The Langley BMX track celebrated 40 years of racing over the Labour Day weekend, an anniversary that conveniently coincided with the provincial finals.
There were several hundred people lining the track to cheer on over 300 riders ranging in age from 18 months to 60 and up.
The celebrations started on Friday (Aug. 31) with a 40th anniversary race night that included a vintage bike show and movie.
The provincial pre-race, non-qualifier, event was on Saturday, with the provincial final on Sunday.
The 300-plus-member, all-volunteer Langley BMX describes itself in an online statement as a “grass roots organization dedicated to promoting the sport of BMX in Langley since 1978.”
Bea Lindsay-Hawkins, Langley BMX vice-president, said it is a sport for the whole family.
“I ride with my son,” Lindsay-Hawkins said.
“We have grandparents who ride.”
She said the oldest competitor to tackle the Langley track to date was 78.
During the season, there are races almost every Sunday and practices almost every Monday, Lindsay-Hawkins said.
Mondays, Lindsay-Hawkins said, were the best days for newcomers to try the sport.
All they need to do is sign a one-day-waiver
“We have bikes, we have helmets we have everything you need,” she said.
“We’ll lend it to you.”
Over the years the track at 42 Avenue and 207 Street has attracted riders from around the world during provincial, national and international competitions.
Over 3,000 people to Langley attended the most recent 2017 nationals, coming from as far away as Florida to compete in 250 different races.
This May, Drew Mechielsen, who started with Langley BMX, was Canada’s top rider at the BMX World Cup in Zolder, Belgium.
In 2016, Mechielsen won the Elite Women’s title in the combined Elite/Junior Women’s final at the BMX Canadian Championships in Calgary.
BMX, which is short for “bicycle motocross” or “bike motocross” got started in the 1970s when Southern California cyclists started riding on motorcycle motocross dirt tracks for fun.
According to one online account, it was a 1972 motorcycle racing documentary On Any Sunday, that turned BMX into a national sport, thanks to an opening scene in the movie that shows young cyclists riding their bikes off-road.
The bikes were originally so-called “wheelie” bikes meant to resemble a chopper motorcycle with high, “ape hanger” handlebars.
After the sport took off, manufacturers began creating bicycles designed especially for the sport.
Cycling BC describes a BMX race as sprint cycling over a specially prepared dirt race track.
Races are run 300- to 400-metre-long tracks over a series of jumps and bumps with banked corners known as “berms.”
BMX bikes come in a range of frame sizes from the mini for the very young rider to the adult XL and double XXL. One major variation is a slightly bigger BMX bike fitted with 24”wheels called a cruiser.