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Shoreham BMX

Juliet Catanzaro, #15 of Miller Place, was just one of many North Shore residents to race for top spot in Shoreham the weekend of Oct. 4-6. Photo by Kyle Barr

More than 600 BMX riders from across the Northeast came to Shoreham last weekend for a test of speed and skill.

The nonprofit Shoreham BMX hosted the regional Gold Cup championship the weekend of Oct. 4. Sponsored by bicycle association USABMX, the event attracted a large crowd of spectators and competitors, who packed into the small hamlet for the competition on Long Island’s only BMX track.

The event is considered to be among the most competitive races in the country and attracted 677 people from all over.

Racers who looked to compete at the Gold Cup, had to first qualify at two other regional tracks by having good times in their category before they could advance to the finals.

A rider competing in the Gold Cup series counts their best two scores from separate events held over the weekend. Competitors who earn their place on the podium are considered regional champs and receive a coveted gold plate. 

Jennifer Dzvonar, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce and PJS resident, watched both her husband, William, and daughter, Daphne, participate.

“It was amazing to watch them at such a really big event,” she said

Rich Soper, the track operator and president of the Shoreham BMX Parents Association, said this was the first time the track has hosted this specific event, calling it one of the best days he’s ever seen at the Shoreham track.

The North Shore community was well represented at the weekend’s events, with people from Wading River west to Northport competing. Many people from Port Jefferson Station through Rocky Point gained podium spots.

The Shoreham BMX track is notoriously difficult. Soper said that the people and teams who practice on the nonprofit’s track learn tight jumps and turns even at a novice level.  

“That’s why our local people tend to do better,” he said.

Rocky Point resident Marie Stewart watched her son, Keith, compete in the finals this past weekend. The 12-year-old, at age 4 watched a friend navigate the Shoreham track and asked his mom if he could do the same. Since then he and his team, the Rocky Point/Miller Place-based Toxic Racing, have gone on to win multiple Gold Plates at recent competitions. Keith, who currently competes in the 12-year-old expert category, is a past Gold Cup champion and has recently won fifth place in the New York State BMX competition.

“The kids have become such good friends with each other, whether they’re on the team or not,” Stewart said. “It’s not so much the trophy at the end, but what each kid puts into it — their heart and soul.”

Keith said he was happy in how he performed for the Gold Cup considering the tough class he was in. He expects to carry on with BMX for a while more.

By Bill Landon

Riders from near and far converged at the BMX track in Shoreham for the USA BMX Race for Life event, where all entry fees were donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

The event began in 1981, when 12-year-old Michigan BMX rider Todd Kingsbury’s friends and the American Bicycle Association learned of his Leukemia diagnosis, and decided that an organized effort should be made to help in Todd’s “race for life.” The first American Bicycle Association “race for life” events were formed that year, with over 130 tracks participating and raising funds for the society.

According to track operator Richard Soper, Shoreham had almost 60 riders register for one or more event, raising $695 total.

“It’s an annual thing that’s been going on for a long time,” Soper said. “We’ve participated for as long as I can remember.”

It was family fun for all ages — the youngest competitors being 2 year olds on straddles, or bikes with no pedals, and the oldest races in the 46 and older category.

The track, which is off Defense Hill road, will be celebrating its 35th year Aug. 5, according to Soper, which will be the site of the New York State championship event Oct. 7.

“When you get a membership [with USA BMX] you can go to any track they want — there’s a group of 30 to 40 people that are here tonight that travel daily to different tracks,” Soper said. “We have people that come from the city, riders from Connecticut; this sport is sanctioned [nationally] and there are over 400 tracks in the country.”

Shoreham BMX enjoys a long-term lease with the Town of Brookhaven for the site at Robert C. Reid Park and rely solely on the volunteer efforts of its members for track maintenance and upgrades.