BMX track gives kids part of what they’ve been missing |

BMX track gives kids part of what they’ve been missing

In a community which has provided next to nothing new or improved for youths in the past decade, it’s refreshing to see what’s going on at the temporary South Tahoe BMX track.

With its central location next to the city of South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Center at 1176 Rufus Allen Blvd., the 30,000-square-foot playground for bicycles is giving children something new and fun to do this summer.

“We’ve accomplished what we set out to do and that is to demonstrate a quality program,” said Lauren Thomaselli, who operates the track along with her husband, John. “It’s been nothing but a hit, and we expect it to get bigger and better every weekend.”

That alone is a step in the right direction, considering children in this community are being shortchanged several recreational activities compared to other mountain communities. Ice skating and ice hockey shortfalls immediately come to mind.

The track is located on, of all places, the site of the former ice rink, which was buried under financial ruin. The BMXers, ironically, will lose their temporary track on Sept. 19 if voters pass Measure S. The track will then revert to a full-sized enclosed rink that will bring smiles to travel-weary skaters, who must drive to Sparks or Squaw Valley USA to satisfy their skating desires.

Lauren Thomaselli doesn’t find herself rooting against Measure S, even though South Lake Tahoe BMX has a location after a five-year fight. If voters pass Measure S, children will get a baseball/softball field, two multi-purpose playing fields and a long overdue ice rink – but not a permanent BMX track.

“We’re not part of the big plan. A BMX track wasn’t something the voters listed as a priority for recreational facilities. But now we are able demonstrate what we’ve been saying, and the voters will be more educated now,” Thomaselli said. “We hope to piggyback on that measure and build a future South Lake Tahoe BMX track.”

She is hopeful of reopening negotiations to bring a permanent track to Bijou Community Park. Skateboarders and disc golfers have been accommodated at the park. Why can’t an extremely organized group of BMX racers?

Thomaselli covets the Bijou Park site because she wishes to keep the track centrally located so that children can easily and safely access it.

With the life of the temporary track only lasting into October, children and adults alike aren’t wasting any laps. Fifty-three riders, including 23 first-timers, turned out for the first official day of racing last Saturday. The Thomasellis handed out 36 trophies and mentally cataloged the smiling faces.

“I had a little boy who told me that this was the best thing that ever happened to him. It was so cute. That’s exactly what has kept us going when you have kids coming out, smiling and enjoying it,” Thomaselli said.

If your kids haven’t tried this gift to the community, then send them over for the 4-8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday practice sessions, so they’ll be ready to race on Saturdays. Racing sign-ups are from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with motos tentatively starting at 1:30 p.m.

All riders must purchase a $35-per-year American Bicycle Association membership or 30-day trial membership for $15 to use the track. There is an additional $10 fee to race.

BMX enthusiasts have an added attraction this Saturday as ABA “A” pro rider Shannon Troglia will conduct a clinic for all ages. The cost is $10 per rider for the 9-11 a.m. clinic, which will focus on BMX basics.

It’s been a good summer, and it can only get better for children in the community if Measure S passes next month. But let’s not forget about the growing interest in BMX racing. Those children deserve to keep smiling, too.

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