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Richmond BMX bikers relish sport’s Olympic stage

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 11:03 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Tucked into Gillies Creek Park in Richmond is a BMX track that has plenty of tire tracks on it. It’s the home of Richmond BMX, which welcomes new riders with open arms.

Richmond BMXers like Gary Craig enjoy the community feel of the sport in Richmond.

“Richmond is a great cycling community,” says Craig, the track operator for Richmond BMX. “Us being open to the public and being accessible all year-round to all sorts of bikes, all sorts of riders, is a great way for people to get introduced to the sport.”

The organization saw a spike in participation as the calendar hit 2021 and now the sport will get even more visibility as part of the Tokyo Olympics. It marks the third summer games for the event, after making its debut during the London festivities in 2012. Being on that world stage is big for the sport, but there has been plenty of participation in the area regardless.

“The visibility certainly does help with the Olympics, but the sport kind of feeds itself. How can you not like going around a BMX track?” Craig noted.

The boost the Olympics provides may be limited, but the bikers that visit Richmond BMX’s facility enjoy seeing their sport featured as part of the games. While many have never competed at that level, they know the feeling of being on the track competing in hopes of reaching the line first.

“Watching it, I’ll still get butterflies,” Craig said. It’s almost as if I’m one of the riders in the gate. I feel that intensity. I don’t know what it’s like to go down that eight meter hill at 40 miles an hour, but I know what it’s like to be in the gate with seven other competitors for all the marbles and what that emotion feels like.”

Some may watch the Olympics and want to give BMX a try and the staff on site at Richmond BMX has the people who can answer your questions and get you started. Stop by the Gillies Creek Park track at any given time and you’ll like see riders of all ages tackling the hills and jumps.

“We go from the alpha to the omega for sure,” observed Craig. “We’ll see two and three year olds on the pedal bikes all the way around the track and our assistant track operator, he’s 73 years young and he’s still out there getting it almost every Saturday.”

For more information on Richmond BMX, visit here.

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