determination to develop holistically as a rider.

It all began when one of Liam’s buddies, Jacob, sent him a video of Jacob riding at NOVA BMX. “Oh, that looks so cool,” Liam thought. “I really want to go.”

So last August, Sean took Liam to NOVA BMX “just to watch” a race.

But Liam is not really the spectating type. Asked if he wanted to join the fun, Liam said, “YEAH!” As he summarized the rest of the story: “So I grabbed a loaner bike, I raced, took second, and I just wanted to keep doing it.”

If spectating was not good enough for Liam, neither was second place. He moved up to Intermediate (with 10 wins) in his first 12 races.

Along the way, he scored a cool new Chase Element racing bike, but not just from the good graces of a sponsor or even his parents. He helped earn that, too, launching his own line of dinosaur-themed coloring books to raise money for the purchase.

Liam’s Chase is a marvel of New School BMX technology, but it still sports Old School flat pedals.

Many riders immediately transition to clipless pedals (which anchor a rider’s feet to the bike) when they turn Intermediate. It’s easier to get bounced off flat pedals negotiating the obstacles of a BMX track, so a rider on flats has to work harder to maintain a smooth, even pedal stroke and to stay connected and in control of the bike. This leads some riders to believe that riding flats (instead of clipless) means giving up speed.

Sanctioning body USA BMX will be phasing in rules during 2020 and 2021 that will require less experienced and younger riders to remain on flats to emphasize skills development.

But Liam has in the meantime taken it upon himself to hone his fundamentals without the advantages of clipless pedals and to build the skillset needed to be competitive in the near future as an Expert. He doesn’t just practice beating other riders through the first corner, he works on jumping, manualing, and gaining track speed by pumping.

Every BMX racer wants to get faster as quickly as possible. Taking the time to build technique along with speed requires patience and fortitude, especially for a young rider.

Liam told me he spends up to 8 hours a day on his bike. When he’s not at a track or skate park, he rides in his neighborhood, sprinting or jumping curbs. Like the best of BMX riders, he doesn’t wait for training opportunities, he makes them happen day by day.

I asked Liam if he has a coach, and he said he’s benefitted from the input and advice of a number of older and/or more experienced riders, including 17-20 Expert James Foxx, 15 Expert Leon Zealand, 8 Expert Cogan Martin-Kersey, and 36-40 Intermediate Curtis Dowdy.

With 2019 being Liam’s first full-year of racing, he has concentrated mainly on local and regional events, although he did race the nearby East Coast Nationals in June. Asked what his proudest BMX accomplishment was to date, Liam mentioned personal breakthroughs in his own riding.

Liam said he looks forward to participating in more nationals next year, with an eye on competing at the 2020 UCI BMX World Championships in Houston, Texas.

Besides BMX and entrepreneurial efforts, Liam can be seen shredding on the electric guitar at concerts organized by the School of Rock in Haymarket, Virginia. A typical setlist might include songs by Metallica, Megadeth, Black Sabbath and AC/DC. His guitar hero, he said, is Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Pressed to name a favorite band, he said it might have to be Aerosmith.

For off-season training, Liam is looking forward to taking up Greco-Roman wrestling.

This 10-year-old, in other words, is already branching out into things a lot of adults just daydream about doing. His ambitions include a career in the military Special Forces or maybe as an Olympic BMX racer.

Whatever the future holds for Liam Driscoll, we predict it will be action-packed.

In the meantime, we congratulate him on earning the distinction of October Rider of the Month. With so many different ways to be cool, we’re glad he chooses to be cool with us at NOVA BMX!

This rider spotlight was written by our local racer and BMX dad, Christopher Zealand. Photo credits go to Liam's parents, except the race photo by B&C BMX Photography.