What many people probably don’t realize is that the Santa Clara PAL BMX Track is now ranked as the top track in the state of California. On Friday, June 2, nearly 120 riders ventured to the BMX track (5451 Lafayette St, Santa Clara) to race against their friends, family members, or the clock.
PAL (The Santa Clara Police Athletic League) program was started in 1970 by Former Chief of Police Frank Sapena. The goal was simple–bring members of the police department, volunteers and youth from all walks of life together in a positive setting. The mission is to help participants learn the values and rewards that can be accomplished through athletics: self-determination, self-belief, goal-setting, teamwork and respect for others.
PAL offers numerous programs including soccer, boxing, bowling, BMX (Bicycle Moto-Cross), girl’s softball, judo, wrestling, fishing and Police Explorers for anyone from five to 18-years-old, with several programs for adults.
However, BMX has a remarkable age range–it doesn’t have age limitations. BMX features participants as young as 18-months-old and all the way up to 51-years-old. The only requirement is the ability to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
Younger riders use a bicycle called a Strider. Striders don’t have any pedals and the riders use their feet to help move them along the dirt track. Just because they’re very young doesn’t mean they ride on completely flat ground. Parents are on the track to help provide assistance to get their Striders over the crest of the hills. Obviously enjoying themselves, the children get a great sense of accomplishment as they glide down the backside of a hill or push themselves up and over a crest.
Now a sanctioned Olympic Sport–BMX was officially recognized by the Olympics in 2008–hundreds of riders regularly flock to the Santa Clara PAL BMX Track from Santa Clara and beyond.
Even with all the members, BMX is still a relatively affordable sport. Membership in the USABMX (American Bicycle Association) is required to ride on the track, which costs $60 for the first family member (additional family members are discounted from that cost). Each race night, there’s also a $10 per rider practice/race fee with a one-day trial membership for first time riders. The trial membership waives the annual membership fee, however you still must pay the $10 race fee.
Even if you don’t own a bicycle, you can still try BMX racing with loaner bikes available for $5 per night and loaner full-face helmets are available for free. Participants are asked to wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, full-face helmets and closed toe shoes when riding on the track.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Santa Clara PAL BMX program, please visit their website: santaclarapal.org/bmx. For more information on the PAL program, please visit their website: santaclarapal.org.