Friday, November 12, 2010

roadies, off-roadies and BMXers unite!!

chad vandelune started a nice thread on the dsm cycling facebook group's page, wondering aloud how to get more bikie's KIDS involved with the ewing park BMX park. as someone who has been involved with ewing park, and its predecessor NBL track, since their inception, i said i'd try to put the two groups in touch with one another.
here is the email i sent out to the ewing park email list:

i've been following and taking part in a very lively discussion on facebook among some cycling pals of mine, prompted by a question posed by one who asked:

"XXXX XXXXX is wondering why more of his friends with kids don't have them racing at the DSM BMX track. A good friend of mine just started his boys this year and wants to know how to get more people involved. What would it take for some of you to get your kids out there?"

one friend said [with more than a bit of irony, given how much we spend for our road and cylcocross bikes and all] that the hold back was the cost of trying it for a kid, not knowing whether they'd LIKE it or not.
i said that all they needed to do was to get on this list and ASK to borrow somebody's for a trial ride, and they'd be able to do it.
others suggested maybe the track needed some bikes and helmets for use on practice nights.
another suggested that "the track needs to be promoted to the [cycling] community."

the upshot is that here are a bunch of men and women who have been road and mountain bike racing and riding for years who now have kids of their own, and they want them to start by BMX racing.
my question to you is, "WELL, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?"

there will be logistical issues, scheduling and all that, as many of these folks train and race themselves. but these are people who ride and race A LOT, and who have lots of friends--with kids--who do likewise.
this is a perfect opportunity, what with the season sure to end at first snowfall, to plan for a really big rookie class in 2011, with possibly many more nights of practice and racing.
i look forward to answering any questions this list might have, and am eager to help merge to two groups. bike racing rocks.
please respond. --kim west

here are the responses i've received thus far--just one day into it--from the ewing park email list.

1--from kittie weston-knauer, former president, and head mover and shaker, of BMX in des moines:
Kim, we may have had our last outdoor race for the season Sunday pass. Question, where do the roadies race in the winter time. We could get a jump on the season if we were to have an indoor facility. Does anyone in group know of place with about 23,000 square feet where a track could be built and used until April of 2011. This would also give the roadies something to do themselves during this time of the year.
I am excited to know that they want their youngsters on BMX bikes. A great idea would be to acquire bikes and helmets that could be used at any time by any of the racers. With the proceeds from the Redline Cup Qualifier this past summer, we were able to purchase a 40 foot trailer, so space does exist to house the bikes, helmets and any other equipment. I would love to sit with interested roadies to talk about the reality of an indoor facility or planning for the 2011 outdoor season with two or three nights of practice and two days of racing per week. We would love to be included in cycling coverage in whatever manner that might take.
Let's keep the dialogue going. Kittie

2--from the josts:
you could contact standard byke in quad cities and see if they have a couple old bikes to donate.

3--from amy graber:
Just an fyi, Scott and Kay are at a funeral and they run the track so probably won't get back to you for the next few days.
i do know there are helmets at the track for new people to use and I think there is a bike there so the kids can try it. If not, we have two or 3 bikes ourselves and always have them with us if people ever want to give the track a try. All they have to do is come in long sleeves and long pants.
Promoting, comes mainly from word of mouth. The track is trying desperately to raise $15,000.00 so they can seal the track (to keep it from eroding) and asphalt the start and berms. So, money for advertising is tight. Ewing Park BMX does have a facebook page (we'd love to have more facebook friends, friend us!) and we are planning on doing as many parades as possible this spring and summer to get the word out.
We are also trying to get info into the DSM register via pics and community info pages.
So, please keep talking about Ewing Park BMX to your friends! We'd love to have them bring their kids out! Last year, the membership doubled in size and we hope to do that again next year! I know my hubby (who raced as a kid) and my son (his first year was this year) have had a BLAST racing together this year!! We have become BMX crazy in one short year.
Thanks, Amy Graber

4--from marty stutz:
Thank you Kim West for this intriguing, thought provoking email.
There is clear win/win potential in this dialogue. I’m copying the list on this email in hopes that others can expound upon and/or correct any inaccuracies in what I have to say.
I think that the concerns expressed by your cycling friends are legitimate but you addressed them appropriately.
BMX can cost a lot…but it does not have to cost a lot. Jeans, a long sleeve shirt, tennis shoes, helmet and virtually any bike. Many racers ride bikes found on Craig’s List, EBay, etc. and are very competitive. You are absolutely correct that if a family showed up to check things out on a practice night or reached out to this distribution list that they would be able to get their hands on a bike and give it a try. I will never forget how warmly we were greeted on our first night at the track after my then 5-year old son found a flyer at Bordenaro’s Pizza and we decided to check it out. A local 15 year old expert ushered him around the track and provided tremendous advice and encouragement and pretty much watched over him the entire session.
The track does own some helmets and one bike. I need to donate my son’s old helmet (thanks for making me realize that) and suspect that others have gear that they could contribute as well.
The track is in its second season under the auspices of the American Bicycle Association (ABA) ( This sanctioning organization is great and offers tremendous support at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. Ewing Park is still in its infancy but has gained good momentum in a short period of time. As you might imagine, starting, maintaining and improving a track is quite an undertaking. Ewing Park BMX is a non-profit organization subsisting primarily on race entry fees and subject to costs including insurance premiums, the ABA’s cut, trophies, kybo (sp?), etc. To the extent there is “extra” money (what a concept) it’s plowed back into the track…e.g. corner signage, a storage container, maintenance equipment, etc.
Recently we (and by we, I mean you Amy) have come up with some great fund raising ideas that are being implemented. We have also preliminarily talked a bit about pursuing grants. Such lump sums could really jump start plans for more permanent (and pricy) improvements (e.g. paving, sealing, staging area, etc.) that could take the track to the next level. Many of us have attended ABA National races in the Midwest and I think that has helped to form a longer-term vision of what Ewing Park could become.
It won’t happen overnight, but it starts with continuing to grow our local base and expanding from there. That’s where the win/win comes in with you opening the door to promote the track to the broader cycling community. This overture is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to others with a passion for two-wheeled, human-powered competition.
I am not the most eloquent person in the world but I could speak pretty passionately about BMX in general and the potential of Ewing Park in particular. I serve in no official capacity as a representative of the track and don’t want to overreach here. Those who serve in official capacities are receiving this message. If they approve I would be more than willing to play a role in promoting Ewing Park BMX. I would be happy to meet with members of your circle or to help in any way you see fit.
As a parent I can speak without equivocation regarding the benefits of BMX to my 6-year old son. He plays all the team sports where, at his age, no one loses and everyone wins. That’s fine. But BMX has taught him to be self-reliant (i.e. once he’s in the gate, he’s on his own). He has learned to win humbly and to lose graciously. He has seen how to act and how not to act. He has dealt with adversity. And he has realized the rewards that can come from practice and hard work.
Thank you again for reaching out. I, and presumably many others who received your email, look forward to advancing this conversation.
Kind regards, Marty Stutz

5--from angie boyens:
Hi Kim -
I would say the cost to start is kind of exaggerated. I love biking - so decided to start my son who is six this year. We just had him go out in jean and a long sleeve t-shirt, borrowed a motorcycle helmet from the neighbor and had him race a few times. Once we was hooked - we upgraded the little diamond back (his everyday bike) we had bought at Rassy's to a redline purchased off eBay for less than his original bike. Next year - we are going to invest in the bike pants and jersey and maybe some better shoes....
I will say - on a positive note - it has given my son a ton of confidence on the bike. He is now riding trails with me, I have had him at Banner and Aquahbi and he is better than me :). Still trying to peak the interest in my 8 year old daughter, she tried a practice at Ewing Park and didn't like it. At the last race - she said she may try it again, now that we have a better bike for them to race.... We shall see.
Take care, Angie Boyens

as i said, PLEASE pass this around, share your thoughts, ideas and feelings about this. ewing park bmx presents a fantastic opportunity to get more kids of all ages [recall, i'm 58] involved in yet ANOTHER kind of bike racing. and isn't that the point of a cycling community? to help it grow, and in turn, to make our LARGER community better and truly more bike friendly and bike welcoming?
and yet another reason to buy yet another bicycle?
thanks for contributing!


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