By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
The booming popularity of BMX racing exploded during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing when the Olympic committee officially made it a medal sport.
With the sport offering competitive races for all ages, the state of Minnesota only fields 13 tracks and STMA BMX track operator Patrick Crouse is noticing the overwhelming growth in popularity.
“This is my second year as track operator at STMA BMX and in a matter of two years, the number of new memberships nearly quadrupled,” Crouse said. “In 2011, there were 111 kids and last year we had 278. This year we have 368.”
STMA BMX recently hosted the 2013 state qualifying race on July 12-13, in which 368 riders and 75 Moto’s tried to increase its chances to compete at this year’s state finals on Aug 24-25 at Pineview Park BMX in St. Cloud.
In order to qualify for a state number plate, each rider needs to compete in six local races as well as have top-four finishes in four different state qualifiers in a one-year time frame (Jan. 1-Dec. 15).
Pineview Park BMX in St. Cloud is the location based on having the highest number of track points from the previous year’s membership count. STMA BMX ranked fifth a year ago out of 13 tracks across the state and this season, memberships continued to increase.
“The biggest highlight for me is to see the growth,” Crouse said. “What’s amazing from the past weekend is we got about 1-2 inches of rain overnight on Friday and to see all the people come out and help prepare the track for Saturday was unbelievable.”
The two-day event hosted 306 total races with 225 of them coming on Saturday alone. Crouse said he sees riders from all ages participate.
“One of our biggest mottos at STMA BMX is nobody sits on the bench,” Crouse said. “Every kid gets to race in two races. Unlike sports like football and baseball, the best are not always playing.”
While some cyclists are just learning how to compete, other members at the track are highly established riders. Two current members, 19-year old Jordan Hasti of Dassel and 12-year old Nathan Meyer of Albertville, are both defending Grand National Champions. Both Hasti and Meyer are sponsored by Broadway Cycle in Monticello.
Lakes Area in Brainerd, Dilworth Legends, DL 412 in Detroit Lakes, Faribault, Buffalo Creek in Glencoe, I-94 in Fergus Falls, Rum River in Isanti, Rehbein’s Indoor in Lino Lakes, Mankato Area, River Valley in New Ulm, Green Lake in Spicer and Pineview Park in St. Cloud are the other tracks that join St. Michael Regional in hosting official BMX racing.
Minnesota is also the home of 2012 female BMX Olympian Alise Post of St. Cloud. The 22-year old – otherwise known as “The Beast” – is a professional rider for Redline Adventures and is the only current Minnesotan to qualify for the Olympics when she participated in London at the 2012 summer games.
STMA BMX track has improved each year thanks to generous donations of both time and money from the City of St. Michael, Home Depot and the St. Michael Lions Club, and is the home track to both Redline Adventure and Broadway Cycle – two nationally ranked bike shop race teams.
The track runs every Wednesday and Friday’s with registration both nights from 6-7 p.m. Friday’s are $5 Ribbon race night. Thursday’s the track is open to the public free of charge for open rides.
To race competitively, riders need to be an official USA BMX member. A single membership fee costs as low as $60 annually. For more information, visit STMABMX.com or visit its Facebook page.