This weekend, when Olympic and world champions compete in Albuquerque at the USA BMX Spring Nationals, they’ll be doing so on the track that Kalvin Davis built.
But Davis doesn’t just design and build BMX tracks; he rides on them, too. He won a national title last year at the USA Cycling National Championships in Nashville, Tenn.
Davis, a 22-year-old Cibola and UNM graduate, will compete this weekend in the age 19-27 Expert Division at Duke City BMX. He’s considered a leading contender in his group.
It can’t hurt that he’s intimately familiar with every inch of the Duke City BMX track.
Davis, says Duke City BMX track operator Liz Fernandez, took it upon himself to rebuild the course this year.
“He did all the work,” Fernandez said. “He did everything, from scheduling to actually being here, loading vehicles, getting dirt out, bringing dirt in. He had to knock it all down and rebuild it. He just took this baby into his own, and never once did we have to remind him to do things. … For the age that he is, he’s a very responsible young man.
“He’s basically lived here since December.”
Since childhood, Davis has practically lived on a bike.
“I’d always be out in the neighborhood around my house, doing wheelies, jumping the curbs,” he said.
At age 9, he saw a BMX competition on ESPN’s X Games. Shortly thereafter, at his request, his father took him to a BMX track in Albuquerque’s North Valley.
He was hooked.
“Ever since,” he said, “I’ve never stopped.”
BMX racing has taken Davis to New Zealand – he broke a wrist there in a fall at the 2013 World Championships but still won a bronze medal – Puerto Rico and throughout the United States.
“I’ve broken my collarbone a few times,” he said. “(Injuries) are part of it. It’s not a really big thing, because crashes can happen, and you could get injured in any sport.
“The thing about BMX is, it’s all about having fun on your bike. That’s where the passion really comes in.”
Despite the occasional spill it might induce, Davis said, BMX is a lifetime sport.
“(This weekend) there’s gonna be riders that are anywhere from 3 years old all the way up to about 68. … And it’s guys and girls.
“For me, it’s about everything. It’s about riding. It’s about the people you meet, and the families.”
On Monday nights, Davis teaches a class for beginners at Duke City BMX.
“Normally, they’re between 5 and 8 years old,” he said. “But sometimes older kids come, teenagers and older than that.
“Just getting to know these kids and seeing them be scared and then getting over these jumps for the first time, I know how much it meant to me.
“Through my whole life, I’ve always been able to be centered at the track. And even if something was going not so great in my life, BMX was there. … That’s what I want to be for other people.”
Davis, said Fernandez, is doing just that.
“He’s wonderful with the kids here, especially our little younger riders,” she said. “He works wonderfully with the kids and with the parents.”
In his almost total devotion to BMX, Davis has not neglected his education. In December, he graduated from UNM’s Anderson School of Management.
But, for Davis, education and BMX are intertwined.
Though he plans to turn pro as a racer in the near future, he’s also preparing for graduate study at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning – in part, to become a better builder of BMX tracks.
“What my goal is,” he said, “is to hopefully be able to design (BMX) facilities. Our facility right now, there’s tons of cities and states that would love to have something like this.
“I’m hoping that, with the planning degree that I complete next, that I could continue on and help make more places like Duke City BMX.”
BMX races are contested on a winding, banked dirt track with sharp turns and a series of hillocks that often send the riders airborne. Typically, depending on the track, races last 20 to 35 seconds.
The sport has been contested at the past two summer Olympic Games and will be again in the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. Two-time men’s Olympic champion Maris Strombergs of Latvia is in the professional field this weekend.
Spring Nationals are expected to bring more than 1,000 professional and amateur riders to Albuquerque. Competition begins today and continues through Sunday.