Beau McHattie is just seven years old, but you can guarantee he’s already logged more time on his bike than the average second-grader.
The young BMX racer from Langdon recently competed at his second national competition, July 7 in Toronto, at the 2019 Canadian BMX Championships.
McHattie’s performance earned him an N plate, meaning he is among the top riders in the country for his age group.
“Getting an N plate is a pretty big accomplishment,” said McHattie’s mother, Jayme. “They only award them to the top-eight athletes, so if there are 16, 20, 30 riders, only the top eight get plates in that category.”
As the N4 plate-holder – the fourth-ranked rider in Canada – McHattie qualified to race at next year’s world championships, which will be held May 2020 in Houston, Tex.
McHattie – who has been doing BMX since he was just four years old – said he enjoys practicing the various skills associated with BMX, including the tricky art of manualing, when you ride on your back wheel as you go over rollers, as to not lose any speed.
“I just really liked bike riding,” said McHattie, who attends Langdon School. “My mom told me about [BMX] and I said yes. When you start, you don’t go that fast, but you get faster and faster.”
Despite Rocky View County’s (RVC) relatively small population, the region is becoming a hotspot for talented young riders. According to Jayme, three of Canada’s top four riders for the seven-year-old age group come from the area, including N2 rider Colten Cools from Airdrie, N3 rider Spencer Saupel from Cochrane, and McHattie.
“We have a lot of dedicated parents who take the time to take these kids to where they need to be, to really foster the skills they need for the sport,” she said.
“Hockey is so prevalent around here, but sometimes, I think these kids love finding something that is a little more unique.”
Despite the individual nature of BMX, Jayme said, the sport comes with a tight-knit sense of community among racers and their families.
“A lot of the older racers really foster the relationship with the younger kids,” she said. “The older boys who have been doing this for quite some time, they love the fact the younger kids look up to them as their little BMX heroes. They take the time to coach them and teach them the things that the kids find so incredibly cool.”
Another talented young BMX racer from RVC is 11-year-old Jaxson Ross, who holds the N1 plate for his age group. Ross, who has been racing for seven years, said he got into the sport shortly after his family moved to Cochrane.
“We were at the Cochrane Labour Day Parade,” he said. “We had just moved here, and there were some BMX riders in the parade and I wanted to do it. We went out, I tried it and I liked it.”
Ross said he enjoys the social aspect of BMX, adding his favourite thing about the sport is meeting new friends.
After competing at nationals last month, McHattie, Ross and the rest of RVC’s racing community will conclude the 2019 season with races in Calgary Aug. 17 and 18 and the provincial championships in Cochrane Sept. 7 and 8.
Following that, local N-plate riders will be hard at work throughout the fall and winter in preparation for the world championships next spring.
“I’m hoping to get a W plate in worlds, which is top eight in the world,” Ross said.