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From helicopter med-flight to world BMX

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 7/13/23

MIDDLEBURG - After a horrific track accident in 2020 that offered her a helicopter ride to the hospital, Riley “MadRabbit” Jordan got back on her BMX bike less than a year later and crashed on …

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From helicopter med-flight to world BMX


Posted

MIDDLEBURG - After a horrific track accident in 2020 that offered her a helicopter ride to the hospital, Riley “MadRabbit” Jordan got back on her BMX bike less than a year later and crashed on her first race back since the accident.

“Not a lot of people know what BMX is, most think it’s motorcycles,” said Jordan, a sophomore at Middleburg High School. “My first bad crash, a broken collarbone, punctured lung and other stuff, in August 2020, I was unconscious and had seizures and got lifeflighted out.”

Jordan, still with a plate with six screws in her shoulder, is nicknamed the Part-Bionic BMXer.

“Maybe six months later, in my first state race at Jacksonville, I crashed again,” said Jordan. “I was in first by a whole straight and I was by myself. Nothing broke, but I was upset at myself for crashing.”

Jordan, 16 in August, a Middleburg High sophomore band member, is now embarking on a summer of training to boost her chances of a coveted world title as she has returned with a vengeance to her sport; BMX bike racing.

Jordan, a six-time district champion, has evolved to become one of the top three 15-16 year old BMX riders in the nation with her recent invite to be part of Team USA that will compete at the 2023 UCI BMX World Challenge Championships World games in Glasgow, Scotland on August 3-13. Next year the event will be hosted by Rock Hill, SC.

“The rankings are based on ability on tracks around the state,” said Jordan. “I’ve been state champion once and got second and third since COVID. The second place finish I had two fractured wrists.”

Jordan’s two teammates on the 15-16 TEAM USA roster are from California and Georgia.

“The Georgia girl, Alexis Alden, had a father who was a motorcross athlete and a stuntman, wins everything and is supergood,” said Jordan, ranked 54th in 15-16 girls as per USABMX.com. “The California girl, “Hurricane” Hannah Leakey, is little more my level and we compete close. Alexis is ranked number one in 15-16 girls.”

BMX racing, on small, one-gear bike about half the height of your bike in the garage, entails a gate start down a hill and a trek less than a mile of up and down undulations on a concrete track with three 180-degree turns normally.

Most tournaments include a series of 4-5 qualifying races to get to the final race. The state title is won after a series of races, accumulating points and a final race; much like NASCAR. Florida, according to Tracy Lohse, is one of the meccas of BMX with California the top state with its number of riders.

“It’s superfast and very technical in a small space of time,” said Doug Lohse, Jordan’s 50-plus dad who is also a master’s BMX-er that has had his own bike crash. “There is not much room for error and when it happens, it’s usually bad.”

According to mom, Tracy Lohse, herself an accomplished cyclist with the former DelaFina cycling racing team out of Jacksonville, Jordan was a hockey fan at first as they family lived in Maine and brother Spencer played hockey.

“She wanted hockey, did figure skating then went roller hockey (in Mandarin) when we moved to Florida in 2013,” said Tracy Lohse. “We found BMX at that point, she was nine, and that was that.”

Ironically, Jordan got her first trophy in her first race at the BMX track in Jacksonville on Dunn Avenue.

“I also had my first crash and split my lip, lost a tooth,” said Jordan, smiling with full set of teeth as we spoke. “I got back on the bike and I think I got better because I’m not afraid to fall. Over time, I’ve managed the things in the race that can cause crashes. I read the track much better now.”

Jordan trains off the bike with leg power exercises because she stands for most of her races throughout the race, but also includes arm power training to keep her on top of the bike. Jordan’s bike is a price tag near $4,000 with all the bells and whistles; hers being a carbon fiber frame for lightweightness and durability.

“We have training rollers, a detailed plan for each day and a nutrition plan,” said Jordan, who qualified for the Worlds with a finals win at Oldsmar. “The whole plan is designed to replicate my week at Worlds so I know what it feels like.”

P.S. MadRabbit comes from her pet rabbit at the house.