The Wonderful World of BMX Riders
Perhaps your goal is to be one of the top BMX riders in the country. That could mean an eventual trip to the Olympic Games. It could also mean some money if at some point you elect to turn pro. The immediate problem is, where to start? You’ll want to have the proper bike of course, and you’ll want to find a track nearby where you can start practicing.
If you’re new to BMX racing, it would make sense to talk to someone who has had some experience, preferably a great deal of it, to find out which BMX bike would be best for you. If you’re just getting started you don’t necessarily need to purchase a top-of-the-line model, but you do want one that’s at least rugged enough to get you through a fair number of competitions. Insofar as handling is concerned, most BMX bikes are easy to maneuver, but some are easier than others.
There are different styles of bikes for BMX riders, and of course there are many different brands. The days are long past when all of the bikes were Schwinn Sting-Rays, followed a few years later by Mongooses. Wheel base and wheel size are two important considerations, so you’ll want to look into which size might be best for you. Here again, you would do well to ask someone who knows what he or she is talking about.
While a 20″ wheel is more or less standard, there are also 24″, 26″, and 29″ BMX bikes. There are also bikes with 18″ wheels and bikes with 16″ wheels. Naturally, there are both boy’s and girl’s bikes, as well as bikes especially designed for dirt jumping and freestyle events. Some of the better known brands include Colony, Cult, FBM, Premium, and SE to name a few.
Finding a Track
Finding a track near you may to may not be difficult. Not finding one shouldn’t keep you from practicing however. BMX riders tend to be an innovative lot, especially when it comes to finding a challenging course to practice or race on, or making one. If you build your own course, keep safety in mind. You don’t want a course filled with challenges, or even one challenge, beyond your ability.
If you are fortunate to find a race track, take note of the hours. Many tracks are open from dawn to dusk. Others are open from a set time to another set time. A few are lighted. Operating hours often depend on the neighborhood and the noise tolerance of its residents. BMX bikes aren’t noisy, but the riders and especially the spectators can be.
You’ll also want to check to see which hours or days are available for practice and which are dedicated to racing. There may also be guidelines for beginners posted, which are well worth taking note of if you happen to be one. Here again, safety is always an issue as there is sometimes a fine line between bravado and stupidity. Speaking of stupidity, never race without a helmet, or practice without wearing one for that matter. You’re unlikely to be allowed to participate in any sanctioned race without a helmet, and most public skate or bike parks require wearing a helmet as well. When you purchase your first bike, make sure you have enough left over for a quality helmet.
BMX Racing is For Almost Everyone
One of the great thing about BMX racing, besides being fun and exciting, is that it can be a family event. Most of the participants tend to be in their teens, with many if not most of the pros being in their late teens and early twenties. Don’t be too surprised however to occasionally catch a glimpse of a senior citizen practicing or racing, or witness a BMX race dedicated to senior bikers. There are no doubt many senior citizens who, when seeing BMX racers in action, secretly wish they were out there. A few do more than simply wish; they get involved, although you usually won’t see seniors getting as much ‘air’ as is normally the case with the younger riders.
It’s Not Always Reaching the Goal That Counts Most
A worthwhile goal for anyone who truly wants to be involved in BMX racing is to work towards membership in the ‘20,000 Points Club.’ The only way to become a member is to compete in a great number of races and win more than a few of them. A victory in a district expert race is worth 100 points, so all you have to do is win 200 such races. The custom jacket you’ll receive once you become a member is nice, but the experience you gain when aiming for your objective can be priceless. Next step, the Olympics.
Even if you don’t ever become a member of that somewhat exclusive club, or don’t care whether you do or not, you’ll make many friends. You’ll also find that, as is the case in many sports, the participants, while mostly younger, come from all walks of life. Many will have other interests aside from BMX, and despite the negative publicity that sometimes accompanies an activity in which the participants seem to be having ‘too much fun,’ most if not all participants can legitimately claim to be achievers.