As some of you may know I started the season off by doing some BMX riding. Many cyclo-cross racers come from a BMX background and I thought it would be fun to get out on a “little” bike – improving my technical skills and trying out a new sport. I got this and more… What I didn’t anticipate was the amazing Ottawa BMX community. I was welcomed openly and was soon meeting up with the team from TopShelf YESS and benefiting from coaching, advice and friendship from some great guys. I only managed to get out for the early part of the season but the people I met and the enthusiasm these folks have for BMX and for getting people out on bikes is contagious – yes very similar to the cyclo-cross community.
Ottawa has one BMX track located behind the Earl Armstrong Arena just by Blair Road and the 417. Choose an evening or afternoon and you’ll find kids (of all ages) out riding the BMX track on their BMX bikes and mountain bikes. Well, the good news for those of us living in the west end is that we will soon have a local BMX track on which to rip out some fast laps and learn how to “fly” through the air. Work has started on the Nepean BMX track and the plan is for it to be ready for riding in the spring of 2013. I caught up with Elio Marcantonio to find out more about the new BMX track.
Can you tell me where the idea for the Nepean BMX track came from?
I live in Barrhaven and have been racing BMX at the Ottawa track for the past 3 years. It is very well known that Barrhaven is a family friendly community, with LOTS of kids. In 2011, I thought of the idea of bringing BMX to this community.
Nepean BMX Association became an incorporated non-profit organization in June 2012 and the process of building the club began.
What goes into getting a track built and ready to ride?
First is to find the land. In our case, we received tremendous support from Jan Harder, our Councillor on helping us identify the Clarke Field location.
Second is sourcing funding to secure all the materials needed to construct a track. Dirt is the most important item which Minto has donated. But we also need funding to purchase a start gate, electricity source, asphalt, rental equipment, etc.
Another important factor is volunteers. The construction and maintenance of the track is done by members and volunteers.
What kind of support/involvement do you have from the city?
The city has been very supportive with this initiative. Our Councillor, Jan Harder understands that this will be a big benefit to our Community, both residents and the local businesses.
Have you been able to get some sponsorship/donations from area businesses? Are you looking for any further donations/support?
We received some amazing support from local businesses who provided prizes for our raffle event held in July.
We are proud to announce that Swiss Chalet and Baizana Insurance Brokers in Barrhaven are our two main main sponsors. Their donation will help us to purchase some much needed equipment. If any other businesses are interested in becoming sponsors, there are many opportunities available and we are open to discussing ideas. This will be one of the most exciting sporting activities in the community and it will draw a lot of attention.
When will the track be ready to ride?
Once funding is secured, we will be begin construction. We are hoping to be ready for racing in the Spring of 2013.
How will it work – can anyone just come and ride the track? What about racing? Or lessons for new riders?
We are sanctioned by BMX Canada and any member of Nepean BMX will have access to all race and practice events. Anyone interested in trying out the sport, can do so by registering for a “Free Trial” at any scheduled race or practice night. For those interested in joining the Nepean BMX Association, there will be a few different membership options.
The Association is hoping to run clinics during the season so that new riders can learn tips for good racing.
Why do we need another BMX track in the city?
Another BMX track will make the sport more accessible to the fastest growing community in Ottawa. Barrhaven has a huge population of kids and families.
Making the sport more accessible to more people, will in turn bring tremendous exposure and growth for the sport.
What is your ultimate goal for this new track – what do you think it could do for the area and for riders?
The ultimate goal is to bring families closer together in an environment which engages kids and parents in physical activity. BMX racing is a true family sporting activity for all ages and gender. There is no other sport where all family members can participate in a sporting activity simultaneously at the same event.
Can you tell me how and why you got involved with BMX?
I introduced the sport to my son when he was 5 years old. He loved to ride his bike fast and go off jumps. I did some research and found Ottawa BMX. The following year, my two girls and myself started BMX racing and now it is a great family activity.
What is it about BMX that you enjoy so much?
I love the fact that I can bring all my kids to one location and participate with them in a competitive activity we all love. “No one sits sits on the bench” in BMX racing.
I love seeing my kids racing against their competitors and then hanging out with them on the sidelines. They now have friends from all across the province of Ontario.
Can you tell me a bit about BMX – types of bikes, required equipment, who it is for, etc.
Almost any bicycle can be outfitted to suit BMX. A racing BMX bike is not mandatory. In my son’s first year of racing, he rode a $10 bike I bought at a garage sale.
The most important thing is safety. It is mandatory to wear a helmet, long pants and long sleeve shirt. If the child is interested in pursuing the sport, it is recommended to purchase a full face helmet.
Volunteers will be required during the construction phase to help with some minor construction components like raking.
For anyone interested in racing at our club, please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page where we will be announcing our Open House. This is when we will be accepting member applications and information session on BMX racing.
Our contact information is nepeanBMX@gmail.com.