By Helena Tavares Kennedy
BMX bike racing became an Olympic sport in 2008, but did you know we have a BMX racing course here in our area? BMX stands for bicycle motocross and is an offroad bicycle racing sport that Northern Virginia BMX Parents Association (NOVA BMX) is bringing to the mainstream here in our region. It sure sounded like fun, and Prince William Living found this to be a unique destination in our own backyard.
Located in Woodbridge, NOVA BMX offers locals the opportunity to try the exciting sport for the first time, or for those who are already pros, a chance to continue practicing and racing on a smooth, thoughtfully designed and meticulously groomed race course.
Near Closure Turns into Opportunity
The Prince William County Park Authority (PWCPA) built the BMX track in 2000 to provide a bicycle-specific resource in the county. According to Jay Martin, president of NOVA BMX, “the county operated the track until 2009 when budget restrictions threatened to close the facility. NOVA BMX had been formed to provide volunteers to assist with track enhancements, marketing and general operations, so with the imminent closure, NOVA BMX proposed to take over the complete operation of the track facility, and PWCPA agreed. Since then, NOVA BMX, as a nonprofit with a board, has taken on the operational and financial responsibilities of the BMX track.”
As it currently stands, Prince William County still owns the land and the track, but NOVA BMX operates the facility entirely with volunteers and funds it through donations and sponsorships, making it truly a community destination.
What is quite surprising is that NOVA BMX is one of 300+ tracks throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada and is governed by USABMX, the BMX sport governing body.
BMX Not Just for Stunt Riders and Pros
You might be surprised by the diversity of people participating at the NOVA BMX track on any given practice or race day. From young kids to older professionals who have years of BMX riding experience under their belts, the track offers something for everyone, regardless of skill level.
“My most rewarding part is watching kids and adults try something new, face their fears about it, and get better at it all while having fun and growing as individuals,” Martin said.
While most of the rider base is made up of Prince William County residents, many riders from surrounding counties also call NOVA BMX home. “On race days we will regularly have racers from all over Virginia as well as from Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey and North Carolina,” Martin said.
“One of the great things about BMX racing is that we have athletes that range in age from two years old, who race on balance bikes, all the way to riders in their 70s, which includes men and women at all levels,” said Martin. “While the majority of riders do tend to be kids and teens, this is a sport that entire families do together, and athletes literally participate in for decades. BMX is truly a sport for everyone and your level of commitment is totally up to you. You attend the races you want to, you practice as much as you want to, and you don’t have to be locked into a team’s agenda, schedule or finances.”
There are options for any level of rider, including a year-long membership to USABMX for $60 which gives you access to race at any track. Riders can then practice on the BMX track for $5 or participate in a race, which usually has a $10 registration fee. “Free one-day trial memberships are available,” said Martin. “Any membership level can be initiated at the track.”
If you are new at this, don’t worry. NOVA BMX has several loaner bikes and helmets of various sizes currently available for new riders at no charge. Equipment is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“On occasion, new rider clinics are held to introduce the basics of BMX racing,” said Martin. “We also have a great set of volunteers and a track coach, who are available to assist with equipment sizing and help new riders become comfortable with the track and BMX fundamentals.”
When asked what one thing he wants Prince William Living readers to know about NOVA BMX, Martin said, “That we are here! In all seriousness, the track has been here for 17 years, but people go to the P-Nats games and never even notice our track. NOVA BMX is one of Prince William County’s, actually all of
Northern Virginia’s, best kept secrets!”