Do you love to ride bicycles? Do you feel like your bike is a natural extension of your body, and riding it is as easy as walking or running, and a lot more more fun, too? Do you think you might be ready to take your bike riding to a higher challenge level? If your answer is yes, then you should try out BMX racing! “BMX” is short for bike motocross, and it’s just as exciting as the motorsport it’s named for, but it’s your legs that do the work!
The sport got its start back in the late 1960s by kids who loved motocross but couldn’t afford expensive motorcycles, so they built their own dirt tracks and raced their bicycles! This turned out to be just as exciting as its inspiration, and bike motocross grew into the hard-pedalling popular sport we know and love today.
The design of early BMX race bikes was based on the Schwinn Sting-Ray, a stylish kid’s bike that boasted 20 wheels. The design evolved through the 80s into the sturdy but fast BMX racing bikes on today’s tracks. BMX racing bikes are a bit different from freestyle trick riding BMX bikes in that a racing bike’s tyres are thinner and the frame is lower to the ground to reduce resistance.
Once you have your racer picked out, you will need to suit up properly with a safety helmet that covers your face, long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy gloves. It’s a hard-going, rough-riding sport, and falls and collisions are going to happen, so you need to be protected!
The sport of BMX racing has its tricks and techniques. The first one to learn is called “pumping” in which you have two wheels on the ground and pump your arms and legs to gain the momentum you need to go over jumps. Just pedalling isn’t enough, you must “pump”, which shifts your body weight to increase speed.
Once you have mastered pumping, it’s time to learn “manualing”. You perform a “manual” by gaining speed, then lifting the front wheel off the ground while riding on the rear wheel without turning the pedals and balancing with your legs. This is used for jumping over hazards, your legs become the bike’s shock absorbers!
BMX racing is great fun, but like any sport, it requires a lot of practice to be competitive!