Most five-year-olds aren’t experts in much besides playing, napping, and occasionally being mischievous. But when Joseph Mather was that age, he achieved expert status in his age group as a BMX bike racer. And at age six, he became number one in both Nationals and Worlds, beating 53 other six-year-olds from 13 different countries—a rare achievement at his age. And he’s just getting started.
Edge: How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike?
Joseph: I learned at age two and started BMX at age four.
Edge: How did you discover BMX racing?
Jenny Mather: As soon as he could ride a bike he’d jump curbs and was always looking for dirt paths to ride on, so we’d find spots around Zorinsky Lake. His grandma actually heard about the BMX track near Hefflinger Dog Park in Omaha and thought he might like to ride on it. We went to a race, and he decided he wanted to try it, so we got him a bike.
Edge: How did you do your first time out?
Joseph: I practiced a few times and wanted to try a race. I got third my first race, and then started winning.
Jenny: You start as a novice, and after winning 10 races you move up to intermediate. He did that within his first couple of months. After winning 20 races as an intermediate you move up to expert, and there were only about 5 in the country at the time.
Edge: You must be a natural at it.
Joseph: It comes easy for me. I practice once or twice a week at the track and a lot at home. During the season I race twice a week—once in Omaha and once in Lincoln. I travel for a lot of races too. And I won Grand Nationals over Thanksgiving, which is like the Super Bowl for BMX.
Edge: What’s your goal for racing?
Joseph: My dream is to go to the Olympics, just like racer Connor Fields!
Edge: How popular is BMX racing locally?
Jenny: There are about 200 riders of all ages in Nebraska. You don’t have to be a certain age to start. In fact, we’re trying to launch a beginner’s league through Omaha BMX. We’ve started fundraising efforts to purchase bikes so new riders don’t have to buy one. It’s a five week program to see if kids are interested, and at the end they can choose to join and get a membership to start participating in races, which is only $60/year. Our goal is to have 20-50 new riders this year.
Edge: Were you worried about having Joseph race on a dirt track?
Jenny: It was hard for me to take him when I didn’t know anything about the sport. But all of the parents are so friendly, it wasn’t overwhelming once we got there. You can ride for fun or competitively. It’s a really welcoming sport.
Edge: Who maintains the local track?
Jenny: It’s all volunteer based, and we all help out in different ways.
Edge: How often do you have to get a new bike?
Jenny: The bikes usually last a full season, but he’s on a sponsored team now, so he has a team bike.
Edge: What’s the best thing about racing?
Joseph: I love going fast and riding with my friends.
Jenny: He’s made so many friends all over the country from racing. It’s his favorite thing to do.
Edge: What are some of your other favorites—food? Movies?
Joseph: My favorite food are chicken tenders from Runza. And I don’t have a favorite movie. I don’t watch them because I love being outside all the time!
For more information, visit www.omahabmx.com.