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New indoor BMX track in Idaho Falls a major attraction for riders

Sports

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IDAHO FALLS – At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses were shut down and restrictions were put in place to limit large gatherings, many people started thinking outside the box for ways to have fun.

During this turbulent time, local retailers saw a massive surge in RV and bike sales, and one activity that seemed to increase in popularity was BMX racing.

Emily Smith and her husband, Derek, of Idaho Falls, were newcomers to the sport in early 2020 and quickly fell in love with it. It wasn’t long before their kids were hooked as well. Riding on the outdoor Snake River BMX track became a frequent pastime.

Once summer was over and the weather turned cold, the track closed, and there was no place for the Smiths to enjoy their newfound hobby together.

“Then this year in January, we started traveling and doing it indoors,” Emily tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We traveled to Rock Springs, Wyoming, multiple times to race the indoor track.”

Indoor tracks in Salt Lake and Boise became frequent destinations they’d visit as well.

Though they enjoyed the experience, they walked away feeling empowered to bring a venue like that to eastern Idaho so that they wouldn’t have to travel. They reached out to their friends and fellow BMX enthusiasts, Steven Hardee and Santia Ax, to discuss the idea. After months of collaboration and planning, East Idaho BMX was born.

Every month, the four design and build an indoor track at the Broken Bit Horse Arena at 6992 North 5th East in Idaho Falls and host a weekend event sanctioned by USA BMX. Riders of all ages and experience levels come to participate.

Their first and only event in November was held last weekend, and Emily says the turnout was impressive.

“We had people from Utah, Montana and the Boise area, people from all over (eastern Idaho), and a guy from Connecticut, come and race with us,” says Emily.

The “guy from Connecticut” was Mike Savage, a renowned BMX rider since the 1980s who races all over the world. In total, he’s raced at 525 different tracks, including the one in Idaho Falls. His trip to eastern Idaho was last minute. Emily says he heard about their track the day before the event and gave them a call to tell them he was coming.

emily and friends
From left: Steven Hardee, Santia Ax, Mike Savage, Derek Smith and Emily Smith. | Emily Smith

There were 33 races on Saturday, and Savage ended up serving as the master of ceremonies for the day. He was unavailable for comment, but Emily says he had a great time announcing his 73rd BMX race.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, there’s a difference between BMX racing and freestyle BMX. Freestyle BMX is what you see at the bike parks with people doing aerial stunts, flips and tricks on their bikes. If you see that and feel intimidated, Emily offers some clarification.

“BMX racing is (about) racing,” she says. “It’s similar to a mountain bike trail in that you’re just following where you’re supposed to go. You’re not doing anything crazy. You’re literally just going down, around the corner, over these little bumps (or obstacles) and then to the finish line.”

See how it works in the video player above.

Some people do it for fun and others compete, but Emily says it’s a sport anyone can participate in.

“It can get very intense. They want it and they push it, and they wreck hard and then they get right back up and keep going. It’s a lot of fun,” Emily says.

Emily and her team spend many hours before each race building the track and then take it down once it’s over.

Their long-term goal is to work with organizers of the outdoor track so BMXers have somewhere to go year-round. They plan to cease operation during the summer months when the outdoor track is open.

The next race is happening Jan. 7 to 9 with another one the following weekend. Pre-registration is $15 or $20 at the door. Since it’s sponsored by USA BMX, there is a $60 membership fee to participate, which is good at any USA BMX-sanctioned track in the world.

“There is one day where you can come out and try it and ride the track for free. There’s no fee to do that, and you just get to hang out and see what you think,” Emily says. “You don’t have to be athletic to do this sport. If you can ride a bike, you can ride the track.”

Join the East Idaho BMX Indoor Facebook group for more information.

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