At McCollum Park, volunteers are preparing for the next BMX season

EVERETT – An unusually rainy spring has forced a lot of work on the BMX track at McCollum Pioneer Park to prepare it for the racing season, which begins on Sunday, weather permitting.

Around 1996, Bigfoot BMX, which took over activities in 2021 through the process of requesting proposals from Snohomish County Parks, is now in charge of the track.

A non-profit group of volunteers dug up weeds for several weeks and made sure the dirt track was in shape for competitions from June to October.

“She was underwater two weeks ago,” said track operator and Bigfoot BMX president Marlene Berkheiser. “It’s not a big track, but for some people it’s nostalgic.”

Marlena Berkheiser, track operator and president of Bigfoot BMX, demonstrates the handmade sign that the band uses during racing competitions. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

She is the matriarch of the BMX family of riders, but she hasn’t always sought to stomp the pedals. Not so long ago, Berkheiser was a “nervous mom and a terrible spectator” who worried for the safety of her children. Then she tried and realized how skillfully her three children and husband hold on, when sometimes with other riders guided on the track.

“Once I started driving, I had a lot more confidence in their abilities,” Berkheiser said.

Now family vacations are tied to BMX races and tracks. They flew their bikes and gear to Las Vegas and Phoenix and made road trips planned around activities and courses.

The track at McCollum Park near Everett, called Bigfoot BMX, is the only one in Snachomish County authorized US BMX. There is everything 11 у statewith subsequent upcoming courses in Mount Vernon and SiTac.

Mikey Gonzalez is working on improving the welding of the starting gate on Wednesday at the start of the track at the Bigfoot BMX track near Everett.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mikey Gonzalez is working on improving the welding of the starting gate on Wednesday at the start of the track at the Bigfoot BMX track near Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Bigfoot BMX participants, their families and fans helped prepare the Everett track during a major working party on May 23rd. Such efforts to raise the barn are in line with the foundations of family, active fun and community support in the U.S., said new track development director Justin Travis.

“They remove all the weeds, rake it, prepare the surface for dirt,” Travis said.

Since it was already built, the Everett track did not require the same initial costs as other tracks that help develop the U.S. BMX. But maintenance and operation require 40 to 60 hours a week, Travis said.

It is worth seeing how children gain confidence in their bikes and the popularity of the sport grows, he said.

Bigfoot BMX participants and their kids are raking and sweeping part of the track in preparation for Wednesday’s season.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Bigfoot BMX participants and their kids are raking and sweeping part of the track in preparation for Wednesday’s season. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A a recent report by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, a trading group, found that participation in BMX has increased by 4.5% since 2016. It is estimated that more than 3,861,000 people over the age of 6 ride BMX bikes. The figure has fallen slightly from 2020, but is still a 5.8% jump in two years.

“A lot of them were people outside who couldn’t participate in team sports” during the pandemic, Travis said.

But it wasn’t just fashion: equipment was dusting in the garage. The number of US BMX members, which costs $ 60 a year and provides access to tracks across the country, has also grown.

Most tracks make money on admission fees and concessions with an average net gain of $ 40,000, Travis said. This usually goes back to capital improvements, a rainy day fund or maintenance contracts. New programs don’t usually see that kind of money for years.

At the moment, the leaders of Bigfoot are preparing for the start of the season. Entries run from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, and the race can be watched for free. Spectators should bring their chairs and maybe an umbrella.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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