BMX…It's not a competition

This article prompted me to write down something which has been going round in my head ever since I saw Ruben Alcantara riding a competition a year or so ago. I realised that while Ruben wasn’t doing anything that hard (compared with everyone else I mean, not compared to me!) I enjoyed watching him a lot more than anyone else.

I think there is a growing concern amongst some riders that BMX Freestyle is becoming too competitive – it seems to be simply a matter of who can do the most rotations, or whip the most time. This has always been one of the most controvertial questions in BMX – tricks or style? Riders have been trying to find the right balance since the inception of Freestyle BMX, and this has led to different ways of presenting it.

Part of riding is sharing your skills with others who can enjoy watching and learning from each other. We have competitions, jams, demonstrations and videos, which are all different ways of trying to make riding accessible to people.

Personally I don’t much like competitions – it’s the scoring that gets me down. Scoring is such a subjective and personal thing. This isn’t only true in BMX but in any which is measured subjectivly.

This is what concerns me about Freestyle BMX being in the olympics. Races are different. In a race there is a clear winner. That is true for most olymics sports – who can throw the furthest, who can jump the highest etc. However they aren’t all like this. Gymnastics is much more subjective. There’s a lot of technique in there, but it’s still a personal things. This has meant that in order to make a fair scoring system, there has to be a whole list of rules about what is good and what isn’t.

Imagine if BMX became like that. “No that x-up gets marks taken off, the front wheel hit your toe”. “No that table top is not up to scratch, your knee was in contact with the top tube”.

Some people might think this is a good thing. Some people like rigidity and rules, and that is totally fine, but I don’t. For me BMX Freestyle is not a sport and it’s not a competition. However pompus it sounds, it’s a form of personal expression, a form of performance art, like music, dancing, sculpture and (in my opinion gymnastics).

I think BMX Freestyle should be split in two: Sport BMX and Performance BMX (those names might not be very good!) Then the people who want to do triple 1080 flip-whips can be happy and go and win gold medals at the olympics, and I can go and watch Ruben and people who make riding a bike look fun without worrying about what score he should get.

I’d be interested to know other people’s opinions…

Who said hello?

The origin of the word “hello” is hotly debated by some.  I go with what Stephen Fry thinks but Wikipedia seems to disagree.  I think it is interesting anyway:

 When the telephone was invented people didn’t seem to know what to say when they answered it.  So a newspaper asked the public what they thought.  Someone suggested “hello” and here we are today.  Prior to “hello” when people saw each other they said “good morning”, “good afternoon” and “how do you do?”.  I think it would be good if we used a few more of those in our greetings.  Liven up the place a bit.

 Another word which was decided upon by the newspaper-reading public followed a debate about what you call those who watch the television.  Radios have listeners, do televisions have “lookers”?  Or “watchers” perhaps?  Apparently they have “viewers”. 

 I think words are pretty interesting.  Personally, I avoid terms like “unbelieveable” and use “fantastic” instead.  Except when I actually don’t believe you.

Is this controversial?

I have decided to get back on with the blog, following someone noticing it had stopped being updated!  I found it hard to write my blog after I had finished the South Africa story as I was very sad that that was over.  It was funny because it was such a fantastic experience that it sort of hurt.  It was also a bit frightening as it is quite tempting to run away to South Africa and live with the sharks.  Luckily for Ben I like living with him more.

 So now I thought I would write a little bit about a news article that I saw today.  It is all about Diana’s remembrance service.  This week every day on the local news there’s been a bit about Diana and now people are putting their flowers at the gates of Kensington Palace like they did ten years ago.  On the BBC news website there’s a photo of a couple of young people, I think they’re teenagers, looking very sad.  Do they even remember Diana?  What is this all about?

The thing that seems most strange to me is that I don’t think Diana was all that great.  She failed her O Levels twice incidentally – all of them.  She did some charity work which was good, but instead of making that the focus and actually carrying on something worthwhile there just seem to be a lot of concerts, services, statues and flowers.  So what does this “legacy” actually mean?  Seems a good opportunity for a trip to London for a bit of self-indulgent misery and a nice meal out.  Or is there more to it than I can see?

The Extreme Sports Channel

medIMG_6407I don’t have Sky, so I rarely get a chance to watch the extreme sports channel, and when I do it’s usually got surfing on, which gets boring after 10 minutes. I know that sometimes it has the x games or other BMX competitions on it though, and there are people who think that these events are selling out BMX to TV to make big bucks. While this may be true, I think it’s important to recognise some of the advantages of having big competitions like this available to the masses.

Generally people are afraid of the unknown, especially old people. Since most of the landowners in this country are old, when they see a group of young people digging up their woods, they get scared becasue they don’t understand what is going on, and they bring in the bulldozers.

More recently, when people have noticed the trails, they have been much more aware of what they are. They say things like “I’ve see this before on the television”. Their attitude is much more positive becasue they undertstand what you are doing and why. They aren’t scared any more, but are encourging instead.

xgdjsnake.jpgSo there is someting good about TV coverage.

There is one guy who has stopped a few times at Hoggs Green. He’s about 30 and he is always on an old mountain bike with his dog, and he always says “ryan nyquist, he’s the best.”

Josh Thorne

Josh taught me a lot about trails – I have only recently realised how much. He was one of the first people I met that dug and rode trails and he taught me a lot through the things he said and what he did.

I remember one of the first discussions we had was about the difference between dirt jumps and trails. I didn’t even realise that there was a difference until I met Josh. He showed me his jumps and explained how important it was to build jumps well, so they don’t fall apart all the time. Bulky was a word he used a lot.

I learnt a lot of digging skills in the woods with Josh. He taught me the slap/slide method of hitting in, and how to get a strong back and steep sides on the jumps.

Josh also taught me a lot of things without even realising probably. He would go and dig in the rain. He actually enjoyed digging. These were new ideas to me, but I have since realised that he was right. Digging is a creative process which can be enjoyable and rewarding. He usually dug by himself as well, which deserves respect. Seeing this example made me realise the amount of work and the level of commitment that good trails need. He would go digging after work for an hour, or half an hour – until it was too dark to see anything. Every spare moment was spent digging. For Josh digging wasn’t something you did with your friends on a spare Saturday afternoon, it was something that you did whenever you could: something we could all learn a lesson from.

Josh also made me rethink the possibilities of trails. Pieces of land that before I would have thought completely out of the question he would see potential in, and some of these actually worked out well – despite the closeness to the road for example.

Josh loves trails. I hope I can pass on some of the enthusiasm and motivation that he gave me.


mainpic1.jpgIt just took me 15 minutes to put on my right sock. This is because I can’t bend my right leg. This is good because yesterday I couldn’t get it on at all. My hamstrings are very tight, and until now I have been too lazy to strech. Now I can’t do much else, and I have been told how important it is.

George Frnch wrote this, which sums it all up quite well, but a lot of people don’t like George French so I’ll tell you some stuff that Tim told me or that I heard somewhere or that I made up becasue it sounds true.

Tim used to do Kung Fu and so he would stretch a lot. The person who taught him Kung Fu said that stretching was very important to you health, and keeps your body strong and supple. I read a book about Bruce Lee once and there was a lot about stretching in there too.

You know you get those yound tennis players who are really good and then you don’t hear about them ever again. Apparently that is becasue they didn’t stretch, so their bodies wore out much quicker that the player who do stretch.

Stretching helps to stop you from developing tendonitis.

It’s tiring too. I ahve been trying to stretch my legs and arms as well as my back but it’s really tiring. I do it when I watch TV so it doesn’t take any time out of my day.

Achim ( doesn’t strech before he runs, he just starts slowly. Tim thinks that this is good becasue if you fall off then your body won’t bend too much into an unfamiliar shape. I don’t agree with this for two reasons.

1. Riding is not like running. You can’t really start off slow – not trails anyway, and it’s explosive, which puts strain on your body.

2. I was told at school that muscles are like blue tac. If you pull them when they are cold, they don’t stretch out so well, but when they are warm, they don’t snap. I don’t know how true this is but it sounds right to me.

Yak has been having a lot of problems with his back. He has gone to see a chiropractor today. I hope they can sort him out becasue backs are dodgy things. I expect that they will tell him lots of stretches to do. I guess what is important is to do the stretches before you get the problems, that way it should be preventative. And also to stretch all of you body, not just the bits that hurt.

So the moral is that it is really important to stretch, at bit before, but especially after you ride. I expect there are people reading this think, yeh but I can’t be bothered, I’ll be ok (Joe probably!). But you won’t be. One day you’ll be old. I want to ride when I am old so I am going to start stretching lots now.