MERIDEN — Tucked off Westfield Road, the city’s public BMX track has been a valuable resource for local riders for upwards of 40 years.
Falcon BMX, 200 Westfield Road, is open to the public from dawn to dusk like any other park, but also offers weekly races, practices and new rider clinics.
The track is currently operated by volunteers Dawn and Joe Therriault, with help from their adult children, including Christopher and Angela Therriault. The family is from Plainville, and has been involved in the track for many years, operating it for about four years.
Volunteers spend hundreds of hours grooming and prepping the track and organizing races, Joe Therriault said. Falcon BMX is a not-for-profit so any proceeds from race fees goes toward maintaining the track and things like trophies.
Christopher Therriault, 21, who’s been racing for 13 years and has traveled to tracks all over the country, said he’s seen riders from two years old to 83.
“...I’ve seen so many people from different places, different backgrounds...once they start trying it out, they just fall in love with it,” Therriault said.
The track offers “new rider clinics” every other Wednesday evening. The clinic teaches the basics, like how to balance at the starting gate, where to pedal, how to take corners, and how to jump and pump.
Joe Therriault said there is no fee for the new rider clinics, which are run by USABMX certified coaches like his son Christopher.
“We want to keep the people in the sport and keep them interested,” Joe Therriault said. “We’re a homegrown, local track, we try to keep it simple, we cater to our customers.”
Christopher Therriault said getting started can be intimidating. He wanted to quit after his first race, but was encouraged to keep trying.
“Every track I’ve been to, everybody’s been so welcome, open arms...they’re willing to do anything for you,” he said. “They make you feel like you’re part of a family.
“When I first started, I was really uncertain about the sport and I’m glad I stuck with it,” Therriault added.
Dawn Therriault said the track is always looking for volunteers to help with registration, scoring, staging, and concessions.
Falcon BMX is open May through October, dependent on weather conditions.