Members of the Guam Cycling Federation have a new playground. GCF President Eric Tydingco said new membership increased this year because of the pandemic and the introduction of a new course.

“We’ve seen an explosion in our membership. All I can share is anecdotal evidence that it is the result of two things: the increase in the number of bikers due to the COVID-19 situation and specifically to the photos we’ve been posting showcasing the flow track.”

The recently constructed flow track is located is at the Guam International Raceway in Yigo.

“The cool new flow track up at GIR was initiated by our board member Paje Butler. He was able to work directly with partners at Smithbridge who provided the dirt for building the track,” Tydingco said.

“Not only is the flow track fun to ride for experienced riders who want to get some 'air' on some of the jumps, it is shaped in a way that even novices can comfortably roll through the course," he said. "This is part of our long-term plan for BMX development, as the skill necessary to learn on BMX can be learned on this flow track."

GCF will have BMX under its umbrella just as the volleyball federation hosts beach volleyball and the basketball federation now hosts 3-on-3 hoops. Guam has already seen an increase in popularity with beach volleyball and 3-on-3 basketball.

GCF is hoping the same pattern will follow with BMX biking. The flow track is just the beginning and is a giant step forward to attracting more participation.

Tydingco acknowledged that his sport also offers athletes from other sports an opportunity to keep in shape while not having access to train in their usual environment.

“With the closures of gyms and CrossFit boxes, these folks wanted to maintain an exercise regimen. Some already incorporated running into their physical fitness, but many others wanted something that was low-impact. This is reinforced by verified news of a global shortage and long wait times at bike shops for purchases," he said.

New form of training

Life is different for the athletes in Guam since the coronavirus invaded the island earlier this year. The biggest impact is on athletes who need contact to play their sports, such as football, wrestling, basketball and rugby. Government restrictions forced these athletes to stop training with others and gyms were temporarily closed during Guam’s Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1.

What were athletes to do? Athletes who needed to keep busy took up running and others picked up a bike and started cycling. Guam National Basketball team member Earvin Jose said he started running and then also took up biking to improve his stamina.

“I was used to playing basketball year round and then the pandemic took that away,” said Jose. “I couldn’t lie around and be lazy.”

“Cycling started to pick up everywhere, and the more I saw it, the more I got curious to try it. For a while, I was borrowing a bike from friends because I was enjoying the exercise," Jose said. "I (eventually) decided to get my own bike and got deeper into cycling, particularly mountain biking. I got into mountain biking because (it's) a favorable exercise for me, because my whole body is working."

Jose said he tried the flow track in Yigo, adding it's great for all levels of workouts.

“You can work on distance, speed, climbing, downhill, endurance, etc. … one of my favorite tracks on Guam," he said.

Fellow basketball athlete Jin Han also took up biking.

“The main reason for me was to continue staying active since there really isn’t many options due to the pandemic. I also love the challenge of a new sport,” Han said.

The course is an added boon to his newfound sport, Han said.

“The course is great! It really hits all skill levels of riders. I really enjoy the challenges of the technical portions. The drops and jumps are also a lot of fun but can be dangerous if not prepared,” said Han.

The federation is happy to have the increased interest in cycling, but everyone must not ignore the most important thing: Safety," Tydingco said. "I wanted to stress to all the new cyclists to please be safe. It is the law that you must wear a helmet. When riding on the road (which is legal), adhere to the traffic rules (stopping at red lights, staying on the right of the outer lane). If you must ride at night or in the early morning, use a quality bright taillight and headlight. And please … practice social distance rules when riding with more than one person."