Hello, Cleveland: BMX rider earns spot on Dew tour
Lennie Westfall has performed tricks on his BMX bike all over the country, but he’s never had an audience like the one he’ll have this week.
“This is definitely the big time,” said Westfall, a Loves Park resident who was just accepted to ride in the AST Dew Tour stop in Cleveland. “These are the biggest names in my sport, and I’m pumped. Next to the X-Games, this is it.”
Westfall originally was turned down for entry into the Right Guard Open, the second stop in the seven-event Dew Tour series which spans across the country. But he received a call-back last Thursday, and was told he is now registered to compete in the BMX Park contest, which begins Thursday. He will go up against 49 others looking to qualify for the BMX Park preliminaries, scheduled for Friday. From there, the top riders move on to Sunday’s finals.
“I’m definitely psyched just to get to ride a park like this. The whole experience is going to be something else,” said the 20-year-old who has been a freestyle biker for eight years. “I’ve got to go out there and try and get myself into those finals.”
Westfall, who considers Machesney Park’s Skateworks his home park, placed third overall and won the Best Trick award at a Free Flow Tour stop in mid-May. The Free Flow Tour is the Dew Tour’s amateur series which gives the top youngsters a chance to “Flow to Pro.”
The strong showing in the early-season event put Westfall on the Dew Tour radar, and he’s got a chance to move in on the top pros. He’ll ride against some of the best in the business, and a couple of his heroes in the sport. Dave Mirra, arguably the best bike trickster to ever peddle into a park, will be there. Mirra’s currently being chased by big names such as Ryan Nyquist, Ryan Guettler and Mike Spinner.
There is at least one person hoping he’ll also be chased by a guy named Westfall.
“To go up against those guys, I just can’t wait,” Westfall said. “This is my chance; this is my shot. I have to make the best of it.”
His best tricks are a 540-tailwhip, a 360-double-tailwhip, a flare, a backflip turndown and a superman seat grab. If he’s to really make some noise in the finals, however, he agreed he’ll have to step up his trick selection.
BMX Park competitions include two one-minute solo runs through a skate/bike park setup that always includes quarterpipes, box jumps, wedges, stairs, rails, wall rides and step-up jumps, among other obstacles.
Portions of this week’s Cleveland contest will be streamed live on ast.com, and highlight shows as well as a few live finals will be broadcast on NBC from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and on USA Network from 11 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Jay Taft can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or email@example.com.
Right Guard Open
What: AST Dew Tour (extreme sports series) stop No. 2 of four major stops
Where: Cleveland, Ohio, at the North Coast Harbor
TV schedule: Highlight shows and a few live finals on NBC from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and on USA Network from 11 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Web site: ast.com