30 years ago today. April 5th, 1981
30 years ago today, I competed in my first BMX race. Here is a photo from that day. I’m #25, and I raced in the 8 beginner class against two other kids. Although I would love to tell you about how I was a natural and I kicked everyone’s ass, if you notice in the picture there is no one behind me. That’s right….last place. I found myself in last place all three motos. The first moto, my chain fell off halfway around and being that I was only eight, I had no idea how to put it back on. I did what any champion in the making would do… I sat in the middle of the track and cried. Then, in a character building moment, I walked my crippled ride to the finish line. The only reason I finished ahead of anyone all day was that one kid fell in the 2nd moto and both kids crashed into each other in the 3rd moto and I strolled around the wreckage for the victory. I finished 3-2-1 in the 3 motos and grabbed 2nd for the day.
After staring at this picture trying to figure out what to write, I noticed lots of little things that are interesting. First, is the huge motocross influence. From the Honda jersey to the fact that I have a 2.125 rear tire and a 1.75 front because that’s how motorcycles were, fatty in the rear and a skinny tire in the front. Check out how big my rear sprocket is, it was something like a 36-20. That might be why I’m in last place. I probably pedaled 30 times and only went ten feet. The next thing I noticed is the fashion. I’ve never thought of myself as very fashionable, but I’m very proud of my matching uniform here. Helmet, jersey, jeans, all the way down to the Nikes with the red swoosh and red laces to top it off. It may appear that I’m a trend setter by being brakeless, but actually, I’m rocking a coaster brake. When you have a coaster brake, getting your pants caught in the chain is bad. I went subtle with some tape to keep my jeans out of my chain, while #93 chose to stuff his jeans in his sock then pull the sock up to his knee. I win that one, but he has me beat in number plate choice. My paper plate isn’t that cool, but it was my first race. Speaking of fashion, check out the guy in the infield with the yellow flag. He is just oozing coolness. Finally, even though I’m in last place, I’m psyched that it looks like the only thing I’m concerned with is launching off the little double down the second straight.
Thanks for joining me in my stroll down memory lane. BMX has definitely changed over time, but the one thing that hasn’t changed in thirty years and is the reason that I still ride today. That is to go as fast as you can, pull back as hard as you can, and go as high as you can. Oh yeah, and to have fun too.