Some of you here may know and have tried out the new St. Pete BMX track as I did this weekend. The grand opening was saturday for an all day practice session starting at 11am. I arrived promptly just after 11, suited up, stretched out & proceeded to climb Mount Everest. My Mt Everest analogy refers to the starting hill which is the steepest, longest & highest I've ever been on. Even more so than Riverview BMX.
Initially nobody was running the gate so it was roll & go. By the time I reached the bottom I had to scrub some speed as I approached the first jump. Despite this I still get a bit of air on the first lip then launch off the second lip to find there is barely any backside to this huge jump resulting in my quad not touching tierra firma until the bottom of the jump, scary to say the least. As I got used to it I scrubbed more speed at the top of the first jump which resulted in landing halfway down, which felt better but I had no momentum when I hit turn one. Overall I wasn't as fast as I can be at Tampa BMX because despite having this huge starting hill I can't maintain any momentum through the course due to all the speed I have to scrub in preparation for that first monstrosity of a jump.
The turns are all 90* so getting any speed there is difficult as well. Another disadvantage is that they are not yet paved & rather bumpy at this time. It was faster to stay low in the turns but beware loose soil there, we all know what can happen there! The jumps coming out of turn one will, like it or not, elevate you and are well constructed. You can also choose, or be forced onto, the pro section jumps which will result in big air. I, as has been discussed before, avoid big air so I stay away from that side. Let the kidz have their fun. The rest of the track, overall, is pretty good but still needs some work & revisions IMO. My only other complaint is that the rythm section is short & you can't really pump through & make speed there so much either, at least I couldn't.
They did have the gate up and running for a bit before the compressor took a shiite. This enabled me to get some practice "coming down the mountain" (Janes Addiction, woohoo!). Balancing is real easy due to the aforementioned angle but when the gate drops after two pumps on my 45/16 gearing I'm in the spin zone & need to start burning up my brake pads anyways due to max velocity being acheived and fear of launching on that first monster, going over it & landing on the flat due to the lack of backside on the jump. Ouch!
I'm certain they are going to work out the bugs in the coming weeks, which is why they thankfully had no racing yet. There were alot of people there from all over the state who's opinions hold considerably more weight than mine. From the others I spoke to in attendance all were in agreement with my observations & opinion. It will be an awesome facility once they get over the growing pains and I'm certain we can look forward to some big national events there that will attract the biggest names in the sport to try it out. Hell, it's in Florida who doesn't want to come here when it's still cold everywhere else? I cut my teeth on indoor tracks up north as a kid but let's face it, BMX is an outdoor sport!
Check out the link below for SPBMX's website & pics of they track when it was under construction.