Monday, 10 October 2011

Doing BMX ...

I've had a mountain bike since the early nineties and before that I had the compulsory '80's BMX (and a worn out VHS of BMX Bandits). My skill level never progressed above skidding the length of the drive and briefly lifting the front wheel off the floor and I certainly never went near a BMX track. But that was all to change today!

Redditch has a new BMX track and for the price of a couple of pints you can hire a bike and a helmet. Spurred on by an evening of YouTube videos I was as excited as the Christmas Day when I was lead out into the backyard to discover my very first BMX leaning against the wall - pristine and with a complete set of silver pads and a large number board with a tiger emblem on.

Funnily enough BMXing is not quite how I remember it. As kids we would ride for miles on our BMXes on hot Summer days, up and down dale, across the fields, through the lanes and think nothing of getting up and doing it all again the next day throughout the entire summer holidays. Two decades and rather more pints later, things are slightly more difficult, with the first challenge being riding up to the start ramp. With some huffing and puffing I made it and sat on the start gate staring at the huge mounds of dirt in front of me.

In the videos these jumps didn't look that big. And at the start all the riders would sprint down the ramp pedalling for all they were worth, launching high into the air and gracefully clearing the whole thing. My approach was slightly more reserved. The first ramp was a bit of a kicker so I employed the one U-brake to take some of the speed off down the start ramp and rolled up to the top, pedalling across the table top and down the other side. It wasn't stylish, pretty or graceful and I'm certainly not going to be challenging for a London 2012 spot, but what do you expect from a female thirty something!

This steady approach continued around the rest of the track to get a feel for the tiny heavy bike, flat pedals, jumps, doubles, step-ups, berms and final rhythm section. Two minutes later, thighs burning and wheezing through the full face helmet, I'd completed a circuit of the miniscule track. For the next 10 minutes I sat hunched over the handlebars at the top of the start ramp until my body recovered from the exertion and then I headed off once more...

Half an hour later I'd completed 3 laps and was getting braver. My front wheel was lifting over the jump at the end of the start straight and I was completely leaving the ground at the top of the step up - though not actually clearing it. This resulted in some uncomfortable and twitchy landings, at one point finding myself completely detached from the bike, bar the handlebars, whilst it was on the ground and I was in mid-air; not my most graceful bike handling moment.

All of this continued for 45 minutes until I could ride no more - my legs were like jelly and my lungs couldn't take in enough oxygen during my fits of hysterical laughter to break down the enormous lactic acid build up. Time to hang up my helmet and head home, content in the fact that I'd spent a very enjoyable sunny afternoon trying something else new, rather than having a couple of pints down the pub. Can't wait for my next visit!

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