Oxford Living - for publication 2008/08/15

BMX racing coming soon to the Olympics and FNC Park in Oxford

This week, for the first time, BMX races will be held at the Olympics in Beijing. Update Aug 20 Americans advance in BMX. In a few months Oxford will have its very own BMX track at the new FNC Park on Old Sardis Road.

BMX racing

BMX stands for Bicycle Motocross. Races are short (a minute or two) on simple dirt tracks with lots of jumps and turns. The bikes are also simple, 20 inch wheels and no shifting. Modern BMX bikes evolved the single-speed sting rays that many parents remember as their first bikes. Up to 8 competitors race at a time.

What to look for at the Olympics

BMX is making its debut as an olympic sport along with more traditional mountain bike, road and track events. Men's and women's races will be held in Beijing and televised on Wednesday August 20. The events will not be judged on style or tricks (like freestyle skiing or the X-games) but simply as a race -- the first rider across the finish line wins.

What we're planning for Oxford at FNC park

The BMX track as well a series of walking and biking paths were partially funded through a Transportation Enhancement grant awarded to the city in 2007. Our track will be smaller than the one in Beijing and will be designed to be fast and fun to ride for all ages. Age group races for boys and girls from age 5 to adults are planned as well as weekly practice nights. The BMX season typically runs from March to November.

Insert BMX Track Diagram here

A sketch of the track planned for FNC Park begins with a gate to control the start and an elevated ramp to provide a burst of speed to get riders over the first jump. Banked turns will connect 4 runs of about 200 ft in length. Each run has a number of jumps, spaced so that younger riders can roll over each jump while older riders can clear two at a time.

The details of management of the track and races are still being worked out. The bike shops in town are helping with track design and sponsorship. There are two national organizations, NBL and ABA that sponsor regional and national competitions. On many tracks a parent volunteer committee will help with track maintenance, scheduling and running races. For more information or to volunteer contact bmx@fncpark.com.