An Olympic party, BMX style

BMX riders gather for fun night of racing

Aaron “Smoke Em” Blee catches some air on the last hill as he leads the racers in the 10-year-old expert race over the finish line to take first place during Olympic Day racing at the Grand Valley BMX track at the Mesa County Fairgrounds Tuesday.

Novice BMX riders and first-timers jockeyed for position with expert riders. A lot of riders fell, and a few bikes collided.

It’s all part of dealing with nearly double the normal attendance at the Grand Valley BMX track near the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

For the second year in a row, Grand Valley BMX broke out the loaner bikes and helmets for a free entry day on Tuesday that coincided with an “Olympic Day” event.

BMX became an Olympic sport during the 2008 Olympics, and since then, USA BMX has been encouraging tracks around the country to host Olympic Day events around June 23 in honor of the globalization of the Olympics in 1948.

USA BMX hosts roughly 700 such events across the country.

Even though a scheduled appearance by Olympic skier Sarah Schleper was canceled after her plane was delayed in Oregon, the free day drew more than 100 riders of all skill levels.

Track operator Nick Adams said Olympic Day is one of the biggest draws for new riders to BMX in Grand Junction. He also said it brings back riders who have ridden before and have drifted away from the sport.

Colby Anwoy, 14, said his neighbor told him about the free day. He had never ridden dirt track BMX, but he had ridden on dirt trails and said the opportunity to compete for free may lead to him becoming a member.

“It looked fun, and I really wanted to stick around and see if I want to do this for a season,” Anwoy said. “I’m really interested. If you’re stressed or anything, you can go out and ride and feel free. Take your mind off of stuff.”

It also allows regular riders to compete in a less stressful atmosphere than regular race sessions.

Oliver Godfrey, a 14-year-old from Grand Junction, has been racing with Grand Valley BMX for eight years and said he enjoys being part of a larger BMX movement.

“I heard about (Olympic Day) for the very first time last year,” Godfrey said. “I was glad to get a free race, and it’s cool that BMX finally made it into the Olympics. It’s cool to be able to represent that on a smaller stage.”

Grand Valley BMX will host a Warnicke Scholarship race Friday, one of many held across the country, to raise scholarship funds for riders attending colleges and trade schools.

Last year, USA BMX raised $36,000 dollars from scholarship races. The entry fee is $10. Race registration begins at 5 p.m., and racing begins at 7 p.m.


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