There are just so many ways to have fun on two wheels
I’m sure my eyes widened when Brendan Arnold suggested I visit his bmx track. We were chatting at the 2017 launch of the Cannondale-3 Rox team this past January. The national bmx coach was telling me about the track he runs in Stouffville, Ont., about 50 km north and a bit east of Toronto. He said I should visit and try it out.
I hadn’t been on a bmx bike i n almost 30 years. Mine was red and yellow. I rode it around the neighbourhood and to the corner store to get freezies and comic books. A friend and I occasionally set up a crude jump on our dead-end street. Not only did that bike lead me to some sick air, but wipeouts, cuts and bruises, too. When Arnold extend his offer, I didn’t hesitate with my “yes.”
Tara Nolan’s story, ‘What’s it Like?’ (p.42), features tales of riders who said “yes” to something cool. For example, Laura Aliperti took on a big drop. Russell Slater raced the Trans Am Bike Race. Kristian Manietta Everested on The Duffy in B.C. Those riders and the others in Nolan’s story were drawn to those cycling endeavours. They said “yes” to new experiences on their bikes. You never know exactly where such a “yes” will take you. For me, I showed up in Stouffville in early summer with photo editor Matt Stetson. (He’s rad. He has his own bmx bike.) Lilies that Arnold’s mother-in-law had planted by the track were blooming. We started with the basics: getting speed by pumping the bike. I was pretty slow at the start, but throughout the morning, I got faster and faster. I practised starting from the gate. It was frustrating, trying to keep my balance at a standstill. But I got it soon enough.
Arnold and I got set for a race. I was to pedal down the first stretch, out of the first turn and then pump my way to the end. Arnold would start after I rounded Turn 1 and could only pump. After I launched down the ramp, I reached the first tabletop and my feet came off the flat pedals. I held onto the bars and slipped and skidded on my feet. Pins from the left pedal cut two bloody lines in my calf. I still have the scars, but really, it was the perfect injury. It didn’t hold me back from riding more that day. Now they’re something I can show off. “Guess how I did that?”
We later finished our race. Arnold beat me, but he says he really had to work for it. After the ride, he had freezies for us. Cool scar and frozen sugar water – it was a perfect bmx day for a 11-year-old or a 40-year-old.
This issue not only has the inspiring stories collected by Nolan, but great advice from Peter Glassford (p.38), Andrew Randell and Steve Neal of The Cycling Gym (p.33) and Alan Dempsey (p.34). It’s all stuff that will make you fitter, faster and help you to have more fun. You just have to say “yes.”