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By Derek Schlennstedt

Up to 300 riders are expected to tackle the jumps and bumps at the Lilydale Conquer the Valley BMX competition on Sunday, 27 May.

The Conquer the Valley competition is the biggest event of the year at Lilydale Lynx BMX Club, which will have local, state and even interstate riders testing themselves against the best in the sport.

Attracting over 1000 people, both riders and spectators alike flock to the popular competition.

Club president, Steve Ralis, said that BMX has become one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia and is one of the few sports where total family participation can take place.

“Kids start from three-years-old and they go right up to competing up to 50 plus … basically the whole family comes and races on the day then you get the pros, and they compete on the same day,” Mr Ralis said.

“We’ve got three pro riders and i’m hoping they all do compete though one is injured.”

The competition comes as efforts to improve riding tracks around the Yarra Valley are being undertaken by Yarra Ranges Council which in its 2018-19 draft budget on Friday, 27 April, proposes the construction of a BMX Pump Track at Mount Evelyn.

Mr Ralis said if ti went ahead he hopes it will attract more people to the family friendly sport, and would act as gateway to take on competitive BMX riding.

“It’s a bit of a quiet sport so not everyone knows about it … though it is growing,” he said.

“That track is kind of more of something to fill a hole but people that do go there may find they like it and want to take up the sport.

“It’s more of a gateway; people go there, have a bit of a play and find that they like it and may want to start at an actual track.”

Having grown from 45 to over 100 members, Mr Ralis said the sport was great for the entire family, though kids who were quieter were able to get a lot out of the sport too.

“It’s a great sport for kids,” he said.

“We find it really helps those who are quieter, they can put their helmets on and can go into their own little world until they feel they’re ready to chat to the other kids … we find by the end of six months they come out of their shell and are quite open.”

While Mr Ralis describes the Lilydale track as “flowing” he said there were plenty of thrills and spills and that the more experienced riders often jump over the parts where the younger kids may not.

“It’s quite a flowing track where you have to pump the bike through it … actually all about pushing the bike and absorbing the bike and pushing it out the other side – it’s quite a technical track,” he said.

“There’s still a place and time for the pros, because they can use many of the jumps.”

Mr Ralis invited anyone interested in the sport to come along and watch the best BMX riders in the state battle it out.

Those interested in the sport were also invited to come and have a chat at the clubrooms on Wednesdays when practice takes place from 6pm.

Conquer the Valley takes place from 10.30am – 2pm, Sunday, 27 May, at the Lilydale BMX club.

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