Growing-up in Michigan, we neighborhood kids formed a "Sting-Ray" riding pack, making jumps with boards, riding off the dock -- just tearing around imagining we were Hells Angels. We traded those "banana seat" bikes for 10-speeds in our teens and rode on many Century (100 mile) and Half Century (50 mile) rides with local bicycle clubs, including the legendary ride to Hell (Michigan) and DALMAC (Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw ride). Later I did a lot of touring on the Florida panhandle.
Since my biking buddies and I had transitioned from Sting-Rays to 10-speeds, we missed the rise of BMX. Of course we couldn't miss seeing BMX happening all around, but we didn't participate in it or upgrade our Sting-Rays to BMX bikes because we'd already "moved on" to 10-speeds.
So, why my recent interest in BMX?
I sold my Schwinn Paramount road bike when I needed cash in college. I went from a biker to a walker and I've walked many miles in the decades since. Walking is free and unencumbered. Anyone who has been significantly into bicycles knows the risk of becoming an "equipment freak" and spending too much money on exotic alloy components. So, if it was really the bike bug I was feeling again at 57, I wanted to try something new and relatively simple.
I appreciate BMX for staying true to its one-speed roots, so I started looking at available bikes and first had to determine 20", 24", 26" or even 29" wheel! The biker forums were helpful, with many BMXers saying go with what is essentially BMX, the 20" wheel. One forum member pointed out that back in the day when everyone was bike racing on 26" wheels, when the 24" became available everyone switched to it. Many thought the 26" and 29" wheels too big. One member suggested getting the best of both worlds, a classic 20" and a 24" for cruising, so I bought a Hoffman "Seeker" (20") and a DK "Cygnus" (24") [later sold to a rider in Brooklyn].
Back in my road bike days, I read an article in a bicycling magazine about how you might not be able to afford a top-end car like a Ferrari, but a top-end bicycle like a Masi is a reachable dream for many people. Even more so with BMX bikes. You can get a really cool high-quality bike for relatively little because BMX bikes -- being one-speeds -- are way simpler with less parts than road bikes.
Reading Mat Hoffman's autobiography, The Ride of My Life, has spurred me into being on two wheels again. Maybe not high in the air like Mat, but you will see me tooling around the neighborhood.
BMX Museum and my bike
Albert Mercado profile.
Mark Gonzales "Gonzo in Soho"
FIEND visits China factory.
BMX Bandits movie. BMX Cops: here and here ("BMX in Blue").
23 Mag archive. "The Albion" magazine (Issue 1, April 2011) Mat Hoffman interview.
Mat Hoffman website; Birth of Big Air ESPN video; The Ride of My Life book.
They say the Embroidered City is a pleasant place,
but I had rather be safe at home.
For it would be easier to climb to Heaven
than to walk the Szechwan Road.
I turn my body and gaze longingly towards the West.
--Li Po (701-762 A.D.)
From "The Szechwan Road", trans. by Arthur Waley, The Poet Li Po, 1919