Aiden Hedstrom will spend much of his summer on his bike.

“I race probably five times a week during the summer,” the 15-year-old said. “I’ve been riding bikes ever since I was like 3 or 5 years old. It teaches you to be yourself and pushes you to another extent. With a team sport you’d have to rely on the team passing the ball back and forth, but with BMX it’s all you and you can go race wherever you want.”

Aiden, who attends Roseburg High School, regularly travels to Medford, Grants Pass and Eugene to practice and perfect his skills.

This weekend he’ll be able to use his knowledge of the different tracks to his advantage when the Southern Oregon State Race Series takes place this weekend.

The Southern Oregon series will end at the Umpqua Valley BMX track in Dillard on Sunday afternoon, where more than 1,000 people from all over the state are expected to ride and observe.

Registration for the Umpqua Valley race will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday with racing to start soon after.

“I can’t wait for this weekend because it’s my first expert race,” Skyler Huse said. “I’m going to probably get sixth or eighth.”

The 8-year-old Green Elementary School student has been competing in BMX races for about two years and recently went from being an intermediate racer to an expert racer.

Riders that compete in the series will start the series Saturday morning in Klamath Falls and race at Rogue Valley BMX in Medford in the afternoon. Sunday morning’s race will take place at River City BMX in Grants Pass.

Skyler said Grants Pass has his favorite track because “the rhythm section (a group of small hills in close proximity to each other) is really deep.”

His friend Wyatt Gentry races at the intermediate level, but hopes to be racing Skyler in the expert races pretty soon.

“Last year and the year before that I crashed a lot,” Wyatt said. “This year I haven’t been crashing so much.”

The lack of crashing might also be because track operator Mike Cummings and Dallen Sorensen smoothed the rhythm section at the Umpqua Valley BMX track a little bit.

“Last year there were a lot of wrecks here,” Sorensen said. “They were built up pretty high and we were hoping they were going to settle, but they didn’t. So we put about six inches of dirt on there. It’s still challenging, but we don’t have quite so many wrecks.”

The track at 140 Hult Ave. in Dillard is one of the shorter tracks in Oregon, because of the minimal space available, but it does have a lot of technical jumps for riders.

“It’s an amazing track if you want to get more down to the jumping and manualing,” Aidan said. “It’s pretty much a skill build up and you can get faster foot speed on this track.”

Manualing is the skill of lifting your front tire off the track while leaving the back tire on the ground.

Sorensen also pointed out that the track has one of the biggest jumps in Oregon right before the first turn.

Several of the Umpqua Valley BMX riders will be competing in all the state races to have a chance at qualifying for the state championship.

Other Oregon State Races will take place July 8 and 9 in St. Helens, Mollala, Newberg and Eugene, Aug. 6 in Bend and Aug. 26 and 27 at Mollala.

“All these kids go to pretty much all these races,” Sorensen said. “All of them are competitive and everyone has their own level they can compete against.”

There are novice, intermediate and expert riders and many of the frequent riders at the Dillard track are members of the Rad Team Racing that was spearheaded by Sorensen.

“We were driving home from a race in St. Helens and (Sorensen) has wanted to start a team from the year before,” Lane Gentry said. “We were all talking in the car to come up with a team name. There’s this old movie Rad, from like the 80s or something, that we all used to watch and so we decided to name our team Rad Racing.”

Sorensen himself also competes as a member of the team.

“When I was at nationals, someone had a Rad team racing shirt on but we didn’t even know who he was,” Gunner Cummings said. “Because it was from the movie, but it looked the same.”

Mike Cummings took over as track operator from Jerry Drury earlier this year and enlisted a team of people to help him maintain and run the volunteer-driven track..

The Umpqua Valley BMX track in Dillard is open every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. for practice and races are held every Friday at the same time.

They welcome several new riders every week and are hoping to add more open track hours next month.

Sports reporter Sanne Godfrey can be reached at 541-957-4203.

or via email at Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey

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Sanne Godfrey is a sports reporter for The News-Review.

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