• Possibilities. Realized.

  • Nic Long, Cuyamaca and Grossmont Colleges, 2007-08

    BMX racer and college alum Nic Long had high hopes of returning to Lakeside from the Olympics with a shiny medal to match the tattoos on his feet of Queen Elizabeth and the five interlocking rings of the Olympics.

    Long, who attended Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in 2007 and 2008, is one of the five Americans who took to the 400-meter BMX track in London’s Olympic Park for three days of racing in the 2012 summer Olympics. Starting out with 48 riders, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals as the result of a collision with another rider.

    For the 22-year-old graduate of El Capitan High School, going to the Olympics is a highlight to a career that began in earnest in 2008, when he joined USA Cycling’s  BMX development program. In 2010, Long claimed his first World Cup title, upsetting the Olympic gold medalist from the 2008 Games in Beijing, where BMX made its debut as an Olympic event.

    Long’s appearance in the London Games nearly didn’t happen. A less-than-stellar finish in mid-June at the USA Cycling Olympic Trials in Chula Vista had dimmed the prospect of Long joining Team USA. Hours after the trials competition had ended, Long received word that his third-place standing throughout the racing season had earned him a discretionary spot on the three-member men’s bicycle motocross team representing the best in the sport in the United States.

    Long said he aspires to continue in the sport as long as he can. He notes that in 2009, the No. 1 rider in the world was 33 years old.

    “Hopefully, by the time I quit competing,  I’ll have enough from my earnings as a rider  to own my own tattoo shop,” Long said, adding that he hopes to eventually return to Grossmont College to pick up some painting and drawing classes to hone his tattooing skills.

    Long said his year at Grossmont and Cuyamaca was rewarding, even though attending classes proved challenging because of his frequent travels to international competition. He missed the first week of classes in 2007 because he was racing in China. Since then, he’s been in a half-dozen international meets,  including the 2011  UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in London, a test event for this year’s Olympics. He took home a bronze medal in that challenge.

    Long, who began racing as a 7-year-old to join in a family pastime at a neighborhood track, praised his instructors from his year attending Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

    “I really learned a lot in the computer classes, including Photoshop, which helped when I was doing some screen printing for T shirts and stuff to help promote my racing,” he said.