RIGHT ON TRACK
Adams has Grand Valley BMX thriving
Nick Adams decided to get his son, Steven, a BMX bike for his 10th birthday.
Then a trip to the BMX track and a day of fun on the pedals, jumps and bumps.
Then they hit a speed bump to the plan, and a detour was required.
“When we went to the track, it was closed,” Adams said.
So, they drove all the way to Montrose so Dad and son could ride on a BMX track.
“The Grand Junction track never opened that year,” Adams said.
Nick Adams raced BMX bikes when he was younger, so he wanted his two sons to have that same opportunity. So, Nick stepped forward and volunteered.
Nick’s wife, Kristi, still remembers that day. She returned home from work and found out they were in the BMX track manager business.
“He said, ‘We took over the Grand Junction (BMX) track,’ ” she said with a smile. “And I said, ‘I didn’t know there was a track in Grand Junction.’ “
That seemed to be the prevailing thought.
That was 2006, and today, there’s no doubting Grand Junction has a BMX track — a great BMX track.
Since 2008, Grand Valley BMX has had the top track in the state when it comes to participation numbers. There are 16 tracks in Colorado, and since Grand Valley BMX is No. 1, it has hosted the state finals every year since 2008. The track also ranks in the top 20 in the nation.
It took time to turn the track into what it is today.
“When we first took over the track it was a lot of work,” Nick said as Kristi nodded in agreement. “It was overgrown with weeds, there were no riders in town, and we really didn’t know what was going to happen.”
But as the season neared an end, more riders were coming out, and solid momentum was building for the next year.
Kristi admits that running a BMX track wasn’t really her thing, at first. But then she got up to speed.
“I wasn’t really into it at first, but we built these friendships, and these people became our family,” she said.
Watch the buzz of activity at any Grand Valley BMX event, and it’s easy to see it’s a family atmosphere. Everyone seems to know everyone.
At every Grand Valley BMX event, the Adams family has a monstrous chore. But everyone is involved. That means sons Steven, 17, and Spencer, 14, help get the track ready and keep the races running smoothly.
Kristi works the trophy shed, helping with registration and results, and Nick does a little of everything, including the announcing.
At least 10 volunteers also help, and everyone helps with the post-race cleanup.
Steven is now in Germany as part of a student-exchange program. Spencer is an active BMX racer at the track.
Kristi said the groundswell of BMX popularity started with a few kids from one neighborhood. Then, families started coming, and competitive rivalries began to hatch.
Soon a swarm of BMX riders were buzzing around the track at every event, and participation has grown every year. Now the track has bleachers and a concession stand for spectators.
For 49-year-old Nick and 40-year-old Kristi, it’s a huge source of pride.
“We were able to take something that was an eyesore at the fairgrounds and make it into one of the premier facilities in the state and one of the top facilities in the country,” Nick said.
In 2006, there were 271 riders at the track, and by the next year that number had grown to more than 2,100 riders.
Nick estimates the track attracts more than 6,000 participants a year. With the friends and family who also come to the track, Nick said it translates into 21,000 people a year coming through the gates.
With eight of the state’s 16 tracks located on the Western Slope, it’s obvious that BMX racing is big in the region.
Nick and Kristi have become the go-to managers when it comes to refining BMX tracks. Track managers in Eagle County and Carbondale both trained with Adamses. Tracks in Olathe, Montrose and Richfield, Utah, also consulted with the Adamses to improve their tracks.
Michael Tabor, who is the Olathe BMX track operator, says the Adamses are the ultimate ambassadors of BMX riding and racing in the region.
“I can’t say enough about them and what they do for BMX,” he said. “They’re amazing, the stuff they do for the kids and the sport.”
Tabor, 45, has been racing BMX since 1998 and says his entire family races. He said Nick and Kristi have helped the small track on a number of occasions.
When asked what sets the Grand Valley BMX operation apart from the others, Tabor said it starts with the Adamses.
“It’s the family atmosphere and how friendly they are,” he said. “They always make sure that no one is left out at the track. They make everyone feel welcome.”
Grand Valley BMX riders go from under age 5 to more than 60 years old. There was even an 80-year-old grandmother who took part in the track’s annual Mother’s Day races, Kristi said.
As a proud mom who watches her sons race, Kristi said it’s all of the kids and their smiles that make it such a special endeavor.
“When they make their way up to the trophy shed to get their awards at the end of the day, that’s when I really see the happiness,” she said. “That’s just the best part, when you can see those smiles and get to experience that with the kids and their families.”
The track is proactive in giving training opportunities for riders. Nick said they have brought in past national and world champions, professional riders and Olympians as part of workshops and training sessions.
The rewards for Nick and Kristi come from the riders and their gratitude, but when it comes to salary, there is none. It’s a total volunteer effort.
Nick has parlayed his work at the track and his love of BMX racing into a full-time gig. He now works for USA BMX.
The track has had three rebuilds since 2006, and there will be another one by 2015, and that’s when the track will be moved. But it’s a good thing, Nick said.
The Mesa County Commission approved a master plan for improvements to the fairgrounds, and the BMX track is part of that plan.
“The track will move to the front of the fairgrounds to be in a more prominent place. It will be great exposure for BMX,” Nick said.
The popularity of BMX experienced a jolt when it was added to the Olympics in 2008. But for the Grand Valley area, the biggest jolt came from the availability of a good track.
Local BMX riders now have a great track right in their backyard.