Aubrey Rayner is one active youth and lately her focus has been on training for the BMX World Championships in South Carolina. Although she lives in Parksville, Aubrey has close ties to Port Alberni, including relatives Ken McRae, Dolly Watts, and Tom Watts, as well as the Huu-ay-aht First Nation community. Her father, Stephen Rayner was born in Port Alberni and now works at the Huu-ay-aht Government Office.
At 12-years old, Aubrey began riding about four years ago. She came home one day after talking to other kids about cycling and told her father she wanted to try it out.
“I went out that night and found a used bike,” said Stephen. “I bought it the next day. She went out to practice on Saturday and raced on Sunday. She placed fourth out of sixteen riders and has gone on to be in the Top 3 from there.”
They both knew she would have to replace that $175 bike for a better one that fit properly. As a natural, Aubrey quickly got serious about the sport. Stephen joined Oceanside BMX as a Director. The organization is one of four tracks on Vancouver Island. That first year, Aubrey learned balance and skills and by her second year, became a sponsored athlete with the Factor/Answer/Rennen/Canada team. She rides on Team BC and gains mentorship from older cyclists, while mentoring younger ones.
“I didn’t realize the amount of support the girls get,” Stephen said. “The girls are always willing to help each other out.”
“They help me with skills because they’ve been doing it for so long,” Aubrey said.
She said she was happy to be noticed by a sponsor and now races on her third frame, which was provided by the company.
“I always hang out with the same people who ride for the team and at one of the Nationals, I was asked to be on it,” Aubrey said.
She currently races two classes of BMX bikes including a 24-inch cruiser and 20” class and holds ten titles.
The sport involves jumping over obstacles and manualling, or balancing on the back tire. There is danger involved but so far Aubrey has been lucky to have sustained only minor injuries. One rider she looks up to was not so lucky. Last year, an Australian was racing in California and while practicing, flipped and broke his neck. He will probably never ride again.
“He rode that track thousands of times,” Stephen said. “That is the danger of the sport but luckily Aubrey hasn’t had any major injuries. She’s like a hurt deer. If she falls, she just gets up and the whole focus is on the finish line.”
Last year, she qualified for this year’s World’s, and although her sponsorship covers much of the expenses for equipment, the travel costs are not included for the younger riders. Last month, a well-attended fundraiser at Boston Pizza helped by raising an additional $1,900. The Huu-ay-aht First Nations also contribute to off-set costs each year too.
“It’s really nice to have the community help us out like that,” Stephen said.
After this year, Aubrey plans on racing another World’s qualifier for the 2018 competition held in Azerbaijan, Iran. She also intends to transition to cross country, downhill, and road cycling, while still keeping up with other hobbies like rock climbing, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics.