Riding a bicycle seems pretty straight forward (quite literally) when you start to dive into the diverse subculture of BMX, you will notice that most riders have their “thing” they like to ride. For some, this could be as simple as being really good at riding the flat ground or as complex as building your own skatepark with a range of specific obstacles. Most of the time what we ride is destined by our early years riding. If you grow up surrounded by park riders then you will probably ride the skatepark more. Similarly, if you grow up in a city with no skateparks but lots of street spots, you will probably end up leaning more towards the street dudes. So where does this leave you if you’re just starting out as a BMX rider?
For most of us, we started at a skatepark somewhere, whether it was “good or bad” it probably had a couple of local riders that will or have become your friend. This is probably the best place to start, learning basic bike control, meeting riders, and of course, learning a solid foundation of tricks. The skateparks provide a safe place that is allowed to be ridden by BMX riders and skateboarders. In Australia, we are so lucky to have some incredible parks scattered across the country. With more parks going up every year, we are very lucky in Aus with the selection of parks and the variety of obstacles that will ultimately enable more riders to find the huge world of BMX.
Having a large array of parks gives riders the option to develop their styles and skills at a variety of parks that offer different obstacles specific to certain types of riding. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will encourage progression, just the same way newer, bigger parks will encourage riders to not only learn more but to travel and meet new people in the process.
For the riders that stick to the ledges and rails in the skateparks, these guys are probably going to be heading out into the streets. Learning the basics at a skatepark is a great idea, but once the rails and ledges get old your going to want to find something new to ride right? That’s where the ever-changing cityscape can present itself as a huge playground. For the parents reading this your probably thinking “buts that’s not allowed”, your right. At the end of the day, street riding CAN be illegal, that’s why it’s important to know what you are doing could cause damage to other peoples property. Respecting people's property and getting that crazy clip can be a fine line at times and we encourage all riders to be respectful to other people's property.
Riding street can teach so much more than just the tricks you’re learning. Being out in the streets will expose you to things that you might not see at the skatepark. Learning to deal with these real-life situations can help in life, where others may not have had those experiences you have had. The other exciting thing about riding street is that unlike the skatepark, it’s not built to ride and this in itself can create new challenges. Finding “perfect”’ spots to ride doesn’t happen all that often so being creative can “open” a spot, developing your riding further. As you navigate from spot to spot you will probably further develop your style as a rider. Whether it’s big rails, technical ledge lines, or a strong flat ground game, the more you ride your city the more you will learn about your own riding.
Finally, there are the guys that aren’t afraid of hard work, big airs, and shovels. Trail riders are a special type of BMX rider, contempt with digging holes in a remote location and spending a lot of time alone are a few things that seem to appeal. The beauty of trail riding is the creative process, crafting pieces of art from nothing, with no other interest then to ride and build more. Trails have a huge history in BMX, from the very start of BMX or Bicycle Motocross originating on the track and slowly taking to the bushland around the suburbs. Due to the number of man-hours needed to build and maintain trails, spots are often kept secret, and the guys that dig wants to keep it that way. With several spots around Australia, our trail scene has always been strong. Starting your own spot can be daunting but all trails had to start somewhere. Get a group of mates a few shovels and find a good spot of land far enough away from the public to give your spot the best chance of survival.
Regardless of what you love to ride, remember that all avenues of BMX are still just that- BMX, so don’t forget why you started and try to ride a little bit of everything. Riding everything will open your eyes to so much BMX that you might otherwise miss.