I never planned on having a love affair with extreme sports and I’m probably your most unlikely candidate. When I was a little girl growing up the most extreme thing I ever did was break into the neighbors’ house to move some oranges around. I did this in the hopes of impressing our little street gang which was actually just a group of bored kids who liked to climb up trees and slide down lampposts. Not all that glamorous. No guns or anything like that. We talked big but most of us had to run home straight away when the flock of moms started calling out into the road.
There were a few girls that hung around but they were quickly put in their place. They played the role of first loves, girlfriends and spectators. I, on the other hand, got my hands a little more dirty than that at the cost of being popular or idly swinging my hair around. Nevertheless, one thing that I did take from the whole experience was keeping active. It’s hard to look back and believe that every minute I wasn’t at school or in bed, I was moving around. I mostly enjoyed playing cricket and stuff but the boys quickly grew tired of those games. It wasn’t long before the skateboards came out and of course, the bikes.
BMX: The First Memories
Now we weren’t the richest of kids and we certainly couldn’t keep up with every pre-teen/teen craze but the one thing we did have was a bike. My brother soon upgraded to a BMX and I found myself using it almost as much as he did. If I wanted to hang out and not sit on the sidelines talking about S Club Seven, I had to get faster and stronger. But more than anything, I found myself really loving bike-riding and I wasn’t bad at skateboarding either. You’d often catch me flying down the road after I’d secretly been practicing for hours in front of our block.
Even stranger, when it came to BMXing, I seemed to have a natural ability. I’m quite an athletic looking thing and I’ve always had power in the legs so I even found myself getting over the sprint races back and forth. After a while, all the kids started modifying their bikes. This involved wadloads of my mothers’ duct tape more than anything but the kids were definitely putting money into their bikes as well. Everybody was getting new grips and I actually ended up putting a set on my bike just to get me by until I could get a BMX.
The BMX Evolution
I learned most of the tricks myself and spent a lot of time falling over but I quickly mastered a bar spin and a bunny hop and found that these relatively small feats meant more to me than anybody else’s opinion. This was what got me doing a lot of BMX by myself and with my little brother. A lot of the other guys moved on to “rollerballing” but I stuck it out until I was basically the only kid on the block still doing it.
Today, I can call myself a BMXer. I can hold my own at parks and against some of the better riders that still exist. I only enter local competitions but I’ve done alright for myself and am one of the few female riders in the area. I try to improve my riding by doing other sports and sometimes mash them together. I’ve recently got into creating duo performance routines and a lot of freestyle stuff but funnily enough the old favorites’ are still tricks like the fire hydrant which has a lot of potential for combos although, I took my first big knock this way. As with anything these tricks have taken hours and hours of practice and I actually ended up getting a “ball punch” a few times, coupled with a joint sprain and a torn ligament from my right foot right up to the knee.
Bringing it Back
There have been times when I’ve considered switching to ballet or something but it’s not for lack of love. It’s just that there aren’t that many BMXers around anymore and it’s difficult to find mentors and riding buddies. I’ve found some great video tutorials though and I’m managing to get some of my friends into the sport even though they seem to think we’re too old for it. It would be great if it was popularized again simply because I’d have more available to me in terms of people to ride with, new parks and new accessories but in the meantime, I’m almost riding solo.
Something that I’ve found to be a lot of fun that can help you bring something new to the table is wall riding. I never really got into this in the past so I’ve just been trying it out and seeing how far I can get. I’ve hit just over five meters but took a tumble at the bottom which I’m still recovering from. Call me a lady but I like to let myself heal up fully before attempting anything after an injury.
In my mind, freestyle BMXing is better than trying to get air all the time. I love the technical aspect of it. I wish that there was something new that would really push the boundaries of what’s already being done at a grassroots level. I have dreams of creating my own splash park with thin tunnels for BMXing and land-sea boards. If we can get people really interested in BMXing again, it will breathe some much needed life into the sport.
I’m not talking from an X games perspective here. I mean the kids who grew up with it and the kids who want to get into it today. They need parks and gear rather than consoles. It’s time to put recreational, street BMXing back on the map and getting technical again at the bottom. I’d like to see the sport take the front seat again and be as cool as it was in the Eighties but maybe with better outfits.