Chandler's Cyrus Hembree thriving as BMX racer - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

Chandler's Cyrus Hembree thriving as BMX racer

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Posted: Friday, November 29, 2013 1:35 pm | Updated: 1:41 pm, Fri Nov 29, 2013.

“Who is the kid who thinks he is the fastest 6-year-old in the nation?” Scott Hembree asked his son, Cyrus, this week.

“Me,” Cyrus answered without hesitation.

Cyrus will try to prove it this Sunday at the 2013 USA BMX Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Okla.

He took third in the country last year in the 5-year-old division, less than a year after he earned his license as an expert rider. With last year’s winner in his age division not competing this year and the second-place rider aged out, Scott likes his son’s chances this time around.

So does Cyrus, when asked what he is looking forward to most inside the River Spirit Expo in Tulsa.

“Winning,” Cyrus said, repeating his answer to what is his favorite thing about BMX racing.

The Hembree family, which also includes mom Charlayne and a younger brother Daniel, lives between Chandler BMX and the Chandler BMX Park. They drive by one of the two almost every day.

“We used to watch it and I told Papi (Scott) I wanted to race and he finally put me into it,” Cyrus said.

He took to it immediately, said Scott, who along with his wife adopted Cyrus and Daniel earlier this year after serving as foster parents since the boys were less than a year old.

Cyrus was placed into foster care when he suffered two broken collar bones and a broken femur as a 3-month-old. He always has flinched easily, Scott said, but that began to fade away and Cyrus is far less shy since he started riding BMX.

“It’s really opened him up,” Scott said. “He lost his two front teeth when he crashed at Espee Park a couple months ago, so he’s kind of backed off a little, but it didn’t affect him like it would have before.”

Going off the jumps still is Cyrus’ favorite part of racing BMX, which consists of usually eight riders traversing a groomed, serpentine, dirt course made of various jumps and rollers to a finish line.

Cyrus’ favorite professional racer is Donny Robinson, known for his undersized stature at 5-feet, 4 inches. Robinson represented the U.S. in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and through a few YouTube videos taught Cyrus about motivation, good starts and corner speed.

Only a handful of 5-year-olds competed at last year’s nationals, but twice as many are expected this year as 6-year-olds.

“All kids that are 6 are really fast,” said Cyrus, whose classes are expected to double in size each of the next few years until he is a teenager.

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