Sharing BMX with the community

"Did you see that jump?" kids called out to one another, racing their bikes up and down the dirt hills. 

Dozens of child and adult riders, along with family and friends, showed up at the Southwest Wyoming BMX race course on Saturday, enjoying a free ride along the track during the club's open house event. 

"We really just wanted the opportunity to talk to the community and to share more about the program and what we're here to do," Heather Salinas, the Southwest Wyoming BMX Club president, explained. 

The open house was a chance to get new people out to learn about the track, the sport of BMX, how to be involved, and the club's plans for the future, Salinas explained. These plans include the continued use of the club's current track by Stratton Myers Park, as well as plans to develop another track for community use. 

For now, Salinas hopes more people will join the club since they're gearing up for summer events. 

"We've tried to plan something every week throughout the summer, so everybody can come out and enjoy [the track]," she said. 

One such summer event is a skills clinic with Burlin Harris in July. Harris has raced BMX and coached professional riders who have competed in events like the Olympics. This clinic will teach basic skills, from how to ride your bike to how to position yourself at the gate before a race to what to wear for proper safety. 

While the Southwest Wyoming BMX Club has an indoor series of races and events that take place at the Sweetwater Events Complex over the winter, the desire to do even more has helped them continually expand. 

"Our kids, of course, would like the opportunity to ride all year round," Salinas noted. 

The club used to have an outdoor track in Rock Springs, but the land was eventually developed into trailer spaces by the Events Complex. So a few years ago, the club started looking for an area they could use to develop a track. During that time, Salinas, who lives in Green River, thought of any empty piece of land beside Stratton Myers Park that wasn't being used. When she approached the city about it, she learned that the previous organization using the land had dissolved.

"They were looking either for another organization to take it over, or they were just going to level it off," Salinas explained. "So that's how we got our business plan put together."

Working together with the city and signing a lease for the land in 2021, the BMX club, which is a nonprofit organization full of volunteers, set about making their track goals a reality. In 2022, they were approved for a $50,000 grant with the Rec Mill. The club then worked with USA BMX to develop and build a professional racing track. 

Other aspects of the track came together with donations from local entities and businesses, including donations of dirt from Searle Brothers Construction, old turf from Lincoln Middle School, equipment from Wyoming Machinery, picnic tables from Western Midstream, and more help from other sponsors. 

As they've steadily worked on the track over the last few years, it's continued to develop.

"This is probably the best that it's looked," she said. "It's really coming together." 

Salinas also noted that sometimes people question why the track is fenced off and typically locked up. She explained that it's a USA BMX-sanctioned racetrack, and the club has to meet certain requirements in order to qualify as a racetrack and be insured by USA BMX. But ultimately, the biggest reason is to protect the riders. 

"It's for the kids' safety," Salinas said. "We want to keep it safe, we want to keep it maintained."

Star photo by Hannah Romero

Mason Salinas, Denim Lewis, Grayson Miller and Michael Dever (pictured left to right) race each other on the Southwest Wyoming BMX course.

While the official racetrack is usually only available for club use, the BMX club has always dreamt of, and has started plans for, developing another course for the whole community. 

"Our next goal is to design and build an asphalt pump track that will be open to the public at all times," Salinas explained. 

After looking into different companies who could design and build the track, Salinas has been finding good options, but she admitted that "it's costly." 

The estimated cost for the project is around $800,000. The club has been working on getting more grant funding to make it possible. 

The hope is for the pump track to be constructed in 2026. As the project moves forward, Salinas plans to continue working with the city, as well as approaching the community to get feedback about what they want for the track. The company Salinas hopes to work with is able to customize the track, from adding features for different kinds of bikes, scooters and more to adding personalized touches that tailor it to the community. One example Salinas gave was the possibility of having a train car structure for kids to ride through. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure the track provides what people want. 

Photo courtesy of Heather Salinas

This design shows a concept of what the planned community pump track could look like.

The pump track is planned to be located beside the club racetrack, next to Stratton Myers Park. 

When it comes to both the current racetrack and the plans for the future pump track, the goal is always to provide options for the youth of the community. 

"We have a wide range of kids that come out," Salinas explained, noting that kids as small as one can join on strider bikes, and adults can participate as well. 

Salinas shared that her own son "lives outside on his bike," and the club gives him opportunities to not only have fun but to learn biking skills, facing adversity, perseverance, being a good sport, and making friendships. 

"A lot of kids don't fit in your typical basketball, volleyball, different team sports. So a lot of those kids gravitate to something like this," Salinas added. "They continue to get better and better and their confidence grows just in who they are. And I love being able to have the kids be able to get outside and ride their bike and have fun."


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