LAKEWOOD RANCH — For two hours every Tuesday and Thursday night, Bianca Dean stares fear smack dab in the face.
But rather than letting her fear get the best of her, the 5-foot-2 Lakewood Ranch freshman does what only a BMX bike state champion would do — she pushes herself further, proving to herself and those around her that she is still the one to beat.
“Everybody wants to be No. 1, and that’s what spot I’m in right now,” said Dean, who tops the scale at a mere 86.5 pounds. “I’m the target. It feels very good to be the best.
“They think I’m too small to do it,” she added. “They don’t think I’m as fast as I am.”
But Dean hasn’t always been No. 1. And there was a time not that long ago that Dean, also a member of Lakewood’s girls golf team, wasn’t sure if she would be able to race again.
Dean doesn’t remember the accident that took her away from the sport she loves. She only remembers waking up with a broken finger, stitches in her chin, a punctured ear canal and her jaw wired shut.
It was November 2008 and Dean, who had been racing for the past two years, was competing in her first regional race of the season in Miami. Halfway through the race, the chain on Dean’s bike snapped, sending her off her bike and into several other riders. It was the first major accident of her young racing career.
An unconscious Dean was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery to fix her jaw and finger.
“I don’t remember falling, but I remember waking up,” Dean said.
After spending two months recovering, Dean returned to the track — much to her mother Angela’s initial dismay. And although Dean thrives on competition, even she didn’t expect to be competitive early on.
“I wanted to, but I didn’t know if I would be able to,” Dean said. “It felt very good to be back to riding again and back to the atmosphere of it.”
But by the time the season ended in May 2009, Dean had done more than just stay competitive — she had taken the Florida BMX bike circuit by storm, winning the 2009 state championship and earning the No. 1 ranking in the state for her age group.
“I was very happy and proud of myself for overcoming such a big accident and gaining my confidence again,” Dean said. “It’s still a fear, but I like the competition and the fun of being around people at the track.”
Dean began racing three years ago after going to a bike store with her father, KC. KC Dean, who used to also race competitively, planned to get a bike for himself but instead he bought one for his daughter.
“I wanted a bike,” Bianca Dean said. “I went to the track, and after that, I was sure I wanted to race. It’s been a love ever since.”
Today, Bianca Dean practices twice a week at Sarasota BMX and competes every weekend. Bianca Dean travels around the state and the Southeast region, competing on both the state and national circuits.
Earlier this year, Bianca Dean captured her second-consecutive BMX state championship. And next year, she plans to compete in the national championships. Eventually, Bianca Dean hopes to be No. 1 in both the nation and the world with her sights set on one day competing in the Olympics.
And when she’s not busy racing, Bianca Dean spends her time practicing her golf swing. She picked up the sport six months ago after going out on the course one day with her dad and her uncle, Mark.
Bianca Dean joined Lakewood’s golf team and since then she has become the Lady Mustangs’ No. 4 golfer. And although it only has been six months, she already has fallen in love with the sport.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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