Ricky Carter doesn't mind distance learning.
In fact, he has been taking his class act on the road.
The Sierra High sophomore is finding a way to excel in the virtual classroom as well as on BMX tracks across the nation. Last month, he spent two weeks in Florida competing at national events while keeping up with schoolwork.
“I go to school on Mondays and Thursdays, but I always bring my device with me everywhere in case I'm not able to be there (on campus),” Carter said. “I know that I need to stay on top of my schoolwork.”
He's also trying to keep up with some of the nation's best in the 15 Cruiser division. Coming off a 2020 season in which he finished ranked second in 15 Expert and third in 15 Cruiser, Carter has been as high as No. 4 on the 15 Cruiser National Age Group points standings and currently sits in sixth.
His 2020 season ended at the USA BMX Grand Nationals held annually in Tulsa, Okla. There, Carter placed seventh in the 15 Cruiser Race of Champions but did not advance to the Grand Nationals.
“I fell short in the qualifying rounds,” Carter said. “Unfortunately, I made mistakes right from the start.”
The road back to Oklahoma starts at Oak Creek BMX in Roseville, where Carter does much of his training with Orangevale resident Nick Adams.
Carter's 2021 season began with a confidence boost at the Winter Nationals in Phoenix, Ariz. where he rode to a runner-up finish and two fourths.
He spent the final two weekends of January in Florida, racing in the Gator Nationals in Cape Coral and the Citrus Classic Nationals in Sarasota. At Gator Nationals, he won the pre-race and followed that up with fourth- and fifth-place finishes. Then he took fifth and sixth in Sarasota.
There's no slowing down from here.
Carter's calendar includes trips to Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, Oregon, Las Vegas and Nashville from March to May. Over the summer, he plans on competing in other big events in Santa Clara, Colorado, Vegas again, Missouri and Utah.
After that are events in Kentucky and Bakersfield leading up to a return to the Grands. Carter's ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2021 Union Cycliste Internationale BMX World Championships in the Netherlands.
“I want to go to Worlds and ride for my country,” he said. “That would be cool.”
Carter can count on his family to be there with him every step of the way. His parents and two sisters have always been involved in the sport in some way.
It was his father Richard who helped spark the passion when the younger Carter was just 4 years old.
“My dad enjoys BMX a lot,” Carter said. “Spreckels BMX (in Manteca) had just opened up we went to the track with my Lightning McQueen bike from Walmart and that's when it all started.”
Carter called Richard his “traveling buddy,” but last month the whole family joined them on the trip to Phoenix. Older sister Madi used to race, as did twin sister Maci who now focuses on basketball. Mom Michele works for USA BMX and was Carter's lone travel companion for the two-week stay in Florida.
“It's nice to have them by my side,” Carter said. “If I'm having a little bad luck they're there to calm me down. If some of them can't make it they still watch because they live stream these events. They watch live and text me any issues I'm having in my races.”
Carter is thankful for his support system, which includes his teachers at Sierra.
“My teachers are always there to help me out and they give me the utensils I need to study on road trips,” he said. “I'm so happy to be able to do it virtually right now, it has been a big help for me. With all this traveling I can stay on top of my learning. I know that it's more important for me than BMX.”