BMX track aids Olympians, adds Norris-Penrose venue

       Local BMX enthusiasts have established a “partnership” with the Olympic Training Center's new BMX team, making a dirt track at the Norris-Penrose Event Center's Indoor Arena available to the Olympian riders a few days a month through March.
       “We're really stoked,” said Charlie Mandry, the track operator for Pikes Peak BMX. “No one has partnered with Olympic Cycling [in this way] till now.”
       Several riders from the 12-member Olympic team were trying out the track this week, after Mandry and about 20 other volunteers brought in about 20 truckloads of dirt, packed it and shaped it with numerous dips/jumps and three tightly banked turns.
       Greg Romero, Olympic BMX coach, said that although the track is not quite as spiffy as some competitive tracks, “the elements are close. I think it will work out.”
       The first racing on the track will be this weekend (Dec. 8-10), when Pikes Peak BMX hosts a racing event. Anyone can participate; the cost is $10 for novices. To sign up, call 282-6375.
       A BMX bike is basically a 20-inch bike with no shocks or gears. There is also a cruiser class for 24-inch bikes and a mountain bike class.
       The track construction was funded by proceeds from BMX events elsewhere in the area, donations and sponsors, Mandry said. The dirt was donated by a Supercross group that used it inside Penrose Stadium last summer, he added.
       Bill Miller, manager of Norris-Penrose, said the event has shown strong popularity with participants. “There is some national competition, and this would be a great venue for it,” he added.
       However, because the Indoor Arena schedules other events, the track cannot remain in place through the winter, Miller noted. So, a typical sight each month will be trucks hauling the dirt into the arena one week and taking it out the next. The other track dates are Jan. 13-14, Feb. 10-11 and March 10-11, according to Jay Turner, operations foreman for Norris-Penrose. Pikes Peak Pikes Peak BMX will have events on those dates, and any Olympic riders staying at the Olympic Training Center during those times are welcome to use it, Mandry said.
       Turner noted that the center once had an outdoor BMX track just south of the Indoor Arena, which was replaced about 10 years ago with an equestrian practice riding area.

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