What started off as a casual conversation between two old BMXers, both of who are old enough to remember coaster brakes and ACS rims, about seeing a bunch of skateboarders making the news in Melbourne celebrating World Skateboarding Day quickly led to “we should celebrate BMX in a similar way.” Shane Jenkins (the founder of bmxultra.com, and lifelong BMX addict) and Bruce Morris (#oldwasheduppro) came up with the concept of Go BMXing Day as a way of celebrating BMX culture and all it encompasses. The date of November 14th was chosen as it’s recognised as the birth of BMX racing in 1970, with an event run by the God Father of BMX, Scot Breithaupt. BMX racing took hold of the youth of America and spread across the world splintering into the genres we see today of race, dirt, park, street and flatland.
A Facebook page was quickly created, and two rides were organised for Brisbane and Melbourne. The ethos was to keep it low key, just a ride to celebrate what BMX means to people. The fact that if you’re over 40 you probably had a BMX bike as a kid in the 80s, coupled with the exposure the sport has these days through the X-Games, Red Bull events and BMX racing making its third appearance in the Olympics, has meant that BMX somewhat of a resurgence. Parents are returning to racing as their kids start tearing up the track, or their hitting the skate park with them, rather than sitting in the car watching. The appeal is across a wide spectrum of ages.
The Brisbane ride was based at Ellaspede in West End. These guys are custom bike builders and mates of #washeduppro who all had BMX bikes as kids. In fact, they all still had their original bikes, with Ellaspede co-owner Steve resurrecting his 1981 Redline MXII for the event. Their enthusiasm for the concept and willingness to get involved meant that we had an awesome space in West End to base our ride from. Once we had a space, things quickly grew from there and through connections in the industry, we thought it fitting to involve a few iconic brands in Crisp Brothers Racing and LUX BMX just to add some flavour and colour to the day. Traction Builds (a community based, not for profit group getting kids restoring and building bikes) provided the food on the day with the proceeds from the sales supporting their program and BOSC kept our fluids topped with Fortitude Brewing’s Pacer Ale.
We sat back, spread the news a little (okay, a lot) through a BMX community Facebook page, BMX, Beers and Bullshit and quickly the “going” number passed a 100. We thought “wow, that’s cool”, then it hit 200, and in the last week heading into the event passed 300! We started to panic a little as we never envisaged this many. And the fact that a lot of people were bringing their kids along meant that the number could blow out even more. “Don’t worry” said Hughan, the marketing manager from Ellaspede. An old hand at running successful events like Dust Hustle, he reckoned only half of those will show up even if it’s nice day and the sun is out based on his experience. Phew!
Brisbane in November is one of those months where we see unsettled conditions and the day was forecast with the possibility of showers and severe thunderstorms! We woke to a nice morning, which quickly deteriorated to showers moving in from the west across the city. We would go on rain, hail or shine. We set up in showers and listened to claps of thunder, but the BOM radar showed the system moving through quickly. “Yes, we are go” was our response to a number of messages coming through and sure enough, Scot Breithaupt was looking down upon us and cleared the rain. The sun came out and the riders started to roll in, and roll in…. Families with mum, dad and the kids riding, and the LUX crew arriving with a solid posse of riders. Soon Ellaspede was heaving with race bikes, freestyle bikes and a range of BMXers from 3 years old to well over 50. All with one thing on their mind, let’s ride!
We didn’t dare push our luck with the weather so we rolled out right on time at 1pm and cruised down the street to the River path and into Southbank towards the turnaround point. For those of you that know Brisbane, the Southbank precinct is popular with both locals and tourists, and the sight of 200+ BMXers rolling through in the world’s most unlikely peloton must have been quite something. We gathered for an impromptu group shot and it showed the magnitude of how many rocked up.
Riding that 2 or so kilometres really produced a thirst and we were keen to head back for beers, burgers and bunnyhops! That’s right, we held an old fashion bunnyhop contest and as the boys from LUX BMX set up the rig, we rallied some participants. With the amount of kids, we called for under 10s to give it a go and while initially there was some reluctance (caused by the fact that the kids probably didn’t even know what the hell we were doing!), they soon jumped on board and we produced a winner, Mikael Carter, and one emergency department visit for 11 stitches in the shin and a couple of awesome scars to show the chicks when he’s a little older.
While we didn’t plan it, the bunnyhop comp for the older crew turned into a battle between the freestylers and racers, producing some epic moments. One of the freestyle boys was barspinning as he cleared the bar which definitely made him a crowd favourite, while a difference in styles between the two groups clearly distinguishable.
As the bar was raised, the competition was whittled down to two. Matty Hollibone and Wilton Hedley. The crowd’s support was divided, supporting “their” rider, though we all cheered and clapped as the last height was raised to what was to become the winning height – 42 inches! That’s just over 1 metre for you kids. Up first was Wilton with a sketchy as clearance, with Mitch and Ev from LUX clearly stoked for their boy! Then Matty sculled a schooner, stomped on the pedals and with a racer’s focus boosted the bar as well. The crowd went nuts! The rain was starting to fall, so we called it a tie and the boys sculled a beer each in celebration.
We couldn’t have planned a more fitting event to celebrate #gobmxingday and all was left to do was to drain the beer kegs to make returning them a little easier. Massive thanks from the organisers to those that rocked up, rode and supported the day. And massive thanks to those that got behind the inaugural day; Ellespede, Traction Builds, LUX BMX, Emily from BOSC for the beers and Cam Small from Crisp Brothers Racing for the graphic design work and organising the tees.
Big thanks to Paul at Racer Pics for the photos.
See you all next year.