Feeling happy, accomplished and exhausted after taking first place in the BMX Texas State Finals, 16-year-old James Carlton gives credit to the Paris Pump Track as the driving factor behind his latest success.
“I started riding at the pump track built in Paris, where I met pro-BMX/Mountain Bike/pump track rider Shealen Reno, who suggested I try racing in Desoto,” James said. “I went and was hooked since.”
James’ mom, Keitha, expressed how proud, excited and relieved she was when James won the title.
“And he finished the day without crashing, no injuries and no equipment malfunctions,” she said. “So many things can go wrong.”
Michael, James’ dad, said it was “cool to see him win.”
“It was very exciting,” said Michael. “He set that goal for himself this year and he did it. I’m beyond proud of him.”
James, knowing he needed to come in either first or second to accumulate enough points to win, said he was happy when he finished in first.
“But I was really exhausted,” he said. “My legs were tired, so I didn’t really show much emotion until the next day. I was happy and proud of myself because of the work I put in to be first in the state in my group. When they said my name as I crossed the line, I felt accomplished.”
Keitha, not much of a crier but over-joyed and excited for James achieving his goal, said she wanted to cry.
As Paris locals, Michael said the Paris Pump Track deserves its recognition for being such an influence on James and where their family is heading with BMX.
“It opened up a whole new world of sports for James that we didn’t even know about,” Michael said. “I’m hoping James’ story will show more local kids that there’s more to sports than a bat and a ball.”
The Paris Pump Track, according to Michael, is the “only reason we’re headed in the direction we’re headed into now. Without it, we wouldn’t have had professional BMX racers coming here.”
Keitha said, “not sure that Casey Ressler and the others (Paul Allen/Chamber) that brought the pump track to Paris realized how this might change one person, but we want to share James’ story and hope that more events involving the pump track will continue.”
Michael said the BMX sport has turned James into a passionately-driven, laser-focused teenager.
During the BMX Texas State Finals, Keitha said they received an immense amount of support from track operators at Desoto BMX, Casey and Chris Allen.
“They have been incredible, including giving James his first race bike,” she said. “Casey Allen is in the Texas BMX hall of fame; she was a previous pro BMX rider as well. They do an amazing job with the kids/adults at that track.”
The sport and events have shown a family atmosphere amongst competitors unlike any other.
“The people, the families, the competitors on the track – I’ve never seen anything like it where off the track, everyone is so supportive of one another,” Michael said. “It’s truly an amazing sport.”
To help improve his skills and workmanship on his bike, James is working at the local bike shop Cycle Works, owned by Brad Hilliard.
“James is also giving pump track lessons to anyone that is interested,” Keitha said. “Right now he has 2-3 regular clients (young boys 4-7 years old). He hopes this takes off, because he wants to share the love of the sport and educate others about his experience; plus it can actually be good exercise and improve abilities in other sports.”
Homeschooling also had a helping hand in James’ success, because it’s allowed him to do his school work at his own pace.
“We met a gentleman and his son traveling home to Florida from California, who stopped at the pump track,” Michael said. “He told my wife about how they homeschool. Able to do school at his own pace and do what he really enjoys, we’ve seen James improve.”
They began homeschooling through Time4Learning earlier this summer, “to see if we would like it – just another option for students in sports that aren’t your traditional sports.”
James plans to keep racing and move up in category to expert and to train for the USA Pump Track Championships in Springdale, Arkansas, in October and the Grand Nationals and Race of Champions BMX races in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in November.
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