PORT ANGELES — Lincoln Park BMX Track operator Sean Coleman has fielded calls and texts inquiring about the track’s status and its plans for reopening on “just about a daily basis” since April, Coleman said Wednesday.
Coleman has the answer now as a small number of BMX riders will resume limited practices today at the Lincoln Park BMX Track while following a social-distancing plan, which was approved by the city of Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department and the Clallam County Health Department.
All riders must register and pay the $5.50 per-practice price in advance at tinyurl.com/PDN-BMX20 for one of 12 hourly practice slots for practice sessions planned on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons through June 14.
All riders must hold USABMX membership. New members and renewals can be made at USABMX.com.
More practice days are expected to be added.
Riders are asked not to sign up for more than two practice sessions per week.
Track operations have been modified to follow the state’s guidance for recreational activities under Phase 2 of the Safe Start reopening plan, which limits outdoor recreation to five or fewer people, Coleman said.
Riders have missed out on the season’s first six weeks of racing due to the coronavirus shutdown.
“When conditions started to improve locally, we started talking to the city about what procedures, plans and protocols we needed to have in place,” Coleman said. “We had to draft a plan that details how many riders we would allow at a time, where the riders would be, where parents would be. And we had to move everything online, all payments online.”
Track operators will allow four riders on the track at one time, four riders to wait in staging and four riders to wait on the ramp to the staging area. All riders will be required to wear their helmets and riding gloves when staging or on the track.
“That allows for 36 per practice with 12 riders per session,” Coleman said. “We were averaging about 60 to 80 riders a night last summer, so when you factor in the riders can’t practice for as long a time with these requirements, we will be running at about a third of last season with twice the amount of work to get them in and out safely.
“But some racing is better than none.”
Half of the track’s chutes will be closed as riders will be distanced across the starting line.
Temporary rules also allow for one spectator for each participant under 18 years of age. All riders under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or guardian in attendance, and these visitors must stay near or in their vehicles and within sight of their child.
Multiple family members will not be allowed to attend these practices.
Practices are for one hour in duration; riders cannot hang around and socialize after their sessions are completed.
No helmets can be given out under Phase 2 requirements. Loaner bikes are available and will be sanitized between users.
No concession stand operations will be available, and attendees should bring their own water and food.
Under Phase 2, the track will only accept riders from other Phase 2 counties.
Track operators urge racers and spectators to use common sense and practice social distancing where required. If riders or spectators are not feeling well, they should stay home and avoid the track.
Coleman said 24 LED lights on fiberglass poles were recently installed at the track, providing the potential for late evening racing and extending the season further into the fall.
“It’s not as bright as Civic Field,” Coleman joked. “But it will help us out.”
Coleman said the track was awarded a lodging tax grant from the city to fund the project.
“We got a lodging tax grant for $55,000 to upgrade the power service to the track with Port Angeles City Light and install the poles and lights,” he said. “We still have some exterior lighting that we still need to add. Add some lights to the tunnel so it is lit at night and for outside the bike shed.”
Coleman said Simpson Electric, Adamire Concrete, 2 Grade Construction, Bruch and Bruch Construction and Lakeside Industries provided assistance on the project along with the efforts of other community volunteers.
Coleman said the track would evaluate operations on a week-by-week basis with the goal of holding three practices a week and adding more riders as Clallam County advances through the Safe Start guidelines.
The track also is giving serious consideration to extending the BMX season further into the fall to make up for the time lost this spring.
“We are looking at other type of surface options to extend it further,” Coleman said. “Now that we have lights, a lack of daylight won’t be an issue in September of October, just the weather. We have a couple of different glue products that we have been looking at all spring that hold the surfaces together and keep water from penetrating. It’s layers of glue and sand and there’s another option that is a mix like an infield clay and you apply like a wet slurry and it seals and you apply again.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].