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From youth passion to overseeing track
John Anderson checks out one of the Redline bikes on display at his West Manteca shop. Anderson oversees a BMX racing team of more than 30 riders that now call the Spreckels BMX Park their home track thanks to efforts made by him, the City of Manteca, and other volunteers to make sure that it gets completed. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Spreckels Avenue might be a quick shortcut from Yosemite Avenue over to Moffat Boulevard, but it carries a whole different meaning for Jon Anderson.

The plot of land at the corner of that intersection has been the focus of most of Anderson’s efforts for the better part of six years as he worked with the City of Manteca to bring a BMX park to the community to serve the large contingency of riders that have no local place to practice.

And now Anderson – who runs Anderson’s Mower and Bike with his brother Chris – has a place where he can watch the members of the Icee-Anderson-209 racing team practice on a regular basis, and can take pride in knowing that the time he put into seeing the project through paid off.

“It was a long road, but seeing people out there riding makes everything worth it,” Anderson said. “We have a large group of people here in Manteca that ride BMX and are good at it, and it gives them a chance to have a place here locally to ride. That’s something that we didn’t have before.

“I’m just happy that I have a wife that supported me in all of that, and that really helped make that possible.”

All it took for Anderson to fall in love with the sport of BMX riding was entering his first race at the age of 13 – back when he was just a local kid riding around the streets of Manteca on his BMX bicycle – behind the KOA campground in Stockton. Once he tore out of the gate and got the rush that comes with the sport, the rest was history.

“It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s something that just gets into your blood,” Anderson said. “Once you start off doing it, you just can’t stop, and that’s really what makes it so much fun.”

Anderson eventually turned professional, and took racing extremely seriously until 1982 – the start of a 15-year hiatus from the sport that had previously been the center of his life.

Once his daughter Crissy turned 9, Anderson found himself back out at the track watching her ride, and soon found himself with the bug that he remembered from the first time he ever rolled out onto a track.

For the next decade, he immersed himself in the sport and built up a team of more than 30 BMX riders that compete all over the country in various events ranging from local races to national showcases.

“What I love about it is that it’s really a family-oriented sport. We have some families that race together, and when you come out to a race you can always see families sitting together and enjoying the fun,” Anderson said. “There aren’t a whole lot of sports like that where everyone can participate, and that’s what makes BMX special.”

Since the track opened, Anderson has been amazed at how many people have taken up riding in their spare time.

“The amount of use that track gets is amazing,” he said. “Every evening after work I drive by and I see so many kids out there riding. People from all over the place come out and ride there and whenever you can bring people from outside of the community in, it helps everybody here.

“I’m glad that it’s finally open, and I’m really glad to see people out there enjoying it.”

BMX races are held on the site on Sundays, starting at 1:30 p.m. For more information, contact Anderson’s Mower and Bike at 239-1438.