Bikers take over Valley Park for BMX Bike-tacular

Trent Elliott fastened his helmet and clutched the handlebars of his bike Saturday afternoon as he waited for the last two skateboarders to clear out of Valley Park.

“Is it 5:01 p.m. yet?” the 12-year-old asked, eager for the official start time for the venue — normally reserved for skaters — to temporarily be turned into a bike park.

Trent, who rode a skateboard for years, said he started riding BMX-style bikes a few months ago. The Luther Burbank Middle School student has loved riding bikes since he was 6 years old.

“It didn’t feel that fun anymore. It felt too competitive,” Trent said about skating. “But not this (BMX).”

As the time approached and passed, he pedaled into the enclosed park without another word.

Nearly 10 other bikers rode alongside during Burbank’s “BMX Bike-tacular” event, a number that grew and fell during the duration of the four-hour event.

Parents watched their children pedal through the park and enjoy hot dogs. Youth bands from Burbank Music Academy kept the tempo high, performing rock hits from bands such as Green Day and the White Stripes.

The city began offering the event, now in its third year, after interest from area bikers. The park now offers time slots and special events for skaters, scooters and BMX riders.

“They just wanted somewhere to ride, and they’re so appreciative,” said Mike Graceffo, recreation coordinator for the city’s Park, Recreation and Community Services Department. “It’s a nice evening in the park.”

The event offered raffle prizes of bike parts from H&S Bicycles and clothing from Focus, an apparel line that sponsors a BMX team. Team members Robert McIlvaine, 19, and James Fritz, 18, pedaled through the park, performing an array of tricks such as stoppies and gaps. McIlvaine helped a younger rider around the park by gripping the handlebar to keep him steady.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a family feel,” McIlvaine said. “We come because of the kids.”

Six-year-old Ty Bodley took breaks from coursing through the park to watch McIlvaine and Fritz. Ty’s parents, Danny and Michele Bodley of Burbank, kept their eyes on Ty from the bleachers.

“I know he’s soaking all of this up like a sponge,” Michele said about Ty. “This gives kids something to do, build relationships and learn from each other.”

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World