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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Despite racing conditions that were better suited for wrestling than riding, Brian Lopes made a triumphant return to serious BMX racing with a win at the mud-marred ABA SoCal Nationals on Febraury 24.
Lopes won the AA Pro class race in Ontario, California, then finished second in the Pro Open event. “That was my first real BMX race in two or three years,” Lopes said, “It felt good to let everyone know that could still do well in BMX if I want to.”
In the days leading up to the race, rain had turned the track into a muddy mess, and at one point it looked like the event would be postponed completely. But maintenance workers were able to do just enough to salvage the first day of scheduled two-day event.
“[The mud] seemed to be an advantage for me,” Lopes said. “Not too many BMXers like the mud, and [they] had problems riding in it. But it didn’t bother me.”
The mud did slow racing down quite a bit, though. Saturday’s races didn’t wrap up until 3 a.m., making it one of the longest days in ABA nationals history. Conditions were too poor by the time Sunday rolled around, forcing the cancellation of the event’s second day.
Lopes, the defending World Cup dual and NORBA dual slalom champion, has said he’s planning on doing “a few” BMX races this year. This result might mean a few more. “I had been practicing for a couple weeks on my BMX bike and I felt good,” he said. “But I didn’t know how good I would do until I got in the gate with all the top guys.”