Four undulating straightaways. Three hair-raising turns. Fastrax BMX offers the thrill of racing to anyone in the Bismarck-Mandan area who has the need for speed – without the need for gasoline!
Fastrax BMX started out in Bismarck all the way back in 1982, the year when Olivia Newton-John dominated the airwaves and Great Britain demonstrated her naval superiority over Argentina. It has moved locations a few times since then, finally taking root in Cottonwood Park just off University Drive. The BMX course now welcomes riders of all ages and skill levels, from tots still learning how to balance on two wheels to seasoned pros determined to prove they’re the best in the country.
“Fastrax is all about community,” said Jamy Mills, director of Fastrax BMX. “We’re a nonprofit run by people who are just passionate about the sport, and thanks to the support of the City of Bismarck and the Parks and Rec District we pay only $1 a year for our track space and all of our utilities. That’s why Fastrax very literally belongs to everyone.
“Bicycle motocross is a spin-off of motorcycle motocross, except you’re using manpower – or womanpower – to move your vehicle. And it has evolved a lot since it started getting popular in the ’70s. BMX used to be limited to loose dirt downhill tracks, but nowadays riders can turn on a dime on asphalt corners and get huge air off jumps that are packed down with surfacing glue.
“As intense as it gets out on the track, the best thing about BMX isn’t the sport itself. It’s the culture surrounding it. BMX breeds a real spirit of camaraderie across generations. Two of our riders are a 69-year-old grandpa and his 10-year-old grandson, and watching them tear down the track together always warms my heart. Older kids take the younger ones under their wings to teach them how to get the best start out of the gate, how to corner and pass other riders, the secret to jumping, you name it. We also have a certified coach on staff to offer training clinics, and BMX pros come in pretty often to give instruction as well.
“Pretty soon a young novice rider is able to hit speeds over 20 miles per hour on the straightaways and clear jumps spanning 15 to 17 feet. I’ve watched more kids than I can count mature from little troublemakers into outstanding young adults thanks to the skills and discipline they’ve earned out on the track.
“An entry-level race bike costs about $450. That would be a high price of admission, so our track offers loaner bikes of all sizes, as well as helmets. That way mom and dad don’t have to make a huge investment in a sport they’re not even sure their kid is going to embrace, and everyone can come enjoy BMX regardless of how much money they have. We’re all about helping as many people to fall in love with our favorite sport as we’re able.
“We have a super wholesome atmosphere here with no smoking, no alcohol (unless you want to have a tailgate party out in the parking lot during a big event), and no cussing (though that’s generally forgiven after a rider has taken an especially nasty spill). In short, Fastrax is a great place for everyone to visit – especially during one of those big events.
“If you don’t ride but you still want to participate in something spectacular this summer, go to our website and check out our schedule of upcoming races. The North Dakota state qualifier is going to bring in some serious talent July 23rd through 25th, and the state finals are being held at Fastrax from August 27th through 29th. People from all over the Midwest and even Canada show up to cheer on the riders. Come on out and help us root the loudest for our local riders!”
Fastrax BMX is located at 2800 S 12th Street in Bismarck. You can learn more about their course and their mission at usabmx.com/tracks/1486.
By David Scheller