Return of the BMX bandit

I’ve long subscribed to the theory that, regardless how old or mature we think we’ve grown, deep down we’re still just 12 year olds. We still enjoy corny jokes. We still gorge ourselves on too much dessert when given the slightest opportunity. We still get a chuckle when someone farts. And, as I discovered recently, we still get a massive thrill from hurtling over a few dirt jumps and around 180-degree berms on a BMX bike.

It’s been roughly 35 year since I last threw a leg over my beloved green Madison in the western suburbs Brisbane. Back then the family home was surrounded by a virtually endless supply of bush tracks, jumps and table-tops for us to lose our skin and teeth on. These days it’s the middle of sprawling suburbia.

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My old Madison was pretty much like this one, except I never had tuffs (which I’m still a bit gutted about). It had footbrakes too, great for powerslides on the dirt – or ‘broadies’ as I think they’re called these days.

It was remarkable how quickly I was transported back to those carefree (and, yes, helmet free) days last weekend when my 9-year old asked if I’d like to take a spin on his shiny new bike at the local BMX track. Still hyper aware of my titanium-infused shoulder, I admit I was a little hesitant at first. But my inner 12-year old quickly went to work, and presented a truly compelling reason to throw caution to the wind – I couldn’t have my son thinking his dad is a wuss.

Channeling whatever residual technical savvy I could muster from the late 1970s, I soon found myself flying down the start ramp, sans any kind of protective gear except for my road helmet, filled with a youthful vigour I could barely remember, but instantly cherished.

To me, the first sequence of jumps felt like I was impersonating Caroline Buchanan or Sam Willoughby. To everyone else at the track, I have little doubt it was all rather lame and even a bit tragic watching some middle-aged ‘never was’ (‘has been’ would suggest I was once pretty good – I wasn’t) roll over the bumps at snail’s pace.

%$#@ them all, I say! I had a blast. I didn’t crash. And I even managed to get a reasonable amount of air after a few sighter laps. As my easily-impressed son told me later, “that was pretty sick dad!”

Good lad.

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