“Is that your kid’s bike?” Is a question I’m often asked when I’m out cruising the neighborhood on my BMX race bike.

 “No, it’s mine and it’s rad.”  

To some, an adult on a BMX bike is a pretty strange site and few get to know just how fun it is.

Although BMX racing doesn’t get a lot of attention these days and is a bit of a curiosity to many, the sport is thriving and is now an Olympic event. There are many good reasons for the continued success of BMX racing which makes it worth trying.

This summer BMX racing celebrated the 50th year of the sport. The “OG” of alternative cycling sports, BMX started in Southern California and quickly grew into the popular sport that it is today.

BMX offers something special for those looking to get out on the bike and have a great time. Here are a few reasons why it might be right for you.

If you’re a mountain biker or roadie…

BMX racing is one part explosive fitness and one part bike skills. For those looking to get better fitness or bike handling BMX racing provides a focused approach for development. When the gate drops in BMX an all-out sprint begins to the finish line. Since most race motos are less than a minute, it’s an explosive maximum effort from start to finish. Often the holeshot determines the race and the first three to four pedal strokes make the most difference. There is nothing quite like BMX for focusing and perfecting one’s pedal stroke. Because efficiency and power for the road cyclist or mountain biker is largely derived in the pedal stroke, BMX is a great proving ground for refining those skills. In addition, BMX racers learn to develop high RPM pedal cadence that is excellent for high-speed and high-intensity sprints necessary in road bike racing.

Mountain bikers gain tremendous bike handling skills by racing BMX. Once out of the gate, the typical course enters a series of rhythm sections and banked turns. BMX racers learn to use the track to their advantage by pumping, manualling, or jumping to accelerate at each obstacle. These skills translate directly to cross country, enduro, or downhill riding where fast riders use the irregularities of the trail to build speed and momentum.

You can always tell a former BMX racer by the way they corner. BMX courses usually have three to five banked turns. The developing BMX racer learns how to maintain cornering speed by railing the turns and slingshot out of the corners. Turns are common place for passing in BMX and the shoulder to shoulder racing builds confidence that translates to better command of the trail for mountain bikers.

If you want share the love of cycling with the family…

In most sports, you have to choose. Participate in the sport yourself, or watch Jane or Johnny from the sidelines, but never both. In BMX racing it’s always a family event where everyone participates. Riders as young as three-years-old compete in the Strider category. Moms, dads, and grandparents compete in their own age groups. BMX is truly a sport where no-one sits on the bench.

Personally, I’ve loved the opportunity to go to a race with my kids. It provides a shared experience where together we have fun, work hard, and compete with others at our ability level.

The track atmosphere is always friendly and family oriented. Knowing that the sport depends on new young racers and their families the sport is tailored to make it a positive experience for new families wanting to give it a try.

So how do you get started?

With a new BMX race track planned for Santa Clara, now is the time to get into BMX racing. The nearby Virgin BMX track is considered by many to be the best track in the state and has races every Wednesday night directly under the spectacular backdrop of the mesas. Other tracks in Las Vegas, as well as Central and Northern Utah, provide a nearly year-round opportunity for racing.

Another great feature of BMX racing is the barriers to entry are low compared to other cycling disciplines. BMX racing is all about run what yer brung when it comes to bikes and nearly any bike will work for first time racers. Mountain bikes, dirt jumpers, BMX park bikes are all common at the races. Racers wanting to take it to the next level and get a race specific BMX bike will be relieved to find out for less than the price of an entry level mountain bike you can get a professional level BMX race bike.

For racing gear all you need is a helmet, long pants, and a long sleeve shirt. Many racers also choose to ride with full face helmets and a few pads, although these are not required.

Yes, it’s scary to try new things, but do it anyway…

It can be intimidating to consider entering your first BMX race as trying anything for the first time can be daunting. Once new riders get over the trepidation, they will find an atmosphere that is welcoming and encouraging. BMX bikes are simple, so is the racing and the rules. Races are proceeded by an open practice track time that provides new riders a chance to get a feel for the track. Before each race, the track operator conducts a new racers meeting to go over the short list of rules.

Racers are categorized by gender, age, and proficiency which makes for friendly competitive racing for everyone.

When most people think BMX, images of jumps and tricks come to mind. While there are jumps in BMX racing, there is no lips on the jumps and anyone who wants to keep the wheels on the ground can easily roll the obstacles and still be competitive in novice and intermediate racing categories.

It’s also very affordable with entry fees ranging from $10 to $30.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to be better on the bike, spend time with family, and make some new friends come out to the track and have a rad time with a great group of people.

Written by Logan Phipps.

Curious about getting started with BMX, stop by the shop and chat with local legend Judd Freeman, our resident expert.

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