Every kid with a bike and a sense of adventure eventually tries riding dirt jumps. About 40 years ago, hand-built dirt hills were ramped up, and BMX was born. Today, “wildly popular” doesn’t begin to describe the sport. There are BMX dirt parks throughout the Wasatch Front, from the gnarly jumps at the top of I Street in the Avenues, to sweet piles of dirt in Kimball Junction, to the newly opened bike park in Eagle Mountain.
But for those who would rather go fast than get air, or prefer a maintained and groomed facility, there’s Rad Canyon. The South Jordan BMX track is considered one of the best in the country, and it’s an easy place to learn to ride dirt. Plus, there are nearly as many females as males riding the jumps, and a surprising number of riders, both men and women, are in their 40s and 50s.
The track holds a two-hour practice Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m., with an additional temporary Wednesday practice for the next month. Admission is just $3 for admission, but after one practice session, you must purchase an annual American Bicycle Association license for $45. Rad Canyon also offers the free loan of full-face helmets.
Thursday is race night. For $10, you get one hour of practice, then an elimination style BMX race, with gaudy trophies for the top three in each “moto,” or race group.
If you feel chicken-y about riding dirt bumps, don’t let fear stop you. The experienced riders at Rad Canyon are always willing to help you learn, and injuries at the track are rare. After your first few times around the track, you’ll know why BMX is so addictive. Can’t find a baby sitter? Hey, let your kid ride! You’ll see dozens of 4- and 5-year-olds lining up at the start. Some riders even practice on mountain bikes.
Here are some dirt riding tips from Rad Canyon regulars:
Robert Morgan, 27, comes to every practice and every race with wife Jennifer, and two sons, Hayden, 5, and Colton Thomas, 6, all of whom race. Robert is considered one of the better riders. He advises, “Learn to ‘pump.’ That’s when you pull the handlebars up on the front of a jump, and push down on them when you’re coming down the other side. Also, even though you’re standing up, keep your legs slightly bent when you go over the bumps.”
Heather Allred is the top 25-year-old woman in America and the Utah state champion. She and hubby Ian own the Performance Bike Parts trailer at Rad Canyon, which tunes up bikes and also sells new and used BMX bikes. “The secret to going fast (on the track) is constant pedaling.
Make sure your knees and elbows are always bent when you go over the bumps. Your weight should be over the center of your seat to the back of your seat, but sometimes when you go down the back side of a bump, you push forward,” she says.
Dave Cote, 42, is a BMX fanatic. Last season, he crashed in a race and broke several ribs. Didn’t matter to him; he was back at the start, wincing, for his next moto. He’s got a great tip for those who can’t yet balance against the foot-high start gate with feet on pedals: “Use a board or a 2-by-6. Put your front wheel against a wall, put a cinder block under the board behind your back wheel so it pushes your front tire against the wall. Learn your balance by practicing standing up for a long time, then sitting down for a long time. You’ll get it,” he says.
At first, it might be scary to try BMX. But fear goes out the window when you’re passed in practice by some little 4-yearold, pedaling madly and determined to kick your butt. There’s nothing like toddler competition to make you a better BMX rider.
5200 W. 9800 South