The passion for thrill seeking has existed ever since the first caveman stepped out, saw the sun shining and thought this would be a good day to invent the wheel. People can go fast, they can run and swim, cutting through the air and the waves with quiet satisfaction, but we have limits. We need wheels and boards to accelerate beyond those fixed bounds and the sport of BMX can take us there, skidding through mud and feeling sweat trickle down into eyes after bumping concrete and finishing a tough trick.
The thrill of BMX began back in the 1970’s and early 80’s with kids looking for new challenges, new ways to impress friends and buddies. Skateboarders were showing off with tricks, carving the air, spinning their wheels and hanging above the ground for impossible seconds. Why not take the same spirit of freestyle and meld it, blend it with bicycles?
There were plenty of vacant lots around and America seemed to be in a phase of tearing down buildings and constructing new, taller ones in the booming 80’s, so it was a cinch to modify a few 20″ Schwinn Stingray bicycles and find a quiet lot to try out the first ever BMX tricks. A whole new sport was invented that day, a combination of the best of cycling and the freestyling tricks used by skateboarders.
Empty swimming pools were used and homes that were temporarily unoccupied. Groups of kids scouted for families going away on vacation so they could call their buddies to tell them they had a new place to hang out. There was a certain air of lawlessness, rebellion and downright adventure involved in the early days, with enthusiasts locked in garages modifying their bikes to handle concrete edges and steep ramps, but the time wasn’t far away until the secret activity would be recognized as a true sport.
Bicycle Motocross, shortened to BMX, was born and spread from its California roots across the world. Small half-pipe ramps sprang up in parks, overtaking skateboarding as the urban sport of choice and bigger tracks arrived for international competitions, events judged for speed, time spent in the air, and other factors.
Many of the races have less interest in speed than in freestyle tricks, stunts where the rider takes on heart-stopping challenges where they leave the saddle and carry out hand-stands on the handlebars, crazy twists of their bodies and adrenaline causing stunts, all while still in the air. The phenomenon known as BMX is firmly part of the pop culture now, breaking barriers to create a sport that once had its beginnings in simpler times where a young boy in his garage just wanted to ease the boredom of his urban upbringing by pushing his limits beyond the conventional.
Boys and girls, teens and young adults across the world play and compete on BMX bikes specially designed with wheels, shocks and frames built for free-styling and taking to the air on a ramp. Everyone can be part of the sport. Just make sure to come prepared with plenty of protection for those occasional tumbles by wearing a sturdy helmet and knee pads.