Mom a world beater on a BMX bike | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Mom a world beater on a BMX bike

Steve Yingling

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Patty Metzger, left, and Lauren Thomaselli race at the South Tahoe BMX track on Sunday.

A decade ago, Patty Metzger’s son brought home a school flier that changed her life.

The flier encouraged students in her Arizona community to give BMX a shot at the local track. Intrigued, Metzger took her son, Danny, to the track and immediately learned two things about the action sport: It was for her but not for Danny.

“He wasn’t very excited about it,” Metzger recalled. “But I saw a couple of older women racing and timed them going around track. I thought to myself that I could beat them. It wasn’t long after that that I started beating them and they quit.”

Last month in Ontario, Calif., Metzger reached the top of the world in a hobby that has enriched her life. She won her first world title in the women’s 36 to 40 age group by outracing four other competitors around a 1,500-foot, obstacle-laden course.

“I’ve been getting second for five years, so this was a long time in the making,” Metzger said. “All of the racers were top people. People are always playing around with the sport, but very few of those people were here. People who had been riding a long time were at this race and a lot don’t end up going unless they can win.”

Lauren Thomaselli, South Tahoe BMX Track co-director with husband John, has lost her share of races to Metzger and has seen her friendly rival’s riding take off in recent years.

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“She’s always been the one who has pushed me to improve. The only time we’ve gone back and forth was when one of us was being more dedicated to the sport,” said Lauren Thomaselli, a runner-up at the world championships several years ago. “The last couple of seasons she has been really dedicated and focused on her riding, sought out sponsors and sees a lot of competition. I think she was due for this one, and I’m really happy for her.”

Metzger knows exactly what made her gravitate to a sport that focuses on racers 20 years younger.

“I enjoy the competition and I like winning,” she said. “Road biking is kind of boring, but in BMX there are always jumps to go over and something new to do.”

With few racers over 30 at the track, Metzger has improved her ability by taking on the men.

“The only reason she got to be world champion is because she races against the boys,” said John Thomaselli. “She was chasing me for a quite a while and now it’s gotten to where I’m chasing her.”

Metzger’s passion for BMX racing has transcended into her giving back to the sport. On Thursday nights in July, Metzger devoted time to helping young girls improve their racing technique through the South Tahoe track’s Babes on Bikes program. Although the program isn’t available over the remainder of the summer, Thomaselli said that Metzger continues to help riders on her own time.

“She’s helped me recruit more women and has been a great promoter for more women in sport,” Thomaselli said. “Patty and I are there to help gals of any age or ability level. She’s not only dedicated to her own training, she has dedicated a lot of time to our riders, building our track and maintaining it, helping us keep it in good condition.”

Metzger only asks that the girls that ask for help meet three requirements.

“All they need is a bike, a helmet and desire to ride,” Metzger said. “I want to get them all going fast and then I can watch them beat boys, and that’s really cool.”

Very likely they won’t approach Metzger’s obsession with the sport. On race day – Sunday’s – Metzger warms up with a 10 a.m. race in Carson City, then hustles back to South Lake Tahoe for the 2 p.m. races.

“It’s usually just me, but early in the week I start calling people to try to get them to come with me,” Metzger said.

Pity the women who will have to compete against Metzger at the world championships next summer.

“Now that I finally did it, it means I have to train harder so I can keep the title, wherever that happens to be … Canada or South America,” she said.

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