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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Good Life - River City BMX

The Good Life

River City BMX

BMX Racing For All Reasons, In All Seasons

Story by Cheri Hammons

When Andrew White and his three kids were out riding their bikes in Grants Pass one day, they cruised by the River City BMX track, a little known secret that for some holds the key to a healthy, confident life.

“The track director invited us in and we’ve been there ever since,” says White. “We just got addicted to it.”

The local indoor and outdoor tracks have seen families bond, kids grow and friendships form. “The main thing we offer is a place for people that want to be involved with racing,” explains Mike Stout, track operator.

“It doesn’t matter your age, it doesn’t matter your skill level, your gender, your color. It’s a place for everybody,” he says. “It’s one of the very few sports where you’ll see parents out racing with their kids at the same time. Every age can be involved with it.”

And who doesn’t love something the whole family can enjoy together?

“People joke around that it’s a BMX family, and it truly is. Everybody jumps in to help everybody else out,” says Stout.

The Rhodes family has been driving to Grants Pass from Crescent City to race at the track at least three times a week for the last three years. Jay Rhodes raced as a kid and when his son found a box of his old trophies, the passion ignited in him once again, and sparked in his son.

“He was hooked after just watching a couple races,” says Rhodes. “So now my son races, and I started racing again and now my wife races too.”

For Andrew White, going to the track with his three kids is about more than just riding. The four of them ride and volunteer there regularly, helping out at work parties, cleaning up and maintaining both the outdoor and indoor tracks. “I’m a single parent, we don’t have a lot but we try and give what we can back to the track to keep everything going,” he says.

To White, the track has been a valuable teaching tool when it comes to raising his kids.

“My kids were really shy,” he says. “It’s taught them to socialize, it’s helped them out at school, with their grades. The track has impacted our lives in many ways…more than I can explain.”

The benefits of racing are numerous and can have a positive effect in many areas. Other than the obvious physical benefits it can help with social and cognitive skills. It can help build confidence and allow riders to challenge themselves, learning and pushing their own limits.

“When you’re out there on the track you have to pay attention to what’s going on, you have to be athletic, you have to work your way around different paths…it’s more than just riding a bike…it’s communicating with people and learning to help out the community at the same time,” explains White.

The indoor track, currently the only one operating in Oregon, is open for races during the winter months. Races are held four times a week and are divided by age and skill level. “Our youngest rider just turned two. Our oldest rider is 58,” says Stout.

Both the indoor and outdoor River City tracks see pros stop over year-round to ride as they’re traveling through on tour, as well as up-and-coming amateur talent that’s yet to be discovered; not to mention beginners with bruised knees, who keep getting back up and trying again, their confidence growing stronger with every spill.

The BMX tracks are beyond valuable to the community and those who frequent there, but regardless, the future of the outdoor track is in jeopardy.

“After 24 years they’re going to put a road through the middle of it,” explains Stout. “We have to pull the track back and turn it 90 degrees. We’re not going very far, but all the costs are still there as if we were moving 20 miles away.” 

Construction on the new road is set to begin early next summer, leaving River City BMX a short deadline to raise the funds needed to move it.

“The county did provide us a place to move to and our city and county are both helping out tremendously,” explains Stout. “But we still have a lot that’s going to come out of our pocket. We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and we run off of donations,” he says.

Donations of any kind can be made directly to the track. “People can help with money, equipment, building labor and materials,” for example, says Stout.

More information can be found on Facebook at River City BMX or by contacting Mike Stout directly at 541-295-1287.

River City BMX Indoor Track
1451 Fairgrounds Rd, Grants Pass

River City BMX Outdoor Track
1380 Pansy Lane, Grants Pass

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