Monday, August 30, 2010

I have a new tribe...

...And its name is BMX.

It's funny how we got here. It started last year with my son attending the short track races at PIR. He liked racing the "kiddie" races but they left him wanting more. I could understand. As they were they certainly weren't very challenging and he despaired every time I reminded how old he needed to be to qualify as a "Junior" for OBRA races.


At the time he was riding your typical department store klunker. The things were deceptively heavy-- first time I tried to hoist it up I almost dislocated my shoulder! It would be like me trading in my 24lb MTB for a 60lb bike with 37" wheels that was made out of cast iron.


So I saw a kid in the kiddie races on a super sweet little Redline bike. Narrow 20" wheels. Alloy axle nuts. I recognized it as a BMX bike but it was unlike any BMX I had ever seen and it shattered my outdated mental model of what BMX bikes were. But right away I knew that it would be the perfect bike for my son. It was proportional in size and weight. It wouldn't be a pig.

So after looking around, checking CL, asking around and casting a pretty wide net, a friend (Hi Will!) sends me an email that links to the GT bikes site. Up pops an image of the sweetest little GT BMX bike. I instantly want one.

Long story short-- a couple of months later I'm mounting a GT Power Series Expert on top of the familymobile and heading home.

My son digs it. His other klunkerz? Instantly reassigned as "Loaners".

So we go to more races and he seems to like racing more and more. But the kiddie races just leave him cold now. But I'm starting to see more kids on the same kinds of bikes. Where are they coming from?

It remains a mystery until we attend a short track race sown in Salem. Guess what? Part of it is staged on the Salem BMX track! I bump into the track operator (Adam Treadwell, all-around nice guy) and find out that there is an actual BMX race the very next night. (Oh jeez. Driving down to Salem again??)

Well kiddo is instant game. We hit the race and it's awesome. Very much a family-oriented sport. Everyone is very friendly-- A couple of folks help us out and show us how to read the "moto sheets" ("Moto" is BMX-speak for "race").

So finally kiddo get a REAL race. There are places. He come in third and vows to work up to second next week.

So we go the next week. It looked like so much fun that I decide I should give it a go. I rent a bike and helmet and I'm set.

As I rest my front wheel against the upright starting gate I get pre-race jitters like never before. I feel like I'm on a precipice of a huge drop-off.

And then the gate drops.

I'm 8 years old again, jamming my old beater bike around and around a vacant dirt lot daring myself to see how high I can go off the dirt jump.


So now I have my own BMX bike -- A Redline Proline 24 Cruiser, in red, even! -- and both me and my son are ABA members.

The bonus is that I still fit into my old O'Neal motocross pants that I wore when I was a teenage riding dirt bikes (the kind with stinky 2-stroke engines) and so I score old-school cool points.

Ha ha! Oh, I kill me.

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