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Putting the pedal to the gravel

There will be races and jumps galore next summer on Cape Dorset's new outdoor BMX track, the vision of three dedicated volunteers.

photo courtesy of Claude Constantineau
Volunteer Claude Constantineau goes around the BMX track in Cape Dorset, packing down the gravel surface. The recently-completed track will be available for use next summer.

"We wanted to give them a space to be able to ride their bikes, have a good time and hang out with friends," said Will Sandoval, one of the people who gave up portions of his fall last year and his spring and summer this year to get the work done. "I get concerned watching kids riding their bikes on the road. This will get them off the road."

Fellow volunteer Claude Constantineau shared that concern and added that the makeshift ramps that youth in the community were using to take jumps made him nervous.

So the volunteers – Joseph Pinguartuk was the third – began work at a spot near the fuel tank farm, across from where the new power plant will be located, just outside the community. The distance from town will create a bit of a buffer so there won't be complaints about any hooting and hollering from the excited BMXers, who will finally get a chance to fly around the track next summer.

The selected site already had some gravel and the land was naturally a little hilly. There was plenty of support from various businesses and organizations in the form of additional gravel, equipment, a bit of labour, bicycle helmets, and discounts on the purchase of bikes.

The volunteers added artificial hills and contours, and packed down the track's gravel surface.

"It finally came together. It took a long time but we got 'er done," Sandoval said.

"All said, it was the most fun I have had digging in the dirt all summer," Constantineau added.

Sandoval did some laps on a bicycle as a test run in late September and quickly realized he's out of practice.

"I used to be extremely good but I haven't done it in so long," he said. "I won't be taking any jumps any time soon. There will probably be some pain."

The track is not necessarily a finished product. Depending on how popular the site proves to be next year, Sandoval said the volunteers may expand the track.

"What we're looking to do is put in almost an Olympic-sized track. Since BMX is an Olympic sport... hopefully eventually one day (some local youth) make it to the Olympics," he said.