It’s hard to think of a sport that involves a bicycle — something most kids start riding as young as 2 years old — as one of the most dangerous Olympic sports out there. It’s also hard to think of a tiny 9-year-old as “The Beast.” But it was thanks to skills on a bike that earned a then “little 60-pound” Alise Post that long-lasting nickname.
Fast forward 15 years and the 2012 Olympic BMX racer is still tearing it up on the track — winning multiple world cup medals this season. Before she competes at the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Rock Hill, South Carolina, this weekend, we talked to the Rio 2016 Olympic hopeful about why her sport is so dangerous and what keeps her going back for more.
Here are five reasons Post says BMX is one of the most dangerous sports – but still the most fun.
1. It’s Hard, Fast And Dangerous
Our sport is definitely harder than it looks. We’re doing pretty high speeds with no suspensions on our bikes. Our bodies become the shock absorbers, so you learn to be very precise and accurate.
It’s about more than just peddling and throwing your bike in the air. It takes a lot of skill to maintain speed and gain speed.
But I would really encourage people to do it. After all, what kid these days that has a bike doesn’t try to hop curbs, and other stuff? I’ve seen 2 year olds up to 70-something year olds doing this sport.
Not only does it build character, but it’s also a sport where nobody is on the bench. It’s not like soccer where you have practice with your team from 2-4 p.m. two days a week. With this, you can practice whenever it suits your schedule. It’s at your pace and at your level.
2. It’s Like A Horse Race Mixed With A Rollercoaster Ride
A race for us starts off with us waiting at the gate. That anticipation of waiting, your energy building and then all of a sudden the horse is let out of the gate and everybody is just going. Then it’s like dropping down a rollercoaster and riding a rollercoaster around the whole track.
We’re going 40 mph roughly and doing 40-foot gaps down the first straight. You’re doing it with seven other people around you and you have to trust what they’re doing. I’d compare it to a horse race mixed with a rollercoaster ride.
Anytime you do new things or you see success, that’s when you get the reward of it. And that’s what you work for every day. You work every day for that 30- or 40-second race. In less than four seconds we’re already at the first jump coming down a three-story hill. It’s pretty exciting. But it’s the rush you get that I keep going back for.
3. You Have To Be Crazy To Want To Do It (And OK With Injuries)
All of us are a little crazy — that’s for sure. You have to be to want to do this. We love the rush we get when we go down that hill. No one wants to get hurt or see others get hurt, but it’s something that happens — and not just in our sport. With BMX, we hit hard. So you have to be a little bit crazy to want to get up and do it again.
I’ve had quite a few injuries. Starting in 2010, I blew out my ankle, tore some ligaments in my fibula and had to have surgery on it. I was 19 at the time. Then a couple months after I came back from my ankle injury, I exploded my knee and had to have reconstruction. That was the most devastating injury as it was right when the Olympic points were starting for 2012. So after many years of working towards this goal of making the Olympic team — and having a solid position in the U.S. — my career was going backwards.
Thankfully, I was able to come back from that and still make the Olympic team after having a successful rest of the year. But then I tore a ligament in my thumb and had to have hand surgery. In 2014, I had another knee surgery after breaking my shinbone. I had some screws placed and was out for a couple months. Three months later I had the world championships and placed second.
I think I was under the knife four or five times in four years. But even though each of those things stinks, they build character. As an athlete it makes you realize if you want to do it or not.
4. You’re At The Mercy Of Other Riders
Our sport is a head-to-head sport. You’re in the gate with seven other riders and whoever crosses the line first wins. So you’re bound to have something happen in your career, but the better you get at what you do, the less likely things are to happen.
Typically if you do it right, you’re pretty injury-free. But you’re at the mercy of other riders.
Things happen so fast out there because we’re going really fast. And the dirt is almost as hard as asphalt. You’re going 40 mph hitting the ground. Something has to give.
5. But…Crashing Isn’t Always So Bad
I was so scared when I first started. I wouldn’t do it. My first race I chickened out and wouldn’t do it. I didn’t want to crash. I was really scared of that.
But a week after I pulled out of my first race, I went and got second. Ever since that day, I’ve loved it — and the adrenaline I get from it. Crashing isn’t always so bad – it’s not fun — but it’s part of what we do.