What do Peter Sagan, Robbie McEwan, me and my kids have in common? Yes, we all started out riding a BMX. Robbie went on to global cycling superstardom, of course, and Sagan is well on his way. Sadly, I never reached quite such heights. Time will tell if my progeny have any enduring pedalling talent. But the signs so far are encouraging, with a few wins and, more importantly, plenty of smiles as they whiz around Lidcombe Oval.
And that’s what so great about a BMX bike. It’s accessible. It gets feet on pedals and bums on (bike) seats. Without bankrupting mum and dad. At least initially.
I still remember by first BMX. I wanted a silver Mongoose with red tuffs. But Santa was a tight wad and got me a kermit green Madisson with steel spokes instead. I never really loved it (in fact, I even tried spray painting it silver…it was still crapola). But it was better than walking. And whilst as heavy as a car, it was also as hard as nails…the most unbreakable bike I’ve ever owned. If we hadn’t dismantled it to make a hot rod go-kart one school holidays, chances are it would still be working.
Belting around the bushland of Brisbane’s urban fringes in the late 70s and 80s – long before the fun police made kids wear helmets – taught me how to handle a bike…often in the most treacherous of conditions…and how to deal with pain when I invariably stacked trying to show off to my mates. In one of my more memorable croppers, I recall clipping a parked car’s side mirror, hurtling on to the unforgiving bitumen and bouncing straight back up to ride home dripping with blood. Yeah, I’m fine Mum, do we have any Coke?
Monos. Bunnyhops. Powerslides. And more. They gave me independence. They gave me confidence. And yes, they gave me a lifetime of scarring all over my knees and elbows. Ironically, these scars have only become noticable again since I’ve become a carbon addicted roadie with shaved legs. My kids think they’re awesome.