There are more than 300 BMX tracks in Canada, and one is in Cranbrook’s own backyard.
Cranbrook BMX is still fairly new, but Laura Niehaus says the goal with the track is to become a racing club and more.
Step one to becoming this club is done, with the track built.
Niehaus has seen a surge of interest in BMX from residents and hopes to see it continue now that the track is finished.
“We have had a lot of people show up to help work on the track and to ride it, and from actual families, who don’t want to race, there has been a lot of positive feedback for the track in general,” she said.
Most recently there was the addition of a gate for when they do formal races at the track. Now there are only a few improvements that need to be made.
“This spring we were given permission to put in the gate and the concrete,” said Niehaus. “We have a control arm that drops the gate, we don’t leave it here on a regular basis because we don’t want it to get damaged, but we bring it when we run races and when we run practices.”
The track in Cranbrook was built by one of the only Canadian national track builders and designed by the world’s BMX track builder.
The track is 100 per cent volunteer run. Niehaus says they try to get together weekly to pick rocks and weeds to keep the track in optimal condition.
“We maintain it and fund it. Everything has been volunteer and donation,” she added.
Without the sponsors and donations, Niehaus said the track wouldn’t have been possible.
In small-sized towns like Salmo and Grand Forks they typically have 75 riders per week, in bigger places, there can be 300 to 400 riders a week.
“We will see how receptive Cranbrook is to it. But, I think it’s a great thing. It’s really just for fun, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Niehaus.
An aspect Niehaus says she likes about BMX racing is available for everyone.
“The one positive thing about BMX is you can go to any BMC track in Canada or the U.S., show up and race, and you can be two or 72 and race,” she said.
With biking being popular in the Kootenay region, Niehaus thinks the track can only enhance it.
“Because it’s something anyone can do you don’t have to have a particular type of bike to start doing it. Just show up and have a helmet and be ready to ride,” she said.
Eleven-year-old Luke Niehaus recently went to the BMX Canadian Grands and came out second overall for his age division.
Luke has been riding since he was seven years old and says he likes being able to ride his bike on the track.
“I have always just had fun riding my bike,” he said. “[Going to the Grands] was really fun because I got to see all my old friends from Kelowna and everybody I know from BMX.”
The Niehaus’ started to race several years ago in Kelowna and says its more than just racing there are opportunities to go beyond the community with it.
“BMX is now an Olympic sport,” she said. “It gives kids an opportunity to work towards something. They can become pro, his coach from Kelowna was attending the worlds, kids from Alberta and B.C. both went to the world’s last year. That’s our goal for next year.”
On Oct. 21 Cranbrook BMX held a formal race, but starting next spring the program will be going full time with practices, races, and clinics. For more information contact Cranbrook BMX on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niehaus says the club has been in the process of helping Fernie build a BMX track, and donated an extra gate to them. The other close tracks would be Lethbridge, Calgary, and Salmo.