One of the weirdest BMX seasons in the 39 years at Ranger Park came to an end Tuesday, Sept. 5, with a celebration and some makeshift races.
The last official race day was the night before and Vernon BMX Club president Shylo Orchard told families that rain or shine, the banquet barbecue would go ahead.
“It was awesome,” she said. “We had 13 motos for the make-your-own moto which is more than we had on some race days.”
A typical season would normally see racers take to the track 30 times or so, but this year saw less than a dozen.
“This was a tough season,” Orchard said. “We had to navigate through COVID-19 and as soon as we could open and follow the rules safely, that’s when it got smoky.
“We got only two races under our belt before the smoke,” she said. “Our hearts broke and dropped again.”
Then it started to rain. Something Orchard said she, like everyone, was praying for amid a devastating wildfire season.
“Of course it rained on Tuesday,” she said, cancelling another race day.
The club relied heavily on social media to communicate with families whether race days and practices would go ahead as organizers and volunteers consistently monitored air quality, high temperatures and frequently changing provincial health regulations.
Sometimes, Orchard said, barbecue fixings would be prepared, pizza would be ordered and suddenly the day’s race or practice would have to be cancelled.
Despite the challenges, Orchard said the bike community, BMX families and generous sponsors kept things on track throughout the most unusual season.
“Cobs Bakery, Butcher Boys, T-Bones, A&W, Vernon Petro-Pass, Boston Pizza and Parnell’s Appliance and Electronics were some of the amazing sponsors that stuck with us through the season and kept us going,” Orchard said offering her gratitude.
The club’s Race for Life fundraiser went ahead raising nearly $1,000 for BC Children’s Hospital. Some of which came from hopeful Alberta riders who weren’t able to attend but continue to donate to the cause anyway, Orchard said thankfully.
Tuesday, the club honoured its best of the best, most-improved and rider with best attendance.
Orchard said the best attendance prizes — awarded to Kohlby Taber, Peyton Taber, Austin Thiessen and Jen Bitz — was likely the most challenging this season with all of its sudden changes.
Thiessen was also named the season’s most-improved rider.
“He’s stuck with us,” Orchard said. “When he started, was always at the back of the pack on a bike that was way too big. But, he manoeuvred it, stuck with us and now he’s got a great bike.”
Now, as the club looks toward its 40th season at Ranger Park, Orchard has big dreams. She said she’d like to maybe see a second level added to the moto shed, where board meetings could be held and trophies could be showcased.