At the Grand Valley BMX park on Orchard Mesa, the excitement grew as the temperature soared Saturday.

Riders of all ages, mostly from the Western Slope, converged for the first day of this weekend's BMX state qualifier, which concludes today.

This won't be the last action the park sees this summer. The BMX state championship finals take place in late September. For the Adams family, owners of the track, that means a lot of fun and a lot of work.

"My family's been running the track since 2006, so I pretty much do whatever I have to do on any given day," said Steven Adams. "This weekend, I'm just racing, but I do a lot of the track maintenance like shoveling, raking, making sure that it's as smooth as possible for all the riders. I do registration, I run gates. There's been a couple of times I've had to announce. Just doing what has to be done."

As somebody familiar with BMX racing, Adams knows the path required of all age groups, from 5 and under to 51 and over, to punch their tickets for September.

"Every rider that wants to get a state number plate, and they give out plates 1-10 for different age groups and efficiencies, they have to race four state qualifiers before the championship, so this is one of those races," Adams said. "We've got a lot of riders from Cortez, Durango, Carbondale, Eagle County and a few from the Denver area, too."

Each rider gets points at state qualifier events. The best four finishes from those qualifiers determine which number plate they get for the finals.

Some riders are competing in their first state qualifier of the year this weekend, such as Orchard Mesa Middle School student Robby Grona.

"I've been cycling since I was 8, so I've been doing BMX like 5 years," Grona said.

The 13-year-old already had some momentum going into the weekend — he finished first in a single-point local BMX race Friday.

"I feel good," Grona said. "I'm hoping to get another first after getting a first yesterday."

Braden Mitchell is a 12-year-old student at Grand River Academy whose been fascinated with bicycles and racing for most of his life.

He took up cycling around 5 or 6 years old and BMX racing quickly became a passion.

"Well, I just decided I wanted to go to the track one day to watch a race," Mitchell said. "By the next week, I was racing."

Mitchell prowess in the pedals has earned him trips across the United States, allowing him interact with older, more trained cyclists and see them in action.

"I've gotten to ride with some of the toughest riders and I've gotten to travel all over the US," Mitchell said. "I've been to tons of other states my mom hasn't even been to. California, Tennessee, Vegas, other places."

Another cyclist making his 2019 state qualifier debut was 32-year-old Justin Santucci, who earned a state plate last year.

Santucci's introduction to the sport came as a supporter, but his love for pedaling has turned him into a participant.

"At the time, my nephew was racing, but he doesn't race anymore," Santucci said. "I just come back to hang out with everybody and race."

If he wants to earn another state plate, he's got a busy summer ahead of him catching up on state qualifier races.

"This is my first state race, so... I'm way behind," Santucci said with a laugh.

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