By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO “Joe’s been riding bikes his whole life. Any curb hop or jump he could find he would do,” said Laurie Porter of her 18-year-old son.
Laurie and Joe moved to Cokato about five years ago, and he has been racing BMX bike for two years with the American Bicycle Association.
Joe, a senior at Dassel-Cokato High School, recently won the Grand National race in Tulsa, OK, and is ranked second in the state for his age group in BMX racing.
“This was the most exciting race, so far,” Joe said of the close race. “I wasn’t expecting to win at all.”
Joe became involved in racing through Laurie’s boyfriend, David Knutson, whose children, Tori, 17, and Vincent, 9, also raced.
“I just went to the track one day to try it, and it stuck,” Joe said.
“David’s really helped Joe a lot. He’s been a good mentor,” Laurie said.
BMX racing is something Joe enjoys doing year-round, as there are both indoor and outdoor parks throughout Minnesota.
Joe mainly practices at Pineview Park BMX in St. Cloud.
Although Joe had to take two months off when he first began racing due to a broken collarbone from a snowboarding accident, he has made his way quickly up the ranks in the BMX bike racing world.
“I really like (racing),” Joe said. “I don’t get sick of it.”
Beginning as a novice in 2010, Joe had to win eight races to advance to intermediate. Then, 25 intermediate wins, or five national wins, moves a racer to expert level.
“He’s excelled rapidly,” Laurie said of her son, who is one step away from being professional. “It’s been great for his attitude.”
Joe was one of three people from Minnesota to win at the Grand Nationals, and his win there moved him into the expert category.
Each race earns a racer points, which is how they are ranked against others in their age group and level.
Joe has taken clinics with professional racers who teach techniques on getting faster at all levels.
As Joe excelled, he was continually learning about and improving his bike, getting better and better parts as he could.
There are different specifications for the size of the rider and the bike, as well as what type of frame is needed for a BMX bike.
“Don (Abresch of Broadway Cycle in Monticello) has helped him tremendously,” Laurie said.
Admittedly, putting together a good bike can be expensive, but Joe also said it can be done on a budget.
Last January, Joe placed second in the Sooner Nationals in Guthrie, OK, and plans to go back to that race, taking place Jan. 27-29.
Although Joe will be going into the Navy in July, he plans on racing hard until then.
“I definitely plan on sticking with it as long as I can,” Joe said.
Joe, who has had his mind made up since seventh grade to join the Navy, signed up with a recruiter last fall, and took his Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
The recruiter, who he gets together with a couple times a month, has said that Joe should be able to continue racing, maybe even with a Navy sponsorship, Laurie said.
Joe plans to go into sonar technology while in the Navy.
“He’s a good kid I’m blessed,” Laurie said. “He keeps his nose clean.”
Although Joe races with IM BMX Racing from Iowa, Broadway Cycles in Monticello is currently forming a bike shop team which he will be riding for next year.
The team is currently looking for teen racers, Laurie said.
For more information about BMX racing or how to get involved, click on the links for ABA, Pineview Park BMX, and Broadway Cycles on the Enterprise Dispatch home page.
There will also be a link to Joe’s championship race at Grand Nationals.