Freedom to ride

Olympic Day allows riders to try BMX tracks for free

Six-Time American Bicycle Association Vet Pro champion Jason Carnes, right, puts riders through a sprint warm-up at Grand Valley BMX. Carnes will be one of the riders on the Grand Valley BMX track on Saturday during Olympic Day, a free day for riders to try out the track.

It’s free.

If that’s not a good enough reason to consider hitting the BMX tracks in Grand Junction or Montrose, maybe this is: It’s also Olympic Day.

“(BMX) is a phenomenal sport,” said Doug Keithley, operator and owner of Montrose BMX. “It’s competitive, but everybody has fun. I’ve had 18-month-olds to 70-year-olds. I’ve got a 72-year-old pro who’s just a monster. He’s beaten guys age 30.”

Point is: If you can ride a bike, why not?

The free BMX riding is on Saturday at Grand Valley BMX and Saturday, June 30, at Montrose BMX.

You just need long pants, long-sleeve shirts, helmets and a bicycle. If you wear shorts and a short-sleeve tee-shirt to Montrose BMX, it’s mandatory to wear shin guards, knee pads and elbow guards. Montrose BMX is located in the Montrose County Fairgrounds at 1001 N. Second St. Registration is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the race at 1:30 p.m.

At Grand Valley BMX, 2785 U.S. Highway 50, there will be a registration period from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Nick Adams, the track operator, hopes about 100 riders will show up for the race at 2 p.m.

Among the riders will be Jason Carnes, a six-time American Bicycle Association Vet Pro champion and past world champion. Carnes, of Austin, Texas, came to Grand Junction to conduct a clinic Thursday night and is staying in town several days.

Even toddlers have graced the Grand Valley course. A 2-year-old once completed the course, Adams said.

“The track is fun to ride and has a lot of bumps and a few bank turns and a nice starting hill,” Adams said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to come test it out.”

The event is in partnership with the United States Olympic Committee and USA Cycling.

Normal fees at Grand Valley BMX are $6 for a weeknight race and $10 for weekend races, with annual membership fees of $45.

“By coming Saturday you don’t have to deal with any of that,” Adams said. “Just come see if you like it.”

The BMX Olympic Trials took place June 15–16 and are scheduled to be televised Saturday on NBC Sports from 4-5:30 p.m.

According to a USA BMX news release, there are nearly 300 BMX tracks around the country participating.

Olympic Day is a worldwide commemoration of Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s June 23, 1894, convening of the first International Olympic Committee meeting at the Sorbonne in Paris. It also commemorates the founding of the modern Olympic Games, the release said.

Bottom line is: There will be free BMX racing on real tracks.

“I’m an ex-mountain biker, and I love it,” Keithley said. “It’s a good family sport. And it’s a great way to get kids off video games.”

■ Grand Valley BMX will host a beginner’s clinic, BMX 101, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. today. It is being put on by the Grand Junction Parks and Rec Department. Cost is $10 per person.


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