BMX world championships underway this week in Rock Hill

After attending the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships, Rock Hill resident Zach Yonce and his family developed an interest in the bike racing scene.

Yonce’s sons, Gage and Gavin, had been riding bikes all of their lives, but seeing the racers speeding on the track and flying through the air made them want to try it out.

Seven years later, the 45-year-old Zach Yonce qualified for the 2024 world championships alongside his 14-year-old son, Gage.

“There’s a huge difference between just riding a bike (and bike racing),” Zach Yonce said. “The competitiveness is what drew me into it. Also, my kids got into it first. Watching them, the competitive nature come out, and of course, I wanted to ride too. Get out there and have some fun with them.”

“It’s pretty great to be here, especially at our home track, being right down the road and having that home track advantage. But it’s still going to be a big challenging race. A lot bigger than we’re used to.”

The BMX world championships return to Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track in Riverwalk this week. The event runs through Sunday.

“There’s actually a few local people who have qualified to race in this world championship who never picked up a BMX bike until they saw the 2017 event here,” Rock Hill communications and marketing manager Katie Quinn said. “We have people who have moved to this area because of this BMX track being in their backyard.”

There are two classes of competition: challenge and championship.

The challenge races, which are scheduled for Sunday-Wednesday, include amateurs competing in their respective age groups. The championship races, which are set for Friday-Saturday, feature men’s and women’s divisions as well as competition for under-23 and juniors.

The Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track was built with guidance from Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) — the governing body of cycling — in the hopes of hosting championship races. Before the venue opened in 2014, it was chosen to host the 2017 World Championships.

The presence of the track and the energy from the competition has sparked a lot of local interest in BMX.

“As much as (the world championships) is an exciting thing to welcome the world to Rock Hill, this venue is really for the people who are here and can learn and try to pick up a new sport and a new interest,” Quinn said.

Tickets for the event are still on sale, ranging from $10 to $65.

All York County residents and their guests will be allowed free entry into the park for Saturday’s final day of competition.