We’ve seen him win, we’ve seen him lose, make moves, and win titles, but the 2022 National No.1 Amateur has another side to his BMX Racing career, content.
Through his National weekend vlogs, Social clips and edits, and taking photos for his training group, Drew Polk has a big project to cap off his 2022 year. Weeks before what would be his National Title-winning night, Polk set out to document the process and shed a light inside his #GrandsPrep.
“It started right after Bakersfield, I told myself that if I got the title, I was going to release it and put it all together, and if I didn’t, I would just throw all the footage away. I had a big project on my hands since I won it… It’s been a lot of work, and I’m still not technically done with it.”
Creating his weekend vlogs is a tall task in its own right, but when you dive into a documentary-type project, that takes editing knowledge and a lot of hours at the computer to complete it. Was the 17-20x hotshot learning by trial, or was he getting the 21st-century video production degree through YouTube?
“Most of it comes from YouTube and watching a little more professional stuff. I’ve seen some sports documentaries, and I used that as the main idea. I’ve never done a documentary before, so I really jumped into it and figured I’d learn along the process.” “For certain things I don’t know, I’ll look back at the documentaries I look up to to see what they’ve done and help that shaped mine a bit.”
The rider/creator subsections of BMX racing have been melding together for some time now. With the sport being promoted almost solely in the social media and YouTube space, the digital side of BMX is a crucial part of team and brand sponsorship decisions. Whether it happens organically or you dive in with the purpose of becoming a content creator, the two now go hand in hand for Drew Polk and many others.
“I’ve always been interested in videos. As a kid, I always liked watching YouTube, so I’ve always been into that aspect of it. In 2019 I started my YouTube channel, making a couple of edits, but they were nothing crazy. In 2020, when I got my camera, they started to get better, and just in the past year, 2021 and 2022, I started to branch out and try new stuff. Just recently, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do videography as a career, so I just want to start learning now so that in a couple of years, I’ll have a good base to work off of.”
Creating clips for Instagram is one thing, but documenting and creating content leading up to the biggest race of the year as he goes for his dream of the title is a whole different beast. What was the point? Was it to have a longstanding reminder, or was there a different goal Polk had in mind?
“I think I really wanted to put it together because it’s one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve ever had, so I definitely want to have this out there for myself. There’s a lot of footage that I kept in there that I probably would have taken out if it wasn’t for me as well… There’s just so much footage that I felt like I couldn’t not put it in. It goes past me, too. There’s a lot of Cam Wood stuff in there, some things that people didn’t know about his Grands prep.”
Juggling training for the biggest race of the year can take a physical toll but also a mental toll. And with the pressure of a season-long goal looming in every title contender's mind, Polk was able to document that side of the sport.
“There’s probably about 20 minutes of just the mental side of it and the mental side of a racer, I think people can learn a lot from that… I think it gives a nice peek inside what us BMX racers go through and what we’re thinking leading up to big races.” “ It was definitely a little unnatural. Usually, when you’re preparing for a big race, it’s all work, but I really tried to focus on that “this is a part of the process,” and I wanted to document this and make sure I had all of it. Even if it was just setting up a camera on a tripod to film the general area I was training, I wanted to have at least something from every session.”