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BMX track off to 'wheelie' big start

August 28, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The BMX track at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds officially opened Saturday following a bicycle parade and a test ride by Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who was quickly nicknamed "Bicycle Bob."

It is hard to estimate the cost of building the track because most of the work came from donated labor and equipment, including from the city of Hagerstown, said Steve Weddles, treasurer for Hagerstown BMX, which operates the track.

The BMX (bicycle motocross) group has been working with the city for about three years to get the track, said Brian Caron, group vice president. Without the city's help, the track would not have been built, he said. Construction began in the spring.

"I think it is fantastic. It is a perfect example of the public and private sectors working together," Bruchey said.

"I think it is super," agreed Councilman Alfred W. Boyer.

About 10 BMX riders slowly followed one rider, holding an American flag, around the course while the National Anthem was sung by a local resident.

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"You won't see that anywhere else," Caron told the crowd.

Bruchey rode around the track once, to the applause of the spectators. There were about 50 people present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and the first race.

The first race was won by Brandi Shivers, 8, of Chambersburg, Pa., who said she liked the course.

"It's nice. It is not too far from my home," she said.

The closest official track to the Hagerstown course is in Winchester, Va., about one hour away, Caron said.

While Saturday was the first day races were held at the course, people have been allowed to ride it on Tuesday nights at 7:30, Weddles said. About 20 to 30 people have been coming out weekly, he said.

Races are held for different age categories. Riders Saturday ranged in age from 5 to 41, Caron said.

In recent weeks, as the course neared completion, excited riders helped out - with shovels, picks and wheelbarrows, he said.

"I like it," Jacob Weaver, 8, said of the course. "I helped make it."

The city bought the Fairgrounds property in 1997 and has developed a long-range development plan that includes major renovations of the larger buildings and construction of three softball fields and three soccer fields.

It could take 10 to 20 years for all work to be completed, and the cost could be almost $12 million, according to city budget projections.

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