Getting started with BMX

Getting started with BMX

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Grant White, Great Britain Cycling Team Podium coach, tells you how and why to give the discipline a go.

What is your role in the sport?

I lead the BMX programme across all levels but predominately work with the Podium level athletes. I co-ordinate all of the activities for the Podium Programme to develop tomorrows champions.

Why should I try BMX?

It is an absolute adrenaline rush and incredible fun. It tests riders on so many different levels and gives them total freedom to express themselves. There is a brilliant community involved with the sport and it is always a happy and enjoyable experience. Who wouldn’t want to do BMX? I am biased though as BMX is in my blood!

What skills and attributes will it give me?

The rider to bike connection and development of handling skills is unparalleled because of the shape of the courses and the jumps. As a footing for other cycling disciplines, and this has been shown time and time again, it is unbeatable. The biggest name example is probably Sir Chris Hoy.

Describe a BMX bike

The most obvious thing are the smaller 20” wheels. It has got a single gear but not fixed like a track bike. It is built to be really nimble and to allow the rider’s body movement to control it. There are cruiser bikes with bigger wheels. These can be a bit more stable and give some more room to older riders coming from the road, mountain biking or track. You can get a BMX for a few hundred pounds.

How does the racing work?

There will be six to eight riders on the start gate, there is a starting cadence and call and then the gate drops. It is a race to the first corner to get into the best line and, whether you are at the front or the back, you will be battling with other riders. A course is typically 350-400 metres long and will take about 35-40 seconds to complete. A race day will have a series of qualifying races and then move on to quarter finals, semis and a final.

How can I give it a go?

Check out the British Cycling website and find your local club and track, there are plenty around the country. Many tracks have bikes you can hire. For example, at the indoor facility here at the National Cycling Centre, ring up reception and just book onto a taster session. You will get a bike, helmet and pads, just turn up and have fun.  

How old do you need to be to race? 

From a competition point of view, six and under is the first class and you can get on the track here in Manchester from the age of five. That said, the balance bike sessions on the track are for two to five year olds and that is really the first step into BMX or any cycle sport. Don’t forget you can’t be too old either and there are plenty of parents on the track who should know better, but are having a great time!

Want to know more?

Find out more on the British Cycling BMX homepage.


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