BMX clubs in Whistler, Pemberton continue to develop 

Both local tracks saw boost from Whistler Blackcomb Foundation

click to flip through (2) PHOTO SUBMITTED - PEMBERTON PROUD Pemberton BMX racers celebrate at the Sea 2 Sky Series final in North Vancouver earlier this month. -
  • Photo submitted
  • PEMBERTON PROUD Pemberton BMX racers celebrate at the Sea 2 Sky Series final in North Vancouver earlier this month.
 

There's a new generation tearing up the track at Pemberton BMX.

President Jessica Turner said while several of the young riders who came out to hone their skills at the track, open since 2012, have moved on, there's been a solid contingent rolling in to take their places.

"We've had a big shift. A lot of the kids that started out when we first started the club, a lot of them moved on to mountain biking, which is amazing," she said. "Now there's new membership and now there's another group of kids coming up and heading in that direction of just being really solid riders."

Turner said the young end of the spectrum is particularly strong, with 30 to 40 half trackers finding their feet any given week. She was also glad to see more girls take up the sport this season.

As well, those who have moved on to downhill biking still hold appreciation for the club, Turner said. Lucas Cruz, who finished third in the junior men's division on the UCI World Cup downhill tour this year, came out to inspire the kids.

"Lucas came to the track at the beginning of the season and it was really, I think, inspiring for the kids that had known Lucas and watched his progression. It was really cool for him to come back," Turner said. "They were super pumped to chat to him and see that potential of where they could go. A lot of the kids, not all of them, but a lot of the kids that do BMX are also in DFX and will do mountain bike races."

When the season ends, it will be a busy offseason. Pemberton BMX received a grant of more than $22,000 from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation for some improvements before the 2020 campaign kicks off.

"That's the way it goes with BMX tracks. You start out and then over time, you just kind of build and make improvements, so we're going to add a bit more drainage, do some resurfacing and shifting some angles to have the track flow even better," she said.

Turner said many of the changes will be small, ironing out a kink in one straight section, and widening another few straight sections to help facilitate passing, especially when the track hosts higher-level competitions with older racers. The drainage and levelling work, meanwhile, will help minimize some of the damage the track receives in wet weather.

"The dirt that we use holds up quite well to rain and moisture, but it's nice to have that little bit extra," she said.

Turner also thanked volunteers for everything from track work, grant-writing and facilitating races.

Meanwhile, Whistler BMX president Jody Hallett will head into 2020 looking to increase ridership by at least 10 to 15 riders a night at the club's weekly races, especially older kids and adults, though there were some signs for optimism over the course of the year.

"We had a good turnout at our provincial races and our Sea to Sky Series race," she said. "We definitely, near the end of the season, have been getting more half-trackers, the two-to-five-year-olds."

Hallett said even though the club hopes to drive participation further, the club is still "absolutely" viable, as riders regularly come from other clubs to race at the track. The biggest hurdle, she explained, is the bounty of options the Sea to Sky presents.

"People just have so much going on that it's one more sport," she said. "There are definitely plans trying to figure out how to get more people to the track in 2020."

This past offseason, the club received help from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation to pave the start and finish gates.

Hallett added that several local riders saw major development this season, travelling to races in addition to competing in Whistler, acknowledging Jesse and Tyler Thuma, Lochlun Warren, Hannah Turkington, and Cove White.

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