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Riding with the pack

Matzelle faces stiff test at BMX nationals

Joey Matzelle knows he's in for a dogfight to the finish line this weekend at Carrie Jane Gray Park.

One check of the standings in the American Bicycle Association BMX 16-year-old expert class confirms Matzelle will have his hands full if everybody shows up for this weekend's Canadian national races.

Matzelle will start Saturday's motos ranked sixth in his class with 386 points. The 11-year Supertrak BMX Club veteran is well off the 971-point pace of class leader Thomas Donnelly of Maple Ridge, but he's well within striking range of second-place rider Ryan Murphy of Surrey, who has 488 points. In one of the more hotly-contested classes, Donnelly, Matzelle, and Murphy are all part of the ABA top-six with Dustin Pospolita of Langley, Colin Hildebrandt of Stony Plain, Alta., and Bretton Delaney of Kelowna, and it's a virtual guarantee there will be some movement in the standings.

As the only rider in that mix who has home track advantage, Matzelle has to be thinking he could be the one with the most to gain this weekend.

"There's going to be a lot of people to race and it'll be fun entertainment, with good weather," said Matzelle. "I just hope I do well. It helps a little bit to race at home."

After 11 seasons of gate-crashing, Matzelle says he's noticed he's pedaling faster this year, and that translates into ABA national points. He took two years off racing his 20-inch bike, concentrating strictly on the cruiser class (24-inch wheels) but is showing no signs of rust.

"I'm way faster and smoother, I usually notice it most through the straights and off the gate," said Matzelle said.

For more BMX coverage, see Thursday's Citizen.