Revitalized BMX track a labor of love
Three years ago the BMX bike track at the Mesa County Fairgrounds was an overgrown weed patch that barely drew a handful of racers for competitions.
Today it is a top-notch facility that sees 100 riders per race. It has hosted four state championship qualifiers, two state championship finals and the Mile High Nationals earlier this year for the first time, and every week it draws several families to events.
The track had two race events last weekend and have two more scheduled in December, weather permitting. The 2010 schedule begins in February.
Grand Valley BMX’s transformation came about in August 2006 when Nick Adams, 45, and his wife Kristi, 36, assumed control. They now lease it from Mesa County.
“It was a wreck,” Nick Adams said, recalling the day he and his sons first visited the track hoping to ride in a race. “The track was closed. There was a sign: ‘No race today.’ “
Raised racing bicycles, Adams, who was then the athletic director at Mesa State College, sought out the track’s manager, looking to help him bring the facility up to snuff. Surprisingly, he was handed the keys to the gate.
“He said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. It’s all yours,’ ” Nick Adams said.
That was three years and $17,000 ago. It took that much of an investment to get the track to the level it is at today.
“When we started, we were losing money every single race,” Kristi Adams said. “We don’t have to feed it anymore.”
But to maintain it, and to manage all the races, takes a passion for cycling. Nick Adams has a ton of that.
“It is the excitement they get out of it. It constantly feeds you,” he said of the youth who show up every week. “It is that smile on a young kid’s face. It is rewarding.”
Parents find the track a welcome activity for themselves and their children, who can begin riding as young as age 3 in the little tyke races.
Mark Austin, who has a 6-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son who ride at the track, said two years ago he was reluctant to introduce his children to the sport.
“We kind of kept putting it off because I wasn’t sure I wanted to make all the time commitments involved with it,” he said.
He soon found the sport fit his family’s lifestyle. In addition to being an activity the whole family could enjoy as spectators and riders, the sport has had an unexpected effect on his son.
“He has just grown immensely from being shy and not wanting to get out and do stuff. He has friends all over Colorado and in Utah,” Austin said. “It is just awesome that they have a chance to interact with kids from all over.”
Matt McCurry, who has two BMX riders, ages 11 and 14, is like many parents who bring their children to the track. He volunteers and helps manage races by working the starting gate.
“It is time for you to hang out with your kids and see what they are accomplishing,” McCurry said. “It’s really fun to watch.”
After every race, trophies are awarded, but some riders prefer to receive saver stamps, 20 stamps to a card, that can be used just like cash at local bike shops.
“They bring that to me, and I will give them $15 of merchandise for one card,” said Brad Stewart, owner of Bicycle Outfitters, 431 Colorado Ave.
Stewart will send the cards to the American Bicycle Association, the track’s sanctioning body, and is reimbursed.
Nick Adams is now the director of business development at the American Bicycle Association and full-time manager of Grand Valley BMX.
He has seen the run-down track with the ‘No race today’ sign transformed into one of the best BMX tracks in the nation, going from three paid memberships in 2006 to more than 350 today.
He has exceeded every expectation he had since that first race in 2006.
“I think now it is maintaining the facility we have,” Adams said, “and advancing the sport.”