Probably the most used hashtag in the sport is #bmxfamily. For some it means bmx as a family and to some it means bmx family as a whole to describe the general feel of the people involved in the sport. To most, it really means both.
When we started racing we were hoping we’d found our two older boys something they could do for fun, exercise and a little bit of a challenge. We’d moved to California from Ohio just 3 1/2 years earlier and took our then 8-year-old out of a sport where he’d just won the state championship and shipped to a state that didn’t have the same type of family event (quad harescrambles through woods).
For years we searched for something to replace that family time. We bought dirt bikes, considered a boat and generally purchased just about anything you can find that you could do as a “family.” It wasn’t until that day in June that we walked into a BMX track while they were hosting a state race that we found our home.
We had no idea it was a state race. In all honesty, I was looking for something to do and popped onto Facebook Events in hopes we’d find our next adventure. I told my husband about the event I’d found and we decided to pack everyone up and head over. We’d driven by the track hundreds of times, but were never quite sure how it worked, when it was open or how to even get involved. And then, like divine intervention, Facebook intervened.
Two days later we owned bikes for two of our four kids. Just six days later we were racing our first race. By the end of the year we had a first place state finish with a 6th place overall, a 3rd place state finish with an 11th overall and a ROC invite.
IS BMX A FAMILY SPORT?
I went off on a tangent about how we got started, but I felt it was important to tell you how quickly we went from a Facebook event post to jumping in. You see, the reason we moved as quickly as we did is because BMX IS a family sport. If our now two-year-old wanted to hop on her Strider and get on the track, she could. Everyone can participate in various ways, even if you aren’t into hopping on a bike.
As you can see in the picture on this post (our daughter in her dad’s arms, watching her brothers from the gate hill), our daughter loves to watch her brothers. She can yell “Go, GO!!” with the best of them. She’s excited when we pull into the track. She rides her Strider as much, if not more, than her brothers ride their bikes.
My husband has spent countless hours talking about strategy, researching bikes and watching videos with our boys. It’s a common ground that they didn’t have before. They all get to dig in. They work on everything from tire pressure to strategy – together.
In traveling to races all over the state, we have spent countless days together in the car, traveling to and from tracks. We traveled a lot before BMX, but we now have an excuse to do it every weekend if we choose.
We make a lot of stops along the way, spend an extra day here and there and find time to squeeze in fun that isn’t BMX related.
It doesn’t stop with our immediate family. BMX itself is a family. This is a picture of our boys in our popup, playing Pokemon with their friends, while parents cheer in the background as a race is underway at the State Finals on a Friday night.
And that BMX family also includes people we don’t know. This is our daughter Eliana, sitting on the lap of a kindergarten teacher that we don’t know. She came over and asked if she could play in her tent because she had a bucket of toys Eliana had been eyeing. She told us she was a teacher and that she would play with her so we could watch the boys race if we wanted.
Eliana played with this lady for two hours before deciding it was nap time.
Our kids have played soccer, baseball and basketball. Raced motocross and harescrambles. Every one of them, they were the only members of the family that could participate at that time. With BMX, the whole family can jump in at any capaxity they want and everyone is going to have a blast in between.
BUT THERE’S MORE
In addition to being a true family sport, there are lessons to be had. The biggest thing we have gained from this sport is a method to teach our kids about life. We’ve never seen a dad screaming at his kid at the finish line because he got second. We’ve witnessed kids beat each other and come off the track and play together, time and time again. Parents screaming at the sidelines to “GO INSIDE!!” to beat the child of the person standing next to them screaming “PEDAL!” and when it’s all said and done they tell each other how “He almost had him,” as they smile and head back to their tents that are standing side by side with a shared bike area and row of intermixed coolers.
Our kids has learned that’s it’s okay to miss it this time, you’ll get it the next – and a line of dads from the other tents will come to confirm the pep talk Dad just gave.
They’ve learned that every time you step up, you have an opportunity to get better. That there’s a next time. That practice makes you better. That losing is temporary. That people will help you along the way, even if it means they have to run to make their moto because they stopped to help you.
And, self-confidence. Our kids has learned to lose like champs and keep their heads up and try again next time all while learning the value of winning with humility.
The list of lessons is endless.
If you want a sport that will bring you closer to your kids, this is it.