IDA — At age 16, David Lieb of Ida Township is a national motocross champion. The Ida High School junior took first in a BMX competition in Parkland, Fla., Sept. 7-8, in its Play Am finals.
BMX is a motocross style of bicycle racing on rough tracks filled with obstacles and stunt riding that includes vertiginous maneuvers such as back flips and double back flips.
The teen competed in the Recon Tour championship, beating nine other national qualifiers to become the tour champion and top amateur freestyle BMX rider. Next up is a national professional competition in November called the Play Pro.
He had qualified for the Recon Tour in May by winning a contest in Lakewood, N.J., one of 10 nationwide.
“It’s pretty exciting,” David said. “The competition in November is in the same place in Florida. It’s an invitational that only invites the top pros. They invited me because I won the amateur.”
The bicycles used are special reinforced models that can handle rough racing conditions. David wears a helmet, knee pads, and mouth guard.
His mother, Karen Lieb, describes herself as his biggest fan, but she worries as she watches events.
“I get nervous during competition,” she said. “I always say a prayer: ‘God, keep him safe.’ ”
Robby Burleson, the Recon Tour manager, said only a few BMX riders reached David’s level at his age.
At the November contest, “we’ll probably have 20 to 30 professional riders. David might be the youngest competitor we have out there. I would think he would be.”
BMX riding is a young person’s game, he explained, but a few riders compete into their 40s.
Mr. Burleson is 27 and no longer competes. “Most guys get taken out by injuries by their late twenties. David has the advantage of being so well disciplined at such a young age. It’s going to help him in the long range,” he said.
David said he got into dirt-bike riding early and advanced to BMX riding at age 12. In 2012, he cracked a few ribs, but the mishap did not shake his passion for the sport.
Most riders are male, he said, but he has come across a few young women who compete. The camaraderie among the riders he meets from across the country is an aspect of the sport he enjoys.
“It doesn’t get overly competitive. We all ride with each other every day and we’re good friends. We hang out, and then we end up competing with each other,” he explained.
“I want to do something with the sport for as long as I can,” he said.