All of the family along for the ride

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Blackpool BMX Club is gearing up for its biggest day of the year and is inviting the people of the Fylde coast to get involved.

For the second successive year, the Stanley Park-based club is hosting a round in the North Region race series on Sunday week, in association with British Cycling.

The event will feature a feast of competitive races for newcomers and elite cyclists. It promises to be a thrilling day for spectators and anyone who would like to take part in a race is welcome to do so.

One of 11 events in the North Region series, the Blackpool spectacular is expected to attract riders from as far afield as Leeds, Northumberland, County Durham, the Isle of Man and Scotland.

But while the experts will be racing for ranking points to help them qualify for the national or even the world BMX championships, the focus at Blackpool will be just as much on novices and first-timers.

Andy Hill, co-ordinator and founder of Blackpool BMX, hopes the event gets the message across that BMX is a great family sport for all ages.

To prove his point, Andy himself still competes at 43 while daughter Imogen was a national champion at nine and was recognised at The Gazette’s AllStars Awards ceremony last December.

“I race nationally but Imogen is a lot better than me,” said Andy. She has been competing since she was four.”

Imogen, rated seventh in the world rankings for 7-10-year-olds, is among four members of the Blackpool club with a world ranking.

Andy added: “The sport attracts a lot of young children because it’s so exciting. It’s also a sport they can enjoy with their parents.

“You can’t start to compete in a lot of cycling disciplines until you are older but BMX is great for small children and can lead to other things – Chris Hoye was a BMXer.”

The Blackpool club now has 70 members of various ages, having been formed around 18 months ago to make use of the new facilities at Stanley Park.

Hill added: “It’s great that people no longer have to go out of town to join a club. I’ve got back into it myself, and hopefully the club can inspire those who haven’t cycled for a while to have another go.

“The club isn’t only for children – it’s a family sport for anyone from four to 50 or over.”

Anyone aged four or over can race on the day by registering at the Stanley Park BMX track between 9 and 10am on the day. Practice take place from 9-11.45, with races from noon. The race fee is £5 per entrant. Under-fours will be able to take part in fun rides.

All entrants must have a BMX or mountain bike with rear brakes and no stunt pegs. Full-face helmets, full-fingered gloved, long sleeves and long trousers are compulsory. Anyone without a cycle or equipment should be able to hire them on the day.

There will be a medal for all novices who race and there is no charge for spectators.

Blackpool BMX hosted its first such event last year and Hill hopes their second North Region race day is just as successful ... though hopefully with better weather.

Andy added: “There was some torrential rain last year but it didn’t harm the event – we just swept the water off the track.

“In fact, this year I’ve been praying for some rain because it helps the track.

“Last year’s event was really good and days like this enable people can come along and find out what the club is all about.

Club sessions take place on Thursday evenings and Sundays, with family discounts available.

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