Updated: Oct 4, 2022
The rookie season for any athlete is a nerve-racking experience. New sights, new flow, and new challenges arise with stepping up to a higher level of the sport. But for one BMX Racing rookie, it’s business as usual as he makes a name for himself in the Men Pro class.
The NorCal boy, Nick Adams, has been a name heard through the national level of BMX for years, but with his 2022 jump to the Men Pro ranks, his name is heard even more alongside the names of established athletes in the BMX.
We sat down with Rockstar/RIFT/Tangent’s new hot shot to hear his thoughts on his jump to the pro ranks.
After an entire year away from racing due to a thumb injury in 2021, Adams decided with his coach, Connor Fields, to make the jump into the pro class this past March, but with his injury, we were curious what his training was like through that time.
“Man, I didn’t stop,” said Adams. “When I originally got injured, I thought I was going to come back and do Houston, do Grands, and more amateur races. I wasn’t prepping straight for pro. That was routine as usual, hoping right back into training and making sure I was ready for whatever came at me.”
With his inevitable jump into his rookie season, Adams came in hot yet calculated, getting his racing legs back with Pro Opens leading up to his “true” debut at the Music City Nationals.
“After 7-9 months without racing, Connor and I decided it was far smarter to do a couple of Pro Opens and test the waters, get back into the race mindset, the race stresses. And you know it worked like we hoped it would.”
With a long-awaited first pro lap snapping down the Nashville drag strip, the crowd erupted as he came out of turn one in the lead.
“The first race in Nashville was an interesting one mentally since it was my first pro race. It wasn’t the biggest pro race ever, but it also wasn’t the easiest. I was racing guys that I have watched and looked up to. It was weird to line up in the gate instead of cheering for them. It was more of a ‘just go, see where we’re at physically. So I went out and tried to go as fast as possible, and that gave us a good gauge of where we were at, and we were pretty happy.”
With those race weekends come the feedback from those training you for success. Walking by the Tangent pit between pro rounds, you will oftentimes see Adams on the phone. On the other side is a coach with the experience to do it, Connor Fields.
“He (CF11) keeps it pretty simple. Treat it the same way you treated amateur last year. If you have a good lap, you reassess, see what you did good, see what you did badly, and what to work on. It makes ‘being a pro’ easier mentally in a way because he’s showing me how to work on myself and not worry about where I’m at versus the competition. There’s always this procedure of trying to better yourself, and that’s how he’s guided me through this year.”
Once you go into that next level of BMX, one of the most significant changes is the race day flow with the pro time schedule. With that, the race mindset is stretched out all day instead of multiple times a day for short periods.
“I love the time schedule... There’s more consistency to the race day now. When I show up, it’s against dudes that are putting in the work day to day, we’re all on that schedule. We all know when we’re racing, it’s a professional race. I love it ten times more because every lap, you’ve gotta give it gas. You can’t float your way to the final and then pop off a heater. You have to put in the work all day to get that win...Having to be in that zone for five to six hours that your racing is some of the biggest adrenaline rushes that I’ve ever had.”
Looking to the future races for Adams, Derby City is next on the list, which will be his first 8-meter race since his Junior National Championship in 2020. He explains his preparation for the event.
“It’s been two years since I’ve raced on one and a year since I rode on one since March of last year. The plan is to get on one this month, basically just getting comfortable on that while still keeping in mind that it’s the same mentally. We show up to race day, and there are still 5-6 race laps. The only difference is we’re starting on a taller hill.” Adams said, “Being in NorCal, you really don’t have access to an 8-meter; you really have to travel far. There is Chula down south and Tulsa now. With Tulsa being the cheaper option, I’ll spend some time there around your (USA BMX Foundation’s) Pro Exhibition race in September.”
With any rookie season for BMX’ers, a looming award at the end of the season is the Golden Crank award. With that member chosen title, there is sometimes an added pressure to perform.
“This year’s a little more fun than others. It’s my rookie year, and there’s not a whole lot of expectations, just go out swinging, and no matter how I perform, nobody’s mad or disappointed. So expectation wise there’s not much. I’m looking forward to these races more than being nervous or dreading them.”
With Adams grinding away at his rookie season, testing his speed, and having fun while doing it, what is the rookie looking forward to?
“I’m really looking forward to Grands. USA BMX has the new gate, and I haven’t been able to ride that yet; it seems super interesting, so I’m looking forward to riding that at Grands. It will be my first professional Grands, and while I’ve been in the NAG 5 Challenge but the NAG 5 guys aren’t the main guys in the show, so I want to be in the main event rolling out and doing three finals, putting it in there. Obviously, my small hills are ok, and with Grands racing, I really like the vibe there, so I’m excited for my professional Grands.”