Some 150 riders (and about 200 spectators) will converge on Caldwell Friday, Aug. 22-Sunday, Aug. 24, for the Idaho BMX State Championship--the first time in 10 years the event has been held in the Treasure Valley. Though many will go home with scuffed elbows and dinged bike frames, a proud few will go home with trophies.
Here's how it works: Racers get momentum by blasting down a concrete "starter hill," descending onto a dirt track laden with moguls, tabletops and other terrain features. Sometimes the tight corners are paved, but this is considered a luxury. Corners are typically swept or packed dirt that has been hosed down with water. Speed is of the essence, but racers often break out a few freestyle tricks.
According to Ed Neugen, the parent of a racer and event volunteer who has been active in the BMX community for six years, the competitions are full of surprises for seasoned enthusiasts and first-time attendees alike.
"It's amazing how fast they can go on these little bikes. They're jumping obstacles, they're doing manuals. I had no idea that kids could ride like this," he said. "The first time I saw that I thought they were going to wreck. Then I saw they were doing it on purpose."
Racers of all ages and skill levels are invited to compete in novice, intermediate and expert categories. Some riders are as young as 2, pedaling down a kiddie track on training wheel bikes or so-called balance bikes, which they push with their feet. In the expert categories, enthusiasts will get to cheer on three BMX World competition racers, regional and state champions, as well as local heroes.
Events begin at the Caldwell BMX Raceway--located behind the Pipe Dreams Skate Park off the Smeed Parkway--Friday, Aug. 22, at 6 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 23, at 1 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 24, at 8 a.m. On-site, day-of registration is open for all age groups and skill levels, and costs $8 the first day, $20 the second day and $30 the third day. Spectators get in free.