Frequently Asked Questions:
What is BMX Racing?
BMX stands for Bicycle Motorcross, which began on vacant dirt lots in the 1970’s and evolved through the years to the World class activity is it now; recently BMX has become an official Olympic sport! Races take place on proper UCI compliant tracks and are short single lap races over bumps, jumps and around corners from the start gate to the finish line. A full gate for a race consists of 8 riders.
Can anyone ride the Okotoks BMX track?
Our track is generally open to the public to use at their own risk. We do close the track gates if we need to keep riders off due to potential damage that may be caused to the track, such as when the track is too wet to ride due to rain. The track is also not open to the public during our Club races and events. If our Club is using the track, the gates are closed, or the track is wet, please stay off.
What age do you have to be to join the Club?
Anyone who can ride a two-wheel pedal bike can join our club and race on our track however if the rider is under 4 years old they will not be able to get an Alberta Bicycle Association License, they will only be able to acquire a membership and those can be attained down at our track. Riders need to be 5 by the end of the current calendar year to race Provincially.
When does the season start and how do I register a rider for the season?
We typically start our season at the start of May and run through until the mid-end of September…this all depends on what kind of weather we are having. We do have pre-season registration opportunities, please see our calendar for scheduled events. At registration you will need to complete a Registration Form and a Volunteer Form. They can be printed off, filled in and and brought to a registration event or you can fill out ones we supply there.
How much does it cost to become a member of the Club?
Membership for the 2019 year is $100 and each rider will also have to get an Alberta Bicycle Association membership which cost between $85-$100 in order to ride/race on our track. The price for the bikes and the gear varies depending on brands etc, however if a bike is found second hand, all of the gear to ride may be purchased for an estimated cost of $350-$450 dollars.
We are interested in BMX but would like to try it out first, is this possible?
Yes! Every year we participate in Alberta BMX Day which typically takes place at the end of May, beginning of June. On this day, anyone can come down to our track and try it out for free. We have all the gear for you to use! If you’ve missed this event, just send us a note and we will likely be able to set you up to come down and try it while we are down at the track.
What kind of bike is used in BMX racing?
Race bikes are designed to be lighter, faster and stiffer than other BMX bikes for maximum speed and handling on the track. Race bikes are typically made of aluminum and carbon fiber to help reduce weight and increase speed. They tend to be lighter than freestyle bikes and will not hold up well if used for stunt or trick riding. The most popular wheel size is 20″. There is also 24″ bikes which are known as “Cruisers” and are usually chosen by racers wanting a second race category or by adult riders due to the larger frame size. Choosing the right size bike is critical to getting the most out of a rider’s experience on the track. Reputable BMX race bike shops and experienced local riders are a great resource to help you get the correct bike.
Typical Kid’s BMX Racing Bike
Are “Strider” bikes allowed?
Balance bikes cannot be used by Club members in regular races however we often have fun “Strider Races” for younger siblings who may be coming down to watch on race night. They typically race a short section of the track. We will give families advance notice when we will be holding a Strider Event on race nights.
What gear is needed to race BMX?
All riders need to have:
- Full faced “DOT” helmet with a nice snug fit
- Gloves (full fingered)
- Long sleeved shirt
- Long pants (tear resistant, durable fabric, no denim)
- Fully closed shoes (no sandals)
I’ve just registered my child for the season, does that mean we need to race every week?
How much your rider comes down to the track to race or to train is completely up to them. We have some riders who just come to practice nights but they have no interest in racing, that’s ok! We also have some that just come to race nights but not for practice, that’s ok too! BMX racing is an individual sport so if a rider does not come, it does not affect other riders at all, although coming to practice and racing does help riders improve on their skills and points are accumulated with racing to help determine a racer’s overall standing at the end of the year in their age category. Every club rider who races at least 5 races on our track will be a club trophy at the end of the year.
When is race night and what time is it at?
Race nights for the 2019 season are Thursdays at 6:15pm.
How do I register my child to race on Thursdays?
If your rider wants to race on our race nights, they will have to be registered. This can be done on practice nights in person (Mondays & Tuesdays) or via our website before 5pm on our district race nights which are Thursdays. Registration can also be done in person down at our Moto Shed registration window on race nights prior to 6pm.
My kid races…can I race too?
Yes! As long as you register with the Club and get an Alberta Bicycle Association Licence. We have many parents who join their kids on race nights and compete against others in their age and riding category/class. We have a very strong representation of both women and men riders in our Club who race and have a ton of fun on the track each week!
What will practice nights look like?
Your rider will come to Monday night coaching if they are Advanced and Tuesday night if they are Novice or Intermediate. Please respect the practice times and encourage your rider to stay off the track if it is not their time to be there. Practice nights usually start with open track where riders can make their way up the start hill and around the track to warm up. Formal practice starts at 6:30 each night and will be lead by a head coach and assistants. Depending on the number of riders in attendance each night, large groups may be split up into smaller working groups. The coach will determine which skill will be worked on each week. Usually the skill is demonstrated for the riders and then the riders get the chance to practice that skill while getting feedback on their performance. Typical skills practiced could be: balancing in the gate, starting in the gate, pumping skills, pumping skills specific to the rhythm section, building confidence down the start hill, learning strategies in the corners for races just to name a few.
I was told that I cannot go on to the track to help my child if they fall during practice or during a race, is this true?
Yes. It can be hard for parents when their child falls while on the track to not run out to help them but it is unsafe to do so. We will always have first-aid attendants down at the track for races and they will be the ones to attend to any fallen riders first. If your child does fall, please try to remain calm. More than likely your child will bounce right back up on their own quickly, or they will after a short while. The first-aid attendant will assess them if the crash was more serious. If you are needed on the track track officials will let you know and you will be able to go to your child when the track has been deemed safe. The worst thing to do is to run out onto the track as you are likely be be injured by others on their bikes. A good rule of thumb is to know that the track is off limits to spectators at all times, unless asked to go on the track.
Do you always need to ride the track in the same direction? Can you ride it backwards?
Please only ride the track the way it was intended to be ridden, in the direction of the start hill down towards the finish line. BMX riders can go very fast and a collision between riders could be disastrous. BMX riders are not expecting to see a rider coming towards them on the track. If your child begins to ride the track backwards during open track or in practice, please ask them to stop as quickly as you can to avoid injuries to them and/or to other riders.
Why is my child not being shown to jump the obstacles on the track?
BMX racing is different than freestyle or park BMX. Riders who progress in BMX racing can eventually learn to jump and manual (riding with the front tire lifted off the ground), but these skills are not taught to new riders. The focus for new riders will be to learn how to stay standing while racing, how to keep their pedals parallel, how to balance in the start gate, how to navigate the start hill with confidence (it’s high!), how to “pump” the track and how to ride the corners. Riders may not learn to jump or manual for years as they need to learn to do the basics first.
I’ve heard other members talk about going to “Provincials”, what are these and can any rider go?
Alberta has a race series that runs from June to September called Provincials and it consists of 8 races through the summer and one Final “Grands” event and one Championship race in September. Different cities and towns host the events each year over a weekend. Over the summer there will be 4 scheduled events that host 2 races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. You do not need to qualify for anything to attend, you just need to sign up, have a current ABA racing license and you can go. You also do not have to sign up for the full weekend of any of the events, you can just go for the one day if you like. The races are run the same as our regular race nights down at our track; riders race others their same age, class and gender. If riders want to compete in the Grands, which is the final event of the series in September, they will have to have ridden in 4 races at any location over the summer to qualify. It does not matter what they placed, they just have to have raced 4 to qualify for the final “Grands” race. Have a look at our calendar for the dates and locations of upcoming Provincials and/or click here for more information. Any rider can register to race in the Championship race in September as well. These races are run differently though and the categories run by age alone. For example, all 7 year olds compete in the same race regardless if they are Novice, Intermediate or Expert. Attending Provincials is a great experience! If you are considering attending, feel free to ask other Club members questions about it, we would be happy to help explain things, we understand that there is a lot to learn!
Who runs the Okotoks BMX Club?
Our Club is run solely by volunteers. All registered members and their families have an obligation to volunteer as well, which helps to truly make this a family activity. A board of directors, generally made up of parents or riders, is elected by Club members annually to oversee operations and finances of the facility. Board meetings are held to manage the Club and are open to attendance to all members. If you are a current member of our Club and you would like to see the most recent meeting minutes from an Okotoks BMX Board meeting please contact us to send us your request.
Do I have to volunteer?
Our whole Club is run on volunteer hours. Running and maintaining the Club needs as many hands on deck as possible. We will have “work bees” throughout the season. You will be asked to sign up for at least one. The work bees are usually on a day where bigger tasks need to be completed and the more people that can come to help, the easier it will be to complete the tasks. We also always require volunteers at our practice nights and race nights. Each family will be asked to fulfill a minimum of 5 volunteer shifts (more if there is more than one rider in the family). You will have all season to complete these shifts and sign up sheets will be circulated weekly via email and through our Facebook page. The sign up software we use will also track how many you have completed but please keep track yourselves as well. If you do not fulfill your volunteer requirements, your post-dated cheque of $200-$400 (depending on how many riders you have in your family) will be cashed at the end of the season. If you are unable to volunteer during the coaching and racing nights, please let us know as we would likely be able to find you other tasks to do for you to make up your hours. If you do not want to volunteer and know this at the beginning of our season please let us know and you will need to pay the non-volunteering fee of $200-$400 up front.
How does Okotoks BMX get its funding?
Okotoks BMX is a volunteer run organization receiving no municipal, provincial or federal financial funding. The land we use is owned by The Town of Okotoks and is leased to our Club for its activities. In exchange the general public can use the space during dry track conditions May-October while not occupied by our Club or being used for an organized event (see calendar). All of our funding comes from registrations, corporate and personal donations/sponsorships and funding drives such as casinos, 50/50 draws and so forth. If you would like to get involved as a sponsor or have the ability to donate please contact us.