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I grew up riding a BMX bike. VERY poorly. I had the benefit of living only a few miles from one of the nations premiere BMX tracks, EP Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, KY. I rode with my friends through middle and high school. Never once did I consider myself even remotely good at the sport.

A few weeks ago, I was assigned to photograph the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. Only then did it hit me that I had never photographed BMX racing or any bike racing for that matter. I probably should have stopped riding BMX long before I did and picked up the camera earlier. It was a heck of a lot of fun to shoot.

The track layout was very similar to the track I rode on in Louisville. I think my limited knowledge of the sport helped me position myself for some decent frames.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Riders take off from the start gate Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Riders take off from the start gate Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Riders take off from the start gate Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Riders take off from the start gate Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Shawn Whitfield of Rockford puts together a new bike for Snap Factory BMX rider Chase Pauza (not pictured) Thursday, June 16, 2011, before the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. Pauza, 13, of Huntley, Ill., said he wanted the theme of the bike to be lots of color. "It got to the point where matching colors became a hassle so I just got whatever was in stock," Pauza said. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Shawn Whitfield of Rockford puts together a new bike for Snap Factory BMX rider Chase Pauza (not pictured) Thursday, June 16, 2011, before the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. Pauza, 13, of Huntley, Ill., said he wanted the theme of the bike to be lots of color. "It got to the point where matching colors became a hassle so I just got whatever was in stock," Pauza said. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Erik Meyer,12, of Libertyville, Ill., comes down over a hill Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Erik Meyer,12, of Libertyville, Ill., comes down over a hill Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Henry Chudzik, 7, of Chicago rides the final section of the track Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Henry Chudzik, 7, of Chicago rides the final section of the track Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Andres Papajohn, 9, of Gardnerville, Nev., rides off the track after a practice run Thursday, June 16, 2011 for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Andres Papajohn, 9, of Gardnerville, t

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Trever White, 15, of Aberdeen, S.D., catches air Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Trever White, 15, of Aberdeen, S.D., catches air Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Brandon Ceslok (center), 15, of Janesville, Wis., takes the outside edge on a turn Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR Brandon Ceslok (center), 15, of Janesville, Wis., takes the outside edge on a turn Thursday, June 16, 2011, during practice runs for the ABA BMX Midwest Nationals at Searls Park in Rockford. ©2011

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